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January 6, 2008

Jim Tressel


THE MODERATOR: We'll have Coach Tressel make an opening statement about how this week is gone from his standpoint and Monday night's game.
Coach Tressel, if you could open with a statement.
COACH JIM TRESSEL: It's been a wonderful week here for us. It was a great educational experience for our young people and our coaches to be here in this community and just see and feel the importance of this week and the importance of hosting an event like this and to see the strength and passion of the people that are hosting three games in a row or whatever it happens to be in two huge weekends.
It was a great experience for our guys to see that. But most especially to feel that. Our guys have all seen many, many big games in the Superdome on television, and for them to have a chance yesterday to get over there and see that facility and envision themselves having a chance to play in that venue, and the people here have been extraordinary.
The Sugar Bowl committee and all the folks at the Hilton Riverside have been outstanding. An experience our guys -- I'm not sure they'll understand for years and years how fortunate we are to be taking part in this.
And we've been happy with the way our kids have handled themselves and prepared themselves. I know they're anxious to get out there on Monday evening. It's been quite a number of days since we've had a chance to play a game for real, and I've been real proud of the way they've prepared themselves to play against a great team from LSU and hopefully present the nation and the world with a great football game.

Q. Coach Miles described his team I think as pent up, held hostage, trapped. How are yours handling the final hours here?
COACH JIM TRESSEL: Well, you know, they are on a schedule that is very limiting. And I'm sure their minds are racing a million miles an hour and going over all of those last-minute things with the emotions that they have.
And, you know, you wish you could snap your fingers and be out there at kick-off, but that's not the way it is. And I know a lot of them here in the last day or so have had a chance to welcome their parents to this community and their parents have enjoyed seeing them.
When you're spending all this time in preparation over so many days you don't get as much time with family as you'd like to have. And, you know, so I know they're anxious. And if they feel pent up now, just wait until you see how they feel tomorrow because tomorrow is a long day when you don't play until 7:00 at night.

Q. Coach, LSU has obviously played in some kind of wild games this year. And Les Miles has gotten this reputation as kind of a risk taker. Do you prepare your team as if they're facing a squad that will basically do anything at any time, or do you think it was more just a happens of circumstance and you would have done the same thing in a lot of those similar situations and not been a conservative call?
COACH JIM TRESSEL: I don't know that you can ever put yourself in someone's shoes unless you know the whole context of what you've prepared, what you've studied, your opponent, what the moment holds. That's one of the difficult things about those decisions in that 25-second period, is that it's pretty easy to evaluate them after that. But it takes a special knack to do them well at that moment.
And you have to -- as you study LSU, you have to say that they've done the right things at the right time. And that's why they're playing in this game. And I don't know that -- people use the phrase "gambler." I don't know that it's gambling when you've prepared it, when you know why you're doing it. I don't think any of the things they did were just off the cuff, well, let's try this.
They all had some rationale to them. Sometimes it just takes the courage to do them. And that's what I've enjoyed about watching this LSU team. I think they've been a courageous bunch. They've done what they've had to do at the moment. They've had injuries. They've had the ball bounce the wrong way a couple times. Yet, they've just kept moving forward and that's how they became the SEC champions.

Q. Todd Boeckman played very well at Penn State, probably in the toughest road environment you faced this year. You said that night he threw with confidence and threw with authority. What can you do, what can Todd do to get that quarterback to be the one who shows up at the Superdome tomorrow night?
COACH JIM TRESSEL: You know, I think the most important thing to give a quarterback a chance to succeed is protection. That's the key. I think if you look at any ball game where a guy makes poor decisions, sometimes it's maybe because he was rushed, maybe there was someone in his face. Maybe he didn't have quite that extra instant to make the best decision.
The name of the game, and we've said it forever in this game of football, the name of the game is protection. And great defenses put pressure on quarterbacks. The LSU defense puts pressure on quarterbacks, and you have less time to make good decisions. The Ohio State defense puts pressure on quarterbacks and makes it a little more difficult to be as efficient.
So what's the one thing we can do? Make sure we do a great job protecting.

Q. Coach, your staff was down at LSU for some of the practices and I'm curious what, if anything, you guys took away from that? And then just secondarily, what would you say were the one or two biggest similarities and/or differences between yourself and Les Miles?
COACH JIM TRESSEL: Well, we anticipated January 7th, 2008, and that's why we asked Les if we could come down and study him a little bit in the spring (laughter), and he was gracious enough to let us. But that's one of the great things about our profession.
In fact, the American Football Coaches Association convention just began today, and there will be 10,000 coaches out in Anaheim, California, sharing ideas, sitting and talking about how can we do this thing better, how can we help our kids better, how can we X and O a little bit better. How can we stay up with the innovation that is a part of everything.
And we're always open to one another visiting our campuses. Very seldom do you find someone from your own league visiting one another. Because you know you're going to play them. But, you know, it's amazing the number of times ironically it turns out that you visit -- we visited Florida a year ago, and obviously that wasn't a great study. Maybe they didn't go to the football office that much (laughter). But it's amazing that this profession is willing to help one another and share ideas, and that's one of the things you love about it.
As far as the similarities between Les and I, we're both Ohio guys, and we've both been very blessed with very good football players as head coaches and very good staffs.
The thing that our coaches came back from their LSU visit that every one of them said, outside of the little technicalities that they picked up at their position, was how well those kids practiced. Those kids practiced like crazy. That's what preparation is all about. It's that focus and intensity and tempo in your practice.
And I'd like to think that that's something that our kids do.

Q. What are the things for LSU about Matt Flynn and Ryan Perrilloux, what are some of the things watching game film about both of those two players that really stand out in your mind, some of the things that they really do well and maybe do differently from each other?
COACH JIM TRESSEL: Matt obviously has a lot more experience, and you have to really tip your cap to him to the patience that he's had, the way that he hasn't always been the guy and then he got a chance to become the guy and here they are playing for everything. He's extremely disciplined. He's extremely tough. All those things that we love in a quarterback. He makes great decisions.
Perrilloux, on the other hand, has had the fortune of getting to play some. And a lot of times when you're the back-up guy and you get some experience, you can see a guy evolve. And when he stepped up in the SEC championship game and took them to a championship against a very tenacious Tennessee defense, that shows you that he's been paying attention as well and that the future bodes well for him.

Q. Since you went to Florida two years ago and you went to LSU last year, have you scheduled any visits for this coming spring?
COACH JIM TRESSEL: You know, we haven't done that yet. I'm going to have a chance to go out to the convention because I'm on the board of trustees so I have to. But at that point in time that's when you start -- believe it or not, on Tuesday night you're going to start thinking about your 2008 team, that's just what -- and where would be a good fit and who could we learn from, who were we impressed with as we watched film throughout the course of the year.
But, no, we haven't got quite to that point to make that selection.

Q. LSU is an offense that seems to be very versatile in the way they can spread you out. They can run power football. In your experience, how unique an offense is that? Have you faced anything similar in the Big Ten?
COACH JIM TRESSEL: You know, that's what I would like to be, is I would like to be a team that's power-oriented but that can give you everything else that possibly puts pressure on you. Spreading the ball out. Getting the ball to good wide receivers, getting the ball to good tight ends, throwing it to your backs some, doing all those things. Because in my mind that puts the ultimate pressure on a defense, is that you have to prepare for every single concept that there is.
And, you know, they've obviously done a good job evolving within their offensive scheme, and they have great players doing it.

Q. Coach, as the BCS moves forward, would you at all be in favor of a plus-one model, a de facto playoff?
COACH JIM TRESSEL: You know, I've not been one that's been a real, quote, playoff advocate. I was six or seven years ago, because I had experienced it. And I thought maybe it would be a good fit for the next level. And then I became a part of the next level, and there were some things that I think are a little bit different at this level. Then we went to a 12-game season. I think there's some student athlete welfare issues that I'm not sure would fit well adding more games, especially games of that magnitude.
There's a bunch of kids that are hoping to have a career at the next level that would be a part of those playoffs and so forth. And there's to me a little risk factor.
We already ask a lot of our kids from a time commitment standpoint. And I would like our experience at the college level to be complete and thorough, and the more you're asked to do one thing, it becomes a little bit less of that.
And I'll the tell you, the other thing, in my mind, that would keep me from being a real advocate of it -- I can be convinced of anything -- but bowls are extraordinary. You watch a group of bowl games, I don't care where they were, we've been in a lot of different bowl situations, and it's a tremendous thing for those communities. They happen to revolve around the same time period, give or take 10, 15 days.
There's a lot of travel involved. Someone told me that the economic impact of having both the Sugar Bowl and the BCS title game here was extraordinary for this. And I'm sure the impact on those communities and the fun that those kids have and their families and their marching bands and all that they have at bowl games, I just think it's a little bit difficult to go much beyond what we're doing.

Q. Getting back to Todd Boeckman. He's one of the few key guys for you that obviously didn't play in this atmosphere last year. Are you curious or anxious at all to see how he's going to respond or do you know enough about him that you're confident in how he'll react?
COACH JIM TRESSEL: I'm confident how he'll react for sure. But I don't know anything for sure. I don't know how I'll react there. I mean, the energy. It's so exciting and it really takes a real good performance to really be on top of every single thing at every moment in a neat environment like that.
Sometimes a lot of it has to do with something that you're not even a part of. It might be a pass protection. It might be a bad call by the coach and all of a sudden the quarterback doesn't look comfortable. But I have a lot of confidence in Todd Boeckman.

Q. Coach, the success of Southern Cal, LSU, Ohio State was discussed earlier with Coach Miles. Can the winner of tomorrow night's game, multiple titles over a short span say that they're the program, the preeminent program now in the country?
COACH JIM TRESSEL: No, you're only as preeminent as your next game. And I don't know that we can make proclamations like that, because I don't know how you define that.
Now, I happen to think those are some great programs. But we also tee it up against a lot of other great programs. And I'm sure there would be some debate by others as to their preeminence.

Q. Apparently LSU is going to watch the movie 300 tonight, which makes me think that Les is trying to portray his team as the underdog; i.e., Sparta. What do you think about that and do you guys plan on watching a little movie tonight, too?
COACH JIM TRESSEL: No, I don't know what 300 is. I'm not a real movie guy. The last movie I went to was Jaws I (laughter). So I don't know what 300 is.
But watching movies and relaxing, that kind of thing, because you do feel pent up and you do feel like, oh, my gosh, is this ever going to arrive? That's a great thing.
And, no, I don't know much about the movie.

Q. Can you describe -- obviously the championship moment is here. But could you describe your emotions from the disappointment of losing the championship game to spending a spring and then the summer and then going through a Big Ten season and to now finally kind of getting to this point, just describe whether you were thinking about getting back here or whether you really didn't think about it until now?
COACH JIM TRESSEL: I think you only daydream about those kinds of things. Because if you spend time thinking about them, you're taking a lot of time away from working. And so, of course, you always set as your ultimate goal to be in the ultimate game. You'd be selling yourself short if you didn't.
But you don't spend a whole bunch of time because there's so much to do, so much that it takes to be successful in every game, that just can't do it.

Q. A lot was made about the DVD and the motivational tools that you used. I would think that got your players through a lot of the hard work of this bowl preparation. They said it was harder than anything else they've ever done in the bowl season. And yet now you're down to the last couple of days. I think you've even mentioned before that the bulletin board stuff, once the ball's kicked off, doesn't amount to anything. How has the message changed in the last two days from no respect to what has it become?
COACH JIM TRESSEL: I think it's all about execution, because ultimately that's what it takes. You've done your preparation. You've put together a plan that you think is the right plan. I've had many a plan where someone came out and played something very different and you think back to all those hours, I could have gone to the movies, because it was a waste of time.
But you have a plan and you need to execute your plan and execute your adjustments to your plan. And that's what it's all about come Monday night.

Q. How much of -- regardless of --
COACH JIM TRESSEL: This is not an "old" question, is it? Todd was killing me yesterday talking about how old I was and Bob Hunter and I are ready for shuffleboard and, you know -- but, okay, go ahead.

Q. Fairly or unfairly, if you win that game tomorrow night, your program will be painted in one light. If you lose, it will be painted in another. How much of your program's reputation is riding on the outcome of the game tomorrow?
COACH JIM TRESSEL: I think it all comes down to how you concern yourself about who does the painting, because what's most important is how you feel about yourself and where it is as a part of who you are.
And so the biggest goal we have is to play as good as we can possibly play and us coming close or perhaps even doing that will really help us paint ourselves in a good light, regardless of what the outcome is.
If we don't play as well as we're capable of playing, we'll paint ourselves not in as good a light as we would like because we knew we were capable of more.
If you worry about much more than that, then I think you have things out of perspective.
Thanks so much. See you on Monday.

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