Dec. 3, 2017
COACH MEYER: I’ll answer any questions for you.
Q. Did you expect to get in, and what was it like when you saw that it wasn’t you?
COACH MEYER: My daughter said you know it seems like every year we’re sitting around my room right there watching TV and waiting for something to show up. It’s been that way for a while. And I hope we continue to be there for many, many years.
Did I expect? I hoped. To expect, I didn’t study it that much. The whole conversation with our players have been ever since that loss was laser focus on our opponent, laser focus on your job responsibility. And they’ve done that.
And it would be an injustice for me — ESPN asked me what can they do better? I don’t know. I don’t know. Did I expect, no? Did I hope? Yes.
Q. What are your thoughts about playing USC?
COACH MEYER: I know their coach a little bit. I have not studied them on video tape. Obviously Ohio State and USC are two traditioners’ programs. I understand we’re going to be in and Dallas, which is a great city and play in that great stadium. Haven’t had much time to think about it other than I think it’s been about four minutes now.
But we’re excited and our players — I just really want to do right by our guys because our guys have been fantastic, man. There’s been very little issues. Every day we had some tough injuries that we fought through. And I want to do right by these players.
Q. The value of this game, because as you said last night, that the playoff seems to be everything. But the value of winning, beating a traditional, almost, Big Ten/Pac-12 kind of rival.
COACH MEYER: Yeah, I look at it a little differently. I’ve not fall in that trap about nothing else matters. I’m anxious to see that thing go up there on 2000 and — what year is it? 2017, right there. Imagine it will be up next week. Big Ten champions.
And Billy Price is officially our ring committee chairman. And it’s going to be a big one, he told me, which is fine. Make it as big as you want. So I put a lot of stock into what these guys have done.
Q. Have you had much chance to talk to your players since the (inaudible) —
COACH MEYER: After the game I did. And that was more about enjoying the moment. I sent out a text to them. They deserve a day off.
I see one of my guys right there in the back, what’s up, Worl? You know what’s cool about our players is they know we love them and they love us. This is a really good team, a really close team.
I’ve had teams where you kind of go out on the practice field and you’re like, I’m not — just don’t feel good about that guy, that guy, that guy. I don’t have that.
And so I’m anxious — we’re going to have some fun in this bowl practice. We’re going to have to do our very best to win it. And our players know we’re not going to change the way we do our business; we’re going to try to go win a game.
Q. Those guys who might be disappointed about what happened, what’s your message to them to keep their spirits up as they get ready to play this game?
COACH MEYER: You have to understand they’re not kind of disappointed. They’re probably devastated. But that’s one thing families do, how do you handle devastation, get around those you love and let’s go back to work.
There’s other ways to handle it. And that’s not appropriate. And we all know what those other ways are, handling devastation or disappointment.
The way that I’ve learned and the way we’ve tried to teach our team because it’s a family approach here is how to handle disappointment. Get together, man, let’s go. Let’s go. We’ll be fine.
It’s going to sting for a while and then get around those you love and care about and move on.
Q. You’ve had a national championship team here. You’ve gone to the playoff multiple times. I know that it stings in the moment right now, but when you look at the whole body of this team and where they were last night and now that you can actually reflect on it, did you think this was a national caliber-type of championship team?
COACH MEYER: Sure.
Q. — playing as well as some of the teams that actually made to it that stage?
COACH MEYER: Sure. We finished top ten — I saw the stat, top ten offense, top ten defense. We had to replace six guys that left early for the NFL draft. We have a very powerful recruiting class coming in. It’s a very healthy program right now.
But what really matters to me is guys like Worl, guys like — I can’t ask Chris Worley for something else. I can’t say, hey, I need you to do this. He’s done — and that goes to where I can start listing the names. At this point in my life, my career that’s all I want; I want to coach guys I like, I want to be around guys I like.
Do I think this is a national caliber team? Absolutely. We had a bad loss. That happened. So move on. We’re not going to look backwards. I promise you this, we’re going to look forward.
Q. Last year at this time you were in but you didn’t experience what you got to experience last night. This year you’ve had the conference championship. Could you speak of the value of that, even though you guys are devastated, how much value do you put in what you guys experienced to win the conference title?
COACH MEYER: I thought you were going to ask me about the birth of my grandson when you say experience. Remember, that’s when he was born on selection Sunday a year ago.
Okay. I lost track of the question. What was it again?
Q. The value of a conference title, experiencing what you guys experienced last night?
COACH MEYER: That’s it right there. And you can never take that out of there. And that’s — I’m going to make sure — some of you maybe don’t get an opportunity, but around this facility I’m kind of bizarre about this. I want to make sure guys like Worley when he brings back little Worley some day, and I want him to see pictures on the wall of what those guys have done.
And so there will be a wall for this team. This is going to be — this is a special group. And Big Ten Championship, that will never change. Look at 1916, it was the first one. And that’s always going to be — how do you measure a team’s success? Sure, national titles.
So often that’s out of our control, which you saw. And get to Indianapolis and find a way to win the Big Ten Championship.
Q. Alabama lost its last regular season game to Auburn, was basically dominated by Auburn when you watch it. You guys had the bad loss but you rebounded with four straight wins. And like you said, you have quality wins over three teams in their top final 15 or 16. Do you get the sense now that the committee had its mind made up going into yesterday that Alabama was better than you guys no matter what?
COACH MEYER: I don’t know. I didn’t study it at all. I’m not going to. I mean, I’ve said this to ESPN, just the way I was raised, I’ve always admired people that have a job to do and go do it. Now do it right and do it the best you can.
That’s why journalists, when you’ve got a job to do go do it. Do it right. Don’t create issues, because I’ll disrespect the hell out of you if you do that. However if you have a job go do it.
The same with our players. They had a job to do last night, to go against a top-four team in the America. Excellent defense and one of the top Heisman candidates at tailback. Our guys had a job to go do it.
USC had a job to do, they did it. They won their conference championship. And the college football playoff committee had a job to do. It wasn’t easy. Can you imagine that room? You have to respect and move on. For me to sit here start worrying about it. I’m moving forward.
Q. But this is two straight years that the Big Ten champion has not gotten into the playoff. Last year it was Penn State. This year — that’s just the way it flows or goes?
COACH MEYER: I don’t — get ready for the bowl game.
Q. J.T. Barrett, what did he prove to you last night more than anything else, maybe over the week?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, he’s not had to prove anything anymore. I mean, that’s been — when a trainer looks at me says it’s 50/50. Automatically my mind goes 80/20. As it gets closer to the week and, boy, it’s looking good — 60 or 70 percent. Okay, that’s 100.
He’s a rare guy, rare breed. And so he doesn’t need to prove anything else. We need to go find a way to win this bowl game.
Q. You just seem to be in — just have a very interesting, I don’t know, vibe about you of the way you’re handling the situation. It just seems like the overriding thing is like pride in your team and what happens happens. Why is that the overriding emotion for you at the moment, if that’s what it is?
COACH MEYER: Partially because I’m exhausted. We got in at 4:30 in the morning. Second is that it’s a genuine, sincere love for my guys that they’ve done everything right. And I want to make sure they continue to do everything right.
And they have been nothing but, I think, you said pride in my players. I love them, and we’re going to get this one, right, Worl? We’re going to find a way to go get the next win against a great team.
Q. I understand the idea of you guys moving forward and looking forward, but when we talked to you in the past and talked to other coaches we know that the losses stick with you. Sometimes it’s hard to get over them. Just knowing what this team is and how good this team is, not right in the moment but in your career, is that Iowa one going to be one that you’re going to shake your head about?
COACH MEYER: Probably. I hope not. The younger Meyer guy, yes to the point where I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t do this, couldn’t do that. But gotta move on.
Q. You talked about your team, you expect they’re probably feeling devastation and disappointment. That’s normal. Are you not feeling any of that right now? Like you said, you seem to be at a pretty good state of mind about it. Is there no element of those things that apply to you right now?
COACH MEYER: No, there is that. And I want to have a team meeting. I wish we could practice today. I’m sure they would rather not. I just want to get around those kind of guys. And I have to hit the road recruiting. Sure, I just handle it a little differently than I did in the old days. And I sent out a really nice text to our players recently and gotta move on.
Q. If I had to make you pick something, how would you describe how you feel right now and what you saw when that bracket went up, what you thought?
COACH MEYER: I sunk in my chair at home. Because I really thought we were in. I kind of looked at it and stared at it for a minute. And then my thoughts were to them, because I’ve been very fortunate to be around some really cool things.
And there’s a group of players now that really deserve that opportunity. And that’s what I thought about.
Q. The trend of players sitting out bowl games, you didn’t have to deal with that last year being in the playoffs. Do you expect that to be an issue? How would you handle it?
COACH MEYER: I don’t know. I remember last year was the first time — and I really didn’t study it because I was, like, what’s going on here?
Those are all situations that you handle on a case-by-case. I would hope not, but once again this is all happening real fast. And I think our players are very close and they want to go out to find a way to win this game.
Q. Do you see down the road an eight-team playoff?
COACH MEYER: I don’t think so. I just don’t know how you do it with these guys. If you say, let’s go another two weeks, another two weeks, now you’re into — I don’t know. I don’t know. Thanks.
Q. Since you heard a bunch of those questions that Coach Meyer just got, are you feeling some of the devastation and disappointment that he mentioned? What are your emotions after last night and now?
Chris Worley: You’re definitely devastated. Whenever you have so many guys internally, as a man, that you know that you put so much work in, you’re so invested. If you’re not devastated then you probably didn’t put the work in.
For anyone that put in the type of work that we do throughout the whole year and not get that call, you definitely are devastated. But at the same time we still are so fortunate to be playing for so much.
So you can’t change it. So the only thing to do is move forward.
Q. Can you describe what the last 12 hours or more were like for you guys when we saw you walk off the field and dancing and celebrating, and I imagine it couldn’t have felt any better. And then 12:30 rolls around.
Chris Worley: Yeah, like I said, I mean, you can’t change it. We can control what we can control. And we went up against a top-four team in the nation and beat them. And last night we were feeling good.
Today, as everyone, we found out that we didn’t get that close call.
Q. Talking to you guys last night seemed like you guys sincerely believed you were going to get in. Was there some element of surprise to this?
Chris Worley: I think so. We all thought we were in. I think although we had those two losses, our wins, we could match those up with any team in the nation. So we weren’t in control of the committee. We were in control of our play. So the only thing we can do is go to work.
Q. Iowa game was obviously held against you guys. What would you see the people that said they didn’t get in because they lost by 31 points a month ago?
Chris Worley: I don’t really know how to answer that. I mean, honestly if you look at — if you can look at another team and say, they’re just so much better than Ohio State, I mean that’s the one thing I can say. I believe we are a top-four team in the nation.
Q. As somebody whose a veteran and I’m sure you’ve been through disappointment and devastation before, what’s kind of your message to some of the younger guys going through this for the first time?
Chris Worley: Everyone’s going to be devastated. You can’t — for anybody to be a competitor, have a burning desire to be great, have a competitive spirit about themselves, you want to be able to play for that. So you can’t really tell someone to not be devastated.
But the one thing we can do is next time we put on those pads we can get to work. And that’s the only way it’s going to feel better is going out there and practicing and looking at our next objective. We can’t continue to look at the past, can’t continue to look at what happened throughout the season and why this is happening and things like that. But one thing we can do is get back to work.
Q. Do you think that devastation can be channeled into working even harder, playing even better over the next four weeks?
Chris Worley: Yeah, for sure. I think we’ve all seen that through this program throughout the years. No matter what happens, we put our head down and we work right through to come out the other side of it, usually winning.
So the only thing to do now, like I said, is to go to work with my brothers and this coaching staff.
Q. What do you know straight up when I say USC what’s the first thing that comes to mind?
Chris Worley: I mean, that’s a traditionally rich program right there. Just like Ohio State. They’ve had some crazy guys come through there. And I actually remember the battles when I was younger and just watching them play, watching some of the guys that I know playing in those games and things like that. It’s going to be fun.
Q. Sam Darnold there’s a guy, a name, I think, their quarterback. Sam Darnold comes to mind?
Chris Worley: Yeah, I actually didn’t know who he was until last year when they played Penn State. Because when you’re on different sides of the country for real, you don’t really get to see guys play.
But my first time actually watching a USC game last year was against Penn State. He lit it up. So I got tremendous respect for him already. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be — I’m going to have more respect as I continue to watch film and things like that — and continue to watch film on him but he’s a tremendous talent.
Q. You guys won your last four games. You beat three teams that are in the final 15 or 18 of the CFP rankings. But the committee they brought up that 31-point loss. Is that a thing that you guys put it behind you but other people can’t? What’s that feeling like, you know what I mean? That was always going to be there no matter what, you know?
Chris Worley: Well, when you have a resumé, just like a job resumé, you turn it in to an employer, they look at the whole resumé. That’s how we look at ourselves as well. We don’t just watch film or what happened the last week; we watch film throughout the whole year because that’s how teams that we’re playing are going to attack us and things like that, see what we didn’t do right.
So we’ve always sort of looked back at it, see what we can fix from that. But at the same time we don’t dwell on the past here. We have too much things to fight for moving forward that we can’t do that.
Q. The idea of seniors or guys considering going pro, skipping this bowl game, do you think that’s even a remote possibility with this team?
Chris Worley: That kind of happened like last year with a few guys. I don’t see any guys on this team doing that. The love for the brother here and brotherhood, that’s real.
And another thing about it is you’ve got a bunch of guys that love playing football, love the game, just to be around the game. To just think about a guy sort of saying, I’m going to take a step from a game, if he’s not legit hurt, then I really doubt that would happen here.
Q. People of my generation, Ohio State/USC, Rose Bowl is a huge deal. You’re obviously younger generation. Do you get a sense, though, do you get an appreciation for how big that kind of matchup can be? This could be the Rose Bowl east a little bit?
Chris Worley: Yeah, for sure. It’s crazy. The younger generation, everyone knows about Ohio State/USC. And it’s crazy, but at the same time it’s going to be a team out there that’s looking to show the world why they deserve to be in as well.
Penn State — I mean, Penn State — USC have sort of the same resumé as us. And I’m pretty sure they had a case for the same situation. So it’s going to be two teams out there battling, trying to get a Cotton Bowl championship.
Q. Along those lines, disappointed obviously, but when you see that you’re playing USC, do you perk up a little at that point?
Chris Worley: You know, everyone’s devastated. But we’re definitely excited to be blessed with the opportunity that we have. A lot of teams can’t say they’re going against a top-notch team like they are with us and how we are with them. It’s going to be a hard-fought game. And we’re excited.
Q. Do you expect to maybe want to show the committee that they got this wrong?
Chris Worley: I don’t really think that that would help much now. (Laughter) no matter how much, if we do win, no matter how much one of the teams will win by, it’s not going to matter about the national championship game. So our season is going to be over after this.
So the biggest thing we can do is try to go out there and play for each other and get a ring for each other. We can’t go out there trying to please the committee and show them why or why not. The biggest thing we can do is go out there play hard, play how we know we can play.
Q. What’s it going to be like stepping back from that stadium where you won a national championship? What kind of memories will that bring back?
Chris Worley: It’s going to be amazing going through that locker room again. If you’ve ever been in there, that’s a crazy stadium, man. Jerry’s world, man. And it’s just a crazy experience.
As always, the Buckeye fan base travels well. And it seems like wherever we are it’s a home game for us. I’m excited.
Q. You kind of covered it, what would it mean 10, 15, 20 years, we beat Wisconsin for the Big Ten title, we beat USC on my way out? Is that maybe the impact might be felt later on?
Chris Worley: I think it will be felt right then and there. To say that we beat those teams, I mean, just about no team or just about every team in the nation, if they can beat those teams in one year, it’s very tough to do, to beat all those teams in one year. It’s very, very hard to do. And just to know that we have that opportunity, we’re all blessed and I think the thing to do is to thank the man upstairs.
Q. Where were you when you watched the show and saw that happen?
Chris Worley: I actually didn’t watch it. My dad was in the next room. If anybody know my dad he’s the loudest at the game. So I actually — seriously, I turned my phone off and closed my door and put my headphones on. I was listening to music, because I knew everyone — before it even came on everybody was texting and calling me. I just wanted to get away from it, so to speak.
Got in at 4:00 last night. Woke up at 9:00 because my dog, believe it or not. So I was tired. I just ain’t feeling like dealing with those emotions at the time. And of course my dad comes in the room. He’s all mad and you would think that he played for Ohio State. (Laughter) but that’s how it kind of happened.
Q. How did you feel then when your dad comes in?
Chris Worley: He’s a firecracker. So I was just telling him like relax, we’re going to be in a good position, we’re going to be in a good game. And we’re going to go against a great team.
So the biggest thing, situations like this, a lot of people, they harp on the negatives, but they don’t realize the blessings that God has put in front of them.
I was trying to get him to realize that he’s blessed, his son is blessed to be in this position. And whatever comes out the other side of it, the only thing we can do is fight.
Q. We’ve learned about sort of the process it took for your knee to get to a place where you could play in the Big Ten Championship. And I guess just with the care for your knee and mind is there any chance you won’t play in this game so you can get that thing right for whatever you have to do in the future? Is there a chance your knee could prevent you from playing in the game?
J.T. Barrett: Are you talking about the next game against USC?
Q. Yes, sir.
J.T. Barrett: I’m going to play.
Q. With that in mind have you given any thought to the idea that you’re going to get to finish your college career basically at home, not far from Wichita Falls?
J.T. Barrett: Not really, but I think it will be good. If anything, gotta start begging for tickets pretty soon knowing my mom’s going to try to have the family reunion at the Cowboys Stadium.
Q. Can you give us a little bit more insight in terms of how it felt during the game yesterday? And you had to put your body through a lot I mean to get to that point to play and then you had, I think, a season-high 19 carries after you put your body through a lot. Is it even more devastating to know what you went through and you guys did get the win that you’re on the outside looking into the playoff?
J.T. Barrett: I think I just try to put myself in the position physically to be able to go out there and still be myself, and, I mean, 19 carries, I didn’t know it was that much. But it was whatever it took to win the game, like that’s how it always is. You gotta do whatever it takes to win a game. And with that, we was able to do that.
So, I don’t know, because it wasn’t too crazy as far as like how I felt. I felt normal, playing, cutting fine, fighting for yards and didn’t slide and things like that.
Q. With that said, J.T., how would you explain to people who are trying to come to grips with what you went through over the last week of what drives you to want to play football six days after your knee has been worked on?
J.T. Barrett: So it was funny, when they said like gotta have surgery to clean it up in there and the recovery time is normally three to four weeks, I was like we don’t really have that kind of time. So I was here all day, every day whether it be watching film in the training room. I had like a little station set up.
They hooked me up so I was able to watch film and ice my knee, get treatment things like that. So it was just a constant thing throughout last week and just trying to get myself prepared.
But, yeah, normally you get your knee scoped and it’s three-, four-week type deal.
Q. I’m saying in your mind, I was talking to Coach Garfield, you came back from a broken collarbone when you were a freshman because you felt it important to play as soon as you could. Where does that drive come from? How long have you had that? What makes a man want to do things like that?
J.T. Barrett: I think, I don’t know, the love I have for the team, honestly. Like what we go through constantly throughout the offseason and those bonds you build through those trying times of working out and just the growth of bringing the team together. I think that’s ultimately why you play the game of football is because the team building that it has and the love you have for your brothers.
And Coach asks a question, what would you do for your brother? And it’s one of those things, well, I’d do anything. It’s something you could say. But I try to also show that through my actions, and I think that’s just part of it.
Q. Last time this team played in Dallas you got to watch but didn’t get to play. Is it kind of ironic now that your final — I know you want to be in the playoffs, but your final game is going to be in sort of in front of the home folks?
J.T. Barrett: Yeah. I never played in Cowboys Stadium even in high school. So last time me playing a football game in Texas was in high school. So I think it will be good to be in the atmosphere and going against a team like USC, it will be good.
Q. Coach Meyer said he expects players to be devastated and feel disappointment not to get in the playoff. How are you feeling and processing that at this point?
J.T. Barrett: Do I feel like the Ohio State Buckeyes is a top-four team in the country? I do. And I am hurt by us not getting in. And, I don’t know, I guess it’s to a point like — it’s one of those things that’s kind of out of your control type of thing.
And it’s going to sting for a minute. But at the end of the day you do what you’re supposed to do; we was supposed to go beat Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship, and we were able to do that. And it was up to the committee to make the decision.
Q. It’s got to be a wild ride for you guys considering how joyous the celebration was at midnight last night and then 12 hours later it’s, like, I can’t imagine how that would compare to what was taken — maybe potentially taken away.
J.T. Barrett: I feel like that’s almost like how the game of football goes, almost. But what we experienced last night in the locker room, knowing what we’ve been through in the season and then go out there and accomplish one of our goals, and that’s to be the Big Ten champs, that’s something that can’t be taken away from us. We’ll definitely cherish that for forever.
Q. Is playing USC, especially in Dallas, for you the next best thing? Obviously you want to get into the CFP, but if you can’t do that, is this the next best thing?
J.T. Barrett: I don’t really know how to answer that. I guess so. But it’s one of those things, they pick where you go to. So, I mean, it’s always, like, well, if I had my choice, you know, it would be in a playoff. But I guess so.
Q. When you think about in hindsight what it would have taken for you guys to have persuaded the committee? Is there any thought that, yeah, we beat Wisconsin but we could have beaten them more decisively and maybe that loss — or is that not in your mind at all?
J.T. Barrett: It could be every game if you want to talk about it, like, you win a game, but you missed a couple of things here or there. And it was, like, well, if we would have done this, we would have scored more points here or there.
You could go through every game and be like, well, we could have scored more points. Yeah, but at the end of the day it’s about winning the game. And that was a good football team we went against and knowing it was going to be a slug match like it was.
So I don’t know it’s, like I said, you could win a game by 30 points and we could sit there and watch film and it would be, like, well, we could have actually scored three more touchdowns. But, yeah, we could do that to every game.
Q. The trend of players maybe skipping the bowl game to maybe tend to their own personal matters, do you foresee that happening here? What would you say to somebody who might be thinking of doing that?
J.T. Barrett: That’s wild. Especially the people that we have in our locker room. Like, I mean, I don’t know what the people have done in these past couple of years. I don’t know them personally. But I guess the brotherhood and the bond that we have in the Ohio State locker room, I would be very shocked.
You ever see Coach Meyer do the taken aback? Like one of those, like, smack me across the face. Somebody was like, yeah, I’m not going to play in the bowl game, Cotton Bowl against USC. I think that would be wild.