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OSU Phd Candidate Balances Textbooks, Tackles

Ohio State University
Barnes earned his master's degree at OSU and is now working toward a doctorate in sports management.

There have been a lot of really smart football players at Ohio State. Craig Krenzel famously led the Buckeyes to the 2002 national title while majoring in molecular genetics. But even he didn't pursue a PhD while playing college football.

Jarrod Barnes, a senior defensive back and Westerville native, earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Louisville in three years, and transferred to OSU to attend graduate school and finish his football eligibility.

He earned his master's last year, and is now working toward a doctorate in sports management.

For WOSU's sports show After the Score, Barnes sat down with Steve Brown and Thomas Bradley to talk about how he does it.

Click the play button below to hear their conversation.

Jarrod Barnes: If I'm from not at practice, I'm either in class or studying for class and I do a lot of research. I read about four to five hours a day. I'm reading research or studying the game...

Steve Brown: The playbook too, everything?

Jarrod Barnes: Right, Right. The game plan, research I've got to do it all. It's been a burden but it's been awesome to bear.

Thomas Bradley: I've got a lot of friends who are Ph.D. students and I've talked to a lot of football players and being a football player and a student. It's a full-time job and being a Ph.D. student it's a full-time job.

You've got two full-time jobs. Do you have any time to yourself do you get free time outside of the season or outside of Ph.D. studies.? 

Jarrod Barnes: Right, it's not as bad as it seems. I do have free time. I do enjoy myself.

That being said I take what I do pretty seriously and when I'm at football I'm a 100 percent. Got to be locked in and when I'm in class I have to be locked in as well. But I do always make sure that I have free time, I take my dog on a walk.

Steve Brown: You have a dog too?

Jarrod Barnes: Oh yeah.

Steve Brown: Oh man, you're busy.

I know there are a lot of really smart football players so forgive me I don't want to sound offensive here but it's two completely different cultures right? 

When you get in Ph.D. studies and then you're in the locker room and you know I know you're not quite snapping towels or whatever but it's a different environment you're really involved in two different cultures. Is that hard at all or do you enjoy it? 

Jarrod Barnes: It can be, but the beauty of it is that experience gives me the ability to wear different hats.

So when I'm in the locker room, you know I can let my guard, its the guys. You know he's my he's my brother's in a sense.

When I'm in the classroom it's a more serious setting and Ph.D.s not like undergrad or even like Masters.

Everyone is there for a particular focus and really great students. It is the top of the top and it's hard sometimes because I'm the youngest guy in the program and most of the other students are either married with children or working professionals. 

So sometimes I'll have to do extra in order to catch up to them. So it's been pretty interesting.

Thomas Bradley: You came from Louisville. They are sitting No. 3 in the polls and Ohio State is No. 2. Are you torn at all or rooting for your former team, rooting for you current team? Are you a Buckeye? 

Jarrod Barnes: No I'm a Buckeye through and through.

Thomas Bradley: I totally believe you. There's not a little bit of you that's really happy for Louisville?

Steve Brown: You're happy for them?

Jarrod Barnes: Oh yeah, I'm happy until the playoff comes around and then it's different story. But if they're still there. I know they're going to have I know they're going to do have a great season.

Steve Brown: You're going to have a lot of doors open for you after you leave college what do you want to do? 

Jarrod Barnes: Wow. And I'm I'm still trying to figure out how...

Steve Brown: You would like to play professional football, if that's an option? 

Jarrod Barnes: If there's an option you know I would love to.

Obviously the odds are so so slim and that's why I've really, really push myself to perform academically because I know I've seen I've been exposed to the doors that can open if you do well academically and that's really what's been my main motivation not just for myself but to provide that experience for others. 

Really to answer your question, what I hope to do is to start a consulting firm that consults for a different athletic departments and administrators really how to maximize the student-athlete experience.

Steve Brown: There have been a lot of really, really smart OSU football players who have come through here. Robert Smith and Craig Krenzel jumped to mind. You're the first ever to be a Ph.D. student while playing football. That's a pretty big honor.

Jarrod Barnes: Yeah, to be honest with you I haven't really thought about that.

It wasn't actually until there was an article written last week, I believe from the (Ohio State's) College of Education and it announced that it was the first thing it hit me then like 'wow.' No one has ever tried this before and to be honest when I started my college career I didn't anticipate this. I didn't go in my freshman year saying yeah 'I'm going to be a Ph.D. student playing football.'

Steve Brown: Jarrod Barnes is the first Ohio State football player to also be a Ph.D. student. It's really been great talking with you, and we wish you luck.

Jarrod Barnes: Thank you sir. I appreciate it.