Excerpts From Tressel Press Conference

Last week, OSU head coach Jim Tressel met with the media to discuss several football items as well as some basketball talk. Charles Babb transcribed some excerpts from the conference, and we have those for you today.

"We thought we'd try to give you some news here and give you some information you could use throughout the next couple weeks. I think the way that we're going to work the access to the youth camps is just going through Steve's [Snapp] office. If you want to a special and come and see the throngs of people and spend some time, etc. that's fine – but work that through Steve's office. The other thing that we wanted to bring you up to date on is finishing our coaching staff. As you know we lost four excellent young guys from our graduate assistants quality control area. We lost Mike Staten, Jeff Ulenhake, and Mike Tressel to the University to Cincinnati and Steve Tovar to the United States Military Academy at West Point. We've now finished putting that group of people together, and I think you've met Paul Nicols back in the spring. He will be our defensive graduate assistant. You met Jared Smith back in the spring; he will be our offensive quality control. The new – is Joe Rudolf in here? There's Joe. Stand up Joe. If you want to catch him after we're done here real quick you can. Joe is a Pennsylvania native and played at Wisconsin and went on to play in the NFL. Joe has just finished his MBA at Carnegie-Mellon and was coaching in the high school ranks in the Pittsburgh area. He will join Jim Bollman on the offensive side of things and be our offensive graduate offensive assistant. Also, we have Todd Goebel. He's in the back there. Todd will be our defensive quality control, special teams quality control man. Todd was a quarterback at the University of Northern Iowa and Kent State. He tried to beat Youngstown State two different places, so we saw what kind of guy he was. He's been out in the coaching world. You might remember his dad, Mike Goebel, a central Ohio outstanding high school coach. Todd has coached at Tiffin University and most recently at Quincy – is that right? – he will be working a lot with our defensive and our special units quality control. Some people wanted to talk to John Peterson a little more one on one, etc., and we can bring John up when we are done here to talk a little bit more about what he's tried to put together from a recruiting coordinator standpoint. As you know, this is a heavy recruiting time for us but also a heavy youth camp, and John Peterson and Luke Fickell and Joe Daniels have kind of taken on the youth camp directorship – it took 3 guys to replace Bill Conley, but we you do it that many years you are going to need a lot of help to make sure we do it just as well. You can talk with John and Luke and Joe a little bit about recruiting. Obviously we can't mention names in recruiting, etc. – but from an organizational standpoint. Feel free to do that, and from a personnel standpoint I wanted to give you 30 seconds worth, and then Steve [Snapp] has come up with his thoughts on the two-deep. Are these yours Steve?

Steve Snapp – "I did have sources"

"So sources have confirmed this as our two-deep. Sources close to the program. (smiling) At any rate, we just finished our academic quarter. We felt good about how we finished. We had 38 or 39 over a 3.0. Fifteen or thereabouts were over a 3.5. Our team GPA was 2.78. We felt good about that group. As we go into the summer, it's probably the least guys that I can ever remember have to get something done to be eligible. We feel real good about where we are in status from that standpoint. Two-deep wise, I don't know how you want to go over it, ask questions, etc., but there are some guys that aren't on the roster for one reason or another – most of which we can't talk about. On that two deep, Reggie Smith, Dareus Hiley, Ira Guilford, and Louis Irizarry do not appear on that two-deep. Is there anyone else coaches? I don't believe there is. The two deep hasn't changed a whole bunch from the end of spring practice. Sunday night our players report back to campus. They had this week off. They begin what I like to term the bottom line phase of the summer. We do a lot of training in the weight room and winter conditioning in May phase one in the summer, etc., but there's nothing more impactful than the next five weeks in preparing yourself for our preseason. People talk about your summer conditioning getting you ready for the season. Really what it gets you ready for the grueling preseason which we'll have 28 practices. I think we're allowed 29, but we've set it up to utilize 28 practice opportunities. You have to be in good shape to be able to learn. The learning will be fast and furious. The preparation for good fundamental football and also the early part of the season really happens in a hurry. If you're not in very good shape and just trying to survive that physically, you don't do a good job learning mentally. So, this five-week program beginning on Monday the 21st in the weight room is going to be crucial for our guys. I think all of them will be here – we even have some incoming freshmen that are coming in and bunking in the dorm and that type of thing. They will take part in between their all-star games and that type of thing. It's an important time for us and with that from a football standpoint, etc."

Coach what about Jim O'Brien? What's your take on that situation?

"Let's do a little football first, and then I don't mind addressing that. But let's do the camps and football…"

What about the summer drills – what is happening there with the team?

"Well when it comes to coaching, we cannot coach any position – quarterbacks or anything else. We took if you remember one of our days from spring practice. We had our upperclassmen how they were going to work on football this summer together. So, the quarterbacks will be taking part in what I hope looks a little bit like a practice minus the coaches. I hope it doesn't look too good – the administration will think we don't need coaches, but they're going to do a lot of things together as far as…anything that is hard I think helps you grow together, you develop relationships. I hope it's extremely hard. I hope it's hot (and obviously safe) and trainers are there, and we'll use good sense as to what they do, but the harder it is the more they develop bonds and I think you develop chemistry when you look around and see other people that are committed the same way you might be. That to me will be the key to our summer conditioning program – do the guys really believe that each other are totally committed to what they would like to do? If they'll do that – and develop those bonds that are very, very important."

Will you have 100% attendance?

"100% and we'll have some of the incoming freshmen. We had four freshmen here in the spring, and we have five freshmen coming here for three weeks – three week lease in the dorm or something like that, but they're going back and forth to the Big 33 game and I think that a few of the guys that are now in the North-South camp will be here for three weeks and then head to the Big 33, but minus some of the freshmen, yeah - I think they'll all be here."

Has conditioning then pretty much become an all year round situation for these players?

"…That's why we don't have anything prescribed for today – for this week. There's a week late in July when we have nothing prescribed. I want them playing fast when its time to play football. I've seen the all-conditioning teams and then all of a sudden they're not that when it comes to September, October, and November. All of a sudden they're going like this. I think you have to be careful with all around conditioning and keep a good balance in how you do it. That's important now and certainly everyone is doing it."

Have the rules been changed then with freshmen being able to come work out?

"Yeah. That's been changed because it wasn't thoroughly thought out. Now it's been thoroughly thought out. I think now they way they have it as long as you signed a national letter of intent – we can't have any incoming walk-ons here, and we can't have anyone who signed a scholarship letter after the national letter of intent time, but if you've signed a national letter of intent you may work out with the [team].

What about the two deep? A.J. Trapasso is on it despite his troubles.

"Well there are some guys that might be on the two deep that might not be on the two-deep when it's a two deep for a game. There are a few guys that have some hurdles to cross before they'll be a part of everything. I think it's safe to say A.J. is one of those."

Who are you going to be trying to utilize at kick/punt returns this fall?

"I would say Darrell Hazell can answer this better than I, but I would think that Santonio Holmes is going to be the first guy that you are going to get his hands on the ball. There are some saying – can I mention a freshman? – some saying Teddy Ginn maybe a guy that is going to be interested in battling for that, and Bam – he wants to play every play. So, I think we'll have some good battles from that standpoint as well.

When you are looking at these battles – will you be heavily in favor of the upperclassmen or is it a completely level field?

"I think seniority usually in itself emerges a little bit, but if it doesn't I suppose if there is a tie we would use seniority, but if clearly the younger person is better – we need to play the younger person. So, experience and understanding and knowledge in the terminology of the system – that's where the older guys should have an advantage. If he doesn't, shame on him and someone is going to pass him right by."

Can you comment on Irizarry and Guilford or tell us anything more?

"No. They are going through their legal process. I think it's been said they are on interim suspension from the university, and so they did not complete spring quarter academically. I have not heard much as to where that legal thing is, but right now as you see – they're not on our two-deep."

Geiger said they are gone – do you agree with that assessment?

"Well, I don't know the answer to that because I don't have a crystal ball to look out and see exactly what the legal finality is. I would say this – if whatever they have been charged with – if that comes to bear, I would agree with his assessment."

How did their teammates react when they heard the news? Angry? Hurt?

"I suppose when you have 100 guys there were some who had a sense of anger. Some who probably have had problems of their own didn't have that sense of anger. I would say what I felt from most of the people – coaches included – was a little bit of disbelief. Like, ‘I can't believe that something like this would come up." I didn't see a whole bunch of anger. It didn't come to the front, but I'm sure there was some."

When you get around town how much are you asked about the starting quarterback battle?

"I don't get around town much, I'm here in the Woody Hayes and none of those guys up there [assistant coaches] ask me so…every once in a while."

How often do you get that question when you are at alumni functions, etc.? You have to be asked.

"I would say two-thirds of the time."

What is your stock response?

"Right now we have two guys who have been here now will begin their third fall. I thought they both showed some good things. One guy who is a year younger than that, and he showed us some good things. I will be as interested as they will to see how they perform in preseason and how they perform when it really means something. If I knew the answer – truly I would tell you. You should talk to Joe Daniels maybe today."

Is it a bit of a burden as the football coach to know so many of the other sports depend on this program at OSU for funding?

"I'm an old athletic director, and I happen to think that every sport we sponsor is as important as the next. We have different things that we happen to be fortunate enough to bring to the table in football – not because of anyone on the football team or staff, but because of the culture we live in football does have a chance to fund lots of things. I take that as a compliment and a responsibility rather than something where it concerns us. Thank goodness that's true or we wouldn't be funding all of these sports."

Was there ever any closure on the Clarett investigation by the NCAA?

"Was there any closure? As far as I know there was. As far as I know the recommendation for the sanctions were turned in, and that's what we did. I haven't talked to anyone since then."

Are you happy to see at this time a student has to have three years before going to the NFL?

"You know I think that is the healthiest situation for the masses. Is it the best thing for every single kid, I don't know the answer to that. There might be somebody who is ready to go right out of high school, but for the masses – for the population in general? It is the healthiest thing, so am I happy that's the rule? Yeah, I guess I am. I think it's the best rule. I think it helps the NFL."

What do you feel toward Clarett when you think about all of that? What emotion do you have? Do you feel sorry for him?

"Well you know, I think feeling sorry for him isn't a bad description. I do wish he would have stayed on academically and would have had some options if the current situation didn't work out, but I don't know what good that will do for anyone. You have to make decisions based on where are you today. ‘Ok. What are my options, what do I have to do, how do I need to get myself headed where I want to go? Yeah, I guess that would be a good description."

Can you talk about the offensive line?

"You know the offensive line question would probably be best answered by Jim Bollman. I don't know that he would say to you definitively we have three new starters. I think he's anxious, and I guess I'm speaking for him, to go into camp knowing that there's still more competition ahead. They showed some good things in the spring. We have three or is it four linemen coming in? Four – I guess three-and-a-half. Rehring has already been here, so three more. So, I don't know if you could guarantee looking at this that this is what the two deep will be on September 4, but I think he feels good. I think he does, but I know I do feel good about the group and having a chance to have a good offensive line and good deep offensive line."

What have you been doing the last month, and what are your plans for July?

"I've been golfing a lot [jokingly]. What have I been doing? That's a good question. Well May was kind of a half recruiting, half go out to alumni things and school things – out on the circuit if you will along with NCAA rules you can have seven people out. Which means you can have two of your assistant coaches and the head coaches in at times or three others in. So when I was in – I was in working with the kids. June for us is a big preparation time for our camps and getting ready for our preseason, and these next two weeks will be a heavy camp time. July our coaches will be scarce. They need time to refuel. They each will spend one day here the last few days of June and the first four weeks of July. I'm going to try to get some time to myself. Hopefully there will be nothing earthshaking that will bring us back together, but I will look forward to seeing you in August!"

Last year Jim O'Brien seemed to go out of his way to make a statement about the integrity of the football program with the Clarett situation. Do you have anything you would like to say now that the tables have turned?

"Obviously for all of us here it is a difficult thing to get a hold of in our minds. We don't know what we don't know, and we only know our experiences with people across the campus. We are such a large athletic department that we're not all housed in the same building – don't get to see each other every day, but I can remember vividly one of the most rewarding phone calls I ever got was on Saturday night after we lost to Illinois in 2001. The phone rang, and it was OB saying hang in there you did what you had to do, and you'll be fine. That's the kind of guy he is. Obviously it is a little different situation. I don't know all that is a part of it. I do know that NCAA rules are everything in our world. That's real. I guess I've obviously felt a lot of empathy for OB and his staff and also for Andy Geiger because those are – I never had to do that as an athletic director. I can't even imagine the difficulty he felt. All of you know Andy well. He's a very sensitive person. He wants to do well by everyone. I feel bad a little bit at times when you hear a little bit of murmuring of you know, ‘Andy – it's his charge.' We've had some problems – whether it be ours or basketball's or some other sport, and I happen to think as I look at what Andy Geiger has done from afar first and now…we haven't had many people at Ohio State with the vision Andy Geiger's had. Maybe L.W. St. John who everyone laughed at when he built the stadium and he built the golf course. Andy came in and said, ‘Hey. Nothing's been done over at that Horseshoe for a while; we're going to stick our neck out. He wants the best places for all of us to coach and play and for students. But he clearly, above all else, wants us to follow the rules. So, it's been a tough thing for all of us, and I'm sure for Andy, but he's strong, and he's good and we'll have to move on."

What kind of steps do you take to avoid this situation and ones like that of Clarett?

"You know you talk and you talk you talk and you keep reminding. You have compliance meetings. I've never seen anyone have more meetings about those kinds of things. Justifiably. The magnitude of a community this size and a culture this excited with very few other interests, quite honestly, makes it tough. So, we just keep talking and talking, and you talk a lot about it to guys when you are recruiting them. In fact one of the things that John Peterson has on a new form he and Jim Heacock are creating is, ‘Is this guy tough enough to handle how hard it is to be a football player at Ohio State?' – and not the physical part. All of those things we talk about. Is he tough enough? Is he mentally strong enough to do that? We feel as if we really gotta try to find that out. It's tough. It's one of the things that makes Ohio State a tougher place to be a student athlete, but the list of things that make it an extraordinary place to be a student athlete far outnumber that problem…"

Is part of this that football players maybe live on the edge a bit anyway?

"You know, I would say this – I wouldn't characterize it as football players, but I would characterize most people when they have been told for a long period of time that they're wonderful might have a tendency to live more on the edge. I think Ohio State football players would fall into that group. Ever since they've been in 7th grade someone – the bidding war for Ryan Miller's services up in high schools in Michigan was extraordinary. That's how early it starts. So, for a long period of time they're told how great they are. I think that sometimes can contribute to someone living on the edge because they think they're pretty capable."

Who do you see as responsible when something goes wrong?

"I know we as coaches think we are ultimately responsible. Every time it doesn't go the way we'd like it to go, we do take it very personally. I think we should. We have gone to their high school and told their principal and their coach and guidance counselor that we'll look after them…and go into their home and do the same thing. So, we feel very responsible to them, their families, their high schools. I don't know that it goes out that we feel responsible to the world about that, but we feel responsible for the people involved. I think there's a difference. We feel very responsible…"

Do the players get a lot of counseling so they understand what is coming?

"Do they get counseling and do they understand? (laughter) That's truly two questions. They get a lot of counseling and a lot of discussion. How much do they internalize, and how much do they thoroughly know it varies by person. It really does. Just like when you are sitting in a meeting teaching offense or defense. They don't all get it at the same pace. You work hard to see if you can sense if someone's not getting – see if there are any hints and counsel a little bit more maybe. Because there are so many who are so different, etc. – they get counseled on it a lot. Hopefully they have been counseled and counseled. Their high school coach, you hope the last thing they say to them, "Hey now, you're entering a different world. There's going to be some decisions that are going to confront you. How you choose to handle those will have a big impact." You hope there's counseling from a lot of areas. I know there is for our players – from our coaches to our players constantly, in the team setting constantly, from the sports information department, from the compliance office, from the sports psychology department. We're fortunate that we have lots of resources and people who try to counsel. I hope they internalize it."

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