12-30 Ohio State Head Coach Press Conference 2017-04-25T11:39:32+00:00

December 30, 2010


Opening Statement: “Thanks so much. We [Ohio State] are excited to be here in New Orleans, as are all of you are to get the opportunity to cover it. You talk about goals and so forth as you go into a season and to end at the Allstate Sugar Bowl is a pretty special thing and on behalf of all of us we’d like to thank the Sugar Bowl Committee. We are excited to compete against a great Arkansas team. I had a chance to talk to Bobby [Petrino] the other day and I know they are excited as well. Our kids are looking forward to a lot of fun and a great experience and they’ve already gotten a chance to taste New Orleans a bit, I hope we don’t eat too much but this food is awfully good and I know you folks will experience the same.

I thought I would address for our local people and suppose for the national people too. I know we have had a tough couple of weeks. I thought I would address what I could on that situation and not take anything away from your focus on Ohio State – Arkansas. As you know on the 9th of December I had to go to work on figuring out if indeed we had a problem and if so what we need to do about it. Our Athletic Director Gene Smith and our compliance office and university legal counsel and all the rest did an extraordinary job of our players coming in and talking to them. Fortunately, we were not dealing with a criminal or legal, agent or substance issue, but we were certainly were dealing with a NCAA issue. Our guys were great in their forthrightness and some of this is redundant for the guys who were with us a couple of days before Christmas, but we went through the process of what we had to do and awaited the next step of what our options were going to be.

On the 23rd of December we were given those options and had a chance to go to work and make decisions based upon our options. Our options were currently eligible but they were indeed going to be sanctioned in the future because they were all underclassmen. I think in large part because of our university and our conference, our kids and our compliance worked so rapidly to address the issue, the finding or options were just that. So the first thing we felt that we need to do was to wade through the solution to the situation and huddle with our people above us within the athletic department and the university and get a pulse. Obviously I wanted to spend a lot of time with our coaching staff but most especially I wanted to spend a lot of time with our seniors. Those of you that cover our program a lot know that with most of our decisions we make, it’s not a democracy in our place. Our seniors are very very involved in the decision making and so forth. So we went about that so we could take to our young people who were involved what their options might be. And as I went to every group and we had to visit with every group it was fairly unanimous that the family stays intact and that there not be a situation where someone not be cast out and separated, but obviously there would have to be a series of constraints and decision that the people affected would have to make.

As I listened to the outcome of what our options might be that fear of, ‘What if our guys weren’t sanctioned this year and they happen to leave early? Would that be someone skirting the consequences or something perhaps they shouldn’t have done?’ So the first decision any of our young people needed to make, if indeed they wanted to stay a part of our family and make the trip and have a chance to participate one of the greatest games of all time, the Sugar Bowl, they would have to make any decisions based upon their future NFL [career] prior to us going to the Bowl game because we didn’t think it would be fair to the NCAA or fair to the other people involved in the process that if someone were able to participate and have no consequences down the road. So those decisions were made by our young people and I am excited to say that all the guys that were involved, knowing that they had options, like playing in this game and leaving, in their minds that could have been an option but it wasn’t.

Maybe in their minds another option could have been that they would take themselves out of this game hoping that their appeal for the future would be softened. None of them wanted to do that because they wanted to remain part of the family. At this moment because they know 24 of our seniors won’t be with them in the future, they didn’t feel as if they could desert their seniors just to help their own cause and they are going into this opportunity with their eyes open knowing they have significant sanctions. Most of them are going into their senior year but what is most important to them is their teammates right now. They understand their situation and they understand there are different situations as to what they should do or be able to do. They know they have to live with those just like as we as coaches and administrators know there are varying options as to what should be done. I have gotten lots of help from a communication stand point with emails and options and so forth. It has been an interesting lesson for me. So many of the options seem to revolve around what we would look like as opposed to a lesser number that came in terms of what would be the best thing for the student-athletes involved. As I thought about that, I thought ‘Gosh, I hope that no one has the impression when our kids go and visit hospitals it is because of what we might look like or when our kids spend time with the military nearly every practice, that we are doing that because of what we look like.’ But it has been an interesting lesson. This is my 36th year coaching and it is just a remainder that you learn lessons as you go. There is not a whole bunch of what we can talk about in terms of these youngsters other than they are in the family, they are on the trip, they want to be Buckeyes in 2011. They are very remorseful for judgments they have made and they are anxious to have a great experience at the Allstate Sugar Bowl as all of us are.

“Ohio State – Arkansas, Razorbacks are quick, they’re fast, they’re tough, they are extremely well schooled. The longer they have been together with their staff, their evolution and what they do offensively, defensively and special teams has grown. They have reeled off five or six SEC wins which that in itself tells you a lot. They have a great quarterback. They have a great offensive line that has played 12 straight games together, which our guys know. We talk about that all the time, that if your offensive line plays together for a long time that is a heck of a bonus. Weapons at the receiver positions, tight end is one of those guys whatever they need he seems to get. Tailback is kind of taken over and become that explosive guy that gives them great balance that I know Bobby loves to have. They are a high-pressure outfit. If you don’t have outstanding pass protection and if you are not flawless in your communication you are going to have problems with the pressure they put on. They are going to make you execute. They play the game fast. They play it tough. They played a rigorous schedule. They are all the things that you would hope a Sugar Bowl team would have and they certainly have it and are deserving. We are excited to get back on the practice field today. I thought we had a lot of good practices before we came from home. Our guys are anxious to see how we match-up.

On if all five players involved in NCAA decision pledged to come back for next season…
“They would not be here if that weren’t the case.”

On if all five players involved in NCAA decision will play in the game on Tuesday…
“The guys will play as to what they deserve to play from a football standpoint. We will be evaluated as it relates to football.”

On how big of a distraction this has been for the Ohio State team and for himself as well….
“Anytime you spend time on anything that’s a little bit of a distraction, but we are fortunate in this particular case playing in the Sugar Bowl against a well-coached team like Arkansas. All you have to do is turn that film on and think about your good fortune to be in a BCS game and so forth. You can try to make up that time, but you know just like anything else you invest your time in certain things and wish you had more time for others. But with a little bit later game being January 4th it has given us an opportunity to take care of what we need to and when things come up you take care of them. When game time hits on January 4th we will be ready.”

On Coach Tressel’s history with Coach Bobby Petrino and the Southeastern Conference…
“I know personally I have lost three in-a-row against the SEC. I’m not tired of hearing about it, it’s a reminder to me of just how good the SEC is in football. We are playing another great one in Arkansas. As far as Petrino, he was at Louisville when I was at Ohio. I don’t think we’ve ever played against each other unless we were assistants somewhere. Now with John L. (Smith), we know him well. We’ve coached against him when he was at Idaho and Michigan State and so forth. But I’ve always been impressed with Coach Petrino. We used to send assistants down there at Louisville because it was close and they did a lot of great things. He’s doing a great job at Arkansas.”

On who was involved in crafting the final decision (allowing players to play) on the five players involved in NCAA decision and the difficulty of dealing with the situation…
“I think every decision we make is by committee, whether it be the people above you or next to you or the people you serve. You don’t wake up one morning and say this is what we are going to do, that’s not how football coach’s work. You get in meeting rooms and you argue and decide you’re going to do this on third down. Every situation that doesn’t go the way you’d like it is disappointing as a coach. That’s just the way it is. Whether they (distractions) are the ones on the field, or off the field. That’s why you are there. You are there to serve and handle the good times and the bad times.”

On rumors of Tressel retiring from Ohio State…
“Apparently it was somebody on a website using their freedom of speech. It’s not true at all but that too is kind of a waste of time. Recruits are calling asking if it’s true or not. Other coaches (from other schools) keep calling saying this is true to our recruits. The rumor is a waste of time but this world is an ever-evolving waste of time. I don’t know when people have time to spend so much time reading all this stuff. It’s amazing how much stuff is out there. The rumor is not true but its part of the deal. It’s better than the alternative, the day they fire you.”

On not winning Big Ten Coach of the Year award and the history of both he and Petrino’s fathers having coached football…
“That’s the blessing that both Bobby and I have had. When you get a chance to grow up around coaching and see the impact your father had, it becomes a blessing for you. It gets in your blood. I think it also gets in your confidence that it becomes something you think you can do because you’ve seen it being done before. I am sure I got my first opportunity in coaching as a graduate assistant not solely on my coaching merits. We (Petrino and Tressel) were fortunate to have dads as coaches. As far as the coach of the year award, I’ve got many of plaques and trophies in my office so that doesn’t blow my mind.”

On his reaction to the type of memorabilia the players sold…
“It’s disappointing. A number of people reached out as we’ve been dealing with this thing maybe to calm my thinking or whatever and one the thing said was, ‘Keep in mind coach you’re dealing with a different generation. Back when you were growing up one guy got a trophy, maybe, and now you’re dealing with a generation that if you were on the team and you were seven years old everyone got a trophy. Maybe this generation doesn’t understand the value of awards like we did.’ I understand the argument. Not sure I justify the deal, but it does make it disappointing.”

“Our kids all went out and visited Archie Griffin, because they said, ‘Coach, how can we let the former players know that we feel terrible about what we did?’ and I said, ‘Gosh, I don’t know. Archie Griffin is the head of our alumni association, the CEO, and his office is across the street. Go see if he’ll take a visit.’ He wasn’t in the office that day, but he said, ‘You know what, come out to my house.’ He said the kids might get a different perspective when they look at my basement and see how important some of those things are to me. Like most things, a valuable lesson. I’ve said many times in adversity, lives are changed. It really dawned on me this morning with our players as some of them conceivably couldn’t have been here if we made that decision.”

On any injuries…
“Chad Hagan, you haven’t seen him all season at all. He’s been medically out, but he’s been here. He’s been in the yellow jersey at practice. He’s got a situation where he’s had to have some surgery, but he’s here in New Orleans. Knock on wood; we didn’t have anybody we lost [due to injury].”

On if he’s ever considered being an NFL coach…
“No, I really haven’t. It kind of goes back to the question about Bobby [Petrino]; we both had a college football coach dad. It kind of gives you an opportunity to learn some things, and maybe some confidence that you can do that. I’ve never even been measured by the pros. I don’t know that I have the confidence that I could go and pretend that I know exactly what they should do. I don’t know that I would be the right person for that. Does that mean that everyone who’s a pro coach has got to have been a former NFL player or anything like that? No, but I don’t think I have the right training, background for that. I’m not sure that I would do a very good job.”

On whether the quarterback race will heat up with Terrelle Pryor out for five games next season…
“Not leading up to this bowl. I’m sure in the spring and so forth. Again, one of the things we’ve asked everyone involved to do is because of the decisions everyone has made, what we all know about – there are 24 guys who aren’t going to be here anymore – let’s make sure we commit ourselves to Ohio State versus Arkansas through January 4, and I’m sure the answer to your question is that of course, in the spring that would heat it up.”

On what effect the suspensions will have on the team’s play in the Sugar Bowl…
“Gosh, I hope none. I think the thing that will have an impact on how we play in the Sugar Bowl will be how we play. Will we take care of the ball? Will we knock it loose? Will we cover our lanes on the kickoff coverage? So, will those things have an effect? I would sure like to think they wouldn’t.”

On doing anything different to prepare for Arkansas…
“You do have a little bit more time. I think you have to be a little bit more careful, because so do they. So, if all of a sudden you get too glued into, ‘Hey, I know they’re going to do this when they line up this way,’ they’ve had a chance to change some things. I think you have to work on your fundamentals first, figure out what you need to do better, figure out what you do best, and then just prepare like crazy. In my mind it won’t be the Xs and Os. It’ll be the execution. It’ll be the how long and how hard and who will go the longest, because they’re a good football team. I said to the guys as we were getting ready once we knew we were playing them that this is the quickest team I’ve seen us play since Oregon. These guys are quick. They’re not X and O-wise similar at all, but quickness, which is the key to this game, they’re quick.”


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