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  • Ode To A (Rare) Undefeated Team

    Usually this space is reserved for a hodgepodge of extra quotes from several different teams that are under the umbrella coverage of

    However, the Ohio State football team just logged an improbable, thrilling and somewhat unfulfilling 12-0 season. It was an odyssey that actually began with Urban Meyer’s hiring a little more than a year ago, continued through an eventful run-up to the season, and materialized as the Buckeyes overcame their flaws and setbacks while finding a way to win week after week.

    But the sixth unbeaten, untied season in Ohio State football history didn’t merit much more than an atta-boy – and a celebration before a few thousand soggy fans at St. John Arena on Dec. 7 – since the program had been docked with a postseason ban as part of a lengthy NCAA punishment.

    Therefore, SRU has decided to dedicate this installment of Quote Me solely to the 2012 OSU football squad.

    Here then are the football-related quotes of interest that almost got away through the course of the season, presented in semi-chronological order:

    Co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers on being an interim head coach at North Carolina last year amid turmoil – “I learned really for 18 months that kids are resilient. That’s probably the biggest thing I learned. Kids are resilient and they’re just looking for somebody to coach them and love them and teach them how to be good people off the field and on the field.”

    Defensive coordinator Luke Fickell on him serving in the same role for Ohio State in 2011, which ended with a 6-7 record – “I just want to make sure everyone knows, we had expectations and they were very high.”

    Meyer on talking about what he inherited while speaking to fans at the team’s spring preview –
    “Our football program is in good shape. Coach (Jim) Tressel is a dear friend and his staff did a fabulous job. What they’ve done the last decade is nothing short of arguably the 10 best years in the history of this program. So it’s an honor for me and my staff to come in and take this over and do the very best we can.”

    Senior wide receiver Jake Stoneburner when reminded during late May interviews that it was the one-year anniversary of Tressel’s resignation – “It’s pretty crazy. It’s almost like it didn’t happen. We haven’t played a season yet with Coach Meyer but I feel like everyone is excited about the season again. And I feel like media around the country is wondering what Ohio State is going to do with a new coach, how good are they going to be. We’ve got good expectations. For losing one of the best coaches at Ohio State ever just a year ago to be where we’re at right now, we’re pretty fortunate. I didn’t expect it to be like this, but I’m definitely happy about it.”

    Former Buckeye Will Allen on the major NCAA sanctions levied against Penn State because of the scandal involving former coordinator Jerry Sandusky – “At the time it was ambiguous. Nobody knew. The opponent didn’t even know. So how is that even measurable? But obviously the NCAA wants to wipe the slate clean.”

    Meyer on a summer arrest of running back Bri’onte Dunn – “He’s going to plead not guilty. We did a series of tests and everything came back that he was honest with me. However, if there is some charge that sticks then they’ll be a penalty like all kids that have a charge.”

    Meyer on the notion that the Buckeyes could go undefeated heading into the open week – “If those kids hear that, I have to beat it out of them the first week of training camp. I can promise you after day four, they aren’t going to be worried about 10 and 0. They’re going to be worried about getting through day five. It’s going to be a really, really hard training camp.”

    Meyer at the Big Ten media conference in Chicago on the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry – “What makes a rivalry really great is histroically it’s two really good teams playing against each other. If it’s two lousy teams than it’s not a rivalry. I know (Michigan) has a really good team.”

    On his budding coaching rivalry with UM coach Brady Hoke – “I think coaches are overrated. If there are two good teams, he’ll get a lot of publicity and so will I. If Braxton Miller’s a great player, the rivalry is going to be really good, but if he’s not really good the rivalry won’t be as fiery. It’s all about the players. They won the game last year – not because of some coach or motivational saying. It’s because they have a freak at quarterback (Denard Robinson) who made some great plays. He was dynamic. Our guy wasn’t bad either. That’s why it was a great game.”

    On his relationship with Miller – “He has a virtue that is relatively non-existent nowadays and that’s humility. It’s refreshing to see that. It’s good for football. Here’s a kid that’s not looking to be out front and he’s a hard worker. His positive is he’s extremely competitive. The area he needs to work on is leadership. That’s to be determined. I’ll tell you after the first week of practice if he’s a good leader because if we throw the ball decent and guys are catching it, it means he led them all summer. If they don’t then he’s not where he needs to be.”

    On his goals with training camp days away – “Every school in the country is going to show a ton of enthusiasm, so I’m not looking for enthusiasm. That’s going to happen. What’s really important to us is that we can throw and catch a pass, and I mean at a high level because we weren’t able to do that (in the spring). If I see those receivers coming out of breaks and the quarterback spinning the ball on time, that means we have a chance to be really good on offense. If they don’t, we’ve got a problem.”

    On John Simon, Johnathan Hankins and the defensive line – “If you notice the way we’re recruiting right now, (the defensive line) is where you start. Spread offenses, shovel passes and all of that are kind of cool but at the end of the day if you have the best defensive line there’s a great chance you’re going to have one of the better teams in the conference, and I like our guys. I don’t love them yet but I like them a lot.”

    Senior linebacker Storm Klein on being reinstated to the team after assault charges against him were dropped – “Coach Meyer, he’s a good guy. He’s a guy who cares, and you can really tell that. In the beginning I didn’t know him very well but through everything we’ve become a lot closer and we understand each other.”

    Hankins on all the speculation surrounding the Buckeyes heading into the season – “I don’t feel it gets to be too much for me because I don’t pay too much attention to the media or Twitter and all that. Haters are always going to be out there, so you just have to deal with it. I’m not really bothered by it.”

    Stoneburner on if the Buckeyes were playing to silence their critics – “We’ve always got something to prove. We’re Ohio State. People are always doubting us, people are always with us. I feel like every year we have to be one of the best teams in the country or else it’s a disappointment. And no matter where we are, what we did last year and who’s our coach, we’re always circled because it’s Ohio State.”

    New offensive coordinator Tom Herman on why he believed the team made so much offseason improvement –Mickey Marotti, without a doubt. I know it’s cliché. I’ve been a lot of different places and he’s the best strength coach in America. I came from a place where I’d thought I had seen the best and I came to a place that I realized I hadn’t yet. He and his staff, they’re off-the-charts good.”

    Offensive line coach Ed Warinner on returning to the Big Ten Conference – “That’s part of the great thing about Ohio State is it’s in a great conference. I’ve coached at two schools in the conference, so I’ve been through the league. I respect it and know the quality of the coaching staff and the players. It’s going to be exciting. There will be new energy in the building tomorrow when everyone comes in.”

    Backup Kenny Guiton on what he picked up from Miller – “I’ve been trying to come every day to work and he told me that being a quarterback every day people are looking at us every play. So we have to lift them up if they’re having a down day and things like that. Just me watching Braxton every day, I’m learning, because Braxton is a great player.”

    Wide receivers coach Zach Smith on challenging players to improve on last year’s leading reception total of 14 – “It was definitely a selling point because as a wideout that’s not the year you want. I mean, your fourth-string Z receiver is supposed to be the guy who catches 14 balls in a year. Like Coach Meyer says all the time, I’m used to guys catching 14 balls in a game, not for the whole year. It’s time to go.”

    Receiver Corey “Philly” Brown on if he could play defensive back like the team’s other Corey Brown – “I would be the nickel probably. Travis (Howard) is having a tremendous year so far and (Bradley) Roby is a lockdown corner also, so I would probably be a nickel. I wouldn’t start over either one of those dudes.”

    Meyer after OSU routed Miami (Ohio) in the opener – “The day overall, it was a great day. “Hang on Sloopy” kicked it off in the fourth quarter. And I stared at that for a while, watched it. Told a couple of people that I’ve never seen that before. Checked that out.”

    Offensive co-captain Zach Boren on Miller keeping the ball 27 times against Central Florida – “I know we don’t want to run Braxton all the time. He’s the leader of the offense and we need him all year. With as many carries as he had today, we don’t want that. But when we need to win the game, we’re going to put the ball in Braxton’s hands.”

    Central Florida QB Blake Bortles on the crowd noise at Ohio Stadium, which his coach, George O’Leary, called a place where fans “sit on their hands” – “It was definitely a factor. We had to switch to our silent count because the noise was such a huge issue. We had two false starts right from the beginning, so yes the noise affected us.”

    Running backs coach Stan Drayton on trying to develop youngsters Dunn and Rod Smith with Jordan Hall and Carlos Hyde hurt – “The beauty of this offense for that position is they’re trained to do pretty much everything. They have to run the ball effectively, no doubt, but they have to be solid in protection and we ask those guys to do things in the pass game from a route standpoint. They’ve got to be able to read defenses and make adjustments on their routes and they have to be great pass protectors. There are a lot of things that have to be checked off that list before they’re cleared to play.”

    Defensive end Nate Williams on the chippy nature of the Cal game – “I like that kind of game, actually. They were a good group, their offensive line. Their center was their anchor and he was a great player. They ran a great offense and kept us on our toes. The way the game evolved is how it evolved.”

    Hall on the same subject – “That’s football. They’re out there on the West Coast, we’re on the East Coast and we want to see who’s better. At the end of the game we shook hands. That’s how the game is.”

    Roby on OSU’s recent troubles with Purdue days before the Buckeyes hosted the Boilermakers – “The two losses are both away and the whole atmosphere at Purdue is like … there’s not that many fans, the field is not all that nice, and things like that. It’s kind of a gloomy type of atmosphere, and when you play at Ohio State you’re kind of used to playing in big games, big crowds, and things like that. It’s kind of tough to mentally focus.”

    Hankins on Guiton emerging as the hero vs. PU – “Kenny Guiton is like Kobe (Bryant) in clutch time. He knows the game and I feel like he’s a coach for us on offense. He’s doing a good job. I never lose faith in Kenny.”

    Sophomore tight end Jeff Heuerman on catching the all-important, game-tying two-point conversion against the Boilers, which sent the game into overtime – “Coach (Mike) Vrabel told me after the game those are the hardest ones to catch and I definitely agree. It seemed like the ball was in the air forever.”

    Safety Christian Bryant on his developing relationship with his head coach – “I love Coach Meyer, man. He’s a player’s coach, and I can say that first-hand. We feed off of him each and every day and each and every week, his intensity. He just keeps us up. He never wants us down. He might talk bad, but that’s like a kid and his parents. But I love Coach Meyer.”

    Illinois coach Tim Beckman after his Illini failed to slow down Miller – “Braxton Miller is a fantastic football player, he fuels this Ohio State team with his ability to make guys miss and that is how he hurt us today. He also made big plays with his arm and exposed some coverage issues in our secondary.”

    Terry Hawthorne, senior UI defensive back, on the same topic – “I’ve played against him before in high school and he was just as slippery then as he is now.  He is the same exact guy, but he has more control of the ball now.”

    Meyer on his affinity for Boren, who willingly switched from fullback to linebacker midseason – “One of the most undervalued characteristics of a football team is leadership, and that’s what No. 44 gives you. I really admire him. Not a very good leader whatsoever throughout spring, throughout the winter, has developed into one of my all-time favorites in my coaching career as far as a selfless leader that does it all for us.”

    Meyer on the senior season of Howard – “Travis to me – I can say this because of how much respect I have for him now – was not a good player. He was a guy that kind of lined up out there, but I wouldn’t consider him to be a good player. He and his coach (Kerry Coombs) have worked him into what I consider a very good player.”

    Stoneburner, prior to the Wisconsin game, on his college career winding down – “It’s bittersweet, surreal. It’s kind of hard to explain. We’ve three practices left maybe, two games, only one game left in the ’Shoe. Five years flew by. Everyone says it goes by pretty quick, and I guess it does, but it’s also been a long time. I just want to end it on a great note.”

    Senior defensive back Orhian Johnson on the announcement that Tressel would be honored along with the 2002 team during the Michigan game – “I don’t have any animosity towards Coach Tressel in any way, shape or form. There’s no love loss for him.”

    On what it feels like to play Michigan – “You’ve got to beat them. That’s all you think about. As close as football can get to war, that’s probably it. And if you need a motivational speech for this game, you probably won’t touch the field that day.”

    On going into the Michigan game knowing no bowl game was on the horizon – “I’m pretty sure it will add to it after it’s all said and done, like after the game, but, honestly, I kind of came to peace with me knowing that I don’t have a bowl game and with me knowing that there’s no option for that. I really haven’t been staying up at night worrying about something that I can’t control. It’d be nice if we could, but we are only guaranteed of 12 games going into each and every season so I just want to make this last one count.”

    Herman on the same subject, after the game – “We knew what the end game was going to be. We knew that this was it. And when you know that going in it’s not like somebody yanked it out from us a week ago. So when you deal with that then and accept it, you can rise to the challenges that are presented every Saturday, and our guys did that.”

    Senior Zach Domicone on Tressel being hoisted onto the shoulders of 2002 team members during the on-field recognition of the national champs of 10 years ago – “He’s a great guy, great coach and great person, and I think that was well deserved for him.”

    Herman on Miller’s growth at QB – “The sky is the limit for him, and to say that he’s a finished product is not even close to reality.”

    Herman, who came over from Iowa State, on the camaraderie of the 2012 Buckeyes – “Whether it was against Purdue and taking that last drive down with a backup quarterback or whether it was against Wisconsin, when the defense and special teams carried us, whatever the case may be we found a way to win football games. I told the guys in the locker room it’s by far the best team I’ve ever been associated with – maybe not the best players, maybe not the best group of this or that at different position. But as a team – as an offense, as a defense, as a special teams unit – it’s by far the best team I’ve ever been associated with.”

    Domicone on his Senior Day experience – “The whole day has been unbelievable, just the emotions that have been running through me. Everything is the last – the last time you’re running out of the tunnel, the last pregame meal, the last time you’re in the locker room. So just to go out there and have my parents down there and play with my team and have everyone on the field, it was just unreal today.”

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  • Matta, Meyer Make Memories

    If you’re familiar with this section of the site, you know we compile the best leftover quotes that didn’t make it into the many articles over the past few months. Think of it as little tidbits of interest all cooked together like a fruitcake grandma sent you – only you want to digest it.

    And since we last checked in, much of note has occurred, especially in terms of Ohio State football and basketball.

    Urban Meyer has put his stamp on the football program even with his actual OSU head coaching debut still months away. And he proved during the recruiting season and spring drills that he’s not afraid to speak his mind.

    Meanwhile, Thad Matta took us on another wild ride in March as the men’s basketball squad managed to earn a share of yet another conference crown, advanced to the finals of the Big Ten Tournament and then set off on an unlikely journey to New Orleans for the Final Four.

    And the women’s team endured another abrupt postseason but still made news with point guard Sammy Prahalis breaking records, earning notice as the Big Ten Player of the Year and selected with the sixth overall pick of the WNBA draft.

    SRU followed those stories and many others but still wasn’t able to use every comment of interest. So we present those to you now. Enjoy.

    Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith on the proposal of expanding the NCAA Tournament field from 65 teams to 96 – “I think it would be a great idea. When I first got in the business in 1978, ’79, there might have been 100 Division I teams. Now there’s 347. Just like football. When they increased, they increased the number of bowl games. So why not increase the opportunities for these student-athletes to participate and enjoy and be a part of March Madness? I think it’s long overdue, to be honest with you.”

    Meyer on his relationship with sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller – “It’s awesome. He’s a really good kid, really a sponge, a guy that wants to do well. He’s a really, really athletic guy. It’s been nothing but positive, what he’s been doing.”

    Meyer on going to work for Earle Bruce as a wide receivers coach at Colorado State in the early 1990s – “That was my first exposure to big-time college football where we were not able to go home on weekends when we were out recruiting. So there were times I’d stay out for a month and a half at a time and my two girls were real young. Sure enough, I remember one time waking up after being out for a month and a half and I get up to take a shower and one of our kids had jumped into bed with us in the middle of the night, and she said, ‘Mommy, is that Daddy?’ That’s damn right that’s Daddy.”

    OSU defensive backs coach Kerry Coombs on the staff recruiting philosophy – “We’re recruiting the United States, and we’re going to recruit the United States incredibly hard – harder than anybody in the country. It’s the head coach’s passion, and we are going to be an aggressive recruiting staff.”

    Center Corey Linsley on a former lineman and staff member working closely with him – “Coach (Jim) Bollman always used to say Kirk Barton was the hardest working lineman he ever had. Kirk brings great intensity to the O-line. We all know him from playing here and we all have a great relationship with him. He brings a ton of tools and familiarity to all of us and really has the ability to get through to us. He knows our weaknesses a little bit better than Coach (Ed) Warinner does because he’s been here for a few years, and I think that brings a lot to the O-line.”

    Matta on the basketball savvy of the Kansas fans at Allen Fieldhouse after the Buckeyes played there on Dec. 10 – “When they deflected a pass and the ball went to half court, we still got it but their fans cheered because it disrupted our offensive flow. You don’t get that very often. Nothing really happened. Deshaun (Thomas) just bobbled the pass and had to run to half court to get it, and people were going crazy. I was like, “I thought I was the only one who did that.’ ”

    Defensive line coach Mike Vrabel on why he’s had early success in recruiting – “I think it’s just being honest. It’s easy to sell Ohio State. It’s not a hard sell job with our players and the people who are here. And it’s easy for me because I experienced it. It’s not like I’m trying to sell ketchup popsicles to a woman in white gloves. It’s pretty easy. This place is special and the guys we have around continue to try to make it important to be at Ohio State. It’s what makes this thing easy to sell.”

    Vrabel on if practices are harder than when he was a player – “When I was out here, that’s 15 years ago, so I really don’t remember. I remember I was hurt one spring so I didn’t practice. They’re intense, and I think the harder it is, the harder it is to walk away from. I think we’ve got guys that don’t want to walk away right now.”

    Jared Sullinger on comparing OSU’s loss to Kansas in the Final Four to last year’s loss to Kentucky in the Sweet 16 – “It’s still tough, but we got farther. We got to a point where we were one of the last four teams standing. Only the best basketball teams at the time play here, and we just took a loss. It hurts.

    “If you talked about this team a month ago, everybody would have doubted us, said we couldn’t do this, we couldn’t do that. We overcame all that and I couldn’t be prouder of a basketball team than these guys around me.”

    Sullinger on the Buckeyes staying together through adversity during the 2011-12 season – “Even the guys that didn’t play, they had a contribution to us getting here. They were coming into practice every day and competing at the highest level regardless of playing time. Sometimes that can mess with some people’s heads and they can just cruise through practice, but these guys came in every day, played as hard as they can, everybody gave one another a challenge, and we got this far. So I’m very proud of this basketball team.”

    Former center Mike Brewster on returning to his home state of Florida for the Gator Bowl – “I’m very excited. I’m used to going to BCS bowls, but if we couldn’t do that this is definitely a team I want to play. All my friends are Florida fans and I’m from down there. It’s going to be a good time.

    “There’s a lot of anticipation because you’re focusing so much on one opponent and you’re watching so much film on them. By the time you line up against them you feel like you know them. It is different, and it’s usually a team that you never have played before. Bowl games are always fun.”

    Brewster on the players receiving iPod glasses as a bowl gift in the past – “That was a bust. That was no good. It was a good concept, though.”

    John Craft, father of point guard Aaron Craft, on when he saw the Buckeyes coagulate – “The turning point … I don’t know specifically but that second half at Michigan State is what sports is all about. Those guys were down 15 in the first half and everything fell into place. And everyone contributed. Jared was making good decisions. Rav (Evan Ravenel) came in and did well. It was just a perfect storm. That second half at Michigan State, I think, is where it really took hold.”

    Matta on his future becoming clear – “The day I played in college against the Indiana Pacers. When I was at Butler they used to come out and train with us and Reggie Miller, it was his rookie year, and I remember walking back to my dorm and looking back in the mirror and saying, ‘That’s not going to be your career choice. You need to go into coaching.’ So I was well ahead of my time on that.”

    Tailback Boom Herron on being named by his teammates as OSU’s MVP even after missing the first five games of the season because of suspension – “I was a little surprised. I actually didn’t vote for myself. I voted for Zach Boren. That’s my fullback. He kind of makes things happen for me. He just did a great job the whole year.”

    Left tackle Mike Adams on being recruited by Meyer and the University of Florida before opting for Ohio State – “Definitely as a recruiter he was always very confident and very proud of his university, but he always shared that he had those Midwest roots, which I thought was kind of cool. I think he’s a great coach, a great recruiter, and his resume speaks for itself. When you’ve got a guy coming in like that, a high-caliber coach, I think everybody is just excited to play for him.”

    Kansas coach Bill Self, prior to the Final Four, on the threat posed by guard William Buford – “People can say (he’s) erratic. Sometimes that happens when you have guys that score the majority of their points outside the paint. But to me, over the course of his career, he’s been a model of consistency as far as how he scores the ball and performs for Ohio State. He’s the fourth-leading scorer in the history of the school, which is remarkable, because they’ve had some hard-rockin’ guys come through there.”

    Meyer on both sports being elite at Ohio State – “There’s probably only a handful of schools in the country that have the resources and tradition. This is certainly one of them. Florida is one of them. Can you imagine being a student and the magic you could be part of? I joked around down there: Imagine being a student in 2006, four teams you could run out on the street and act like a nut. That’s what they do down there, just go out and run around on the street. And I imagine High Street would do the same thing.”

    J.D. Weatherspoon after the Buckeyes wronged their critics by beating top-seeded Syracuse to reach the Final Four – “It’s like we always say, the haters will be our biggest motivators, and that’s how we took it. We let everything just land and we play as a team.”

    Thomas on the same topic – “When people doubt you, you feel sad. But we came together and we were like, ‘Let’s shut everybody up.’ ”

    Lenzelle Smith on the Buckeyes blowing a big lead against Cincinnati in the Sweet 16 – “We got complacent. We got cool. The whole thing with Cincinnati is they’re big, tough guys who turn you over, and I think guys were thinking about that before the game. And at halftime we came back in here and started to think like, ‘Is this Cincinnati? What happened to the guys who make you turn the ball over 20 times?’ And we started to get cool and they came out to ball.”

    Freshman Trey McDonald on recording the first field goal of his college career in the Big Ten Tournament – “It felt good to get it out of the way, and it felt good to get into the offense and just get out there and get a feel for the game. To do it against Michigan was a bonus.”

    Sullinger on ruining Michigan State’s Senior Day – “Honestly, I’m kind of sad about it, because Draymond Green, he deserves everything he gets. I know it’s hard to celebrate that. It’s kind of tough.”

    Tayler Hill on the postseason outlook for the OSU women – “I think we’re tired of just going to the Sweet 16. Winning the Big Ten is great. It’s a great conference. Winning the Big Ten Tournament is great. You’re playing teams three times and it’s hard to overcome that and keep beating them. I think it’s a great accomplishment but we want to look further than that. We want to be on the rise.”

    Michigan coach Brady Hoke on Meyer being his new foe – “We don’t recruit negatively, I’m not going to mention 30 felonies in five years that happened in his previous program.”

    UM basketball coach John Beilein on Trey Burke calling a timeout vs. Ohio State while he was standing on the free-throw line – “I’ve never had that before. He wanted a timeout when he was shooting a foul shot. I didn’t ice him; he needed to get iced. He came over and he just needed to catch his wind. Because when you’ve got that ball in front and you’re being guarded by a kid like Aaron Craft, he can wear you out and get that heart rate up pretty good.”

    Luke Fickell to the media after he was relieved of his duty as head football coach – “I really do appreciate the way you guys have treated me all season. I know you have a job to do, but I really do. I don’t turn on the TV, I don’t listen, so if you said something bad, hey, that’s one thing. If you said something good, I don’t know that either, but I really do appreciate every week how you guys have treated me and the way you’ve handled things.”

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  • The Overlap Of OSU Football & Hoops

    With college football’s regular season now complete and basketball season well underway, it is time to sweep up the loose quotes that remain – but didn’t slip through the grasp of

    This edition is heavy on extra quotes from the second half of the Ohio State football season, which included the Buckeyes’ rally from a loss at Wisconsin, another strong closing run in November as well as a seventh straight win over Michigan and sixth straight Big Ten title.

    Meanwhile, the OSU men’s basketball team opened in the top five of the rankings and quickly moved up to the No. 2 spot, much like Jim Tressel’s football squad. Thad Matta’s hoopsters posted a pair of big wins in the Sunshine State, at Florida and Florida State, thanks to outstanding play from veterans such as David Lighty and eye-opening contributions from freshmen Jared Sullinger and Aaron Craft.

    Also, as usual, a few injuries came to light, most notably Tyler Moeller on the football team and yet another NBA season-ender for former Buckeye Greg Oden.

    Not every entertaining quote made it into the many articles that accompanied those events, but thankfully we still have reason to unveil those missed bites here in Quote Me. They follow:

    Matta on if he sensed a buzz about the Buckeyes after they dominated No. 9 Florida –
    “You guys would know that better than I do. Starbucks, the Schottenstein Center and my house is really all I see. I hope there is. I hope people are excited as we are, as our guys are.”

    Lighty on if the team will be able to replace popular walk-on and blogger Mark Titus – “No, not at all. That’s a legend right there. Mark is going down as a legend. It’ll be a while before someone replaces him.”

    Dallas Lauderdale on if the basketball squad goes out to eat as much now that Evan Turner is departed – “Our whole team likes Genji. We really don’t do Waffle House. That was definitely Evan.”

    Zach Boren after his older brother, Justin, played in his last home game for the Buckeyes – “It’s kind of tough. We’ve still got one more, the bowl game, so I don’t think it’s really hit me yet. But he’s a great guy, the best big brother you can have. He’s always looked out for me and helped me so much since I’ve been here with getting to know the offense and stuff like that. I know we’re going to miss him next year.”

    Matta on what he said via phone to Oden the day before the 7-0 center left for Vail, Colo., for yet another season-ending surgery – “It’s hard to say … you don’t know what to say. It’s only the fourth time I’ve called him at a time like that in a couple years. You hate to see that happen to anybody, but a great kid like Greg, I just want him to get healthy and get a chance to do what he wants to do, and that’s play in the NBA. When he left here I had no doubts he was going to be at this time, four years in the NBA, one of the best centers in the league. It’s unfortunate. He was in great spirits. He was more excited that we won the night before, as only Greg would be. Eventually it may weigh on him, but it’s what he has to do to get where he wants to go. You look last year he was averaging 12 points, 9 and a half rebounds, four blocked shots a game before he went down. Then he has the injury. So it’s there; it’s just a matter of getting him healthy.”

    Miami (Ohio) basketball coach Charlie Coles on Matta, who served two stints as an assistant under Coles – “They’ve got a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful coach. Me and Sean Miller used to always say when we see each other, you talk about all the guys and Thad’s name would come up, we’d say, “Aw, gawd, everything that guy touches turns to gold.’ I don’t know if there’s a coach that’s had his type of success at different places. That guy went to Western Carolina and they went to the (NCAA) tournament – and they were about 9 and 50. For three straight years he went to the tournament as an assistant. It was like eight years, and in his ninth year he had a team that didn’t go to the tournament because of probation. So he’s one of the greats, and I’m not just saying that because I know him. He’s just one of the greats. I mean that. Ohio State’s great and he just recruits his butt off, and he coaches his butt off, too.”

    Matta on the Buckeyes practicing on Thanksgiving – “Thursday we’ll practice, I’m not sure what time, and then they’ll come out to my house for dinner, so I’ve got to start cooking early. Hopefully we’ll have a better practice than we had a couple years ago. I think my wife left 19 voice mails saying, ‘Where are you? Where are you?’ but we weren’t getting practice the way we wanted, so we stayed for four hours and we were a couple hours late for dinner. The veteran players will remember that, that’s for sure.”

    Lighty on the same subject – “We might eat at the gym.”

    Tressel on announcing to the football team that Moeller’s request for another year of eligibility had been approved by the NCAA – “It was a neat thing. He’s had a couple tough things happen and he’s persevered, and usually when you persevere good things happen. So he has an opportunity to play more football, which he loves.”

    Lighty on the idea of quarterback Terrelle Pryor joining the basketball team – “He was a good player. I played against him in AAU. I think we could find a spot for him. I think Coach Matta probably wouldn’t mind that at all. You know, give up a couple fouls for us and play a little defense. I don’t think Tressel will let him so it probably doesn’t matter.”

    Matta on dealing with freshman apprehension – “It’s like the time Greg Oden called me right before he was getting ready to come to college and he says, ‘Coach, what if the other guys on the team don’t like me?’ And I said, ‘Well, they won’t be here then.’ ”

    Tressel on the contrast of the first half against Penn State as compared to the result of the second half – “I remember we were down 17-3 in the national championship game when I was at Youngstown and we came back and won. That was a contrast. I probably wouldn’t be here if we hadn’t won.”

    Justin Boren on hearing boos at the end of the first half against PSU – “They’re our fans. They probably just weren’t happy with what they saw. To be honest with you, I don’t blame them. We didn’t execute very well.”

    Defensive lineman Dexter Larimore on OSU rallying from a 14-3 deficit against the Nittany Lions and winning 38-14 – “It’s a little scary when it’s happening but it is a lot more fun when you win those kind of games because you’ve shown yourself you can handle those adversities. That’s what it’s kind of all about. As a team, if you can come together, understand what’s going wrong and be resilient and come through with a victory, that’s a lot more fun after the game than just pounding a team.”

    Larimore on Tressel’s impassioned halftime speech that afternoon – “Since it’s so uncharacteristic it really gets you pumped up and ready to go. He can kind of came out and said, ‘Hey, we need to play with some heart. We need to come out and attack. We need to get after these guys,’ and he’s speaking loud. It’s a little bit different than what he kind of normally does. I think it helped give us a spark.”

    Co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell on interest from other schools – “Am I being recruited? The Arena League called me about seven or eight years ago about long snapping.”

    Linebacker Brian Rolle on if the Buckeyes were ho-hum about winning a sixth straight Big Ten title – “Winning doesn’t get old. It doesn’t get old at all. And if they say that, I don’t know what sport they’re playing.”

    Matta on freshman point guard Aaron Craft, who wasn’t even a top-100 recruit according to some services – “I think Aaron is going to be a heck of a basketball player. I don’t know if he’s a one-and-done. I hope he is.”

    Tressel on good friend and Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio lobbying for a spot in the BCS, which would have come at the expense of Ohio State – “I’d be disappointed with Mark or Michigan State as a whole if they didn’t stand up and say, ‘Hey, wait a minute, what about us?’ ”

    Tressel at his Dec. 5 press conference on if he received any special gifts for his 58th birthday that day – “Yeah, the Sugar Bowl. How many people got a Sugar Bowl for their birthday? That’s pretty cool. I haven’t been home yet. I’m hoping to get maybe a tie.”

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OSU ended the season with two straight losses, allowing 34 points in the B1G title game with Michigan State and 40 more vs. Clemson in the Orange Bowl. The D needs work, but what should Urban Meyer fix first?

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