When one reporter asked Jim Tressel on Tuesday about facing the Toledo on Saturday at Cleveland Browns Stadium in Cleveland, Tressel smiled and thanked him.
For most of the rest of the media gathering, which lasted about 10 minutes longer than usual, second-guessing and potential changes were the main themes.
Tressel praised both the crowd of 106,333 and the game-management staff who helped create an electric atmosphere at Ohio Stadium on Saturday night, but acknowledged he and his staff did not do enough to put his players in position to win the game.
Asked if he had done much second-guessing of himself, he said, “Lots.”
He said there was a “furious discussion for 22 seconds” regarding a potential field goal in the fourth quarter with his team leading 15-10. The try would have been approximately 53 yards, within kicker Aaron Pettrey’s considerable range, but Tressel opted instead to punt the ball.
“We’ve got a kicker that can make a 54, but we’ve also got a kicker that can miss a 54,” Tressel said. “But, yeah, of course you go through that a million times.”
The Trojans took possession at their own 14-yard line with 7:15 remaining and subsequently drove for the winning touchdown.
He also addressed an attempt to go for more points when his offense was perched at its own 27 with 1:49 to go. The Buckeyes threw two incomplete passes sandwiched around a 7-yard Dan Herron run and punted after running 1:01 off the clock.
The Trojans responded with a 77-yard drive that resulted in a 21-yard field goal that sent the teams to their locker rooms tied at 10.
“Do I second-guess it now? Of course,” Tressel said. “I should have taken three knees and enjoyed the reception on the way to the locker room.”
When asked if his email box was running over with complaints since the game, he replied, “I probably haven't gotten as many as you have, but we get lots of emails every week, even when we win.”
He pointed out that such criticisms do not bother him much because they do not make him feel any worse than he already did for making decisions that did not work out for his players.
“So, you know, honestly, the thing when I read some of them is I feel terrible for them because there's no way they're happy,” he said. “They’ve got to be some of the most unhappy people in the world, and I feel bad because we just made them less happy, and I hate to be a part of making someone less happy. I mean, they're already miserable, and so making them less happy, I'd feel bad.”
That reply added a moment of levity to the press conference, but he turned serious again when asked if he would consider “wholesale changes” to his offensive philosophy.
“I'm not sure exactly what a wholesale change would entail,” he replied. “I mean, are we going to go to the Navy triple option? Probably not. Don't know anything about it. Will we go conceptually to this or that? If you look at our teams from 2001 on, they haven't been exactly the same because you don't have the same people, but I don't know that we would make a wholesale (change).
“I’ll always believe that you win tough ball games by making sure that you're the group that makes less mistakes, wins that field position battle, wins the battle in the trenches statistically,” he said. “So, no, I philosophically wouldn't go against that, and I think the people that maybe line up differently than we do or might be perceived differently than we do, the games that that happens for them are the ones they win.”
He also reiterated a desire to remain an important part of crafting the offensive game plan.
“I've always told you guys never say never, but I've also always told you that I'm probably not going to sit in my office or read the USA Today or listen to talk radio and get a headache, so I try to be helpful in every phase, whether it's the punt team or the defense or the offense,” he said. “I spend more time with the offense. I enjoy working with quarterbacks, but I don't work with them on a daily basis in their meeting rooms and all that type of thing, but, no, I think I would have a hard time being at this press conference and you saying something about the offense or whatever and I had no clue. That, to me, I might as well send somebody else.”
At the start of the press conference, Tressel announced walk-ons running back Marcus Williams, punter Jon Thoma and offensive lineman Andrew Moses would all be put on scholarship at the beginning of Ohio State’s fall quarter next week, while wide receiver Ryan Schuck, running back Joe Gantz and defensive lineman Tom Ingham would go on scholarship beginning with winter quarter after several current players graduate in December.
Tressel also addressed the situation regarding sophomore offensive lineman Mike Adams. The five-star recruit was expected to contribute this season but has not been in uniform for the Buckeyes' first two games. Asked if Adams was getting back into his good graces, Tressel replied, "He's getting there. We'll see how today goes and the next, but he worked pretty good yesterday."