Coach Jim Tressel's 2003 Spring Preview Luncheon, benefiting the Alzheimer's Association, was held Wednesday afternoon at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
The event was started 12 years ago by John and Helen Cooper and it has raised over $800,000. That figure is expected to top the $1 million mark after this year.
The day began with a behind-the-scenes tour of the WHAC and was followed by a silent auction, where some unbelievable sports items and collectables were on display.
During this time, a 2002 OSU highlight video was shown and members of the OSU Alumni Marching Band were on hand to play some Buckeye tunes.
Lunch was catered by City Barbeque and all the grub at the Bucknuts table was devoured in record time. We're not even sure if there was a scrap left at our table.
As we were busy eating, Emcee Jeff Hogan of WBNS Ch. 10 introduced some of the guests, including the Coopers, Earle Bruce, co-host Jack Park and Jim Karsatos.
The former OSU QB and current radio sideline reporter announced the live auction, where three things were up for bidding: An opportunity to assist Karsatos on the sidelines at a home game this fall (went for $5,000); a football autographed by the players and coaches of the 2002 national championship team ($3,000); and a 1968 Ohio State-Michigan game program ($1,100).
HONORING THE '68 CHAMPS
Last year, Ohio State's first national championship team - the 1942 squad - was honored at the spring preview. This year, the 1968 "Super Sophs" national title team was recognized. About 35 members of the team were in attendance and they were announced one-by-one and received a standing ovation from the crowd of about 2,000 Buckeye supporters.
PUBLIC SPEAKING 101 If there is a better public speaker than Jim Tressel, I want to meet them. He never uses notes, always looks out at the crowd and always has something interesting (and usually pretty funny) to say.
Like the '68 team, Tress got a standing O from the crowd. The Buckeye coach gave thanks to Bruce, Cooper and especially to Helen Cooper for being the "brainchild" of the spring preview.
If you have never seen the three head coaches together at the same time, it is an interesting scene to say the least. They were sitting side-by-side-by-side at the table on the stage. Tressel and Cooper spent much of the afternoon chatting with each other.
JOHNSON AND CO.
Tressel introduced strength and conditioning coach Al Johnson to the crowd, as well as assistants Mike Cochran and Bernardo Amerson. They informed us of some of the winter workout standouts, including Dustin Fox's 41.5-inch vertical jump, Tim Anderson's 500-pound (er, 511-pound) bench press, Lydell Ross' 670-pound squat and Ben Hartsock's 410-pound hand clean. Johnson went on to say that Anderson was the "power category champion" of the winter, racking up the most points on the team. Anderson benched over squatted over 600-pounds, threw up 365 on the clean and had a vertical jump of 34 inches. This is when he was quick to point out that his max bench was actually 511, not the puny 500.
Tress then introduced offensive coordinator Jim Bollman, defensive coordinator Mark Dantonio and linebacker coach Mark Snyder.
The coaches were asked by the audience what types of questions bother them the most from the media. They agreed that the two they don't like are: questions about "what is going to happen in the future," and questions about "incidents that happen inside the Buckeye football family."
In his offensive re-cap of 2002 and preview of '03, Bollman joked that the goal of last year's offense was "not to mess things up for the defense." He says that this year, the Buckeyes must be more consistent at all times and must score more points. He assured fans that there would be more formations used this year and that the Bucks were going to share the ball quite a bit. His one concern with everyone coming back is that there won't be enough balls/reps for everyone.
In the defensive re-cap/preview, Dantonio credited the offense for not turning the ball over much last year. He felt that allowed the defense to be dominant because the opposing offense was always forced to start behind the 50 yard-line. Dantonio mentioned that the Bucks finished No. 2 in the nation in points allowed and No. 3 in the nation in rushing yards allowed. He thought the one thing that separated the 2002 defense from other great defense was its attitude. He mentioned attitude several times. He also said that poise and confidence were major factors. This year, Dantonio said some young players will have to step up if the Bucks want to be a great unit again. He thinks that effort and togetherness are two big keys to the season.
Snyder talked about the special teams and reiterated that the punt is the most important play in football and that the Bucks can get much better on special teams this year. He said that they need to score points off special teams this year and he wasn't just talking about field goals.
When asked about possible complacency, Anderson responded that the Bucks will be "even hungrier" this year and want to accomplish "bigger and better things."
When asked about the difference of year No. 1 as opposed to year No. 2 in terms of how the coaches did things, Krenzel responded that the staff was definitely more comfortable with what they were doing in year two and he felt that the tempo of practices were faster and crisper.
Jenkins agreed with Krenzel's assessment and added that the first year was an adjustment for everyone and that everyone seemed really comfortable around each other in year two, players and coaches alike.
Hartsock was asked what can be expected from the offense this year and he was not at a loss for words. He said that the defense was the "anchor of the team last year" and that this year the offense "needs to be the anchor since that is where the most seniors are." Like he said after practice last Thursday, Hartsock says the offense "wants to be dominant" this year and "anything less will be a failure" since all the starters are back.
Stepanovich said that the offensive line is looking good. He added that the unit wants to "punch people in the mouth and help put points on the board this year."
Now that's what I call some nice dessert.