NEW ORLEANS, La. – Ohio State coach Jim Tressel and Arkansas Coach Bobby Petrino had a chance to meet in person at this 2011 Sugar Bowl Monday as both coaches spent about 25 minutes addressing questions from the media. In between the sessions, the two spoke briefly and posed for the traditional photo along with the Sugar Bowl trophy.
Both coaches wore black suits with red ties. Tressel opted for a gray shirt while Petrino was in white. Commenting on the dress, Tressel said at his first BCS bowl game he showed up at the final press conference in sweats, while Miami’s Larry Coker was in a coat and tie.
“I thought they probably didn’t use those nine million pictures they took [that day],” Tressel said.
Stats wise, Tressel handled 16 questions from the press during his time on the dais, including nine from media who typically cover Ohio State football. Petrino responded to 19 questions. A few of their thoughts follow.
Coach Tressel on…
Handling adversity: “I think adversity, whether it’s for a football team or for an individual or for those that aren’t football players is always the greatest teacher; not always the most fun, but always the greatest teacher.”
Whether the Big Ten’s Jan. 1 games adds to the challenge: “Arkansas is enough of a challenge of its own. What someone else did or didn’t do is probably going to have very little effect on how we do against Arkansas.”
Players offering opinions: “As we talked about with any of our kids in terms of giving their opinions on things, I’ve always felt that sometimes those are best left unsaid, which is difficult sometimes for kids because they spend so much of their time hearing people’s opinions of them.”
His team on the radar screen: “Well, I think all of us as coaches like to be on the radar from a standpoint of recognizing that our kids have worked hard and have earned this opportunity to be at a wonderful bowl game. We obviously don’t like to be on the radar when we err, but we know that’s part of being on the radar. And it’s not wrong. But as far as whether we’ve been under the radar or over the radar, I guess I don’t check the radar that close.”
Opponent doing things you haven’t prepared for: “Bobby’s teams have always done that. I thought his brother did good a job of that against us with Illinois this year. Came out especially early and did a couple of key breaker things, and it was challenging. And so we have to make sure that in the course of the game…that we don’t get disappointed that they’re not doing exactly what we’ve prepared to do, because it’s not within the rules that they have to.”
Arkansas: “They’re a physical team. 10 and 2 and the schedule they played, week after week, the battles they were in….And I’d like to think we are.”
Direction Mike Holmgren will go with his coaching situation: “There are times when you question whether I know what we’re doing at our place. How would I know what Mike’s doing? (Laughter). What will he do? Gosh. No scoop here on that one. I have no idea. I have no idea.”
Ryan Mallett: “…I’ve told people here before all week or weeks leading up to this that when he left Michigan, I don’t know if it’s the right thing to think, but I was happy. I don’t know if that’s an honorable emotion or not. But I was [happy]. And as fate would have it, I guess I was being punished for that terrible thought, because here we are. And now I get him as a senior. Whoo. And I get him with a great tight end and great running backs and offensive line that hasn’t missed a start and wide receivers who can make plays.”
Coach Petrino on…
What a win would mean for Arkansas: “What a win does is finish it off for our seniors. Finish it off for this team, the 2010 Razorbacks.”
D.J. Williams: “The thing that’s so special about D.J. is it’s not only with the football team and with the people in the athletic department, but you can go on campus and see all the professors, other students and everybody knows D.J. Williams. Everyone knows that he smiles and loves life.”
Ryan Mallett playing against Ohio State: “What Ryan has done a nice job of is, once he came to the University of Arkansas, he put everything behind him. He put everything behind him and moved forward and I think that’s important for anybody to do that. And he grew up wanting to be an Arkansas Razorbacks football player.”
What he expects from Ohio State: “I think you always try to do what you do best and execute what you do best. And then adjust as the game goes on. So I think they’ll come in and try to live with what got them here. We feel like we have a great challenge in stopping the run. Not only the runs to the running back…with their quarterback runs, and try to get them in third and long situations. But obviously when you have this much time to prepare, you know, we’re going to see something that we haven’t prepared for.”
The OSU secondary: “It will be a great challenge for us. They’ve got two big, tall corners with long arms that are well coached, have tremendous technique. Their safeties are real impressive because they come downhill and make a lot of tackles, are able to be in zone coverage and get down to the line of scrimmage very, very fast. Their ability to read run pass is something that’s really impressed me.”
More on the coaches…
Jim Tressel Tressel is in his 10th season at Ohio State and he is coaching in his eighth BCS bowl game, all with Ohio State. He is in his 25th season as a collegiate coach and is the second-winningest active coach with a record of 240-79-2. He is 105-22 at Ohio State and he is the third-fastest Big Ten coach to 100 wins.
Tressel in Bowl Games (5-4; 5-3 in BCS Games)
2002 Outback Bowl – South Carolina 31, Ohio State 28
2003 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl – *Ohio State 31, Miami 24 (2OT)
2004 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl – Ohio State 35, Kansas State 28
2005 Mastercard Alamo Bowl – Ohio State 33, Oklahoma State 7
2006 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl – Ohio State 34, Notre Dame 20
2007 BCS Championship Game – Florida 41, Ohio State 14
2008 BCS Championship Game – LSU 38, Ohio State 24
2009 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl – Texas 24, Ohio State 21
2010 Rose Bowl – Ohio State 26, Oregon 17
Bobby Petrino Petrino is in his seventh season as a collegiate head coach and his third season at Arkansas. He has a career mark of 64-23 and an Arkansas record of 23-14. He is 3-2 in bowl games and the 2011 Allstate Sugar Bowl marks his second BCS bowl game. Petrino’s coaching record includes a 41-9 record in four seasons as the coach at Louisville.
Petrino in Bowl Games (3-2; 1-0 in BCS Games)
2003 GMAC Bowl – Miami (Ohio) 49, Louisville 28
2004 Liberty Bowl – Louisville 44, Boise State 10
2006 Gator Bowl – Virginia Tech 35, Louisville 24
2007 Orange Bowl – Louisville 24, Wake Forest 13
2009 Liberty Bowl – Arkansas 20, East Carolina 17
A few more coaching notes from the sidelines…
– Tressel is the only coach in NCAA history to win 100 or more games at two schools.
– Petrino is just the third coach to lead two programs to a BCS bowl game. The others are Urban Meyer (Utah and Florida) and Nick Saban (LSU and Alabama).
– Tressel is 18-8 as an Ohio State coach in games he has more than one week to prepare for (season openers, after bye weeks and bowl games).
– Petrino’s teams are 24-7 all-time when they have more than one week to prepare for an opponent.
– Tressel’s team has won five consecutive games.
– Petrino’s team has won six consecutive games.
– Tressel is the son of a coach. His father, Lee Tressel, coached at Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio, for 23 years.
– Petrino is the son of a coach. His father, Bob Petrino Sr., coached at Carroll College in Helena, Mont., for 26 years.
– Tressel played quarterback for his father at Baldwin-Wallace.
– Petrino played quarterback for his father at Carroll College.
About 25 members of the football team participated in Ohio State’s traditional bowl game community service project Monday morning. The contingent worked with Ohio State administrators, including President Gordon Gee, coaches’ wives and others clearing brush, cleaning up and painting at the Beacon of Hope in the Lower Ninth Ward.
Welcome to the NBA
The Buckeyes will have one final team function Monday night: attending the first half of the NBA game between the New Orleans Hornets and the Philadelphia 76ers. Playing for the Sixers: former Buckeye and No. 2 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft Evan Turner. The Hornets play in an arena directly across the street from the Superdome…about a 10 minute ride from the team hotel.