Cordle is usually affable and humorous in his meetings with the media, so it was a surprise to see him look nervous. He, along with the rest of the seniors seated at the head table in the ballroom, took his turn at the microphone and spoke about his teammates and family. It actually started well. Cordle broke the ice by making a joke at a teammate's expense.
"Justin Boren?," Cordle asked, looking across the room for his fellow offensive lineman and former opponent. "Oh, good. Just making sure you're still here."
But as Cordle continued speaking, his voice got softer and he seemed to be rambling. There was good reason: He was about to culminate a year-long plan by proposing to his girlfriend.
"Usually I'm throwing water on myself and yelling and screaming when I talk," Cordle joked, referring to his postgame reaction after Ohio State's win over Michigan. "I went through my speech pretty well, and I knew it was coming. I was starting to get real nervous."
Finally Cordle cut to the chase. He moved from the podium to his family's table, dropping to a knee and asking Kerry McNally to marry him. She said yes, and the newly engaged couple received a standing ovation.
"I wasn't sure (if she said yes) at first because I was in an emotional state there," Cordle said. "I slid the ring on her finger and went back up (to the microphone)."
For Cordle, it was a conclusion of a plan that was a year in the making. He came up with the idea to propose at the banquet around Christmas last year. His girlfriend may have been surprised by the proposal, but it wasn't a shock to his teammates.
"I remember we were joking around with Alex Boone during last year's banquet," Ballard said. "He said, ‘Jimmy's probably going to propose to Kerry in front of everybody next year.' We laughed about that, but when we starting thinking about it we thought he actually might do it."
Cordle had the same idea, working with McNally's mother to keep McNally in the dark as the banquet neared. Cordle said he told some of his teammates about his plan, and by the time of the banquet, the entire team knew what was going to happen.
"The funny thing is Coach Tressel actually knew before she did," Cordle said. "Her mom had talked to him and he was surprised. I had mentioned it to a couple of my closest buddies, and all the sudden when I walked in today, everybody knew. So luckily they kept it a secret, and I'm sure she was surprised."
He was right.
"I was totally surprised," McNally said. "I was sobbing and I had the video camera in my hands, so I had to throw that down. It was great."
His new fiancée joined him for a meeting with the assembled press following the banquet and showed off her new ring.
"He did very well," she said.
Tressel, notoriously a tough grader, did not give Cordle a winning performance until he reached the end of his speech.
"He extended our banquet by 15 minutes because he kept rambling and thanking all these other people and hesitating," Tressel said. "But he did a great job once he pulled the trigger."
The couple have not yet set a wedding date.