Tressel Stands Firm, Apologizes for Mistakes
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State coach Jim Tressel met with the media Wednesday for the first time since his press conference to address his NCAA violations earlier this month.
Head Coach Jim Tressel
Unlike the last one, where he was dressed in black with a look of sadness in his eye, Tressel came wearing his usual Scarlet and Gray sweater vest to Wednesday’s press conference at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
It had much more of a traditional Tressel press conference feel, although understandably lacking his dry humor. He opened by saying he could not talk about the NCAA’s ongoing investigation, but did apologize for what he had done to bring shame to the university.
“The largest regrets I’ve had in my life have been when I’ve disappointed people, when I’ve let people down,” Tressel said after calling it “a difficult past couple of months.”
“The mistakes I’ve made are very disappointing. I’m sorry for that, as I’ve mentioned many times.”
Tressel will hand the interim head coaching job to linebackers coach Luke Fickell, but said to give no credence to the rumors swirling around that he might give up the head coaching job at Ohio State completely.
“I don’t know where those were swirling, or whatever. I never had that thought,” said Tressel, who enters his 11th season in Columbus.
“We think what’s important here is these kids. Whether you have some personal discomfort going on, or you make personal mistakes, or whatever. That wouldn’t be something that would jump in my mind, unless there came a point in time where I felt the best thing for those kids would be if I do (step down). I don’t feel that way.”
Tressel was then asked if recent events might weigh heavily on his decision to continue coaching at Ohio State after his current contract expires in 2015.
“Sometimes in the off-season you have those reflective times, I haven’t really had many reflective times in the last couple months that have those types of discussions,” the 58-year old said.
As far as Tressel is concerned, it will be business as usual when the Buckeyes open spring practice Thursday. They will have 15 practices, including the annual Scarlet and Gray Spring game, during which time Tressel will continue his duties as the head football coach at Ohio State.
“Spring practice and the teaching and the things that go on on the day-to-day basis have not change, and will not change,” Tressel said.
He also doesn’t expect things to change much in the fall, except for of course on the first five Saturday’s of the season.
“I haven’t seen Gene (Smith) for, I don’t know when the last time he was here, so I haven’t sat down with him about any of that,” Tressel prefaced.
“What I perceive for the front of the season, it won’t be 24/7 it will be 24/6, and the seventh day is the one you love.”
Tressel will not be allowed on the field, or even in the stadium, for the first five games of the season—which includes a trip to Miami—assuming the NCAA accepts Ohio State’s self-imposed sanctions for Tressel’s violation.
Although he is typically involved in the offensive play-calling, Tressel doesn’t expect a huge change on Saturday’s, even with the departure of former assistant head coach Darrell Hazell to Kent State.
“Play-calling wise is so much by committee. If we haven’t figured that out by Wednesday night, Thursday morning at the latest, coach Jim Bollman is a wreck,” Tressel said of his offensive coordinator.
“Do we adjust? Yeah. I’m 5-foot-9, I’m on the sideline, I can’t see much. That typically comes from up there. I don’t foresee – we don’t have that many different plays. I don’t see that being that big a deal.”
As the linebackers coach, and a former OSU defensive lineman, Fickell doesn’t bring much to the offensive game plan. That means Bollman will likely be assisted by running backs coach Dick Tressel, Jim’s older brother, along with tight ends coach John Peterson and new receivers coach Stan Drayton, who replaced Hazell after he took the head coaching job at Kent.
The 37-year old Fickell said he plans to build upon the foundation laid by Tressel over the past 10 seasons, but recognized the awkwardness of the situation he will find himself in for the first five games of the season.
“It’ll be difficult,” Fickell said.
“We have to know whose team it is. It’s our team. It’s the seniors’ team.”
Fickell, who played for the Buckeyes from 1992-96, has never been a head coach at any level, but his star has been on the rise for quite some time. He was promoted to co-defensive coordinator in 2005, and is now replacing Hazell as the assistant head coach under Tressel.
“Ohio State football never has been and never will be about one person. It’s about something bigger than that,” he said.
“It’s about Ohio State football and right now it’s about these 2011 Buckeyes.”
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