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Lessons from Houston’s camp: How to lose your stripe in 30 grueling days

Tom Herman brought sky-high intensity levels and a rite of passage from Ohio State

NCAA Football: Central Florida at Houston Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

When was the last time losing something was considered an accomplishment?

Yeah, the Big V. That’s what you all thought of first.

Trimming strokes off your golf game doesn’t count. Nor does reducing your times at the track or in the pool.

In the H, as you may have heard, losing your stripe is a rite of passage. It’s an achievement. It’s an initiation into the ranks of the proven.

And in Houston’s grueling fall camp, it is one of the most coveted benchmarks for the new players.

Freshman defensive tackle and 5-star recruit Ed Oliver was one of the early initiates:

The removal of the stripe is a tradition began by Urban Meyer at Bowling Green in 2001. True freshmen and incoming transfers have their practice helmets marked with a strip of colored tape down the middle that signals they have not earned the right to call themselves full members of the team.

Even if the players enrolled in January and went through spring practice, they still have to earn unqualified membership during fall camp.

At Ohio State, the gray helmets are marked with black tape. At Houston, the red helmets are split with blue tape.

When a player with a striped helmet demonstrates the required tenacity, work ethic and acumen to his teammates and coaches, the tape is removed in a ceremony at the end of practice.

It’s an anticipated moment by the new/young players. The removal of a stripe is a moment of celebration for the team.

And Herman isn’t the only Urban Meyer protégé to institute the custom. Chris Ash, the newest OSU coordinator to be promoted to head coach, took the tradition to Rutgers. But Ash is taking it one step further. He’s rebuilding the program from the ground up and EVERY player had a black stripe darken his helmet before fall camp.

The Cougars are halfway through camp and the stripes are coming off fast and furious. Next test ... a little team called Oklahoma.