COACH TRESSEL: Lori, Jay, thanks so much for that introduction and we too are tremendously excited about this honor and privilege we have coming up to have our young people head out to the Valley of the Sun on the 29th and reconvene our training and enjoy the tremendous treatment.
One thing we’ve talked a lot about to our guys who maybe have experienced a little less is that there is no place in America that treats you like these folks do, no bowl that takes care of you like this one does and we’re excited to be heading out and please tell Mr. Junker and the crew back there, Mr. Tilson and all the rest, that we’re excited, getting ready to go, and our people are — it’s interesting to watch the older guys talk to the younger guys about just what they’re in store for as they go and I’m excited to see all that development in Glendale because a couple years ago it was one of the first big events and we’re looking forward to that.
We understand it’s also going to be even a little more exciting in the area, not only do they have the Insight Bowl but the Cardinals are going to have a playoff game the weekend that we’re there, so there’s going to be plenty of football for all you football junkies. When you said that you hope that they’re out there, they’ll be out there, I promise you they’ll be out there and ready to go.
We finished our exams on Thursday of last week and had practice Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. We had a huge recruiting weekend. We tried to get nearly our entire recruiting class in on this past weekend and their families and it gave our players a chance to get to know them and host them once the exams were over and they had a little less to think about, and which thought that that went very, very well.
And then we went to work beginning yesterday for really the biggest week of our preparation and we practiced yesterday and today and tomorrow is strictly a lifting day and a film day and Thursday, Friday, Saturday we’ll be at it again and then we’ll practice Monday and Tuesday and our guys will head home Tuesday morning after practice to have five solid days at home with their families and then we’ll reconvene in Scottsdale at the Fairmont and looking forward to getting back to work as we go.
Coach Tucker has most of our schedule set for the week that we are out there. We’ll be practicing at Pinnacle and Shelly’s got the media opportunities set. There’s been one change with the media day that because of the Cardinals game, the media day will actually not be in the stadium, it will be at the media hotel, and we’re not exactly sure which day we’re going to be allowed to get out to the stadium. It will be based upon which day the Cardinals play, either Saturday or Sunday. And I’m told we won’t know that until the games are over on the 27th or something like that. 28th? And so anyway, they’ll keep you abreast and we’re looking forward to it.
Again, no one from an organizational standpoint does it any better than the Fiesta Bowl and as all of you know or many of you know who are from here, I went to Baldwin-Wallace College and our nickname was the Yellow Jackets. And I spent my whole life there as a Yellow Jacket and we’ve been fortunate now that we’re going to spend our fifth year with the Yellow Jackets and we can’t tell you how excited we are to do that.
Now, obviously we’re playing a great football team in the University of Texas and I’ve known Coach Brown for many, many years. I studied his excellence back when he was at North Carolina and on through his 10 seasons or so here at Texas. He’s done an extraordinary job. I think his program stands for the things that we would like to think we stand for and that’s recruiting outstanding young men that happen to be great players that are passionate about the school they play for and have that desire to be thought of as one of the best teams and the best players in the game.
And as you watch their film and I’m sure most of you have seen them, whether it just be on TV or your studies since it became known that we were playing them, they have great football players. Great leadership. We had a chance to play them in ’05 and ’06 and those were two of the toughest games that we’ve had since we’ve been at Ohio State and this may be their finest team yet.
So our guys are looking forward to the tremendous opportunity, the tremendous challenge. As was mentioned earlier, it starts with their great quarterback, Colt McCoy. He’s as good as there is. And 10 years ago it probably would have been unheard of to have people completing 78, 80% of their passes in games and those types of things and he’s just put up extraordinary numbers. He’s the leading rusher on the football team and so that tells you what else that adds to the difficulty of trying to deal with him. He’s got great receivers, veteran guys. He’s got outstanding running backs. His folks up front are tremendous, and obviously he knows the system. We faced him years ago when he was a redshirt freshman taking over for Vince Young and watching his progress has been extraordinary and his coaching staff has done a tremendous job bringing he and the rest of that outfit along to being one of the top offenses in country.
Defensively they’re high pressure, high energy, high enthusiasm. They’re led by their great player, Orakpo, I hope I said that right, I wouldn’t want him mad at me because boy can he play. He’s an outstanding football player, puts pressure on, had it’s the pass game or the run game. He’s got veteran linebackers and just outstanding defensive group that they are going to make you pay if you make mistakes. High pressure. They get after it from a takeaway standpoint and an out standing football team.
Their special teams probably aren’t talked about as much as their offense and their defense, but I think they’re outstanding. If you look at some of their key games, the kickoff return for a touchdown in the Oklahoma game, to me, was huge in the outcome of that game, their tough ball game over at Texas Tech, Texas Tech had a lead and then it was Shipley’s punt return that all of a sudden turned that game into an extraordinary game. Their punter has hang time unlike anything I’ve ever seen. We’ve seen hang times of up over five seconds on his punts which is highly unusual and their kicker does a great job.
So they have great athletes covering and blocking and all the rest, so it’s not a surprise when you turn the film on why they’re one of the top teams in the nation and our guys are excited about the opportunity of, A, going to the Fiesta Bowl and enjoying that reward for a hard fought season, and, B, playing a top team in the nation and a class program. That’s as neat as anything about it as we’re playing against a class program from the University of Texas and you can’t beat that.
REPORTER: How similar is this ’08 Texas team to the ’06 team you guys played in Austin?
COACH TRESSEL: How similar? Well, they’re much further along offensively because a lot of these guys were young and so they’ve gained all those experiences playing, especially Colt and Number 6, I can’t pronounce his name sometimes too, I’m bad at names, I’m okay at numbers. But those guys played early and now all of a sudden they’re veterans and you can see up front and all the rest that they know what they’re doing, their offense has progressed tremendously.
Defensively I think they’ve taken on a little bit different attitude than — I thought ’06 was excellent and ’05, national champions, what more can you say, but they just seemed to be playing with a notch above attitude from that standpoint. And I think they are stronger in their special teams than they were at that point, but you know they’re one of the best teams in the country.
REPORTER: Is Beanie healthy, first of all, and secondly, could you address — seems like we do this every year at this news conference, talk about how many guys may be filing paperwork with the NFL?
COACH TRESSEL: I think Beanie’s pretty healthy. Beanie and Brandon Smith didn’t get to practice yesterday, they got to do some physical fitness because we had a little issue with the going on the news about the thing and this and that, and so we — they ran quite a bit yesterday, so Beanie looked a little sore this morning in practice. I would call him right now probably 85% healthy and we anticipate he’ll be 100% as we go into the game.
As far as which guys filed paperwork with the NFL, the NFL had a little bit of a new way that they went about it this year, not only could you just fill out a form and they would take your name and watch your film with their committee, but they also asked for your transcript, and I think they did that for two reasons. One, to make sure they were looking at guys that were allowed to come out by rule, but, two, I think they wanted to look at one more thing about the young people and learn more about them.
So we ended up, I think, with six guys filling out the paperwork plus going and we couldn’t just print off a transcript, they had to go to the registrar and put in for a transcript and get it sealed and all that business, so we ended up with Brian Hartline, Kurt Coleman, Anderson Russell, Jake Ballard, Jimmy Cordle, I think, were the guys, because that’s five.
REPORTER: And Beanie?
COACH TRESSEL: You know, Beanie didn’t need to fill out the paperwork. I told him to save the transcript, save the paper. Am I missing somebody? Give me another name. Donald Washington, that’s the sixth guy.
REPORTER: What do you mean about Beanie and Brandon, news about the thing, they had?
COACH TRESSEL: Well, remember they were only the Fox News or something and — anyway, they missed a class, they went on TV and they missed a class and you’re not allowed to do that. So they had a reminder. It was a teachable moment for the whole team because those guys got worked. In fact, you’ll see both of them today. They’ll be back over. Ask them how their practice was on Monday.
REPORTER: Williams, is there any update with you on him and where he stands?
COACH TRESSEL: Yeah.
REPORTER: He’s got his deal going on today?
COACH TRESSEL: Yeah, Nathan has got to take care of his personal business today. We’ve gone through the steps of talking with our athletic administration first and foremost to see what policy we would need to follow there. Then we went to our coaching staff and we went to our seniors to talk about the what-ifs, and the way it appears right now from an institutional standpoint, there isn’t any mandated punitive situation. From a team standpoint, there is some in a physical nature and there’s some in a playing-time nature that the coaches and the seniors all agreed upon. So he’ll have some work to do and miss some time and he’ll have some constraints on the bowl trip, and so how he handles all of that will determine what exactly happens on the 5th.
REPORTER: But at this moment, he will make the bowl trip.
COACH TRESSEL: Yeah, he’ll make the trip.
REPORTER: Is there anything else with any other player physically or any other reason to affect —
COACH TRESSEL: No, we’re in pretty good shape. Now, they’re banging each other pretty good here which we want to do during this week, that’s why the week off will help them, and the game week preparation will be scaled back a little, you know, like you do on the site, but right now, yeah. So the phone rings, which my world is based upon when the phone rings, we’re doing okay.
REPORTER: Can you address kind of the video game scoring this year?
COACH TRESSEL: As I watched the film and I haven’t watched quite as much as some of our staff has because I was out on the road last week recruiting, but some key things about — that perhaps the defense isn’t as good. That’s not what I see. The thing that I see is that’s a league right now that has got some extraordinary offensive performers. You look at those — every time you turn a different game on, whether it’s Colt McCoy or it’s the kid at Oklahoma or the kid at Texas Tech or the kid at Oklahoma State or the young kid at Baylor, there are some extraordinary guys under center and there are some extraordinary guys catching the ball. You look at, Chase Daniel throws to Maclyn and you look across the board, the kid at Kansas is extraordinary, Crabtree at Tech and the kid at Kansas, Todd Reesing. Gosh, every team.
REPORTER: Is the physical component there in power football gone?
COACH TRESSEL: I don’t think power football is ever going to be gone because there’s always going to be fourth and one and there’s always going to be the ball land on the one yard line and all of a sudden, maybe it’s a little bit different then. And there’s always going to be someone who decides, hey, that’s who we are and that’s what we’re going to do. It’s just like people talked about the flexbone wishbone option kind of things and, oh, boy, that’s gone and then you turn on the TV and you see Georgia Tech may have been one of the best teams in their conference playing in a great bowl game and all those things so I don’t know if anything’s ever gone for good, but there is a rash of things that becomes the thing of the moment. And the Big 12 has got some great offensive football teams. But I wouldn’t sell their defensive football team short.
REPORTER: As you look at tape, though, is it hard to imagine how Texas is going to play against you guys based on the competition they went against this year, the opposition, everybody was in the spread pretty much? You know what I mean, is it hard to get in your head how they’re going to come after you guys?
COACH TRESSEL: Not really, because we’ll be in the spread too some, and we’ll also be in the I some and we’ve seen them, faced teams in the I, and they’ve got good people. They’ll probably be in nickel and dime maybe a less percent of the time against us than they were against others, but not extraordinary. I mean, we’re going to be spread out and all those kind of things as well.
REPORTER: During bowl practice, how do you balance working on fundamentals and actually preparing for Texas?
COACH TRESSEL: I would say probably a third of the time you’re in fundamental work, maybe 45% of the time you’re working on game plan, and then that 10 or 15 or whatever percent that’s left, you’re competing, because you want to keep that going. You want to keep the competitive edge whether it’s with the young guys or the old guys, you want to compete. They love competing. And so game plan takes precedence, but it’s the bonus of getting that fundamental time for those guys that have been spending all those weeks just doing game plan, they get to go back and work, especially important for a guy like Terrelle who gets put into a situation where every week’s a different defense, every week’s a different game plan and all those kind of things and for a young guy who maybe didn’t have as much fundamental work as you would like for a guy who’s a starter, so we balance it.
REPORTER: Do you have that show time at the end with the young guys?
COACH TRESSEL: Yeah, that’s part of it. You want the old guys competing, but the young guys seem to get a few more snaps than the older guys because you’re anxious to see what they’re doing. In fact, the young guys right at the end of practice today had a big interception and the place erupts with the older guys congratulating them and all those things, and it’s fun. That competitive part is fun.
REPORTER: Do you see Terrelle Pryor developing through this fundamental period in a way that he didn’t maybe through the season?
COACH TRESSEL: He gets to continually work on it, so you do, day-to-day, it’s a little like a preseason, but not quite because in preseason you get to come out in the afternoon and work on it again or you get to have a little time in meeting time and look at yourself and — it’s kind of like the spring practice progression.
REPORTER: What would Woody think of all this spread offense?
COACH TRESSEL: What would Woody think? You know, Woody would probably evolve with it a lot easier than he would evolve with this set-up and the Internet and all that, quite honestly. He could understand football evolution. I’m not sure he could understand the blogs and the rivals.com checking out recruits in ninth grade. Woody might struggle a bit.
REPORTER: With that being said about Terrelle, are you excited to see how he plays on January 5th, as it is the longest practice time he’s gone without?
COACH TRESSEL: It will be exciting to see how he plays, but also he’s going against one of the finest teams, so it’s going to be another measuring stick, but I’m excited for all of our guys from that standpoint. And probably my excitement is the highest, though, for those 28 guys that this is it. And it’s interesting to watch them. All season long, their clock is ticking and all that and you have senior tackle and all that, but this really is it. This really is when it ends for them. And now they have a little bit more time just to be doing this as opposed to getting set for graduation and all that. We had like eight of them walk the other day. I think 16 of our guys will be graduates as they take the field on the 5th and so now they’re kind of just hanging on to every moment left as a college student and player.
REPORTER: You have seniors every year that are going through this, but this senior class, you mentioned those 28, has been sort of such a dominant class, there have been so many guys that have played for so many years. Is there going to be, even during this bowl practice, maybe a sort of passing of the torch that you’re looking to see what this next group of guys is going to be like when those 28 are gone? That’s a lot of leaders that this team’s going to have a very different face next year.
COACH TRESSEL: You know, that’s a logical thing to think about, but it’s probably not one we are, simply because what we’re concerned about is this moment and next year will take care of itself and to us seems like eons from now, and this group has been not only a successful group and all that, but has been a very unselfish group, has been a group that’s handled the good times well and handled the tough times well and it’s hard not to keep your focus right on them because they deserve that.
REPORTER: Is there a sense of — have you all even discussed national reputation kind of like at stake in this game, going against a team a lot of people thought might be in the National Championship game, the way you fared the last two on that stage? What’s the sense you’re getting from this team and trying to make a point?
COACH TRESSEL: You know, we haven’t discussed that a whole bunch, but I think it’s a reality when you have a chance on, whatever that day was, the 7th of December when all of a sudden the Fiesta Bowl was picking you and you’re in that group of 10 teams that are in the BCS, immediately I think you start thinking about the fact that we’ve got to make sure we represent Ohio State because we’ve been chosen for that, we’ve got to represent the Big Ten because we’ve been chosen for that honor, the privilege to go to the Fiesta Bowl. There’s a whole bunch of people that sure wish they were there. And so I think we feel that and so forth. I don’t know if we talk about it every day or anything like that.
REPORTER: But you personally, you don’t like losing.
COACH TRESSEL: Right.
REPORTER: And you don’t like losing big, I’m sure. You personally, you feel a sense of this being sort of a moment, a big game?
COACH TRESSEL: I don’t like losing small. It’s not fun to lose, but the biggest thing I don’t like is I don’t like when we think we could have been better. Now, unfortunately, in most every loss you have, you can point to the things that you could have done better and that’s the things that you regret. And so that opportunity to go out and say, you know what, I’m going to play the best I can, I’m going to coach the best I can, I’m going to be as prepared as I can, that’s exciting and that’s why it’s hard to be thinking about, well, who’s going to pass the torch and it’s even hard to think about recruiting somewhat because I know you have to go do it and that’s important because there is going to be a 2009 and so forth, but you do think about how can I make sure that this is the best I can be on the 5th of January in the Fiesta Bowl.
REPORTER: With that in mind, is there anything over the last National Championship game or maybe the USC game or anything that you’re rolling in your head what you all did well, what you didn’t do well as a staff?
COACH TRESSEL: I think whenever you have a chance to play great teams — and we’ve been fortunate. How did we know back in 2001 or so when we scheduled Texas that it was going to be the Texas of ’05 and ’06? How did we know when we scheduled USC that it was going to be the USC of ’08 and ’09 and how did we know we were going to get a chance to line up in those great championship games. And so the thing that you, I think, learn by having that good fortune that you were in those situations is just how good you have to be when you’re against the best. When we line up on the 5th of January, this will be now the third time this year that we’ve played a team who people feel as if are in the top six teams in the nation. I mean, that’s pretty — pretty cool that you have those opportunities. And hopefully you have we’ve learned through past games, and games like Southern Cal and Texas in the past and games we’ve played against very good teams just how good you have to be, and that’s what we’re talking about preparation, to be successful against the best.
REPORTER: Do you personally feel pressure to deliver in this game?
COACH TRESSEL: Do I personally feel the pressure to deliver?
COACH TRESSEL: If we do, that will be wonderful. It won’t change my life. If we don’t, that will be disappointing, but it won’t change my life. You might write some bad things about me, but I’ll get over it. So, no, I don’t feel a pressure, I feel an excitement. I feel a responsibility, especially to these guys, I feel responsibility to Ohio State, because Ohio State deserves our best. I feel a responsibility to the Big Ten because the Big Ten deserves our best, but personally, I don’t know, I’m still a Yellow Jacket.
REPORTER: Jim, this is your eighth bowl to prepare for, there are some unique challenges with six weeks or whatever in between the last game. Is there anything you’ve learned over the last seven years about how to get guys mentally prepared or is there anything you do differently year to year?
COACH TRESSEL: We’ve probably done things a little bit differently each time and I’m not sure that because we did them one way and we happened to win a bowl game that that was perfect or that we did it a different way and we happened to not win a game, so we’re constantly changing. Our routine is a little bit different this year than it’s been. It’s not dramatically different because there are some things that were built in. Final exams were built in. Recruiting’s built in. You only have so many days to do certain things. Their bodies are built in. Above all else, we’ve got to have the best bodies of our guys, healthy, yet we’ve got to practice, we’ve got to compete, we’ve got to work on fundamentals. So there are certain things that have to be done and we’ve every year tweaked it a little bit. Probably the most drastic thing we did was our first year here, we took them way early because we just felt we needed some more time with them, and we also promised them if they did a good job with it, they’d never have to do that again, so, yeah, I think we’ve learned a little bit each time and still, the teams we’ve played have been darn good each time and that’s part of the formula as well.
REPORTER: These guys get out of here a week from now for those five days or whatever to go home before you start practicing in Arizona, what do you ask them to do at home? You want them to relax, forget about things?
COACH TRESSEL: Yeah, their time off needs to be their family time, it needs to be getting a little bit away from football. We’d like them — our strength guys send them home with a suggested running routine and suggested lifts and if I had to bet, we’d probably get a 12% completion of that, just like I take a whole bunch of film home with me and I end up watching about 15 minutes of it because all of a sudden when you’re a family, that’s what it’s about, and you get a chance to relax or maybe sleep in, whatever they do, and they might even stay out later than I do, I don’t know. But we want them to get away, yet let them know that we can’t do anything to go backwards and we want to hit the bowl site rested. And the neat thing about the bowl site is there are so many neat activities for them, so many things for them to see and we want them to have the energy to do that and prepare for a great football game. And with that in mind, there’s a lot of them roaming around here and I want them to get rest today. Hey, Malcolm, they said they wanted to hear from you first. Who are you on the line with?
MALCOLM JENKINS: Beanie.
COACH TRESSEL: Who’s more important than these?
MALCOLM JENKINS: Shelly. I don’t know.
COACH TRESSEL: Oh, blame it on Shelly. I saw a whole bunch, Anderson Russell and all those guys are — are you spreading them around? We’ve got one last question.
REPORTER: Kind of off topic, but in light of what happened earlier this week, you’re standing at a podium quite often, have you ever gotten a shoe thrown at you?
COACH TRESSEL: I just keep an eye on Ken Gordon because I know he’s the only one who wants to throw a shoe at me. As long as his hands are on his notebook, I’m in good shape. He’s thinking about throwing his pen. I did see that clip. That’s amazing. That’s one thing I’ve never worried about is a shoe being thrown at me.
REPORTER: That’s what happens with a bad answer.
COACH TRESSEL: Is that what happens with a bad answer? It wasn’t even in the same language.
REPORTER: Were you impressed by Bush’s reactions?
COACH TRESSEL: His quickness? Absolutely. He’s an athlete now. He’s a runner.