The Girard native serves as the top assistant to Ohio State's strength coach.
By GARY HOUSTEAU
COLUMBUS -- When Ohio State kicks off the season at home against Texas Tech on Saturday, Mike Cochran, in his second season as an assistant strength coach with the Buckeyes, will more than likely be along the sideline with a smile on his face.
The game days are just an added bonus that comes with working a job that he so cherishes, yet once never even dreamed of having.
"I'm just excited all the time. When I walk into the weight room at 6 o'clock in the morning, I'm excited, the ticker is going and the blood's flowing," Cochran said. "When you're going to work at Ohio State you're excited every morning. It's a new thrill, you're doing something new, every day.
Easy to motivate
"The guys have to compete because you're with some of the top athletes in the country and it's not that hard to get these guys going because they're competing against each other," he said. "It's a battle every day."
Cochran, who first played under Jim Tressel at Youngstown State, spent eight years as the head strength coach there, doing then what he thought was the greatest job in the world. Cochran eventually followed Tressel to OSU not long after he was hired there in January of 2001.
"It's just unbelievable playing in front of 104,000 people every week, that's the greatest thrill," Cochran said. "I had always said that Ohio State was the second-best school in the state of Ohio when I was at Youngstown and now I had to change it around a little bit. Ohio State's the best and Youngstown's second. But I love what I'm doing and I love where I'm at."
Although he was a talented player at Girard High, Cochran didn't quite measure up to being an ideal prospect to play college football for his favorite boyhood team.
"Growing up I always wanted to be a Buckeye," he said. "I thought it was a great thrill when I was a senior in high school and Glen Mason came in and talked to me. He wasn't really recruiting me. He told me I was too short, but that gave me a thrill.
"But actually being there now and being a part of it, it's more than a dream come true," he said. "I guess I never really dreamed about being there, it's just something you thought about. But getting the opportunity now, you can't let this one go."
He's determined to make every day on the job at Ohio State count.
Ready to work
"You learn something new every day," Cochran said. "The kids are the ones that really get you going. At 6 o'clock in the morning when you walk in and you have 14 kids at the door waiting for you, you're ready to go. I think that's one thing that really makes the whole job exciting and it's really made it a fun thing, and the kids really get into it."
Cochran serves as the top assistant to Allan Johnson, who was hired away by Tressel from West Virginia's program.
"Having both Al and I working together, we've brought in a lot of different things," he said. "He brought in some good ideas and I brought in some good ideas. I guess the adjustment is easier for me working for [Tressel] than it was for Al, because he's still learning the ropes and trying to figure out Tress, but it's not that hard. Tress is a guy that goes 24 hours a day, non-stop, and that's easy to figure that one out."