"We're treating this trip a lot like a business trip," Weis said at the Fiesta Bowl Media Day in Sun Devil Stadium. "I'm looking to come into this game and win and I know only one way to do that and that is give them little time for rest and relaxation and get them mentally ready for the game."
Game day is fast approaching. Only three days stand between Notre Dame either breaking an 11-year bowl losing streak and charging ahead full steam into the 2006 season or continuing the bowl season ineptitude. Weis is treating this game like a bye week. The only difference is that the X's and O's were in place last week instead of the usual implementation on game week. The professional atmosphere Weis brings to the team is evident in the comments of the players. The message is clear: this trip is all business.
"As much as we would like to keep this a vacation, it's not," running back Darius Walker said. "That's something this coaching staff is good at is keeping us focused. They understand that this is a business trip and know what we need to do."
*Have you heard that Ohio State has the number one ranked run defense in the nation?
"I think I've heard it every single day," Walker said. "I see it on TV. I get calls about it everyday."
Walker and the Notre Dame ground attack will have their hands full on Monday as they try to find holes in the swarming Buckeye run defense. Ohio State is allowing only 74 rushing yards per game and will be a challenge for Walker, who was catching fire at the end of the season. The sophomore had his best day in an Irish uniform in Notre Dame's regular season finale victory over Stanford. The 35-carry, 186-yard performance is one of the main reasons why the Irish are playing in the Fiesta Bowl and not the Gator Bowl. Walker feels this game is a classic example of big-time college football.
"This is the reason we play football," Walker said. "You go to a place like Notre Dame and play the USC's and the Tennessee's and play the Ohio State's and in the BCS games. It's the reason why we're here. It's a very exciting time. I know they have the number one rushing defense but I'm really up for the challenge. Players and coaches are excited about it. It'll be a great game and there is a lot riding on the game. We need a win."
*The Bobby Carpenter watch continues. The Ohio State linebacker broke his ankle on the first play of the Buckeyes win over Michigan and his status for the Fiesta Bowl is up in the air. Carpenter, along with All-American A.J. Hawk and Anthony Schlegel, make up arguably the best trio of linebackers in the nation. But it's still anyone's guess as to whether he'll be ready to go by kickoff.
"Bobby worked out a little yesterday," Tressel said. "He's still a ways off. It's a few days before the game and I've seen a few guys who on a Wednesday practice, which is what today is, really come on from a health stand point. The one thing we're going to do is not jeopardize Bobby's health and make sure that if he plays it'll be in full medical health."
*This routine is becoming second nature for Tressel. The Buckeyes are making their third trip in four years to the Fiesta Bowl, all under Tressel. The biggest win came in 2003 when Ohio State shocked Miami to win the national championship. The experience of coming to Tempe and knowing what to expect from the bowl week festivities gives the Buckeyes a slight edge in that area. Tressel hopes his team can go out and make another special moment for the Ohio State football program.
"A lot of our guys who have been here before went to the team hotel with some fond memories," Tressel said. "Now they walked in here this morning and I'm sure had some fond memories. The great thing about sport is that you have to go out and create your own memories. It's exciting to see if we can do that again."
*Friday was Media Day, and, as usual, Weis had a several memorable quotes. The best had to be a question about the effect his jewelry has on prospective high school players. The Irish head coach was wearing his Super Bowl ring to the session and it led to a reporter questioning if he used it in swaying recruits to Notre Dame.
"They start to tell me that they're going somewhere else because it gives them a better chance to go to the NFL," Weis said. "And I'll go, ‘So, you want to play in the NFL?'"
At this point, Weis, with his gigantic diamond-clad ring on his finger, put his hand over his face and left it there, which drew a huge laugh from the media contingent. The Arizona sun, coupled with ring size, caused it to make an impression on the crowd. It obviously has made an impression on recruits as Notre Dame is primed to land a top-5 class.
"They get the point," Weis said.
*Another Weis quote on recruiting and work ethic: "You can outwork people. That's something you can do. You have a chance to go out and get 10 first-round draft picks. You just have to outwork people."