Buckeyes Return To Practice Field

Ohio State began Alamo Bowl preparations Thursday afternoon at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. Jim Tressel discussed the recent firings in the coaching ranks as well as Mike Nugent's selection as an All-American. Click here for more.

With several of his assistant coaches on the road recruiting, Ohio State coach Jim Tressel welcomed his team back to begin bowl preparations today at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.

The team was due to also practice Friday and Saturday before taking time off for autumn quarter exams. Practice will resume next Wednesday and run through the morning of Dec. 16. The team will then be excused until Dec. 22, when it will travel to San Antonio. The Alamo Bowl is set for Wed., Dec. 29, at 8 p.m. Eastern on ESPN. OSU's Big 12 opponent – likely Texas Tech or Oklahoma State – will be determined on Sunday.

Tressel met with the media this afternoon to discuss a wide range of topics:

* On the wave of high profile firings in the coaching profession, most notably Tyrone Willingham at Notre Dame -- "We've all been out on the road and getting ready for bowls. I would guess there are a lot of different views. Every place is different and every situation is different. Like Ty (Willingham) talked about yesterday, one thing you know in football coaching is there is no such thing as security.

"I would think it was probably a lot of factors and a lot of people discussing. The athletic administration was very involved in it and the university administration was very involved in it. Perhaps the boosters … exactly what that means, I'm not sure. There are a lot of people who make up your ability to have an athletic program. I'm sure there are some outside people involved.

"I look at each guy individually. I have so much respect for anybody who does this, number one. And those guys (Willingham and Indiana's Gerry DiNardo), I happen to know and like. I guess it raises your eyebrows. I don't really know how to state it."

* On beginning bowl practice without a firm opponent -- "That's the way it has been the last few years. The Big Ten finishes before Thanksgiving and some of those people have conference championship games and we're left waiting to see who goes where. I feel pretty confident it's going to be Texas Tech. Oklahoma State is also being mentioned. If there is an upset in the Big 12 championship game, then maybe Texas A&M. No matter what, it's going to be a good football team that we're playing.

"We'll spend some time working on ourselves first, so maybe it's just as good that we don't know who it will be.

"We did a little bit of running around and lifting (earlier this week) to get the turkey out of us. Now we'll go back to some individual drills. We don't have the full contingent of coaches. Some are out on the road and now is the time we're allowed to have seven guys at a time on the road. We'll go out and throw the ball around and catch it in shorts. We'll do the same thing tomorrow. Then, Saturday, we'll put the shoulder pads on and be a little more physical."

* On the momentum after beating Michigan -- "I hope there is momentum. We did some good things. We just got done watching the film. We probably didn't do as many good things as we thought. But if we'll work to improve and keep growing and getting better at the things we have slowly, there should be a confidence level. But there needs to be a reality level, too. We've got a long way to go."

* On possibly playing Texas Tech, whom OSU defeated 45-21 in the 2002 Pigskin Classic -- "They're going to spread it all out and throw it all over. I think people, as they begin to study Texas Tech, will see their defense has become a very real factor. They've done a great job. They held Oklahoma State to three field goals (and 15 points). Oklahoma State scored 35 points on Oklahoma. Their Oklahoma score was 28-13."

* On how recruiting is going -- "We've had a good number of kids who have committed. We feel great about those guys and I'm sure they feel great about things. I'm sure they were excited about the big win because a lot of them were there. We feel good about the guys we have been working on. I haven't seen our guys since they've been out on the road. It will be interesting to hear about their travels.

"I've been in Houston and L.A. I get around."

* On Mike D'Andrea's status -- "No, he had surgery and (rehab) is the only thing he can do. There is no possibility he would play."

* On having Christmas in Texas -- "We will be away. We have gotten some calls from some parents who are going to get down there and wondering if the kids will have some time on the 25th. I'm sure we will practice that day because it's kind of like a Tuesday of a (regular game week). We'll give them some time to enjoy the day."

* Odds and Ends -- The team will stay at the Hyatt Regency on the Riverwalk (the Big 12 team will stay at the Marriott Rivercenter). Ohio State will practice at Trinity University. The tentative dates are Dec. 23-27 (likely closed). The Big 12 representative will practice at Alamo Heights High School.

The OSU Alumni Association has tentatively set its Buckeye Bash for game day, Dec. 29, at 2 p.m. at the convention center. Check the alumni association web site for more details on that event, which always features the OSU band and cheerleaders.

Nugent Named All-American

As expected, OSU senior kicker Mike Nugent has been named to a first-team berth on the College Football Coaches All-America team announced earlier this morning. Nugent also captured All-America honors in 2002, becoming the first Ohio State place-kicker to be selected for that honor.

Nugent, a finalist for the Groza Award which will be announced Dec. 7, converted 20 of 23 field goals and all 27 of his extra point tries in 2004. Additionally, 34 of his 55 kickoffs were touchbacks. He has set 18 school records during his three years at Ohio State.

"Mike Nugent deserves to be an All-American," Tressel said. "I happen to be on the committee with the coaches' All-American team and there wasn't even a blink of the eye. His name was brought up and it was a unanimous choice. Everyone is very aware of what he has done, not only this year but over his career. He is the best kicker in the country."

Nugent needs seven points in the Alamo Bowl to tie Pete Johnson's OSU career scoring mark of 348 points. He discussed being named a two-time All-American.

"It feels good," Nugent said. "It's definitely special."

Nugent's photo already hangs in the WHAC as an All-American from 2002. OSU All-Americans are also recognized in the Buckeye Grove south of Ohio Stadium.

"I have (my photo) up now," Nugent said. "My sophomore year I can remember saying to myself, `I'm going to be up on that wall next to Mike Doss.' I am now. They'll just have to change the numbers on the plaque.

"I remember my freshman year, the (Grove) was near Morrill Tower where I stayed. I got to walk around in there. To be on the same list as some of those guys, it is a real honor."

Nugent will reportedly be named to at least two other All-American squads, while linebacker A.J. Hawk has reportedly been named to an All-American team that will be released next week.

Nugent talked about the prospect of playing Texas Tech, if it works out that way.

"Any team you would play will want to try and beat you," he said. "But since we just beat them in 2002, they'll want to try and get back at us."

Nugent also discussed kicking inside at the Alamodome.

"It doesn't change too much," he said. "You don't have to worry about the wind or if it's cold or hot. I'll do the same exact thing to get ready and warm up before and get my range."

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