By Paul M. Banks
At Big Ten Media Day he discussed the rivalry with UM, the upcoming season in the Big Ten and much more.
“The” Ohio State University Head football Coach Jim Tressel wears an article of clothing, a red sweater vest, so much that he’s often referred to as “the sweater vest.” Especially by ESPN’s Jim Rome. Like Tom Landry and his fedora hat or Bill Belichick and his grey cut-off hoodie, Tressel and his sweat vest are now a part of immortal football coaching lore.
The vest replaced John Cooper in 2001. Since then, his OSU teams are 1-2 in National Championships games, and his 2002 team pulled off the amazing feat of going 14–0; the first time its been done in college football in over 100 years.
Tressel’s won 5 Big Ten Titles, but he’s likley best loved in Columbus for his mastery of Michigan. After all, the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry is often considered the best rivalry in college football, perhaps in all of sports. It’s certainly the only rivalry to be profiled in a HBO documentary.
highlights of Tressel versus Michigan
-seven wins, second in school history to Woody Hayes’ 16.
-only OSU to win seven of eight against the Wolverines
-only Buckeye leader to win 5 consecutive over the maize and blue.
On Michigan’s getting back on their feet soon to help improve the image of the Big Ten…
“Michigan’s on their feet. Anyone that’s ever been a part of a transition knows that for about 365 days, every day is a new day, every adjustment, every relationship that you’re trying to build, it’s hard. Transitions are hard, we were 7-5 our first year, every day was a challenge…I wouldn’t worry about Michigan, they’re going to be just fine.”
More commentary on one of the conference’s “big two” being in a swoon hurting the league…
“I suppose people from outside the conference could say that, now if they really stepped back and thought about it. We’re not the only conference that’s had transition in teams. Take Alabama for instance which is dear to some people’s hearts. They had a moment of transition there and now, all of a sudden, they’re rolling. It happens in every league and Michigan’s going to hold up their end of the bargain.”
On improving the reputation of the Big Ten, taking steps to augment the league’s image…
“We spend time in meetings…and we always talk about how we can get better. Even after the years where we might be 5 and 2 in bowls, you’re sitting there talking about, how can we get better? This year we were 1 and 6, and maybe that discussion gets even more impactful or whatever. But that’s an ongoing thing that we talk about. I don’t know that anyone in this conference has an inferiority complex. If you watch ball games, our guys will play toe to toe with anyone. If you watch the NFL draft, they’ll get selected at the regularity of almost every conference.
But it is something that, as I mentioned earlier, we take very, very serious, that every time we line up outside our conference, obviously we’re representing ourselves and our institution, but we’re representing this league. That’s important to us. When those bowl games are going on, we’re rooting like crazy. That’s something that’s very, very important.
On the Buckeyes start of the season…
“Our September is an extraordinary one. We’re going to have to be ready on September 5th to face Navy coming in. It’s an exciting thing for us because we haven’t had an academy in Ohio Stadium since about 1930. And it’s really going to have some extra excitement and energy as the Naval Academy comes in with their unique style of play where they’ve led the nation in rushing the past four years, and they give you some problems that you probably haven’t rehearsed against for many, many years.
And then Southern Cal comes in, and enough said there. A great football team. Then we go up to Cleveland Stadium to play in the Browns’ stadium, which will be exciting for our young people, to play in an NFL stadium and play against the University of Toledo there.
And then we open the Big Ten with the University of Illinois. In my opinion, they may have as much or more talent than anyone in this league. I know they’re going to be a very veteran team, very mature team. So that’s going to be quite a September for us. So we’re going to need to have a heck of a preseason. We’re going to need to grow very, very quickly.
Finally, when I asked him about the state of the running back position, replacing Beanie Wells, what needs to happen there, and the role of Dan Herron- how’s he developed?
It’s difficult to replace a Beanie Wells…he was the kind of guy that as the season went on or as the game went on, he got stronger and stronger. We used to talk about there was a cumulative effect when he carried the ball through the course of a game or through a season. So you can’t replace exactly what he does or what he did.
We feel real good about Boom Herron. Danny Herron is a tough kid, a good ball carrier, excellent pass protector, is solid in the passing game. We’d like to think that Brandon Saine, another young man that had a real solid freshman year and then had some injuries this past year that kept him from being in the plan as much as we had anticipated, Brandon had a very good spring, as well, as did Danny.
He’s the kind of guy that not only is he an excellent running back, but he’s a real fine receiver and has tremendous speed. He owns the 100 meters record in the state of Ohio at 220 pounds. Brandon, we would like to believe, will be a heck of a runner there.
We’ve got some other guys that can maybe run the ball in different type scenarios than a traditional running back with some of our wide guys and our quarterback and those types of things.