Aug. 28, 2000
Top 25 Polls Weekly Release in .PDF format CoachCooper’s Press Conference Football Quotes
Ohio State opens the 2000 football season Saturday by hosting Fresno State. Kickoff is set for 12:10 p.m. in Ohio Stadium. The game will be televised by ESPN Plus (WBNS-TV Channel 10 in Columbus) and broadcast by WBNS Radio (1460 AM and 97.1 FM in Columbus) on its 71-station statewide network. A sellout crowd of more than 95,000 is expected to pack Ohio Stadium for the season opener.
Ohio State All-Time
This is the 111th season of football for the Buckeyes. Since posting a 3-1 record in 1890, OSU has gone on to record an all-time mark of 717-283-53 for a winning percentage of .706. The Buckeyes have experienced just 11 losing seasons, with six of those coming prior to 1925.
Not Bad For Openers
Following a 20-14 win over Ohio Wesleyan, May 3, 1890, the Buckeyes have posted an overall record of 94-12-4 on opening day. OSU has won its last 21 home openers dating back to 1979.
Ohio Stadium currently is the second year of a three-year renovation program that is scheduled for completion in August of 2001. Official capacity this year is projected to be 95,364, meaning the single-game record of 95,537 (set against Notre Dame in 1995) should fall this week.
Saturday is Alumni Band Day. About 500 former band members will be on hand for the game and will take part in a quadruple Script Ohio at halftime.The skull session in St. John Arena will begin at 10 a.m. and the band’s pregame practice will be held on the field west of Larkins Hall. TV and Radio
Jim Barbar (play-by-play) and Al Harris (analysis) will call the game for ESPN Plus, with Dom Tiberi providing updates from the sideline. On the radio side, Paul Keels (play-by-play) and Jim Lachey (analysis) will be in the booth for WBNS and Jim Karsatos will be the sideline reporter.
John Cooper’s Buckeyes are coming off a 6-6 record in 1999. All six losses were to teams that went to, and won, bowl games. Four of those setbacks were on the road. Fresno State, coached by Pat Hill, posted an 8-5 record a year ago and won the Western Athletic Conference championship.
This will be just the second meeting between the two teams. They opened the season against one another in 1994 at the Disneyland Pigskin Classic in Anaheim. OSU won the game, 34-10, on the strength of 194 yards passing by game MVP Bobby Hoying.
Ohio State in the Polls
The Buckeyes debuted at No. 15 in the ESPN/USA Today preseason poll and were 16th in the first Associated Press rankings.
Ohio State Coach John Cooper
Now in his 24th season as a head coach on the collegiate level, John Cooper is starting his 13th year at the helm of the Buckeyes. Cooper has a lifetime mark of 185-79-6 and ranks sixth among active Division I coaches in terms of victories. Cooper’s record at Ohio State is 103-39-4 and includes two Big Ten championships and 10 bowl appearances. He is the second winningest coach in Ohio State history, trailing only the legendary Woody Hayes (205 victories in 28 years). Only Hayes (1951-78) and John W. Wilce (1913-28) have enjoyed longer coaching tenures at OSU. Prior to coming to Ohio State, Cooper spent three years at Arizona State, where he was National Coach of the Year in 1986. His three-year record of 25-9-2 with the Sun Devils included a 10-1-1 mark and the school’s first ever Rose Bowl appearance in 1986. The 63-year-old Cooper also spent eight seasons as head coach at Tulsa, compiling a 57-31 record between 1977 and 1984. He is 1-0 against Fresno State.
| Assist. Head Coach Fred Pagac
and Head Coach John Cooper
The Ohio State Staff
Longtime Buckeye assistant Fred Pagac has been elevated fromdefensive coordinator and linebackers coach to assistant headcoach. Jon Tenuta has been promoted to defensive coordinator andwill continue to coach the defensive backs. Jim Heacock will coachthe defensive ends and tackles, and Brian Williams will coach thelinebackers. Williams coached at Pitt last year. On offense, ChuckStobart has been promoted to offensive coordinator, andquarterbacks coach Tim Salem will also coach the wide receivers.George Belu, at Wake Forest last year, is the new offensive linecoach. Tim Spencer and Bill Conley return to coach the runningbacks and tight ends, respectively.
About the Buckeyes
Ohio State returns 14 starters from a year ago, six on offense, seven on defense and one kicking specialist. Five other players also have starting experience. In all, there are 36 returning letter winners.
The Ohio State Offense
Junior quarterback Steve Bellisari returns for his second year as a starter. The 6-3 left-hander threw for 1,616 yards and 12 touchdowns last year. He also rushed for 332 yards and is OSU’s leading returning rusher. Split end Reggie Germany and flanker Ken-Yon Rambo, both seniors, also return. They combined for 84 catches last season. Speedy senior Derek Combs will take over at tailback and tank-like Jamar Martin (6-0, 245) will pave the way at fullback. Up front, Henry Fleming returns at right tackle and Tyson Walter on the left side. Mike Gurr and Tam Hopkins will be the left and right guards, respectively, while LeCharles Bentley moves in at center after starting at both guard and tackle last year. Darnell Sanders will be in his first year as a starter at tight end. Bellisari is an exceptional athlete and leader. Rambo and Germany have speed and experience in their corner. Combs has had a spectacular fall camp, fending off strong challenges by Jonathan Wells and Jerry Westbrooks, and Martin is a devastating blocker who can also run the football. Led by Bentley, the line is big, solid and determined.
|CB Nate Clements|
The Ohio State Defense
A solid defensive front returns three starters in tackles MikeCollins (56 tackles, 11 TFL) and Ryan Pickett (48 tackles, 9 TFL)and end Brent Johnson. Additionally, Rodney Bailey started sixgames at end last year and Joe Brown (moved from tackle to guard inthe spring but capable of playing either position) has 18 careerstarts to his credit at tackle. Senior Joe Cooper and juniorCourtland Bullard will be the starters start at outside linebackerand sophomore Matt Wilhelm is expected get the call in the middle.Bullard started 10 games in 1999. Cooper was a key reserve lastyear. The OSU secondary features junior Nate Clements at covercorner. Clements is OSU’s leading returning tackler with 90 stops ayear ago (four behind Na’il Diggs). He also is the latest in arecent line of outstanding cover corners that OSU defensivebackfield coach Jon Tenuta has tutored. Senior David Mitchell (lastyear’s nickel back) at the other corner, junior Donnie Nickey atfree safety and sophomore Mike Doss at strong safety round out thedefense. Doss, who started the last two games of 1999, has themakings of an exceptional player.
The Kicking Game
Senior Dan Stultz returns to handle the kickoffs and placements. He is in his fourth year as a starter. If no one emerges as the punter, Stultz will handle those responsibilities as well. He did both jobs last year. Senior Mike Jacobs or freshman Robert Reynolds are expected to handle the long snaps.
Cooper on the Buckeyes
“I really feel like we have had a good fall camp. I like the way this team has prepared for the season. I think all of us are ready for the first game. We have done about all we can against each other. I am anxious to see how we play against somebody else. As a coach, you want your team to go out and play well in the first game and then get better as the season progresses. To be a better team this year, we need to cut down on our mistakes, especially in critical situations, and we need to be much better in all phases of the kicking game, including the return game.”
Cooper on Steve Bellisari
“Steve is a great competitor and leader. Now that he has a year of experience under his belt, I expect him to have a great season. He is `The Man’ now and everyone knows it.”
Cooper on the Freshmen
“Don’t be surprised to see us play six to 10 freshmen. They have played well in camp. Now we have to see how they play in the Shoe, in front of 95,000 fans. This is a talented group. We have some very good skill players.” There are 15 freshmen in this week’s two deep, including true freshmen Jamal Muhammad, Shane Olivea, Alex Stepanovich and Robert Reynolds. A number of others who do not appear on the two deep are expected to play on the special teams.
“We have to protect, we have to be able to run the ball and we have to cut down on mistakes on offense. On defense, we need to force more turnovers and get more three-and-outs. We are more experienced than we were a year ago. We have to take advantage of that experience.”
Cooper on Fresno State
“We had better be ready to play against Fresno State, because Pat Hill has a good team. I got a chance to know Pat when he coached with the Cleveland Browns. He will have his team ready to play. They are a veteran squad that gives you a lot of different looks on offense and plays a solid 4-3 defense. They blocked nine kicks last year, so we had better be prepared.”
Linebackers Jason Ott and Jack Tucker are definitely out of the game Saturday. Ott, who started all 12 games a year ago and was in on 79 tackles, tore a muscle in his right shoulder Aug. 15 and underwent surgery the next day. He is expected to miss about three weeks. Tucker suffered a fractured left clavicle Aug. 22. He will be evaluated on a weekly basis. Offensive tackle Tyson Walter is listed as questionable because of an infection. Walter, a 6-5, 300-pound senior, has started 37-consecutive games at left tackle for the Buckeyes.
Senior offensive tackle Tyson Walter has been nominated for a National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame Scholarship. The award is presented annually to the nation’s top senior football scholar-athletes. Ohio State’s Ahmed Plummer received the award last year.
Seniors Ken-Yon Rambo, Joe Cooper and Rodney Bailey, and junior Steve Bellisari have been chosen by their teammates as co-captains of the 2000 Buckeyes. Bellisari, whose brother Greg was a co-captain of the 1996 Buckeyes and is now a graduate assistant on the OSU staff, is the first junior to be so honored since Pepper Johnson in 1984.
Decade to Remember
The Buckeyes made their mark nationally in the 1990s, compiling an overall record of 91-29-3, playing in seven New Year’s Day bowls, winning a pair of Big Ten championships and twice finishing second in the final wire service polls.
Kicker Dan Stultz has 40 career field goals to his credit. Tim Williams (1990-93) holds the school record with 49. Vlade Janakievski (1977-80) is second with 41.
Ohio State travels to Tucson, Ariz., to face the Arizona Wildcats. The game will be on Saturday, Sept. 9 at 10 p.m. (EDT) and televised televised on Fox Sports Net. The Buckeyes will depart for Tucson via charter airplane on Friday, Sept 8 and stay at the Hilton Tucson East.