The day started early as both complete squads were at the Alamo Bowl FCA Breakfast at 7:30 this morning. Both head coaches spoke and Ohio State's Jim Tressel paid homage to Oklahoma State for being the birthplace of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. The breakfast also served as a forum to honor outstanding San Antonio area athletes who are involved in FCA.
The Oklahoma State players had free time the rest of the morning until they were due in the football meeting rooms for daily position meetings. Most of the players took the time to do a little early morning shopping at the River Center Mall that their headquarters hotel is attached to.
Practice was cut short today by about 20 minutes as head coach Les Miles encouraged the players to spend some time with family members who have come in during the past 24 hours. The Koenig family was at practice having just arrived to see son David, who is back and healthy and will start at left guard. The Koenigs reported that older son and former Cowboy offensive lineman Doug just became engaged over the holidays.
OSU fan favorite Tony Bell arrived with his family from DeSoto. Bell doesn't have a son on this year's team but youngest son T.J. will be a Cowboy next season and he came with his parents to see the Alamo Bowl.
Tonight the Cowboys joined the Ohio State team, both school's bands and cheerleaders for the Sylvania Alamo Bowl Pep Rally on the Riverwalk. Miles and several players floated down the Riverwalk to the stage that served as the rallying point for both schools in the rally. Following the rally, both teams attended the Alamo Bowl LaFiesta Dinner.
The Cowboys will go through a walk through in the Alamodome Tuesday afternoon following the Kickoff Luncheon at noon. After that the team will be sequestered in their hotel. Fans are encouraged to go to Sunset Station for a huge watch party featuring five big screen televisions for the Cowboys basketball game with Gonzaga in the All-College Classic.
On the Cowboys Sports Network affiliates on radio head coach Les Miles will have a bowl call in show leading up to the basketball broadcast on those same stations.
NO TALK ABOUT LSU
There were absolutely no questions asked Miles on Monday about the media reports and rumors linking him as a candidate to the vacant LSU coaching job. Miles was emphatic on Sunday about not being a candidate and not being concerned at all with the opening in Baton Rouge. He seemed to convince the media.
A lot has been made of All-Big 12 offensive guard Sam Mayes growing up in Austintown, Ohio. Mayes has said he loves being from Ohio and loves playing the homestate Buckeyes in his final game as a collegian, but he also claims that he is an "Okie."
"I would definitely say that I'm a converted Okie," explained Mayes. "I enjoy the people and I couldn't be happier with my college decision. I've had a great time over the last five years. I learned so many things about myself as a football players because of a great coaching staff. I will someday end up back in Oklahoma because I love the state and everything about it."
There is truth to what Mayes said. He someday hopes to live in Oklahoma, maybe on a ranch. On Christmas Day, before the dinner at the Knibbe Ranch where the entire Oklahoma State team celebrated Christmas, Mayes showed off some of his Cowboy skills.
"It was great they had some deals set up to teach guys how to lasso and rope," explained Mayes. "I already knew how, so I was able to impress some people with my roping expertise."
After a brief shopping trip to the Stetson store in the River Center Mall he also looks the part in a black cowboy hat that he wore to the afternoon press conference for the OSU offensive players.
"My dad was with me and he said he couldn't believe he was spending $250 on a cowboy hat," said Mayes of the gift from his father. "It's really nice – 5X and size 7 and 7/8ths."
As Mayes finishes his college career he seems to have more Oklahoma in him than he does Ohio roots.
DONOVAN ADMIRES FREEDOM TO CHOOSE
Asked what he thinks when he watches Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning come to the line of scrimmage, call his own plays, and completely direct the offense, Cowboy quarterback Donovan Woods sees something he'd like to do himself.
"I think any quarterback does," said the Cowboy quarterback. "Those people like Peyton Manning are real gems. You don't see people out there actually calling their own plays. That just goes to show you he puts in the work to be able to do that, and he does a good job with it."
Woods has had a lot of success making checks and adjustments this season. That success has earned him more control of the offense.
"You definitely want to have your coaches have faith in you," added Woods. "The more and more you perform for them the more and more freedom they give you. Hopefully, someday I can get to Peyton Manning status."
So, what problems does Ohio State bring on defense, and will Donovan be ready with the right answers on Wednesday night?
"They are really a pretty sound defense," said Woods of the Buckeyes. "Like coach (Mike) Gundy said, their front seven is pretty strong. We're going to try and do some things to offset how good those guys are."
Woods has been nursing some bursitis problems, but is expected to be fine for the game, plus he'll have plenty of time to rest after the game before battling to keep the quarterback position in competition with Bobby Reid and Al Pena.
Ohio State All-American middle linebacker A.J. Hawk looks like a guy you wouldn't want to mess with in a dark alley. Hawk is a physical football player who is very happy with the Buckeyes draw for an Alamo Bowl opponent.
"You like playing teams that run the football, play smashmouth football," said Hawk. "As a linebacker you want to be in the plays and that's what happens with that offense. That's what makes the game fun when it's a physical game."
The classic collision on Wednesday night will be Hawk and OSU fullback Shawn Willis. When those pads pop they may cause anyone nearby to lose some of their hearing.
"They run the football more than anyone in the Big 10," said Hawk. "We were saying that if you're a fullback you want to go to Oklahoma State. They give him (Willis) the ball a lot and he's a good runner in addition to being a good blocker. He's a load, but that's what I like."
SCHLEGEL BRINGS WRESTLING APPROACH TO LINEBACKER
Ohio State linebacker Anthony Schlegel is one of the Buckeyes few native Texans coming out of Highland Park High School in Dallas. Schlegel came to Ohio State by way of Air Force where he played for two years, but transferred before he was committed to the six-year hitch in the Air Force following school. Schlegel knows Oklahoma State's reputation well in another sport as he grew up wrestling all the way through high school. He also likes what the Cowboys football team brings to the table for Wednesday's Alamo Bowl.
"For me personally, I'd rather see a running team," said Schlegel. "I was happy we got Oklahoma State. I have a buddy up there that wrestles, and they are a team that likes to get physical with you.That's what I like to play and being at linebacker I'd like to have a game that we could really show up in and Oklahoma State gives you that opportunity."
As a result of his wrestling background, Schlegel brings a wrestler's mentality to the football field. What is a wrestler's mentality?
"To the beat of a different drummer," answered Schlegel. "It's all about work ethic and getting after it, so yes I do."
Still a big wrestling fan, Schlegel attends the Ohio State matches after the football season, but he admits he's never been to the mecca of college wrestling – Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater.
"No, I've never been," said Schlegel. "I stopped wrestling after high school. I have a couple of friends that wrestle for Ohio State and Clay Kehrer at Oklahoma State I wrestled with him, so I follow him."
BUCKEYES MOVE INDOORS
Ohio State moved its practice from Trinity University into the Alamodome on Monday. Buckeyes head coach Jim Tressel said it wasn't a high intensity practice, just a chance to survey the surroundings and get used to the venue. Oklahoma State had a short workout in the Alamodome when the Cowboys arrived and will walk through the facility on Tuesday.
"We wanted one chance to be in the Alamodone and I think Oklahoma State had their chance earlier in the week," said Tressel. "We wanted one as well to feel it and see it and get a feel for where the 25-second clocks are, where's this, what's that. It was not a long practice, you know 90 minutes to kind of get excited. We'd like to have some crowd noise simulated cause we're gonna have 65,000 in there and it's going to be noisy and I wanted to emunlate that."
Tressel has had his scout team players wearing orange jerseys in practice throughout the week and even back in Columbus in their practices before departing for San Antonio. It wasn't hard to get their hands on the orange.
"We've been working on that ever since the day we knew it was Oklahoma State, and they've kept getting better at what Oklahoma State does. Obviously, they'll never be as good as Oklahoma State at what they do."
Let's hope not.
COWBOYS STAFF HAS MIDWEST MENTALITY
A lot has been made out of the Ohio background of both Oklahoma State head coach Les Miles and offensive guard Sam Mayes along with the University of Michigan background of Miles as a player and an assistant coach.
But there are other Cowboys on the coaching staff with Midwest ties. Offensive coordinator Mike Gundy's mother, Judy, grew up in Michigan and is a Michigan fan. Mike grew up rooting for Michigan in the annual Michigan-Ohio State rivalry and often heard his grandfather talk of the Wolverines. Gundy explained some of the others staffers with Midwest connections.
"We have coach Mallory who is a former Michigan player on our staff and Todd Monken is from Illinois," said Gundy. "We have quite a few guys on our staff that are very familiar with the Ohio State tradition, and I think that with the media coverage that college football receives today that our team, our staff, and our administration, fans and everybody involved is thrilled to be playing Ohio State."
Mallory is big into it as his father is one of the coaches tied to the Miami of Ohio coaching clan that spawned both the Buckeyes Woody Hayes and the Wolverines Bo Schembechler. Mallory's father, Bill, was a college head coach at both Indiana and Colorado.
Chuck Moller grew up in Minnesota and went to Minnesota-Morris College and followed the Big 10 as a youngster and young coach.
Robert Allen's<br>Alamo Bowl Report (12/27)
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