Before moving on to Ohio State's season-opening contest with Marshall on Thursday, Jim Tressel opened his first press luncheon of the year by addressing the story that has grabbed a lot of headlines in Ohio and Michigan for the past couple of weeks: The fate of the rivalry between the Buckeyes and the Wolverines.
“Most of you know and have even shared that I am old-fashioned and conservative,” he said. “I like to stay focused on the task and our message, and with that in mind, I thought I would real quickly give you a thought on what you’re getting all your emails about and what I’m getting all my emails about.
“Obviously, you’ve gotten a zillion and we’ve gotten a zillion emails about what’s going to happen in the future from a conference standpoint, and from a rivalry game standpoint and all those things, and I guess the way I always look at those things is I’ve sat in a lot of meetings with a lot of groups and what’s most important at the end of the day just like when we sit with our staff is that whatever we bang out, whatever we decide we’re going to do, that’s what we’ve got to make sure we believe in and what we teach,” Tressel said.
“Sometimes they are things you thought were the really good ideas and sometimes they weren’t. Sometimes the ones that you thought weren’t great ideas went for touchdowns and sometimes you say, ‘I knew we should have done this or that.’”
He noted there have been many changes in college football through the years, including adopting a 12th regular season game and the extension of the Big Ten season to the weekend after Thanksgiving - two moves he opposed - and he pointed out change is imminent at Ohio State also as the school prepares to move from a quarter-based academic calendar to semesters.
“With all that being said, I guess my stance on all of this stuff is what I am going to be in favor of is what the group needs and what the group decides, but what I’m going to do is focus on those 25 seniors and that 2010 football team and not allow myself to get distracted about all of the discussion,” Tressel said. “Not that it’s not important discussion and all that, but Sept. 2 is here quickly.”
As for the game at hand, Tressel said his defense will be missing at least one starter when the Buckeyes and Thundering Herd tee it up at 7:30 p.m. at Ohio Stadium. Defensive end Nathan Williams will not be ready to play as he continues to recuperate from a knee injury suffered early in preseason camp, but Tressel expects him to be ready for the Sept. 11 home game against Miami.
“That’s what he says, but if Miami were Thursday, he would not be ready for Miami,” Tressel said.
Starting cornerbacks Chimdi Chekwa and Devon Torrence also missed practice time during preseason camp, and only one had been given a clean bill of health at the time Tressel spoke with the media.
“Orhian Johnson and Devon Torrence worked the whole time yesterday, and they’ll be fine,” Tressel said. “Chimdi’s working part of the time and I think our evaluation will come today as to just if he’s 100 percent ready.”
Johnson entered preseason as the presumed starter at safety alongside veteran Jermale Hines, but C.J. Barnett is listed ahead of Johnson on the most recent depth chart published by the school.
Tressel said that is a result both of Johnson’s time lost to injury and Barnett’s performance while he was out.
“You get opportunities and you have a chance to get more reps and you impress. C.J.’s been very impressive. That doesn’t mean Orhian is not in the thick of a battle, but if one guy is in there doing the work and getting better and the other guys misses probably a dozen or more practices, it makes it more difficult, but good competition will continue at that position.”