Buckeyes Eager for Bowl, And To End NCAA Chatter
The talking is done, and the playing starts Tuesday. It cannot start soon enough for Jim Tressel and his Buckeyes.
#6 Ohio State, mired in an NCAA investigation that cast a negative focus on the program the past two weeks, takes on #8 Arkansas Tuesday in the Sugar Bowl.
“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.” Tressel said Monday morning at his final pre-game news conference.
“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.”
Arkansas Head Coach Bobby Petrino is also accustomed to handling off-the-field headlines. He’s often been in the rumor mill for head coaching jobs across the country, both in college and the NFL. But with a new contract at Arkansas in hand, Petrino’s going nowhere. He says Ohio State’s run-first offense is the same he expects to see Tuesday.
“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.“ Petrino said. “Obviously when you have this much time to prepare, you know, we’re going to see something that we haven’t prepared for… and they’re gonna see some they haven’t prepared for.”
Tressel restated that he is “totally” confident QB Terrelle Pryor and the other juniors caught up in the NCAA violations announced last week will, in fact, return to school next year and face their 5 game suspensions. Pryor hinted Saturday that the players did not “guarantee” they would return, but Pryor and WR Devier Posey have both said publicly they will be back.
Tressel also discussed the opposing quarterback, Arkansas junior and former Michigan Wolverine Ryan Mallett, at length Monday.
“…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.”
Expect former OSU standouts and current New Orleans Saints Will Smith and Malcolm Jenkins to join the Buckeyes on their sideline Tuesday at the Superdome.
Fans are pouring into the city for the game, although it appears Arkansas fans outnumber Buckeye fans through the city. Ticket sales also reflected that, according to some bowl officials. Thousands of OSU supporters gathered Monday afternoon at the New Orleans Convention Center for the Buckeye Bash pep rally. The OSU Marching Band, cheerleaders, Tressel and his captains appeared before a crowd approaching 10-thousand people.