Media Day: Clarke Denies Inflammatory Remark

It wouldn't be media day at the Fiesta Bowl without some controversy. But OSU offensive lineman Adrien Clarke denied he ever said the Buckeyes would "push" Kansas State around the field Friday night. Click here for more on this (non)controversy as well as notes on Chris Gamble, the OSU linebacker situation and more.

Ohio State and Kansas State took time away from their busy practice schedules this morning to meet with the media at Sun Devil Stadium.

The excitement for Friday's Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (8 p.m., ABC) is on a slow build, but it wouldn't be media day without some kind of contrived controversy.

It is unclear where this report originated, but reporters asked Kansas State players about a comment allegedly attributed to an OSU offensive lineman. As the story goes, OSU's Adrien Clarke reportedly said the Buckeyes would "push" the Wildcats all over the field.

Whether he ever said it or not is anybody's guess. But the K-State players weren't amused and Clarke, when given a chance to discuss the matter, said he never made that statement.

"That's about the stupidest comments I've heard all year," said K-State defensive end Thomas Houchin. "I have to say it again -- that's one of the stupidest comments I've heard all year. I've been here five years and haven't seen our defensive front get out-physicaled. After the first play, that kid will probably regret what he said."

Clarke wanted no part of the burgeoning controversy, claiming he never made such inflammatory remarks.

"I did not say anything about pushing their defensive line all over anywhere," Clarke said. "I have no idea where that came from. You serious? I don't know anything about it. I never said anything like that. I did say we wanted to show them Big Ten football and they wanted to show us Big 12 football. I never once said anything down about their defense.

"I don't know what they're talking about."

In Clarke's defense, in his five years at OSU he has never been known to make such comments. So, perhaps, this is a all just a big misunderstanding.

Gamble Ponders Future

As expected, OSU cornerback Chris Gamble fielded a number of questions regarding his decision to return for his senior year or enter the NFL draft.

"I haven't decided yet. I'm going to know by January," Gamble said. "I want to talk to my parents. They've (his teammates) been joking about it, asking me if I'm going to leave. I just told them I don't know yet. If I think I might go first round, I might consider it but I'm not sure yet, I'm still discussing it with my parents. I like playing for Ohio State but it's just real hard right now.

"It's like starting over like you were in high school and you're deciding what team you want to play for. It's like starting back over, do you want to stay or do you want to leave?"

Gamble did tell reporters the possibility of suffering an injury is not pushing him toward an early entry in the NFL draft.

"I gave up some big plays (this season) and I normally don't give up big plays, but I'm going to come out here Friday and try to play like I'm supposed to play," he said.

When asked what stood out about returning to Sun Devil Stadium for the first time since last year, Gamble said: "Seeing the same field, the same Tostitos signs. I just remember running down the sideline after we won, it just brought back memories."

More Storylines

Here were some more comments from today's media session at the stadium:

* OSU defensive end Will Smith on his team's defense -- "We have something to prove to ourselves. We want to prove we're the best defense in the nation and we can do that by going out and stopping Kansas State."

* OSU offensive guard Alex Stepanovich was also asked if returning to Sun Devil Stadium brought back some memories -- "No, not really, unless someone makes a comment on it. You realize what happened here last year. But nobody cares what we did last year. This year is a new year. It's cool to be back but maybe if I come back when I'm older it will be even cooler. Right now, I have a game to worry about. But you do remember the feelings."

* OSU linebackers coach Mark Snyder discussed the injury situation at linebacker, where Robert Reynolds has a bruised sternum, A.J. Hawk has a slight knee injury, Bobby Carpenter is nursing a hip injury and Fred Pagac has a hand injury -- "We come into this bowl game, particularly at linebacker, we're beat up. You have to have numbers. We tried to play quite a few guys and rolled some guys through there, which is really unconventional. But I'm glad I did it because of the injury situation we have right now. Just to have three or four linebackers is not enough, especially in our conference, because your body takes a pounding. All the guys seem healthy, they've had a good week of practice. But once the banging starts out there Friday night, I don't know how they'll hold up."

* Kansas State coach Bill Snyder on Ohio State -- "They are a football team that really, truly understands how to win. It's a team that is not going to make a lot of mistakes. It is a team that truly understands how not to beat yourself."

* Snyder on what it would mean to win the Fiesta Bowl, K-State's first-ever BCS bowl game -- "It would be a special step in our program but by the same token a lot of very special things have happened in Kansas State football over the years."

* K-State linebacker Bryan Hickman on his team's defense -- "I think our defense is overlooked. Everybody talks about all these other teams have these great defenses, but you look at overall team defense and we're ranked in the top five in the nation. When that other team comes on the field, they know they have to play a great defense. That's all that matters to us. What everybody else says, that doesn't even matter.

"All the fans and media think we have an OK defense. I think we're overlooked. I guess it's kind of hard to look at our defense when we do have two great players on offense like Darren (Sproles) and Ell (Roberson). They take up a lot of the attention."

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