"I've heard the discussion," Tressel said. "It was probably a
poor question and poor answer."
Tressel was asked if he understands Smith's frustration.
"Oh, absolutely," he said. "We've got great competitors and Troy is one of them. They want to play. We hope we didn't recruit any guys… I don't know that Troy came out and visited with people and brought it up. That's why I said it was a poor question. It had nothing to do with Northwestern. And it was not a great answer."
Tressel said it is not necessarily his role to inform his players where they are at in terms of playing time. No matter the situation, he is not going to promise someone a certain amount of playing time.
"No, we talk a lot about their performance," Tressel said. "We evaluate their performance and don't make prognostications on what's out there for you and what you're going to get to do. My experience in this business is the more you talk about what you might do, the less accurate you are going to be. And the more you talk about, 'This is what we need done if you get your opportunity,' then the better off you are."
Tressel and Smith talked Wednesday morning. Reading between the lines, Smith sought Tressel out.
"Absolutely," Tressel said. "We talked about this. Whatever they talked about yesterday. You usually don't have to look for guys after situations like that. They usually have a chance to reflect and talk and those things take care of themselves. Usually when guys take a step back, you don't have to look for them. They usually come in and visit with you. Just like when they throw an interception. They come up and say, 'I didn't see that safety and I should have seen him.' So, it's not dissimilar."
Tressel was asked if Smith came in and retracted some statements.
"Oh, we don't get into retractions, or I should haves, or I didn't say that or this or that," he said.
Tressel was asked if Smith expressed regret for mouthing off.
"Oh, you know I don't discuss what I talk about with guys," he said.
* Switching gears, Tressel says the plan right now is to redshirt freshman tailback Erik Haw.
"If we decided today, yes," Tressel said.
Haw could still play this year for the Buckeyes, it just depends on injuries.
"Right," Tressel said. "We've got some tough ballgames coming up. And Erik's doing well. He had a great day yesterday. I don't know, I didn't ask the defense today yet. We always ask the guys how the people did that worked against them. The first name that the defensive guys brought up yesterday was Erik's, which was good to see."
Sophomore John Kerr is currently working with the scout team and nothing more.
"Oh, he's been with us since the sixth of September," Tressel said. "He's practicing like crazy and that's his role right now."
There were some rumors that Kerr could move to fullback, but Tressel stated that he is still working with the linebackers.
Freshman tailback Antonio Pittman is expected to see a lot of playing time against Northwestern.
"Antonio's good," Tressel said. "He's healthy. He was probably 95-plus percent healthy at N.C. State. I'd say he's 100 percent right now."
The news isn't quite as good on senior fullback Branden Joe, but he is also expected to see a lot of PT against the Wildcats.
"Branden was probably 75 percent healthy at N.C. State and is probably up over 95 right now," Tressel said, referring to Joe's ankle injury.
Junior defensive tackle Marcus Green is also battling an ankle sprain.
"I think he aggravated it yesterday," Tressel said. "Those sometimes are slow and I'd say if this were Thursday and we were talking, I'd say questionable. Wednesday, you never know, so we'll wait and see."
Northwestern hasn't defeated the Buckeyes since 1971. Tressel was asked if it's kind of amazing in such a great conference that one team could dominate another for so many years.
"Yeah, I guess," he said. "I never thought of it. But I guess that hasn't been part of our thought process. We're looking at the 2004 team and what is important is this game. But I guess if you ask that question from a generic standpoint, yeah."
Northwestern has a decent offense, but has struggled defensively. Tressel was asked to point to the reasons why the Wildcats have been so poor defensively.
"I think there's three or four things," he said. "They've had some injuries. They've had some field position issues they've had to deal with. They've faced some pretty darn good offenses and when you don't have the same guys working with each other every day in practice and every game, that can happen. But if you watch the film, they don't lack for scheme, they don't lack for effort. People have made plays against them. You watch and you say, 'Man, that was quite a catch,' or, 'That was quite a throw.' But I think in any results and discussion, there are a lot of reasons for it."
It will be a long Saturday for the Buckeyes in Chicago.
"We'll have an 11 a.m. walk-through, central time," Tressel said. "They'll wake up at 9 a.m., which is really 10."