If the future reputation of the Ohio State football program is on the line Saturday night when the Buckeyes play host to No. 3 USC (8 p.m., ESPN), no one apparently told Jim Tressel.
The head coach of the No. 8-ranked Buckeyes said Tuesday he does not intend to tell his players, either.
“Gosh, I hope they're not thinking about that, because if you're thinking about something that's at the end of those 60 minutes, I'm not sure you're going to play each of those minutes the way that you should,” Tressel said during his weekly press luncheon at the Jack Nicklaus Museum in Columbus. “As they watch the film and you ask them what they're thinking, I hope they ask you, what play was called, because that's what's important. What play's called? What defense is called? What's the situation. And not, well, I was thinking if we win this game that will be awesome.
“We've got to think about the moment. Good teams have that ability to stay in the moment and ignore anything positive or negative or anything along the way and just stay in the moment of what's going on. And that's a great lesson, in my mind, to try to teach people because no different in our lives. If you don't stay in the moment and start wishing this and, ‘Oh, my gosh, if that happens,’ you won't do very well in the moment.”
In updating personnel, he seemed optimistic he would have the services of two of the team’s top receivers.
The coach said Ray Small, a senior who missed the season-opening 31-27 win over Navy last Saturday, “looked peaked” Sunday when he showed up at the team’s training facilities but had improved by the time the coach saw him Monday.
“He had a good case of it whatever it was, so I think he's coming along,” Tressel said.
Asked if Small would return to his previous role as the team’s No. 1 punt returner, Tressel said he would know better by the time he speaks to reporters Thursday.
Meanwhile, DeVier Posey did not practice much Monday but is expected to be able to get more work as the weeks moves along.
Finally, the coach addressed the situation Saturday regarding Terrelle Pryor’s choice to recognize embattled Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick by wearing an eyeblack patch with “Vick” inscribed on it.
He said issues of personal expression have come up in the past when a player wrote something on his shoes or a towel or a wristband but that he had never decided to limit such actions.
“It's a little bit tough in this country to have too much of a policy on personal expression, but it's unfortunate when that distracts from situations that were so extraordinary as the weekend we had,” Tressel said, adding he did not think Pryor intended to cause a stir.
“Terrelle's of the opinion that, ‘You know what, I'm not any big deal, I haven't done anything,’ and like anything else, whether it was a coverage read or a defensive guy not playing a gap or whatever, these are all moments that we can learn from,” Tressel said. “But again, I guess I would refer back to the fact that you would have to know him the way I know him to understand that he didn't mean to hurt anyone's feelings, to be insensitive to something that someone feels strongly about, that's just not him.”