COACH TRESSEL: Good to see Eddie George in the house. Wouldn’t mind seeing him in the back field. Looks like he could still do it. It’s an exciting time. As you know, it’s what we are at Ohio State for and why the guys are at Michigan to play and the greatest game that there is and it’s exciting with the Big Ten title on the line and just a lot of tremendous history.
And you think about the fact that a big documentary just came out on the history of this rivalry, haven’t had the chance to see it yet, but it’s such a storied rivalry, and too great institutions, but right now we’re in the midst of trying to figure it out, trying to go, trying to step back forward after having a tough loss this past weekend.
Our kids played extremely hard last weekend and hats off to Illinois for doing what they needed to do to come up with a victory. Now we’ve got to get back up and get after it and get ready for this one.
Michigan, in my mind, has tremendous character. They’ve been through a lot, a lot of injuries, some disappointment, but as you watch the film, it doesn’t matter what the score is, it doesn’t matter what’s going on in the course of the game, those guys are flying around in Michigan tradition, so it’s going to be a tremendous battle as we head to play on the road. Playing on the road is hard enough, and then playing up in the Big House makes it even tougher, but our guys are anxious and the preparation has begun and we’re excited to see how we can do. Questions?
REPORTER: Jim, your seniors could do something special winning four in a row against Michigan, how impressed are you with those guys?
COACH TRESSEL: The most special thing we can do is play the best we’re capable of on Saturday and see if that’s good enough. I’m real impressed with our seniors. Going into the year, there was some speculation as to would they be a large enough group, a talented enough group to lead a team to a good year and I think they’ve done a heck of a job. They’ve worked extremely hard. We’ve got a good group of juniors as well and a number of those guys are fourth-year juniors. And just like a year ago we thought that one of our strengths was the number of fifth-year seniors we had. I think this year one of our strengths we have happens to be the number of fourth-year juniors and the excellent leadership by the true seniors and they’re doing their best to make sure we can become a good team.
REPORTER: Jim, the officiating crew that worked your game Saturday reportedly was under some type of scrutiny from the Big Ten from what had happened in the game previous, Penn State-Purdue. it was the same crew. Were you aware of that, they were under any type of probation scrutiny?
COACH TRESSEL: No, I don’t even know the names of the guys officiating. I know they have striped shirts. What they can do, I’m sure they do it to the best of their ability, but, no, I wasn’t aware of that.
REPORTER: Following up on that, the fumble at the end of their first run, did you send that in this week for an inquiry of why there was no replay of that or no scrutiny from the press box?
COACH TRESSEL: From what I understand now, I didn’t know this then, is that there was a technical difficulty with the replay system and I guess that happens. We had a couple technical difficulties with what we were doing too, so that didn’t make the difference in the game.
REPORTER: Washington, they were showing replays up on the big screen and a couple times, a lot of people thought that influenced things. I don’t think you’re allowed to do that in the Big Ten, correct? Controversial replays? And you’re not allowed to have a monitor in the press box.
COACH TRESSEL: I know we can’t have a monitor. I know we can’t have any type of monitor playback or still-shots like they have in the pros, as far as what the rules are on the scoreboard, I don’t know.
REPORTER: What I’m asking, you have a challenge, how strange is that to have the ability to have a challenge but not have the information for a challenge other than you standing there on the sideline?
COACH TRESSEL: The thing that we’ve all been instructed in the replay system is that every play is reviewed and that they don’t want us to waste a timeout and so forth and quite honestly from where any of us were, that was a long way, that was 83 yards away or whatever that was, so none of us were that sure exactly what occurred. And we have faith in the system. Sometimes the system isn’t perfect, but you know I’m not a replay guy to start with, because it’s not comprehensive, but the replay system we have, we have faith in and go from there.
REPORTER: Jim, a couple of your players after the game said it was a game that they’ll never forget. If that’s the case, how difficult is it to — I know that Michigan’s a big game, but nonetheless, to not have them look back at all instead of only looking forward?
COACH TRESSEL: Well, we do need to look back and improve upon what we didn’t do. So I would hope we don’t forget where we need to do better and what the lessons learned from that game are. Now, if we sit there and that’s all we’re thinking about is that, then we’re not going to be ready to go and obviously that will hurt us, but I just think that — I don’t know if it was older guys playing their last game that you were talking to or whatever, but you do, we’re all capable of remembering more than one game. I remember lots of games for the rest of my life, but I think our guys will be able to focus on the task at hand because this is Ohio State-Michigan.
REPORTER: Jim, you were quick to point out that maybe Wisconsin had your number before that game, now we can give you your fair due, do you have their number?
COACH TRESSEL: In the game of football, I don’t know if there’s ever someone having someone’s number. The game of football is won on the field by the guys in the trenches and guys making plays and so again, it’s statistics to talk about. Some of those strings or streaks we were on were talked about over the course of weeks and now they don’t even — they’re not alive. So I don’t think that any of that type of thing is anything other than, I guess, discussion points.
REPORTER: Was your most satisfying win your first one when you had to change quarterbacks, you went up there with (Craig) Krenzel, would you say that that was probably your most memorable of that rivalry with them?
COACH TRESSEL: We’ve been fortunate enough to have a decent amount of ones we remember fondly. We’ve got our share that we remember not so fondly, but I don’t know that I could pick one over the other. I’d be getting emails from my former guys.
REPORTER: What’s the atmosphere like up there, Jim?
COACH TRESSEL: That’s kind of what you were going to ask, Todd, right? Oh, no? What’s the atmosphere?
REPORTER: Up in the —
COACH TRESSEL: Oh, shoot, it’s great. It’s electrifying. It’s loud, you can feel the electricity in the air. I think I’ve shared with you before, the first time I was ever a part of the Ohio State/Michigan game was in ’83, and as an assistant coach, and, shoot, I can’t tell you anything that happened in the first quarter in the half, I was just taken by the electricity and just what goes on and it’s one of the great environments, atmospheres, that there is.
REPORTER: Is it the typical Sunday, Monday, before the Michigan week coming off of a tough loss?
COACH TRESSEL: Well, the mood of our guys, I think, anytime when you feel as if you could have done better, your mood takes on something a little bit different. I hope they’re not totally different, because I’ve enjoyed being with them the way they are, but you always take on just a little bit different mood when you’re disappointed in yourself when you should have called, not called the timeout or maybe you shouldn’t have called that deep ball, you know, in the fourth quarter. You take on a little bit different mood, but hopefully not such that it affects what you have to do here forward.
REPORTER: Is it a mood that’s down or a mood that’s got a little bit more of an edge to it?
COACH TRESSEL: Boy, you know what? I wish I was that good of a psychologist that I could know what moods meant, but I don’t know.
REPORTER: After last year’s game, Mike Hart said that if the two teams played again, that Michigan would win the game, he was critical of your defense even going into the Rose Bowl match-up. Will you resurrect any of those comments this year and use those as locker room material?
COACH TRESSEL: You know, I don’t really remember that discussion. I won’t. Now, maybe someone that heard it and it meant something to them, they might, but that won’t help us.
REPORTER: How troubling is the rushing yardage that they were able to get against you? You were only giving up 65 yards to get 260, typically against a team like Michigan that likes to run.
COACH TRESSEL: One of the keys, if you go back through all the Ohio State/Michigan games, one of the keys is the team that comes out on top usually have the ability to run some, and that’s because it’s all about the trenches. So our guys aren’t pleased that we had that many yards against us, but is it troubling? I don’t know if that’s the right word. An author might, but I’m not sure I’d use troubling. I mean, we want to stop them.
REPORTER: What about Todd Boeckman, replaced a Heisman Trophy winner, now he’s coming into “The Game,” how do you feel about him?
COACH TRESSEL: I feel good about Todd Boeckman. He learns every step of the way. He’s a guy that even when he errs, knows exactly why he erred, and then can do something about it, can learn from it. I think Todd is — has methodically gotten better as the year’s gone on.
REPORTER: What do you tell your quarterbacks going into a Michigan game, though? What do you tell them about keeping their poise or whatever? What are your instructions as far as like not going over your head or whatever? What do you remember telling these guys in the past?
COACH TRESSEL: We have certain things that we say that our quarterback has to do for us to be successful against anyone, and that’s make sure we make very good decisions because that’s — the decisions we make affect a lot of the other 10 guys on that offense. We talk to them about the importance of not turning the ball over and you’ve got to make some plays, which is always that hard part. Where’s the line between taking care of the ball and making plays and somehow the good ones find that line.
REPORTER: Do you worry about Todd being a little gun shy because he did try to make a couple plays Saturday which backfired, do you worry about him losing that kind of edge?
COACH TRESSEL: No, he’s from St. Henry, right, Jim?
REPORTER: How much will Mike Hart mean to Michigan if he plays Saturday?
COACH TRESSEL: I’m sure Mike Hart will play, he’s a fierce competitor. If he would have played at a hundred percent last week, I’m sure he would have. I don’t know that it was solely to be ready for this game. He’s a tough guy. You watch him over these four years, all these carries he’s had. I noticed on the statistics that at this point in 2007, Mike Hart has 215 carries, as does Beanie Wells, and we think of Mike Hart as being — having missed a lot of the year, especially in the Big Ten season, but when he’s in there and he’s healthy, he’s a warrior.
REPORTER: Jim, you talked earlier in the year, you talked about Beanie having to play through pain, play through injury, you invoked Mike Hart as a guy who had done that in the past. What do you think of the way Beanie has played in the last month, obviously that ankle is still there and he’s been able to stay in the game?
COACH TRESSEL: I think he’s done a good job. He’s in pain. There’s no question about it. He keeps banging away and he wants to do what the team needs. He wants to carry the load. I’ve been pleased. I think he’s had a growing sophomore season.
REPORTER: How about his wrist and stuff that got taped several times Saturday, how much did that affect him?
COACH TRESSEL: It didn’t seem to. He got banged and there’s a lot of helmets hitting you when you’re carrying the football, he got banged, just needed taped a little and I’ve never played in this game and I wasn’t that tough a guy to start with, but people tell me that this game has a way of making you feel fine whether you’re fine or not.
REPORTER: Ohio State’s been at one Rose Bowl in the past 20 or 21 years, however the way things have worked out, now that that’s on the table with a win in this game, what does that add to this knowing that these guys who haven’t been to a Rose Bowl have a shot?
COACH TRESSEL: The thing I’ve learned as I’ve listened to guys that have played in this game and been around coaches who have coached in this game is this game is about this game, and then after this game, you worry about what lies ahead and if you’re thinking about what lies ahead when you play this game, you won’t play it as well as you need to.
REPORTER: What’s this week like and is there a favorite part of it?
COACH TRESSEL: The favorite part of it’s the game. The anticipation and the buildup and the excitement. The fact that we happen to be in an indoor facility, it shows you the interest that lies in the game, but it’s just a fun week to be a part of. It’s an honor and a privilege to be a part of it, so just the fact that you get to prepare and see if you can do your best, that’s the fun of it.
REPORTER: Talk a little bit about Earle.
COACH TRESSEL: Yeah, Earle always likes to talk about this game, he likes to talk about it in July. I’m sure he talks about it on the golf course when you’re playing, because he was honored to be a part of it. He was a player and then an assistant coach and a head coach in the game and he brings a great picture of what the game is all about and ever since we’ve been here, we’ve made it such that Coach could speak with us. And last night, we typically have done it on Sunday night, last night he was taking in a Browns/Steelers game, I guess, but he wanted to make sure that he got to visit with our guys. And our guys wouldn’t think that it’s Ohio State/Michigan week without Coach Bruce stopping by.
REPORTER: The Big Ten is looking into the game at mid field, what was your view of that and are you concerned about any potential discipline?
COACH TRESSEL: Oh, I wouldn’t think so, I think they were excited and we were on our way over to shake their hands and at the most, there was some nudging and pushing. I didn’t see — I mean, I was standing right there. I would think not.
REPORTER: Jim, if you guys were to win on Saturday, that would mean four in a row, the first time since 1960-63 that that happened, would that provide you guys some extra motivation going into this game?
COACH TRESSEL: We always talk about the history of every ball game we play, if we’ve played the team before, and that happens to be one of the historical facts, but on the other hand, that won’t get us a first down, so I don’t know — you know, I don’t know, just like what someone might have said after the game two years ago is not going to help us, or maybe it will help us for the first play and then you get whacked and you say, I can’t count on any of that stuff, I’ve got to play.
REPORTER: For so long the Rose Bowl — you guys played so many times, has it lost something?
COACH TRESSEL: I bet they don’t know for certain what it used to be. I’m sure they’ve had time to watch it over the years and they know it’s something we always talk about is our Big Ten partnership with the Rose Bowl, but I would think that this particular week their focus is so hard on Ohio State against Michigan and at the end of the day, I don’t know that you know what bowl you’re going to until December the something, so it’s a little bit different world than it used to be whereas you knew the third weekend in November where you were going to be going.
REPORTER: When you study so far Michigan, what’s the difference in their offense between the quarterbacks, when Henne’s playing versus Mallet?
COACH TRESSEL: Anytime you have a senior, you can only have so many snaps, I don’t know how many snaps Henne’s had, but he’s so experienced, he’s so tough. He came back there when he was so banged up and won games for them. He’s a good one. He’s a good one now and he’s going to be a good one at the next level. So you give him a little bit more ability to control the game and I’m sure with your younger guy, you’re sitting there thinking, I want to do what he can do. I want to know what he thoroughly knows, and, therefore, that’s what we’ll do. But their base offense is going to be the key to the game. It isn’t going to be the wrinkles and so forth, and their guy, no matter who, Mallett or Henne, can run their base offense.
REPORTER: When you’re in a rivalry like this, does the coach have any sort of relationship with opposing fans in terms of do you hear from Michigan people if you’re out and about or do you get emails from Michigan people that this is maybe a little bit different than fans from another team?
COACH TRESSEL: A little bit maybe. I don’t get scads of emails from fans, from their fans. Maybe this much more (Indicating).
REPORTER: They don’t taunt you, do they?
COACH TRESSEL: Taunt, no.
REPORTER: How much out and about do you get this week?
COACH TRESSEL: Out and about? Very little. Very little. That’s funny, you kind of tie that together. Coaches are like in a little cacoon all year around. If we’re not out here, we’re out recruiting. It’s not like we’re hanging out at places and someone says, oh, I’m a Michigan fan and taunts you or just the opposite. We’re not out. I don’t have a life.
REPORTER: Could you talk a little bit about Manningham and what he adds to their offense?
COACH TRESSEL: Mario Manningham is special. He’s a guy that can take over a game, he can change the whole momentum of a game just with one or two plays. They’ve had some great receivers. Ohio State has had some great receivers over the years. Manningham ranks right up with the best of the best.
REPORTER: Is the 10-year anniversary of the ’97 game when Charles Woodson had the punt, that game that was so big for him, do you remember watching that game?
COACH TRESSEL: In ’97? We (Youngstown State) were in the midst of the playoffs heading for a National Championship, so we weren’t paying attention.
REPORTER: What is this game going to show about your team’s character? What do you think it’s going to tell you about them, how they respond?
COACH TRESSEL: I think it’s a chance for them to kind of show who they are and what they’re all about and — but that’s — the same can be said four hours up the road. That’s what this game is about, which group is going to do what it takes to win in a big game like that, and our guys have an opportunity to show that we’re the ones that want to do that.
REPORTER: What is it about your team and this school that just breeds great linebackers like James Laurinaitis?
COACH TRESSEL: Well, Ohio State attracts really good players at every position, and linebackers have one of those roles where those big guys in front of them eat up the blocks and they get to go make plays or the guys in the back get them covered and they get to come under coverage and get some picks, and so we’ve had very talented linebackers. You can go down the list of linebackers we’ve had here. But I think it’s Ohio State that attracts the good players everywhere and when you’re surrounded by good players, no matter what position you play, I’m sure Eddie George made some of those linemen look pretty good making good tackles and so forth and doing all those yards. So I think it’s just part of being a good group and James happens to be an outstanding linebacker.
REPORTER: Lloyd Carr came under a fair amount of fire after the 0-2 start and going back a few years, what are your thoughts on him and also is your relationship with the Michigan coach any different than Illinois, Indiana, anyone else in the Big Ten?
COACH TRESSEL: Well, you know, I remember saying after their opening game that you weren’t going to have to worry about Michigan because Michigan’s going to be good, and that’s the case. I thought Lloyd Carr and his staff did a great job because that was a tough start and just watching them on film in league play, they’re playing for the Big Ten championship and they’ve had to fight through injuries and all of those things and it’s impossible to win enough at Michigan or Ohio State or wherever and Lloyd Carr has been extraordinary.
Now, as far as relationship goes, I don’t have much interaction with any of the guys in the league other than in league meetings and so forth, and Lloyd’s one of the leaders in our conference. He’s been on the board of trustees of the American Football Coaches. He’s the guy in our meetings that people turn to because he’s been there, done that, has great wisdom. He’s an outstanding man.
REPORTER: After last year’s game and all the things riding on it, does it feel different this year?
COACH TRESSEL: Does this game feel different this year? Gosh, it’s only Monday. Your gut is tight from Sunday on, so, no, I guess it doesn’t feel any different. Same excitement, anticipation.
REPORTER: Same level of importance?
COACH TRESSEL: Yeah. Somebody suggested that our ’01 game was maybe the top one. Well, we were like 5-4, something, 6-4 at the time, so it has importance no matter what.
REPORTER: Talk about — you brought up your gut being tight. What is it like on Saturday morning before this game?
COACH TRESSEL: The best news is we’re playing at noon, because when you wake up, the longer you have to wait — I’ve said before, there’s nothing worse than the last hour before kickoff, because there’s really nothing to do. At least three hours before kickoff, you can stare at your sheets or whatever and look at your game plan sheets or circle something or whatever, but an hour before, you’ve done all that by then. So it’s exciting that it’s at noon and it’s an exciting time. Don’t you guys feel it? Are you surprised that it’s — I mean, it’s an exciting, exciting day.
REPORTER: If the roles were reversed and you had lost three in a row to them, some people might think that maybe you wouldn’t even be standing here right now. What do you think is going through Lloyd’s mind now?
COACH TRESSEL: You can tell by the way Lloyd runs his program, is that he feels good about what he does, as he should, and that he has a lot of pride in what he and his staff have accomplished and I don’t know that Lloyd would ever have to apologize for what he’s been able to accomplish.
REPORTER: Coach, do you believe your team is just the seventh-best team in the country?
COACH TRESSEL: Gosh, I don’t know. We didn’t get to play — how many of the ones in the first six did we play? None, so who knows. I’m sure the next four after us say they should be seventh.
REPORTER: Back when you were in the Texas rivalry, it was kind of interesting because — would you have imagined that happening, Ohio State coach coaching Michigan and vice versa?
COACH TRESSEL: I hope a Michigan guy doesn’t coach here because that means I’m not. No, I can’t imagine that.
REPORTER: Gary Moeller.
COACH TRESSEL: Oh, that’s right, Gary. Absolutely.
REPORTER: Bo Schembechler.
COACH TRESSEL: Bo Schembechler. Come on Bill, you’ve been writing about the Browns too much.
REPORTER: Would you describe your guys’ thinking now as being angry? What adjective would you use to describe their feeling right now about their feelings?
COACH TRESSEL: I think they’re anxious. Anxious to play.
REPORTER: Jim, you talked a while ago about what you learned from what happened Saturday. What are the pieces that need to be put back together a little bit for this team as you move forward?
COACH TRESSEL: I think some fundamental things. Some things you take offensively, you can’t turn it over when it’s third and nine and you’ve got a chip shot field goal, throw it to the goal post, protect it a little better. It’s not all on the guy with the ball. Nothing earth shattering at all. Just when you’re in a tight, hard-fought game, every little mistake can make the difference. And we didn’t talk much about last week’s game, but Illinois is a good team. They’re a good football team and played extremely well on the 10th of November.
REPORTER: Do you envision a day where everyone’s going to be looking for a Juice Williams-type quarterback, spread option, and let her rip? Do you see that coming?
COACH TRESSEL: Everybody? Probably not everybody, but you see a significant number now.
REPORTER: The deep interception, was that — there was eight minutes to go in the game, you didn’t need to get it all in one play, maybe just go through that entire scenario and what you found as you studied it.
COACH TRESSEL: Well, after the fact of what I felt was, why have your primary read that deep when you didn’t need it. Now, your hopes are if the primary read — you go to your checkdowns, but where you feel like you could have done better as a coach is, well, why did we put them in that situation, we were down by seven, a young guy wanting to help his team, but we did, and then he did, and here we are, but hopefully we’ll both learn.
REPORTER: Did you guys talk at all yesterday about readjusting goals and looking forward?
COACH TRESSEL: No. Because I don’t know that this is the time to do that because I don’t know that any goals are out of the picture. Most especially the goal of going up and playing against our archrival. And that’s the task at hand. And, no, there was no discussion about rankings, bowls, any of that.
REPORTER: Do you, two days after the fact, do you beat yourself up over the timeout? I mean —
COACH TRESSEL: Probably less today than two days ago and less today than yesterday, and the thing we were trying to avoid was them punting with us having about 14 guys on the field, which would have been even more of a disaster because it would have given them I don’t know how many yards you get for 14 guys, but it would have given them some yards. So I wish that it would have been different, but you do what you do at the moment and sometimes it works and sometimes you are in error.
REPORTER: The Browns wasted two timeouts for a challenge that was not overturned, so —
COACH TRESSEL: Well, I should have probably wasted a timeout, although I heard that technology thing wasn’t running anyway, but maybe we need to get some replay things in our booth or something, we’ll go to the NCAA so we can check it out, but, hey, things happen.
REPORTER: Another factor on that play may be the quick whistle, as he was going down, at least I heard on the replay, it sounded like the whistle was blown, the play may not have been reviewable in any regard, if you’d asked them, they may have come back and said, you didn’t get the ball anyway because we blew it dead. At what point in the Big Ten, NCAA, do you review the quick whistle?
COACH TRESSEL: I think as they continue to try to make the replay system as good as it can be, they’ll have those discussions, and I get more nervous about the fact that whistles aren’t blown very quick in general. I see kids get whack, whack, whack, pounded on, and all of a sudden you hear this little toot after that, and the guy’s been whacked about six times and they say, well, we wanted to make sure, as he’s getting a helmet in the ribs. So I don’t know, I’m sure they’ll keep working on it. I think our system is better than the NFL one. Now, it’s not perfect.
REPORTER: Could you talk about Michigan’s defense? They seem to have shored up some things especially from week one and week two, and the knock against them was that they couldn’t tackle.
COACH TRESSEL: I’ll tell you what, they’re a physical bunch. I think seven seniors, thereabouts. Kids that have played a lot of football. It’s interesting, when you play out of your league and when you play in your league and you’re used to seeing what the people do and so forth and you really are honed in, you can see that their evolution — they’re very big up front.
Crable is a guy that, man, you better know where he is. There’s no question about it. I just got finished watching the Penn State game and I don’t know how many yards Penn State had, but it didn’t look like many. Thank you.