"It was very important during this entire season and most importantly during this Fiesta Bowl that our group of younger guys dedicated that bowl game to our outgoing seniors," Tressel said. "They wanted to make sure that they left with the greatest record that any senior class had here ever."
Tressel introduced the three players, then turned the microphone over to Smith. He received a loud ovation from the sellout crowd of 18,500.
"On behalf of the whole team, I want to say thanks to everybody for your fan support," Smith said.
He ended his remarks by saying, "O-H."
The crowd responded with "I-O."
Following the ceremony, reporters had a chance to speak with Tressel, Ginn and Smith.
"You just try to enjoy it, but now 2006 is approaching," Smith said. "We have to get to the championship. It's very important to our seniors."
Ginn was glad he was included in the ceremony.
"It is exciting to come out here and show our fans we have the same respect for them that they have for us," Ginn said. "We got to come back and say thanks."
Jim Tressel is joined by David Patterson, Ted Ginn, and Troy Smith
Ginn talked about the expectation level for the 2006 season, when many believe OSU will contend for the national title.
"Right now, it's pretty high," Ginn said. "But now we just have to go back and work on the little things. We just want to be a powerhouse. We want to have goals and come out and play hard and compete."
"When it's your time to go, it's your time to go," Ginn said. "It was their time to go, so they're going to go and have fun. We have some young guys who need to come in and step up, so that will be great."
Tressel also discussed the decisions made by Youboty and Whitner.
"I just hope they get drafted where, ultimately, they should be," the coach said. "Our goal is to always be a first-round guy. I hope they have a great combine. That's going to be the key for Ashton and Donte. They're going to need to perform well at the combine. We'll have those three guys with eight or nine others. We should have a pretty good draft day.
"I think the thing some people have forgotten is that Donte and Ashton came in two quarters early. They are at graduation point. It's not as unusual as a guy who comes in for the fall and is only two-thirds of the way toward his degree. When you have good players who are motivated, that happens. We have to replace them."
Ginn waves to the crowd
Tressel said Youboty and Whitner received their NFL draft reports. Neither was considered a sure first-round pick, but they made the jump anyway.
"They have five categories and they were in the second one," he said. "They weren't viewed as first-round picks, perhaps, but probably second or third. That's pretty good. They could do better if they do well at the combine."
The coach was asked about leadership on the defensive side of the ball, where just two starters (Patterson at defensive end and Quinn Pitcock at tackle) will return.
With Texas quarterback Vince Young moving on to the NFL as well, one reporter noted that "they" – most college football pundits – are projecting Ohio State as an early national championship contender.
"Who's they?" Tressel shrugged. "We always have expectations. It's part of the deal. It's fun."