Buckeyes Have Bigger Motivators Than DVDs

Despite having viewed a highly publicized DVD of criticisms of it, the Ohio State football team will look within itself rather than at the words of others to prepare for the BCS National Championship Game in New Orleans on Monday night.

NEW ORLEANS – Despite what might be showing on YouTube or a nearby DVD player, the best motivators figure to come from within for Ohio State when it faces LSU Monday night here in the BCS National Championship Game.

The news that OSU coaches showed their players a DVD of disrespectful and insulting material about their loss in last season's national title game and run to return there this season broke about the same time they arrived in New Orleans on Jan. 2. It got plenty of headlines, but even as the media learned about it, the production was old news as far as game preparations go.

"That was two weeks ago," OSU co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell said of the first showing of the video, which was subsequently sent home with players for Christmas break. "If you need motivation now, then we're probably going to be in some problems."

The DVD, reportedly chock full of media personalities explaining just what is wrong with the Buckeyes and why they will not beat the Tigers on Monday night, made for good copy for the throng of reporters who have descended on this city, but fullback Dionte Johnson said it was blown out of proportion.

"We hear it every day – if you missed one thing, you saw a different thing on a different day," Johnson said. "It doesn't matter, all that stuff. What matters is our amount of focus. It's a different year and we've shown a lot of focus and discipline for this trip so it's going to be interesting."

The purpose of the DVD, as it turned out, was not to work the Buckeyes into a lather before they take on the Tigers but instead a tool to ensure they would prepare for the game with that focus and discipline team captain Johnson spoke of.

"It's time to focus in now," Fickell said. "Who cares what everybody is saying now? Maybe two weeks ago that was a lot more important, just for focus reasons."

The focus now, Fickell said, should be not on impressing the pundits but rather the other members of the OSU huddle.

"That's the most important thing," the coach said. "If you start worrying about all the external things, about showing this person and shutting this person up… that's the hardest thing about being a little bit younger. You've just got to block (that out) and say, ‘Hey, we want to play for each other. We want to worry about proving to the guy next to me that he can trust me.'

"Those external things you don't have any control over," Fickell said. "You can win or lose and if they want to say something good, they'll say something good and if they want to say something bad, they'll say something bad. If you win one and then lose the next one, they're going to start talking about it. So we just focus on trying to prove something to the guy next to you, the coaches and the people within the family."

OSU right tackle Kirk Barton, also a captain, said Fickell's former mate on the OSU defensive line, NFL Pro Bowler Mike Vrabel, had similar words of advice for the Buckeyes before they left Columbus.

"He said, ‘Play for your teammates.' Those are the ones that you have to look at for the next 10 years," Barton said. "When you're going to their weddings and stuff, you've got to look those guys in the eye. You don't have to look the pundits in the eye. That's just the deal."

Barton told reporters he does not have the DVD anymore.

"I don't know what happened to it," he said, although his trademark smirk seemed to indicate otherwise.

"We know what we have to do for each other and that's the most important thing," Johnson said. "It's about playing as a unit."

That message came down clearly from the 2006 seniors – including Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Troy Smith – who saw their college careers end with the Florida embarrassment nearly one year ago.

"The last thing I can remember Troy told me was, ‘Make sure what you all do, do it together.' " Johnson said. "That's been in our hearts and minds all season long and now we're back."

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