COACH TRESSEL: Well, the most exciting week of the year arrived just at the end of the ball game on Saturday and all thoughts turn to the privilege of playing in the Ohio State-Michigan game. We were proud of the way our guys went on the road and came up with a Big Ten win at Illinois. The conditions were interesting, to say the least, and the kids played hard.
Illinois is a good football team and coming up with a win is a good thing. But obviously our thinking immediately went to getting ready for the Ohio State-Michigan game. Yesterday our guys were back in and back in the weight room and the film room and all those different things that we do on Sunday. And then today is their academic day off. They’ll get involved with some individual film study and those kinds of things on their own, but it’s the coaches’ day to sit and watch film all day and your eyeballs drop out because in the Big Ten, as you know, we trade every film.
So here we sit with 11 films and you try to figure out just which way things are going to go from a tactical standpoint and you do a good amount of self-study because you know they’re studying your 11 films and so today’s the day that the coaches have a chance to do that. And when the guys arrive for practice tomorrow, we’ll begin a game plan. Many times on Tuesday, some of the great ideas you had don’t look so hot on the practice field and you tailor it down. And by Thursday, hopefully you’ve come up with what you think your plan’s going to be, and sometimes on Saturday, that’s a good plan. Sometimes at some point in the game on Saturday, you say that wasn’t such a great idea, let’s do this or that.
So it’s an exciting week. Our guys can feel the excitement on the campus and in the community. It’s the reason many of them chose to go to Ohio State or to go to Michigan was so they could be a part of this game for four or five years and it’s just a little bit different feeling. It’s a hard one to explain unless you’ve been there.
I remember my first year as an assistant coach here, I’d grown up in Ohio and watched this great game for my whole life and then that first time I was an assistant coach here, I don’t know that I can remember one thing from the first quarter or so because it was just one of those feelings that it’s hard to — hard to get a feel for. But our guys are excited about it.
We’ve got 28 seniors who will be going out into the Horseshoe for their last time. They talk all year long about how fast their career went and how fast this season is going and so forth, but the harsh reality, when you get ready for the Ohio State-Michigan game, is this is the last big great thrill that you’re going to have in your regular season football career and you can tell that those seniors are reflecting. I’m sure their minds are racing back through their four or five years and they’re anticipating one more opportunity to play in this great game.
As I watch Michigan on film, and I’ve just primarily been watching their defense right now, although I’ve had a chance to watch their offense all year long as we’ve prepared for some of the teams they’ve played, and the thing I’ve noticed all the way from their game against Utah that I remember watching the end of to their ball game this past weekend with Northwestern, is one thing that Michigan does, is they play until the final whistle. You watch that Utah game, you watch the second half of that Wisconsin game when no one gave them a chance to come back from that deficit and you watch the way that they’re fighting and playing, and I’ve been a part of a transitional year as a coach and I know that every little inch that you progress might not be seen by the naked eye, but you know if your guys keep playing and they keep understanding what the plan is, that at the end of the day, they’re going to understand things and become an excellent football team and an excellent football program.
So I’ve been impressed with the way they continue to play and get after it and they’ve had the ball bounce some ways that you wish they wouldn’t and they’ve found themselves in a situation that they haven’t been in before, but you sure can’t tell as you watch the film that there’s any less passion. They look like the maize and blue from an effort standpoint that I’ve watched for many, many years, and I’ve been very impressed.
When you look at their defensive front, it perhaps is the most talented defensive front that we’ve faced with Terrance Taylor and Jamison and Graham and Johnson, those guys have been here forever. We’ve played against them, some of them, three and four years. Those guys are outstanding football players. They’ve got some good young guys behind them, their linebackers are younger and very talented. Their secondary has been a group that’s had a lot of starts and in the games that I’ve watched most recently this morning, they’ve been a lot of their nickel package, so all those guys that have been around, Brandon Harrison and Stevie Brown and Donovan Warren, who’s young, but he’s in his second full year of starting and Morgan Trent and all those guys, it’s the Wolverines that we’ve watched. I think Scott Schaefer, their defensive coordinator, has done a great job of giving you problems, putting pressure on you, and I think everyone in the country that’s been around coaching would agree that Rich Rodriguez has been one of the most creative and really one of the founders of the spread style attack.
So you know that he’s going to have things ready. You know that he’s building one building block on top of the next and that there’s no question about it, he knows and will even know more intimately when he’s a part of this game on Saturday that this is the greatest game there is. His guys will practice that way this week, just like ours will. His guys will play that way Saturday just like ours will, and it’s going to be a great day in the Horseshoe.
REPORTER: This is Rich’s first Ohio State-Michigan week, what do you remember about yours as a head coach?
COACH TRESSEL: That you could just simply feel the difference between that week and — you know, all the weeks are exciting and all the weeks are a grind and all the weeks are a battle and every team you play is good and can beat you and you feel you can beat them, but there’s something in that Ohio State-Michigan week that you can just feel, whether it’s the attentiveness of the players or the attentiveness of the media or the attentiveness of the people walking on campus bumping into the guys in class, you know, or you turn on the radio station or the TV station in the morning and, “Good morning, it’s 5:00, it’s Ohio State-Michigan week.” And for a while it was all, hey, we’re ready to have an election or something, but now, this morning — so you can just feel it.
REPORTER: How wary are you of them based on the fact that they must be desperate, they don’t have anything to lose at all in the end?
COACH TRESSEL: Well, the thing about any group that is trying to build something is you feel as if you’re going in the right direction and sometimes it doesn’t show in the statistics or the wins and losses and all that type of thing, but it deepens your passion to progress and when you say they don’t have anything to lose, that’s not true, because the biggest thing in the season is the Ohio State-Michigan game. And so there’s at much at stake for both teams on Saturday, and so I wouldn’t call them a team that doesn’t have anything to lose, they’re going to come out with a passion. A lot of those guys have played in the Ohio State-Michigan game and they understand it and they’ve heard about it their whole lives and everyone around them talks about it. So how wary am I of them? I think they’re a great football team because Ohio State and Michigan on November 22nd, that’s the way they’ll play.
REPORTER: You’ve had no players that lost to Michigan on this team, Todd Boeckman was a grayshirt, and then you look at their 3-8, how do you sell your players on the danger? Do you feel like this is a danger game? Obviously you do, but how do you sell them on just that obvious dominance you have?
COACH TRESSEL: I think it goes beyond the danger thing. Ohio State versus Michigan trumps everything. It trumps your record. It trumps whether it’s dangerous or you don’t have a chance or any of those kinds of things. It trumps all things because it’s the Ohio State-Michigan game. And I would like to think our guys understand that, but there’s only one demonstration of understanding that and that’s at 12:00 noon on Saturday.
REPORTER: How about the strengths they have, they have a good defense and talent all over the field? Are you surprised at the record they have at this point?
COACH TRESSEL: The thing about football is there are so many good football teams and you watch games and when you see a score, you say, man, I maybe wasn’t expecting that score and then you see a game and you see a mishap or whatever it happens to be, but certainly did I expect the records to be what they are going into this game? No, absolutely not. But that doesn’t change how you look at them. You still look at can they block, can they tackle, can they get rid of blockers, can they make plays. There’s still a field full of names. Greg Matthews, every time you turn around he’s jumping up and catching the ball we tried like crazy to recruit Greg Matthews. So, yes, I’m surprised at the record, but the record, I hate to say it, the record is irrelevant.
REPORTER: What about playing a freshman quarterback in a game that’s as big as this one?
COACH TRESSEL: Well, if Threet is playing as well, there’s two freshmen quarterbacks, which I don’t know when that’s happened, but that’s what it is. So we’re going to get ready to go and hopefully do a good job as a coaching staff designing the things that we think our guys, our freshman quarterback included, can best do knowing how good that outfit is across from us and knowing, too, I hope they haven’t seen how good we are. I hope we play better than we’ve ever played, because that’s what the last game should be. I know we haven’t seen how good they are because they’re going to play better than they’ve played all year. So we’ll see how those young guys do and we’ll see how those veterans do and we’ll see how those coaches do and all the rest, but that’s the fun of this game.
REPORTER: You said your head was swimming when you were assistant coach in this game, what do you think it’s going to be like for Terrelle and are you confident he can handle all of this?
COACH TRESSEL: I’m confident Terrelle can handle it or Michael Brewster in the middle making calls or Nathan Williams coming off the edge as long as they’re focused on what they need to focus on. Will they come out of the tunnel and feel something maybe unlike they’ve felt? Yeah, but then they’ll get popped once. The difference is as an assistant coach up in the press box, you weren’t hit too much, so it might have taken me a little bit longer to get a feel for it, but when you get hit a couple times, it’s game on.
REPORTER: Why do you think you’ve had so much success in this game?
COACH TRESSEL: We’ve had good players. We’ve had good fortune. They’ve been battles. They could have turned on any one given play. Unfortunately, that has nothing to do with how it will go on Saturday, but our guys, it’s important to them and it’s important to Michigan’s guys and it’s just a thrill to be part of it.
REPORTER: Terrelle, has he exceeded your expectations at all?
COACH TRESSEL: Terrelle has done a good job of accepting coaching. He loves being coached. He wants to do well so badly. I remember him saying clear back in August, he’ll do anything to help this senior class have a great year. That’s the way he is. He’s saying the same things late in the year. Has he exceeded? We’re so close to the situation that there are some things that you wish he’d have seen the Mike linebacker go that way and throw to this guy. We’re to that point now that it’s on a play-by-play, day-by-day standpoint. But we knew that he was a talented young guy. Everyone in the country knew that. I don’t know that anyone knew just what a student of the game that he wanted to be. He was always very serious about the game when you talked to him, but you don’t know until you’re thrust into the situation and again, I don’t think you ever evaluate anything whether it’s an individual or a team until they’ve had their full body of work, as we call it, and then you have a chance to maybe for three minutes talk about that first year and then you worry about how he and we are going to do the next year.
REPORTER: Troy had some of his best games against Michigan and Beanie, his freshman year, had the long run and last year he had one of his best games. Is there such a thing as a Michigan killer or Ohio State killer, guys who for whatever reason in that one game have some of their best games?
COACH TRESSEL: I think if you go back into the history of the Ohio State-Michigan game, quite often you point to the people that stepped up and had extraordinary performances, or that extraordinary play and when the game’s over and someone has won, you say, hey, that was a huge reason why that team won that game. But you have to go out and earn that every — you don’t get knighted as a guy that’s going to play good in that game, you have to go do it against good people.
REPORTER: Your first year you guys were unranked coming into the Michigan game, they were in the top 15, you weren’t 3-8, but still it’s a little bit similar. Did you see anything in that week in preparation or the way they played that because it was the Michigan game it brought out something that your team, that first year, played better than it had played?
COACH TRESSEL: I think there were two things that I felt as we went into the ’01 Michigan game, one is that I thought they were very willing to try to follow the plan, not necessarily that it would have been their plan or the plan they had in the past, but they were the kind of guys that for the good of the cause, were very willing to follow the plan. And number two is you could tell the Ohio State-Michigan game meant a lot to them, regardless of what the plan was, and so you take those two things and that’s why I say, I’m not sure you’ve seen how good Michigan is, because as I watch them on film, they’re following the plan and I know full well they understand the Ohio State-Michigan game and that’s what I felt good about our 2001 team.
REPORTER: Michigan State and Ohio State, can you talk about how much both teams have riding on this game? Can you talk about specifically what Ohio State has riding on this game?
COACH TRESSEL: Well, Ohio State has the Ohio State-Michigan game riding on it and what happens outside of that won’t be decided for a few weeks, couple weeks, I guess, the way it is. Am I rooting for Michigan State? I root for all the Big Ten teams.
REPORTER: You guys are like 19, 20-point favorites, I’m trying to remember a line being that big, is that out of wack?
COACH TRESSEL: Sure, for this game? They probably shouldn’t have a line on this game because Ohio State and Michigan, it’s going to be a battle.
REPORTER: First go around with Rich’s spread offense, I know it’s early in the week, but what kind of concerns do you have about that?
COACH TRESSEL: The thing I like about watching Rich with his offense or I remember facing Paul Johnson when he had his offense at Georgia Southern and now at Georgia Tech, is you know those guys know if you decide to stop them this way, they’ve got a package ready, so I know they’re not concerned with well, which of Ohio State’s things are they going to do because they know they have an answer to all of them.
Now, it comes down to executing, that’s just the way it is in football, but he has been kind of one of the early frontiersmen in the spread world, so you know that he’s maybe even a step ahead of some things that none of us have ever seen. So I’ve enjoyed watching it, as I say, as we get ready for this team or this team are or this team, we’re watching whoever played them and they do a good job in the course of the game adjusting to what the opposing defenses are doing.
REPORTER: You’ve never really been wedded to a system. You’ve tweaked according to your personality. Will you discuss your philosophy on that versus being an assistant coach?
COACH TRESSEL: Right. Well, there’s probably two reasons. I’ve always felt that doing what your personnel can best do is the best answer and that that’s going to be ongoing change. And two, I’ve always felt that I would like to have a little bit of a lot of things because the team that my defense faces most in the course of a calendar year is us and I want them in the spring to face some spread. I want them to face some power. I want them to face some option. I want them to face some dropback, et cetera, et cetera. And then in preseason, there’s 44 practices — or 29 in the preseason and in the spring, they’ve got 44 practices against us, I want them to be as prepared as they can for those 12 games coming up and they’re going to have all kind of different looks that they face. So it’s really been for two reasons, for the sake of the defense and sake of the personnel.
REPORTER: Do you think he would have made a difference with how their season has gone so far this year?
COACH TRESSEL: I think Terrelle Pryor can be a difference maker, but the good news is, we don’t have to even consider that. He’d have to compete to get in their lineup like he had to compete to get in our lineup and all those things, but he’s a good football player.
REPORTER: When he signed with you guys, though, did you consider it almost a double win because obviously he was the Number 1 recruit in the country and you got him and Michigan didn’t, how did you look at that in your head?
COACH TRESSEL: I think a lot of times when you’re involved in your regional recruiting, typically someone in your league is going to get someone that you don’t, and so the fact that Penn State didn’t get him or Michigan didn’t get him, or whomever, and I guess back in the old days, when they had the unlimited scholarships, there was a little bit of recruiting so the other guys didn’t get some people, but I felt more of the win was the fact that we were getting a great young man coming to our program.
REPORTER: When Rich took that job up there and obviously Terrelle immediately dropped West Virginia and was considering Michigan, what did you rethink about your effort? Did it change you to retool a little bit how you were going after him, because you were going against your arch rival now as opposed to —
COACH TRESSEL: Not really, because I think the biggest thing you need to do in recruiting is be consistent and if all of a sudden you’re changing your position at various times because of how things are going, at the end of the day, you probably won’t garner that trust factor.
REPORTER: Could you talk about the injury situation in particular, Beanie?
COACH TRESSEL: Beanie’s fine. Beanie, I’m not exactly — mentioned Harrison Dillard in my post game and all these young guys gave me that brook trout, they’d never heard of Harrison Dillard. When he hurdled, he might have tweaked something, but Beanie will be fine. The only guys I’m concerned about that might not make the bill will be Jermale Hines.
REPORTER: Is the way Beanie plays in big games of concern?
COACH TRESSEL: Beanie, when he’s a hundred percent healthy, I haven’t seen him have too many bad games. If we can block some people and create some opportunities, we always say Coach Bruce used to always tell us when Keith Byars was here, just get his feet to the line of scrimmage and he’s going to make something happen and our offensive line has a tremendous challenge this week because I think that front at Michigan is tough. But Beanie will play well as long as he’s healthy and like anyone else, but he, in my opinion, has a little bit more than most and he even takes it up another notch.
REPORTER: When Rich was hired at Michigan it seemed to change their fortunes and when you came here it had the same effect. Regardless of a Coach’s knowledge, can that change the mentality of a team that hasn’t fared well in a big rivalry, sort of clear the slate and start over?
COACH TRESSEL: I think change, if handled properly among many fronts can be positive. If things are done the same way year after year after year and it becomes a little bit redundant walking in your sleep, I don’t care if it’s a company or an organization of any kind, a football team’s no different. I think change can help in the long run. Is change difficult? Absolutely, change is difficult. And that’s why, as I watch this team and see the way they keep playing and they keep playing and they keep playing, I’m impressed with the fact that while transition isn’t easy, it isn’t the way that it was and Lloyd did as good a job in his however many years he was there as any football coach has ever done in a stint anywhere, so things are a little bit different and it hasn’t bounced exactly the right way, but that doesn’t mean when all is said and done, it won’t end up being a very positive change.
REPORTER: On senior day this week, is there a possibility that Todd Boeckman would get the start or get any consideration for playing time?
COACH TRESSEL: Well, we haven’t talked about that, although we’re not very deep into the week. One time I remember I had so many seniors on offense in particular I started 11 seniors on the first play and then on play two, it was back to the rest of the group. I’m not sure that that’s in the cards here, but I haven’t really talked about that.
REPORTER: Will Ray Small be available this week?
COACH TRESSEL: He may be.
REPORTER: Even if he’s back, do you think Hartline and Robiskie will be the punt returners? Will Ray be in that?
COACH TRESSEL: There’s a chance. What day is this? Monday? There’s a chance.
REPORTER: You’ve got a chance to go five in a row against these guys, how fortunate do you feel to be in a situation, concerning the history of this rivalry?
COACH TRESSEL: The thing I think is very real is that 2008 is unique to itself and, yes, you can start talking about, well, this group of years this happened and so forth, and I feel fortunate that we’ve won some ball games against some great teams, but the 2008 group is a group of 28 seniors that, to me, this is about them, and they know and we know and all the rest that it’s going to be a battle and anything that came before this really is just an indication that you better learn from how difficult that is.
REPORTER: Scott Schafer, as a Baldwin-Wallace guy, did you ever come across him, have any different relationship with him at all?
COACH TRESSEL: I’ve met Scott a few times and talked with him and have admired his coaching and when he was at Northern Illinois, he did a nice job and we’ve crossed paths in the clinic world or the recruiting world. I’d always heard good things about him and felt good about that. He was from my alma mater, I knew his dad, his dad was a coach up at Painsville, but never really worked with him, but had always heard great things about him. He came in from Stanford, I believe, and I was watching all summer long the way that Stanford team handled Southern Cal in that ball game and was very impressed with that. He’s done a good job.
REPORTER: Is Beanie the emotional heart and soul of your offense?
COACH TRESSEL: I think Beanie brings energy to our offense. It does something for you as an offensive lineman if all of a sudden you feel that pile going forward or you see that tackle broken or you see that hurdle you’re chasing down as fast as you can. You see the guy go up in the air and all those kinds of things. I think anyone that makes plays or does their job well, if it’s a lineman that does a wonderful job blocking, that all brings energy. When Terrelle makes a play, that brings energy. When Robiskie jumps up in the air. So I wouldn’t say we have just one heart-and-soul of our offense. I hope not, because we need everyone to step up this week.
REPORTER: Terrelle was down there trying to throw a block on that play at the end.
COACH TRESSEL: I saw that.
REPORTER: Does that come naturally to him? Has he been urged to do that.
COACH TRESSEL: On the block thing? Never been mentioned to him before.
REPORTER: But is that one of the things he’s brought?
COACH TRESSEL: He’s a competitor. I think he’s played I don’t know how many games now and if you’ve watched our games, you have to know that he loves to compete and he’s most critical of himself, and when he doesn’t complete a pass or he misses a read or whatever it happens to be, he is critical of himself because he wants to compete. He has high expectations for himself and high expectations for the team that’s’ on. He’ll do anything for them, i.e., that vicious block he threw there.
REPORTER: Can you take us through the week a little bit and tell us, since we won’t see you until Saturday, the kinds of things you do to get the guys ready for the game, senior tackle and Earle and all that stuff?
COACH TRESSEL: We got together last night which we always do for this week with our band and with our Earle and then today we’ll get together with all of you and then tomorrow we’ll hit the practice field. Tuesday, Wednesday are the days you put in what you’re trying to plan and get a feel for it knowing full well we’re probably going to see something a little different than what we’ve seen before both offensively and defensively and just have a base plan ready. And then Thursday is a little bit more of just kind of a rehearsal day and then you get more nervous and more nervous and more nervous and you have recognition with the seniors with the senior tackle. Friday seems like a long day, we don’t practice on Fridays, a lot of walk-throughs, a lot of meetings, those kinds of things. And the best news is, the game’s at noon.
REPORTER: Anything else from an emotional standpoint that you’d do different this week?
COACH TRESSEL: Not really. This is Ohio State-Michigan.
REPORTER: How about the bowl practice?
COACH TRESSEL: You know, bowl practice is a good thing for you from a repetition standpoint and all those kinds of things. In my opinion, the way a team is billed is how they’re thinking and bowl practice doesn’t add much to that.
REPORTER: What did you think about how Terrelle handled himself after the game going back to the locker room?
COACH TRESSEL: Going back to the locker room?
REPORTER: Pointing at the fans, going back and forth.
COACH TRESSEL: I wasn’t aware of that.
REPORTER: Is that something you need to address with him?
COACH TRESSEL: He loves to compete and he loves people questioning whether he can get something done or not, but is that always the best thing to communicate back and forth? Not always, but you don’t know what was said, you don’t know if it’s good natured or whatever it happens to be, but didn’t really see it, didn’t even hear of it until you just said that.
REPORTER: I know you’d like to win every game every year, but at the end of that ’01 season, at the end of your first year, when you look back, in a transition, how did you evaluate that? Given what a change can be, did you envision —
COACH TRESSEL: How did we evaluate the whole group?
REPORTER: To go 7-5 your first year —
COACH TRESSEL: I was disappointed because I thought we were capable of more than that. I thought we were capable of winning that game out at UCLA and didn’t and we were up on Wisconsin by a bunch of points and lost and the Illinois game, we had a punt blocked for a touchdown and threw an interception for a touchdown and you can see coaches remember the wonderful things. I was proud of the way the kids in the bowl game, we were down 28 or something, and they fought back and I felt bad about calling that pass near the end of that game that ended up getting intercepted and they ended up kicking a however long field goal and so how did I evaluate that year? I probably thought more about the things that didn’t go well because I thought they could have than anything.
REPORTER: Were there many moments when you looked back that you thought, that happened because that was my first year here, I won’t do that again or that maybe we’d lost that game because we were new, it was a new change, that kind of thing?
COACH TRESSEL: I think anytime you don’t get something done as well as you’d like, you make those notes and say, you know what, we’ve got to work harder on this, we’ve got to make sure we understand how important this is, et cetera, et cetera. So, yeah, that’s — you’re still doing it when you win games, I hope, because if you think every time you’ve won a game it was because you’re wonderful, you’re in trouble.
REPORTER: To be such an overwhelming favorite as you mentioned, you felt maybe that was a little out of whack, what really does scare you about this team this year, because clearly they have not performed very well, it seems like you’d be protecting against overconfidence, if anything.
COACH TRESSEL: The thing that impresses me about their team is that they play, and that I know they know the importance of this ball game and they’re going to play better than they’ve ever played. I also know the character that transition builds and we’re at the end of the year and they’ve had a lot of lessons and a lot of things that some went their way and some didn’t, so forth, and I know they’ve got good players, I know they’ve got good coaches, and that’s what impresses me, but at the end of the day, it’s going to be how well do we do, I mean, that’s what both teams are going to be saying right now. This isn’t about what they’re going to do, because I know they’re going to do well. I know they’re going to play better than they’ve played. What will we do?
REPORTER: Do you feel you snuck up on Michigan in 2001? You won that game, like Doug said, your record was what it was and your starting quarterback, his first start ever is at Michigan, as you look back, did you feel like you sneaked up on them a little?
COACH TRESSEL: I don’t know how you sneak in the Ohio State-Michigan game. I think that would be impossible. I think what we did is we went out and caused a couple turnovers early and we got a little lead and hit a fourth and one for a homerun and all of a sudden, we were having a chance to win. So I don’t know that we snuck up.
REPORTER: I’m just drawing the analogy to this year. Obviously no one’s giving them a chance.
COACH TRESSEL: Right. The people that are in the silver helmets will know better.
REPORTER: Does Justin Boren have any inside Michigan info to pass on?
COACH TRESSEL: I asked him if he wanted to come out and visit with this group. I’m sure that he would be very happy when this weekend is over because he’s got a lot of dear friends and he has a different scenario in his life and I’m sure he’ll be a little bit like when we played Mark Dantonio, the best part of those games are when they’re over, I’m sure he’ll be happy when this game’s over.
REPORTER: Jim, you mentioned your seniors, just wonder how you feel about this group, I know it’s hard to compare teams, but if they win Saturday, they’re going to make some significant history. I’m just wondering what this is going to be like before the game maybe for you.
COACH TRESSEL: It’s a great group of guys. Every group of seniors has been through a different path and you don’t end up liking one group more than another but you end up appreciating what it was that their travel was and what it was their contribution was and what it was their sacrifice was. This is a group that’s been here a great deal of time and we’ve had some wonderful things happen and we’ve had injuries happen that have shaken the family and it’s been a group that has worked very hard to represent us off the field and has done very well academically and I think are prepared for the next step in their world. Some of them will step into the NFL, some of them will step into the other world. But it’s been a group of great guys that have given a lot to Ohio State. They’ve really given a lot to the community, appreciated being at the university. Their diploma is something that they’re very proud of and they’ve played a lot of good football and sometimes it’s gone for them in football the way they wanted it, sometimes it hasn’t, but they’ve marched forward and that’s been impressive.
REPORTER: Will Tyson Gentry be graduating?
COACH TRESSEL: Tyson is a senior. He’s one of our 28 guys. We have five medical guys. Tyson Gentry, Chris Rietschlin, Jon Skinner are the five medicals and of course Curtis Terry is out for the year.
REPORTER: Will it be as emotional —
COACH TRESSEL: I would think so. I would think for he and I and us and everybody especially because those other 20 some guys have been a real part of his support, no question about it.
REPORTER: How much of your approach to Michigan comes from Earle?
COACH TRESSEL: Well, my first experience of the Ohio State-Michigan game intimately was with Earle and then I had a 15-year hiatus and then back as a head coach, but I would say how we approached it and the excitement about it, Earle had a way of helping you understand how lucky you are to be a part of that game and so I’m sure that’s the foundation of how we approach it as does — at Michigan, that’s the way they approach it, they feel privileged to be a part of this game.
REPORTER: Just trying to figure out if you are doing something different. For years here, prior to you, Ohio State was having trouble winning this game, you’ve been winning all these games. Do you bring up Michigan every day or I mean does this come up in conversation? What do you use to practice for Michigan?
COACH TRESSEL: We practice for Michigan on Michigan week. We’re not that good that we can practice for games way ahead, but it’s just, I think that, guys that go to Ohio State and guys that go to Michigan, the reason — one of the reasons that they go to those places is to be a part of this game.
REPORTER: You’re from Ohio, Lloyd was from Michigan, do you think it would be difficult for someone that didn’t grow up as one of those two states to fully understand or appreciate this rivalry until they’ve been through it once?
COACH TRESSEL: Not if you spend any time around that place because from the day you arrive there as a player or as a coach, it’s very obvious to you that that game is held in high regard and if you’re from somewhere else, you knew that too from afar because you watched the rankings of the great rivalries and the attention that this game gets year after year so it’s pretty apparent how special it is.
REPORTER: Can you talk about the noon start time for this game? Because the fans, especially a lot of students feel a little slighted or disappointed that this is a noon start as opposed to 1:30 or 3:30?
COACH TRESSEL: Why are they disappointed.
REPORTER: Think it’s a little bit of an opportunity to tailgate, perhaps, a bit more.
COACH TRESSEL: I got you. Well, I love the students and I want them excited, but I love waking up in the morning and not sitting around until 8:00 at night. If I had my way in a perfect world, my perfect time is 1:00, but got to fit a certain amount of games in a day and all those things so our kids get the exposure they do, but I don’t think there was any thought of slighting the students, the time was set for television venues.
REPORTER: Speaking of the students, what would you have to do for you to jump into mirror lake?
COACH TRESSEL: What would I have to do.
REPORTER: What would someone have to do for you to jump into mirror lake.
COACH TRESSEL: Probably have to shoot me and throw me in there in November, I’m not 19 anymore. We’ll let the 19 year olds jump in. Dionne, last question.
REPORTER: Can you talk about Sanzenbacher?
COACH TRESSEL: Dane Sanzenbacher is a competitor and that’s the thing I love about this team, not just the seniors, but the whole group, is we’ve got a bunch of guys that like to compete and Dane has been a guy that I thought he had as fine a preseason as anyone we had, and he’s been there whenever you’ve needed him and he’s always where he’s supposed to be and sometimes that’s where the quarterback can deliver it and sometimes he’s the decoy, but Dane Sanzenbacher is where he’s supposed to be.
REPORTER: What do you think his limits are? Is the sky the limit.
COACH TRESSEL: What are his limits? The sky is the limit for Dane. Didn’t we get Dionne?
REPORTER: A lot has changed over the last couple weeks, how much has your team grown and character-wise, how much has the team grown?
COACH TRESSEL: I think our team has grown in these 11 weeks. I think anytime you go through real challenges and our schedule was challenging, expectations were tremendous, everything didn’t go our way. The games were battles. I think you grow. You both grow together and you grow as individuals. So I think our team has grown. Now, we have to demonstrate that on Saturday at the prescribed time, but I’d like to think our guys will do that.