E-Mail Message Delivered To Buckeyes

Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel always has a trick up his sleeve when it comes to motivating his players, but when it comes to getting ready for Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl the coach reached way back into his bag of tricks for a tool to use. Read on for the details.

When Ohio State returned to practice following another victory against Michigan, head coach Jim Tressel pulled out one of the oldest tricks in the book to get his team fired up.

Four days had passed since the Buckeyes learned they would face Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl. With the team assembled inside the team's meeting room, Tressel showed his players an e-mail message he claimed to have received.

The exact wording was not made available to those outside the room, but the gist was impossible to miss: OSU has no chance of beating an SEC team in a bowl game.

"Some guy actually sent us something in the mail about Ohio State, how we're so bad and whatever," linebacker Brian Rolle said. "That motivates me as a captain, as a senior, as a starter here to let guys know that this outing is going to be different from the past."

According to fellow senior captain Dane Sanzenbacher, the e-mail was one of many that Tressel has showed the players. The first one was something that was forwarded to the coach from a friend, Sanzenbacher said.

"We've gotten so many different things that are along those lines," he said. "I feel like at this point in my career I've seen it all and we know what our perception is. We know all the stats on what's happened in these games.

"The reality of it is we can't affect the ones in the past and no matter who it is we're playing or what conference they're from we want to win this bowl game."

Senior kicker Devin Barclay said the message did not produce any sort of outward response from his teammates.

‘We're so used to people talking about this program that really it's like water off our back," he said. "We do what we do and people are going to say what they want to say. That's the way it is."

Inside, however, was a different matter.

"They can say what they want," Barclay said. "We're going to feel what we want to feel. With them saying stuff like that or whoever is saying whatever they're saying, it's just putting fuel on the fire and we already have a fire inside of us ready to go."

While some players said they have not spent much time thinking about OSU's winless record in nine bowl contests against SEC teams, senior safety Jermale Hines said it is always in the back of his mind.

"Of course it's constantly heard and you can't really escape it in today's society with all the media, shows like SportsCenter and all that and Twitter and Facebook," senior safety Jermale Hines said. "It's something that is always with us."

Sanzenbacher said he was not sure it was a message that especially needed reinforcing.

"To be honest, I don't know if it's something that as a group really changed our mind-set because we already know what the perception is," he said. "We know regardless of if it's an SEC team, a Pac-10 team, a Big 12 team, our goal is to win this bowl game. We can't worry about what's happened before."

It does not help that OSU's two most recent attempts to knock off an SEC team in a bowl game came on the biggest possible stages. Most recent was a 38-24 loss to LSU in the 2008 BCS National Championship Game, but arguably most damaging was the 41-14 wallop absorbed from Florida the previous season in the title game.

When the Buckeyes dropped the 2008 title game to LSU, 20 scholarship members of this year's team were in uniform and 15 are in the two-deep. As one of them, Rolle said the e-mail Tressel showed them struck a nerve.

"Most people may have shrugged it off, but I took it personally having been there in '07 and not faring too well against LSU," he said. "I just took it to heart, and I'm taking that into the game with a chip on my shoulder."

And as for whether or not he would consider e-mailing the person back should the Buckeyes emerge victorious, Rolle laughed.

"Nah, we don't do too much responding to what people say just because people that talk about it, the majority of them can't do it, so that's why they talk about it," he said.

BSB staff writer Jeff Svoboda contributed to this report.

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