Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel’s spring preview luncheon, benefiting the Alzheimer’s Association, was held Wednesday at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
This marked the 13th year of the event. Former OSU coach John Cooper and his wife, Helen, started the event in 1993 after Helen’s mother developed Alzheimer’s disease.
The Coopers sat next to Tressel and his wife Ellen. Former OSU coach Earle Bruce was also seated on the stage.
Sports anchor Jeff Hogan from WBNS 10 TV was the emcee. He turned the floor over to former OSU quarterback Jim Karsatos who hosted the live auction (there was also a silent auction prior to the luncheon).
First up, Karsatos auctioned off an opportunity for a Buckeye fan to shadow him on the sidelines for the Texas game on Sept. 10 at Ohio Stadium. Karsatos is the sideline reporter on the Ohio State Football Network. The winning bid was a whopping $3,500.
Next up for auction was a private box at the Schottenstein Center for one OSU men’s basketball game, and one women’s game (the games will be determined later). The winning bid was $1,750.
The third and final item up for bidding was a tailgate party at Riverwatch Tower before the Iowa game on Sept. 24. The tailgate – including a tent that will hold up to 50 people – will be catered by City Barbeque. The winning bid was $2,000.
Following the auction, Ohio State football historian Jack Park took the microphone. He introduced this year’s honoree: two time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin.
The 2005 season will mark the 30th anniversary of Griffin’s second Heisman and he is still the only player in college football history to win the award twice. Griffin received a standing ovation from the crowd on Wednesday.
“I’m honored to be here today,” Griffin said. “Winning the Heisman Trophy was a great thrill. If you honor me, without a doubt you are also honoring my family, coaches and teammates, because I could not have won the Heisman Trophy without those people. I was blessed that I was in the right place, at the right time, with the right people.”
Following Griffin’s eloquent speech, he was presented with a commemorative plaque highlighting his first game at OSU in 1972 against North Carolina (when Griffin rushed for a then-freshman record 239 yards). The plaque included a program and ticket stub from the game, as well as a picture of Griffin scoring his first touchdown in a Buckeye uniform.
The floor was then turned over to Tressel, who reviewed the 2004 season.
Tressel told the audience he has been pleased with the work ethic so far from the 2005 Buckeyes.
“This group has a passion to be a champion,” Tressel said. “And they are doing the things they need to do to accomplish that. We can’t win a national championship in the spring, but we can lose it if we don’t make the progress that we need to make.”
Tressel then gave a rundown of the 2005 schedule. He said something about each game, but here are a few highlights:
Regarding the Texas game, Tressel said: “Everyone in the country will be watching at 8 p.m. It’s going to be a great challenge to see where we are as we get ready for the Longhorns.”
Regarding the Iowa game, Tressel said: “Iowa will probably be the team that is picked to win the conference. It will be a tremendous conference opener.”
As for the showdown at Michigan on Nov. 19, Tressel said: In 226 days from now, we have to make sure we’re ready to go up to the Big House and play that game.”
Tressel then introduced new defensive backs coach Paul Haynes. Tressel also introduced tight ends coach/recruiting coordinator John Peterson, who was not on the staff at this time last year (Peterson was hired in mid-April of 2004).
Haynes is originally from Columbus and played college football at Kent State.
“Every kid that grows up in Ohio wants to be a Buckeye,” Haynes said. “It’s a great honor for me to be a part of this coaching staff.”
Tressel then put Haynes on the “hot seat,” asking the new coach to review the defensive linemen.
“The only D-Lineman’s name I know so far is Quinn (Pitcock),” Haynes said, eliciting laughter from the crowd. “I just know numbers right now. I’m still trying to learn my guys (the defensive backs).”
Three senior defensive players then made their way up to the stage: Linebackers Bobby Carpenter and Anthony Schlegel, and safety Nate Salley.
They answered some questions from Tressel, Hogan, and the audience. Tressel also joked that Schlegel won the award for: “Best looking linebacker to ever play at Ohio State.” Carpenter did not agree.
Offensive seniors Rob Sims, Ryan Hamby and Brandon Schnittker then took the stage and answered a few questions.
One final note: The spring luncheon has raised over $1 million for the Alzheimer’s Association during the 13 years of the event.