Head coach Jim Tressel typically takes his team downtown to the Ohio Statehouse on Veterans Day, when the university cancels classes, but this year he made a change. Although the Buckeyes still went downtown, they went across the street from the capital building to the Rhodes tower and visited a memorial to the Lima Company that lost 23 members during a 2005 deployment to Iraq.
Earlier in the week, Tressel and Bob Tucker, the team's director of military appreciation, received the Patrick Henry award from the Ohio National Guard. Tucker arranged for the players to meet with Anita Miller, the artist who designed the memorial.
"She requested that it had meant to much for the families to meet our kids for them to be able to express to our kids that what they were doing at Ohio State was important to their sons and daughters who were overseas serving us," Tressel said. "It was a special thing. We got to meet the parents of the Lima Company who were lost, and it's heart-wrenching."
This afternoon, the Buckeyes will get back on the practice field and resume preparations for Saturday's home contest with Penn State (3:30, ABC). When they do, Tressel confirmed that linebackers Ross Homan and Dorian Bell will be back in action.
Homan had missed two games with a sprained foot while Bell had been out for three games after suffering his second concussion of the season.
"Ross is good and Dorian is good," the coach said. "They practiced fine and are good to go."
The Buckeyes had time to recover last weekend as they experienced an open week, and that appears to have been a benefit to at least one other player as well. Junior right tackle J.B. Shugarts has been battling an undisclosed foot problem that has prematurely forced him to the sidelines in a number of contests this season, but Tressel said this has been a positive week for him.
"He's had his best week from a comfort standpoint," the coach said. "Last game I think he went the same length as the rest of the first group did."
Tressel also downplayed a rumor that freshman defensive back Christian Bryant could be back in time for the Michigan game Nov. 27. Bryant suffered an infection in his foot that required surgery and is expected to miss the rest of the regular season.
"I don't think (he'll be back so soon) but I wouldn't discount anything," Tressel said. "I think he's still in a (walking) boot. Being out of a boot and back on the practice field and ready to compete are two different things, but that's great thinking."
Tressel said the medical staff has told him it is a legitimate hope that Bryant will be able to return in time for the team's bowl game.
At 8-1 overall and ranked ninth in the nation, OSU enters the game pegged as a heavy favorite with some oddsmakers picking the Nittany Lions as 17-point underdogs. With starting quarterback Matt McGloin telling reporters that the team perceived that as an insult, Tressel said it could add more fuel to PSU's fire.
"I think anything that is paid attention to outside of what needs to be can have an effect," he said. "If our guys are paying attention to a moment where some prognosticates that they're a favorite, they're thinking about the wrong things."
The coach said he had not heard junior quarterback Terrelle Pryor saying he plans to return for his senior season. Asked if he had discussed the situation at any point with Pryor, Tressel said, "Not really. We just go day to day and try to progress the best we can. I'm sure in my mind that that's probably been his thinking all along."
OSU's underclassmen generally file paperwork with the NFL to get a read on their draft status as an aid for determining whether or not they should leave school early. Tressel said he would not handle Pryor's situation any differently than he would other players in his situation.
"What we always do for our underclassmen is if you'd like to do it, we're behind you," Tressel said. "If you'd rather not and don't want to waste your time and spend $10 for a transcript to send to the NFL and all that stuff then don't bother. It certainly will be open to all of our third-year guys."