DVD Gets OSU Players' Attention

Along with lots of goodies in their Christmas stockings, Ohio State football players also got a lump of coal in the form of a DVD, courtesy of head coach Jim Tressel. That was one of several topics of conversation as the Buckeyes spent their first full day in New Orleans.

Right before Christmas, the Ohio State football team was feeling pretty good about itself. Preparations for the Jan. 7 date with LSU in the BCS National Championship Game were going well, players had just received their complimentary Wii game systems as part of their bowl package and each was making plans for going home for the holidays.

Then Jim Tressel added a lump of coal to their stockings.

The head coach had a special DVD made for each of his players to take home and watch during the holidays. It was a 12-minute montage of snippets featuring nearly every critic and detractor of the Buckeyes spewing enough venom to curdle your eggnog.

"It was like 10 straight minutes of people hating on us," OSU offensive tackle Alex Boone said. "I watched it with my grandma and she just went off. I told here, ‘Grandma, don't worry about it.' But she was yelling back at the TV."

Ever the master motivator, Tressel had touched a nerve with his team. Just in case they had forgotten about last year's fiasco against Florida and got caught up in their No. 1 ranking, the special DVD brought the players back down the earth.

"It made us more humble, I'll tell you that," Boone told reporters early Thursday morning in New Orleans. "We were going to go home, feeling pretty good. Maybe some of us would have maybe made some bad eating decisions. After watching that thing, though, it put everything right back into perspective. Nobody thinks we can win.

"But that's OK. Last year, we got embarrassed and that's all people want to talk about and ask us about. I guess that's only natural. After all, LSU is a very physical team. They have a very, very physical defensive line and we know we're going to have to play our asses off. But I think we'll be ready to play some football and have some fun."

Meeting with the assembled media at the Marriott Convention Center Hotel in New Orleans, several members of the Ohio State offensive unit echoed Boone's sentiments about preparations for this year's game as opposed to last year.

"We've changed up a couple of things," senior co-captain and right offensive tackle Kirk Barton said. "I'm excited about those changes, too, and I can't wait to get started in practice today. I don't think I've ever been this excited to start practice."

Colder than normal temperatures in the Big Easy forced the Buckeyes indoors today. They were scheduled to practice at Tulane University but switched to the New Orleans Saints indoor facility when the mercury dipped to 29 degrees overnight. LSU is holding its bowl practices in the Louisiana Superdome, the site of the national title game next Monday.

Some Ohio State fans questioned whether the Tigers were getting preferential treatment by being allowed to practice on the same field where the game is being played, but none of the Buckeyes seemed to care.

"We know we're in enemy territory," Barton said. "It's like in Rocky IV when Rocky gets off the plane in Russia and all the KGB guys are there. You know where you stand when you're in Louisiana. They love their Tigers."

Even playing a game in front of an LSU partisan crowd doesn't seem to weigh on the minds of the Buckeyes.

"We know this is an away game for us," said receiver Brian Hartline. "But we've been a huge away team this year. We kind of like it when everyone says there's no way we can win. That actually sounds good to me."

As far as the DVD was concerned, Hartline said that he is practically numb to all of the criticism by now. But he still can't figure out why so the team has so many detractors, especially in the national media.

"Everyone acknowledges how crazy this season has been all over the country," Hartline said. "Just one example: West Virginia gets beat by Pitt and then goes out and stomps on Oklahoma. Everyone acknowledges how things like that have been happening all year, but they can't acknowledge the fact that we're here and could win the national championship. I just don't understand that."


About the only time any of the Buckeyes bristled during the early morning press conference was when a reporter asked offensive coordinator Jim Bollman about comparisons between LSU's talented defense and Florida's active unit that completely shut down the Buckeyes in last year's BCS title game.

"We're not reflecting on that game," Bollman said. "I would agree with what everyone is saying about LSU and that those guys are very tough, very strong and very physical. But are they comparable to Florida? I wouldn't even go there."

When pressed to expound on his answer, the OSU offensive coordinator and offensive line coach set his jaw and glared at the reporter.

"Comparable to Florida? I don't know how you could … well, LSU has Glenn Dorsey, who is very, very tough inside," Bollman said. "He's probably as tough as we've played inside. But they don't only have Dorsey. Like I said before, they are very tough and they are very physical. But comparable to Florida? I guess we'll see."

Boone intimated that Florida played with more finesse while LSU is the more physical defense.

"It's going to be a big challenge for us," he said. "They're very physical, probably as physical as they come. But that's the way I like it."


• Ohio State receiver Brian Robiskie was asked about the Buckeyes' all-time record of 0-8 against SEC teams in bowl games and provided a thoughtful answer. "I don't think we've thought about that at all. This team isn't 0-8 against the SEC. Whether Ohio State is 0-8 or 8-0 against the SEC doesn't have any impact on this game."

• When Barton was asked in the offensive line had something to prove after last year's meltdown against Florida, he replied, "As an offensive lineman, I think you have to prove yourself in every game. If you can't control the line of scrimmage, you can't run the ball effectively and your quarterback isn't going to be successful. If you don't have those two things going for you, how can you expect to win?"

• Bollman reported that quarterback Todd Boeckman looked good when the Buckeyes were making bowl preparations and Columbus and he expects that to continue as the team begins practice in New Orleans.

• Sophomore running back Beanie Wells said he felt an immediate change in the team's attitude when it got to New Orleans. "Last year, it seemed like we were going on vacation. This year, it feels more like a business trip."

• Boone said that he used to think Wells was angry all the time. "I would try to talk to him during a game and he'd never answer me," Boone said. "I just figured he was mad at me because I missed a block or something. But I've come to find out that it's just because he is so focused. I think the sky's the limit for Beanie – maybe even higher."

• For any Ohio State fans hopeful that Tressel would tinker with game uniforms – say like Georgia head coach Mark Richt did with his team donning black jerseys for a Sugar Bowl whipping of Hawaii – you can forget it. The Buckeyes will wear their home scarlet jerseys. But the team is wearing black this week. Each player has received a set of new black warm-ups courtesy of Nike.

Buckeye Sports Top Stories