Talkin' Tressel: Sugar Bowl Edition

Ohio State will close the 2010 season tomorrow evening with a Sugar Bowl date against SEC foe Arkansas. Monday morning, Buckeyes head coach Jim Tressel offered his final thoughts on his team heading into the contes.

Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel looked as loose as ever during his final press conference before tomorrow's Sugar Bowl contest against Arkansas.

Donning a suit and tie to give his final thoughts on the bowl game, he both opened and closed the press conference with jokes. The starter was a memory of his final press conference before his first BCS game, a 2003 national championship date with Miami (Fla.).

"I showed up at this press conference (that year) in my sweat suit," he said. "(Miami head coach) Larry Coker had his coat and tie on and I figured they probably didn't use any of those 900 pictures they had just taken."

And so it went for the OSU head man, who fielded questions on a wide range of topics from his team's mental state heading into the contest to the fact that his favorite NFL team – the Cleveland Browns – are again looking for a new head coach.

Since the Buckeyes defeated Michigan to close the regular season at 11-1, they have been rocked by the suspensions of six players for parts of next season. In order to be allowed to play in this game, Tressel had said that each player had to promise that he would return for the 2011 campaign.

Junior quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who is one of the six, told reporters Saturday that each player had a different set of circumstances and left the door open that at least one of them might not return. Monday, Tressel again affirmed his belief that each player will be back next year.

Asked how confident he is that Pryor, Dan Herron, Mike Adams, DeVier Posey and Solomon Thomas will be back next season (the sixth suspended player, Jordan Whiting, is a redshirt freshman), Tressel said, "I'm totally confident. Totally."

After having spent nearly 40 days preparing for one opponent, Tressel echoed the thoughts of Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino, who met with reporters before his OSU counterpart. Neither coach wants his team to be over-prepared for its final opponent.

"That's always a concern you have defensively is you have a little bit longer in a bowl game, so you get a little bit more locked into what tendencies might be and all those things," Tressel said. "You've got to make sure that information doesn't hurt you."

Throughout the week, the Buckeyes spoke of how beneficial the time off has been from an injury standpoint. Monday, Tressel confirmed that freshman Christian Bryant will be back in action for the first time since the Wisconsin game but said his likely will not have a major impact on the game.

"He's probably in the two-deep, but I wouldn't expect him to have quite the role he had when he was first injured," Tressel said. "Other than that, one of the reasons we're blessed to be (here) is that we stayed healthy."

No new players are expected to be out of commission, although Tressel said a few players had battled the flu while in New Orleans including Thomas, who did not practice during the 15 minutes open to reporters Friday.

"We had a couple or three guys (who) had a little bit of flu-type things," he said. "(Thomas) was one of them. I think Storm Klein missed a day or two in there. We had to move someone into a sick room, but we don't have any ankles, knees, elbows, shoulders, that's anything new."

With the suspensions looming over interviews all week long and rumors during the holiday season that Tressel would be stepping down, the coach said he feels the situation has helped bring his team closer together.

"Adversity, whether it's for a football team or for an individual … is always the greatest teacher," he said. "Not always the most fun, but always the greatest teacher."

The test will be to try not to do too much against the Razorbacks. That goes doubly so for Pryor, who will lead the offense for the final time before being forced to sit out the first five games of next season pending an appeal to the NCAA. Although Tressel said he feels the quarterback will be able to rein in his competitive nature and not try to force things, he expressed some regret at comments Pryor made earlier this week.

Asked about criticism former OSU quarterback and ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit directed at him following the news of the suspension, Pryor said, "I don't worry about what Kirk Herbstreit says, to tell you the truth. Has he beat Michigan?"

Said Tressel: "As we talked about with any of our kids in terms of giving their opinions on things, I've always felt that sometimes those are best left unsaid, which is difficult sometimes for kids because they spend so much of their time hearing people's opinions of them. But I've always wanted to err on the side of sometimes keeping my thoughts."

A life-long Browns fan, Tressel was asked what direction he feels president Mike Holmgren will be leading the franchise after dismissing Eric Mangini after two seasons.

"There are times when you question whether I know what we're doing at our place. How would I know what Mike's doing?" he said with a smile that brought laughter from the assembled media.

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