Senior offensive linemen Eric Fisher, Jake Olson, Darren Keyton and Mike Repovz are no strangers to playing next to each other in a Central Michigan uniform.
The four of them have started a combined 120 games during their collegiate careers.
But, they spend most of their time together off the field. The four 295 pound-plus linemen are roommates and live in what they call the “B.U.B.” (Big Ugly Bellies) house at 713 E. Michigan St.
“We started setting this up at the end of last season and were talking about how we wanted to have the B.U.B. house,” Keyton said. “We just thought about having all of us living together and how it could be great for us to bond and keep hanging out.”
Fisher said he is not sure how the B.U.B. name got started, but it is a lifestyle they feel they have to live up to.
“It’s been around for decades,” he said. “It’s a tradition that has been passed on from class to class.”
This is not the first year football players have lived in the house. Former CMU quarterback Brian Brunner’s dad owns it and players have been living in the house since 2004.
Although this is the first year they are living together, Fisher said the bond between friends has existed for much longer.
“We’ve been pretty close the entire time,” he said. “Together we’ve started a hundred and some games. So it’s kind of like we live together, meet together, play together, eat together — we just spend a lot of time together.”
“And we’ve all gotten to know each other’s families pretty well, too,” Olson added.
Their close relationship also helps their ability on the field.
“Living with each other, we know what each other’s thinking so it doesn’t really matter if we don’t say anything on the field,” Keyton said. “Whether it’s during a game or at practice, because we already know what we’re doing and we can just have fun while we’re out there.”
Back at home, there are always massive amounts of food being consumed between the four of them.
To store all of it, they had three fridges and a chest freezer, but are now down to one fridge and the freezer because the semester is almost over.
They also have a grill and a deep fryer they use routinely (yes, even in the winter).
“There is always a lot of food being eaten,” Olson said. “And we are always cooking in bulk, too.”
However, Fisher said they are not the cleanest group of roommates.
“It’s a pretty dirty house,” he said. “But Jake (Olson) does most of the cleaning.”
Like most roommates, they are not hesitant to pull an occasional practical joke on one another.
But unfortunately for Repovz, he is often the recipient.
“Mike is especially scared of a lot of things,” Keyton said. “At Halloween, we put up a skull that moved, and when he went into his room, he was in there for like a minute and then turned around, and as soon as he saw it, it went off and he started freaking out.”
The jokes are all in good fun and do not affect their success on the field. Although injuries have sometimes prevented them from being on the field at the same time throughout their careers, the offensive line has still been a major strength.
CMU allowed the fourth fewest sacks in the Mid-American Conference the past two seasons and the second fewest in 2009.
Probably the two biggest beneficiaries of the offensive line are senior quarterback Ryan Radcliff and junior running back Zurlon Tipton.
But the two of them show their appreciation in separate ways.
“Ryan has taken us out to eat before,” Olson said. “Zurlon just gives us something to laugh at. He’s a guaranteed laugh every time. You never know what he’s going to do.”
Although the four seniors understand the underclassmen look up to them, they know they still have to give them a hard time as well.
“For the younger guys, we have to give them a hard time because the B.U.B. lifestyle is what you have to adapt to,” Fisher said. “So coming out of high school, some of them aren’t prepared for what it’s like to be a B.U.B.”