BCS Championship notebook: Origins of the motivational DVD
The idea for a motivational DVD that Ohio State’s coaching staff put together for their players didn’t start with Jim Tressel. And it wasn’t a motivational DVD, at least not initially.
Former Buckeye wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez was in Columbus after Ohio State’s win over Michigan and before the team left for New Orleans. Gonzalez told the team it needed to be aware of what it’s public persona was.
“That dawned on me that, heck, I don’t even know what that is,” Tressel said. “So like anything else, you go back and research the data. The interesting thing about us as coaches and in some sense our players, is you’re so engrossed in preparing and you’re in a cocoon.”
Players left OSU’s bowl practice on Dec. 19 with a gift from Tressel. It was a 12-minute DVD that featured what the general sense of OSU’s championship viability was.
Fired up Jim
Tressel rarely shows emotion on the sideline, and even less so in pregame.
But it was impossible not to feel the energy from Ohio State’s end zone when the Buckeyes gathered, arm-in-arm and walked to the goal line. There, strength coach Eric Lichter yelled a few words of encouragement that looked like “We are Ohio State!”
When the players made it to midfield, Tressel jumped up and down, got in a few faces and slapped a couple of backsides.
Leave it to Kirk Barton to come up with a zinger to describe Tressel’s celebrity status in Ohio.
Barton, the fifth-year senior co-captain, said Tressel was Elvis in Ohio. A T-shirt seen in New Orleans seemed to back up that idea. An OSU fan had a digital picture of Tressel imposed on the front of a T-shirt that read, “I love Jim Tressel.” The man seemed proud of the shirt, too.
“Elvis? I can’t sing, I’ll tell you that much,” Tressel said. “In college, I had those longer chops, but that was back in the day.
“I don’t know about that. I think it depends upon where you are, and who you’re with. If I’m a little kid in Ohio and I see Kirk Barton wearing No. 74 down the street with a little gray-haired coach, I’ll run up and see Kirk Barton.”
It is pretty obvious by the way LSU Head Coach Les Miles walks and talks that he tries to pattern himself after late and legendary Michigan Head Coach Bo Schembechler.
Miles played for Schembechler at Michigan. Why does Miles try to talk like Schembechler?
“I don’t know. I hope like heck that Bo up there is not insulted by those comparisons,” Miles said. “I can only tell you there’s a lot of similarities between Bo Schembechler and my father.”
Miles’ roll-the-dice attitude on fourth down, however, didn’t come from Schembechler.
“If you win as many games as Schembechler had at Michigan, why would you?” Miles said. “Heck, you just line up and go play. Team Michigan was going to get a victory.”
Too many eggs in a basket
After getting blown out last year in the national title game to Florida, 41-14, Ohio State players admitted they weren’t quite as focused as they should have been for that game.
They were too comfortable and relaxed in Arizona. So the Buckeyes had very little fun in New Orleans, and that’s a task.
However, would losing to LSU with a focused, business-like attitude have been more devastating?
“For me personally, I feel like if I can leave the field knowing I’ve done everything I can to win the game, I won’t feel as bad as I did last year,” defensive back Kurt Coleman said. “If I feel like there was nothing I could’ve done to win this game, I won’t feel bad about it.”
Hey, aren’t you …
Former Ohio State players who returned to watch the game from the Buckeye sideline included Troy Smith, Keith Byars, Nick Mangold, Jonathan Wells and Steve Bellisari. GlenOak graduate and current Buffalo Bill Dustin Fox was in New Orleans for the game as well.
Dealing the deck
Miles said he does not play blackjack, but a little Texas Hold ‘em. Tressel was asked what kind of card player he is.
“I play a little cribbage,” he said. “I haven’t played either of those games. I hope I’m a smart card player. We’ll find out.”
Lawrence Wilson, who broke his leg in the season opener against Youngstown State, was in uniform and took part in pregame drills. Wilson, a junior, could petition the NCAA for an extra year of eligibility.
Meeting No. 1
LSU’s game vs. Ohio State was just the 10th time in school history the Tigers faced the No. 1 team in the nation.
Entering Monday, LSU was 1-7-1 in those games. The Tigers’ only win was 1997, a 28-21 victory against Florida in Baton Rouge.
LSU’s senior class will leave as the winningest in program history. They were ranked in the top 25 their entire career.
Buckeye fans come in all shapes, sizes ... and ages. Three 60-something ladies from Gallipolis traveled together to New Orleans to watch the Buckeyes.
Jane Lane (60), Ann Wickline (69) and Sally Orebaugh (64) enjoyed the flavor of Bourbon Street before watching their team play LSU.
“We love the Buckeyes,” Lane said. “We were out (in Arizona) last year. Win, lose or draw, that’s our team.”
The three were decked out in OSU gear, including a red feather boa for Orebaugh.
“Don’t we look good for our age?” Lane said. “Does anyone act like this at this age?”
What a run
Entering Monday’s game, the Buckeyes had the best overall record in college football during the past three seasons. Ohio State (33-4, .892) was followed by Southern Cal (34-5, .872), West Virginia (33-5, .868) and LSU (33-6, .846).
Reach Repository sports writer Todd Porter at (330) 580-8340 or e-mail email@example.com. Josh Weir contributed to this report.