Tressel Meets With The Media To Discuss UM

OSU head coach Jim Tressel fielded questions on his team's dramatic win over Purdue, the challenge his team will face Saturday at Michigan and also on the involvement of two unnamed OSU players in an early-morning fracas on campus after the Purdue game. Click this free link for the details.

OSU coach Jim Tressel met with the media at his usual luncheon on Tuesday. But, in addition to answering questions about his team's opponent in Saturday's regular season finale (which just so happens to be No. 5 Michigan), he also had to answer queries on the involvement of two of his players in a fracas on campus early Sunday morning after the win over Purdue.

According to reports, two team members were involved in trying to break up a fight involving four women outside a campus dormitory at about 4 a.m. Sunday morning, roughly nine hours after OSU's 16-13 overtime win over Purdue.

OSU athletic director Andy Geiger released a statement Tuesday saying he did not expect the players to be charged in connection with the incident. Tressel, speaking at his luncheon, was unclear whether the players would face any team discipline as well.

"I suppose I could address part and not address part," Tressel said. "The part that I can address is that we had some guys out much later than I think they should be and that we'll need to take care of things in-house to handle that. As far as from a campus situation, the only thing I know is what everyone else knows. There was a release that was out this morning or something, last night, that mentioned the fact that there was an incident. It is and has been investigated and so forth; that there aren't any charges pending on any of our guys, and it was described as breaking up a fight. So I can't address that, but I can address the fact that there are certain privileges, and we've got to make some decisions in-house as to how to handle that. "

Tressel was later asked if either of the players involved could face penalties related to playing in Saturday's game: "We have to make that decision in-house. We want to be decisive and thorough, and I don't pretend to know everything about everything. I always like to get a lot of counsel. "

The coach was then asked if the fact OSU is playing Michigan this week would factor into the decision: "I would hope not."

The coach also spent nearly one hour discussing the dramatic win over Purdue and the titanic struggle his team will face Saturday at Michigan. Here were some of his key comments:

* On the win over Purdue – "Pudue, as we talked about going into the game, is an outstanding football team. One of the best defenses in the country, in our opinion. Always good on offense. Always very challenging.

"We were very concerned that we match up with their special teams because their punt returner, especially, had broken some games wide open, and as all of you saw, it was a physical football game. Both teams played extremely hard, and it came down to the smallest of margins, and our guys kept playing, as theirs did. There wasn't a person on the field that gave anything other than tremendous effort throughout the course of the game, and we were certainly proud of the leadership that our seniors gave. It was a special day for them playing their final game at Ohio Stadium against a very, very good team, and they came through and led our team to victory. "

* On the play of cornerback Dustin Fox against Purdue – "Our defensive player of the game was Dustin Fox. Dustin had an extraordinary game. He had 10 tackles. He had 5 pass break-ups. He covered an outstanding receiver and held him under his average and just played a tremendous game and what I've always felt is one of the most difficult places to play, and that's that boundary corner where many times most of the pressure comes off the field and you're left over there by your lonesome, and he did an excellent job fighting that fight all night long. "

On turning the page to Michigan – "Quickly, after the Purdue game, of course, your thoughts turn to Michigan. We certainly played a great team in Purdue, and we turn it up another notch as we travel to Ann Arbor. Michigan has a veteran team. I think both Ohio State and Michigan have 26 seniors each. I think that's accurate, or very, very close, which tells you that it's two veteran teams. I think when people started talking about the fact that this was the 100th meeting of Ohio State and Michigan, there were hopes that with two veteran teams it could really get some added significance as the year went on.

"Michigan had a very challenging schedule. Ohio State had a very challenging schedule, and I don't think any of us took for granted that the game would have quite the amount of added, I don't know what the right word is, importance or whatever it would happen to be, when you take two of the top five teams in the country and get to square off in the 100th meeting of a rivalry, just a tremendous feeling to be a part of that, tremendous privilege to square off with an excellent team.

"That's the way that this game stacks up. It's the 100th meeting of two great universities. Anyone that's ever played or coached in the game or even ever covered the game knows that it's the toughest, cleanest, most emotional game of the season, in part because it's Ohio State/Michigan and in part because it's the final game. And all of us would like to play the best we could possibly play in our final game of the season.

"So we're looking forward to it. We have great respect for the coaching staff. Their design is excellent. They're always going to come up with some things on offense, defense, or special teams that will challenge you that perhaps you haven't seen before, and that's what gives it an added dimension. I think it's just two outstanding programs. "

* On OSU's offensive showing against Purdue – "I saw probably a good defensive football team that we didn't make a bunch of 80-yard drives on or 73-yard drives on to get into the end zone. We had some opportunities. The first time we were down there and we had the opportunity to score, we landed on about the 8-yard line or something like that and only came up with three, obviously we would have liked to have gotten 7 there. There were some things, just like we grade every other -- there were some things, pass protection-wise, I think twice we got hurt in drives. I think we could go all the way down the line with every phase of things. Maybe a couple times shouldn't have made that call. There's a conglomeration of reasons, part of which is your opponent. "

* On what he remembers about starting Craig Krenzel for the first time at Michigan two years ago – "My thoughts in that case are a lot like they are when a lot of guys are going to get opportunities, especially if they're inexperienced is we've got to make sure we do the right things to make him succeed, and that's the same thing defensively. Special teams-wise, you need to try to make decisions that will help your guys succeed. So I think in my mind, going into that game two years ago, we wanted to make sure we could do what Craig was ready to do. And I thought for the most part, we did some things along that way. His evolution, in my mind, I'm sure when you step into a game like that and you're successful, and your confidence grows, his work ethic has never been questioned, but when you get experience and you get reps and you get more practice reps and more game reps and you're a learner like he is, you're going to get better. I think that's kind of been his evolution. "

* On the importance of winning an outright Big Ten championship – "Well, that's what you come to Ohio State to be a part of, a great tradition at Ohio State, great tradition in the Big Ten. And being the outright champion is what you seek to do when all 11 of us begin playing in the Big Ten, and that's meaningful. None of us have experienced that, and you always want to try to experience something that's eluded you."

* On whether he thinks the pendulum has swung OSU's way after years of UM dominance – "I wouldn't say that. I'm watching film for two days. Michigan's got an outstanding team, and we're going to have to play the best game we've played in 2003 to be successful, so I don't have that -- when you say do I have that feeling, no, not at all. "

On the injury status of Rob Sims and others – "Rob rolled his ankle. Walking through the hallways yesterday, he said he's fine. But, you know, everyone's fine this week. This week has a great ability to heal. You know, Alex Stepanovich missed a few plays, but came back in there. Mike D'Andrea is going to miss, and Drew Carter is going to miss. Beyond that, Mike Kne played a little bit last week, and he'll get healthier. I don't know that we'll be without. Is everyone 100%? No, but I'm sure everyone at Michigan is not 100%. We played, what, 11 games and have been physical, but our guys will be physically ready. " (Tressel confirmed that D'Andrea is out for the season with a shoulder injury.)

* On whether going to the Rose Bowl, with a win, would be a disappointment – "I'm sure that if either one of us would win the game and go to the Rose Bowl, no one would be disappointed from that standpoint because there's a formula and everyone agreed upon the formula, and you follow the formula. I'm a bit of a traditionalist, but I also like trying to figure out ways to figure out who's the best, and right now, that's the way, is the BCS, so we know that going in. But, again, I haven't given it much thought. And what's most important is what we do on Saturday. "

* A student from a public relations course asked Tressel what color sweater vest he will wear Saturday – " When we're on the road and we're wearing white, I wear the contrasting, so I would wear the red. I'm not that big, they've got to be able to find me if I need their attention. When we're at home and we're red, I wear the gray. But if it's cold enough, I'll probably be wearing a coat."

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