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  • Tressel, Fickell, Matta And More

    With the 2011 college football season well under way – and so many side stories emerging as the Buckeyes faced their preconference schedule – it was near impossible to find room for every interesting utterance related to Ohio State athletics and beyond.

    So, as is SportsRappUp.com tradition, we are now taking the time to present the useful quotes that got away.

    This time we look back mainly on an Ohio State football program that was still dealing with offseason scandal and the loss of 10-year head coach Jim Tressel. His replacement, Luke Fickell, has been busy since the beginning of June running the Buckeyes and answering media queries.

    Also over the summer and into the fall, ex-Buckeye Eddie George talked about his appointment to the College Football Hall of Fame, Terrelle Pryor was trying to position himself for the NFL, Thad Matta was after more topflight basketball recruits and OSU student-athletes past and present weighed in on a variety of topics.

    So the following is our latest rendition of Quote Me, a compilation of the sentences that were just too good to completely disappear:

    Fickell on the Buckeyes’ embarrassing 24-6 loss at Miami (Fla.) Sept. 17 – “Well, I didn’t see a lack of fight. That’s the thing that we’re going to continue to focus on. You say we didn’t respond to adversity. Now, we didn’t make some plays. That doesn’t always mean we didn’t always handle it the right way.”

    Tressel, during an on-air interview with Mike Trivisonno of Cleveland radio station WTAM (1100 AM), on if the punishment of losing his job amid a pending NCAA investigation was too severe – “I’ve had more blessings than things that are unfair.”

    Tressel in the same radio interview on the temptations for student-athletes who are in the spotlight – “Kids don’t go out and search for things. It’s the adults who want to be near them that make things happen.”

    Basketball mega-recruit DaJuan Coleman, a 6-9 center from DeWitt, N.Y., on why he’s giving Ohio State strong consideration even when comparing the program to North Carolina, Arizona, Texas, Kansas and Florida – “The way they produce big men and the way they go inside. They go inside first. Every time they run a play the big always touches the ball first and they run the play through him. So that stands out a lot.”

    Fickell on his new salary of just over $700,000, up from $250,000 – “I’m not focused on that one bit. I’ve never known what I’ve made since I’ve probably started (in coaching). You can talk to my wife if there are any questions there. I’ve never seen a paycheck. If I tried to sign one, they would probably return it to me because this (signature) isn’t who it is. If they aksed me to take this job and they said, ‘We weren’t going to change your pay,’ I’d still do it. Maybe that sounds crazy, and maybe at home sometimes maybe they don’t think that’s the greatest thing in the world, but that’s the way I feel about it.”

    OSU All-American center Mike Brewster on the progress of running back Boom Herron, who is suspended for the first five games of the season – “Boom’s been doing a great job. I felt like a lot of last year he was a real downhill runner. He’s been making great cuts this camp and really moving laterally very well. I’m really excited to see how he does when he gets back.”

    Ohio State basketball star Jared Sullinger on his impressions of Kentucky freshman center Anthony Davis after playing against him at a summer all-star camp – “He’s good. He’s real good. For him to make that change from being 6-4 to now 6-10, sometimes that’s an awkward thing and you’re not used to your body. Anthony didn’t change. Nothing changed about him. He’s still able to play the way that he plays. And it seems like he gained skill.”

    Brewster on Pryor’s outlook at the NFL level – “I think he can do it with some work, and he’s got a great work ethic. So I think the sky’s the limit for him. I don’t think he’s tapped into his full potential yet. I think he has a great chance.”

    Buckeye basketball commitment Marc Loving of Toledo on how Evan Turner has motivated him – “Evan’s a cool kid. He worked on his game a lot at Ohio State and Coach Matta really pushed him and helped him to be the player he is today. That was really good for me to see.”

    Ex-Buckeye David Lighty on the satisfaction of pursuing his professional basketball dream after having already graduated – “Coach (Matta) always would tell us once you get that diploma there’s no greater feeling than having it in your hand.”

    Ex-OSU linebacker Jerry Rudzinski, a team captain in 1998, on his reaction to Tressel’s resignation on Memorial Day – “I think it’s been every bit as emotional as it has been for the fans, maybe more so. You talk about shock. I was in the camp thinking it would be Jim Tressel roaming our sidelines, not only for next year but for many years moving forward. Jim Tressel remains one of my ultimate heroes. I felt disappointment, but mostly that some people may not have appreciated all the good that Jim Tressel did. We witnessed amazing history over the last 10 years.”

    Larry James, Pryor’s attorney, on why his client decided to cut off discussions with NCAA investigators – “They’re not going to give him or any other student-athlete any due process rights to speak of, so he’s moved on.”

    Former Ohio State tailback Maurice Clarett, speaking on “The Dan Patrick Show,” on his opinions of Tressel’s actions – “Do I consider him a cheater? No, absolutely not. He cares about people. While I have this time and while he’s off I want to spend as much times as I can around him to gain a better understanding on how he came to be where he is. He has good intentions. Coach Tressel is not a cheater at all.”

    George on speculation that he also is in line to some day be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton – “That would be incredible, the coup de grace. That’s the last one. I guess that’s the capstone. To dawn the yellow jacket and have the opportunity to have someone special give a speech for you and you give your speech in your final moment of your professional career would be amazing. I hope and pray that one day I’ll have the opportunity to do that, and that the writers and powers-that-be that make those decisions will recognize what I’ve done for the game and how the game has impacted my life. Hopefully they’ll recognize that it was Hall of Fame-worthy.”

    Sullinger on whether he believes Ohio State now has an elite men's basketball program – “That’s for you all to determine. That’s why you all are called the media. You all determine a lot of things: coach of the year, the best players, who’s No. 1 in the poll. So you all determine that. But at the time, I think we are.”

    Matta upon hearing that Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo criticized Ohio State for relying on too many one-and-done players and saying he strives for a mix of youth and veteran leadership – “I think that’s easier said than done, what Coach Izzo is saying, because if Kosta Koufos, B.J. Mullens and Daequan Cook were from Michigan, he would have taken them. That’s the thing. Of the five freshmen we lost, three of them were from the state of Ohio. Greg (Oden) and Michael (Conley) were from Indy, which is kind of home to me.”

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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 SportsRappUp.com.

    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 SportsRappUp.com 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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  • Midseason Football Goodies

    With college football’s regular season now more than halfway complete, it is time to sweep up the loose quotes that remain – but didn’t slip the grasp of SportsRappUp.com.

    Ohio State has suffered a loss at the hands of Wisconsin but the journey to that point has been eventful as the team has dealt with high expectations, injuries to key players, constant questions regarding the development of quarterback Terrelle Pryor, rankings, etc.

    Even during the Buckeyes’ 6-0 start, there were challenges and some personal moments of doubt. And there were interviews sessions – lots and lots of interview sessions.

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

    Former Michigan and current Patriots quarterback Tom Brady talking about UM on the “Mad Dog” radio show – “If you can’t beat Ohio State it’s a waste of a season as far as I’m concerned.”

    Pryor upon hearing that Michigan QB Denard Robinson was injured over the weekend – “Hopefully he recovers very soon, hopefully he doesn’t have a lot of pain and he’s back on the field this weekend. He’s electrifying. That’s the word I would come up with when you bring up Denard Robinson.”

    OSU defense end Cameron Heyward on Robinson’s impressive start – “He’s definitely been explosive. He’s running up and down the field. No one’s been able to stop him.”

    Senior defensive back Tyler Moeller on why he would apply for a medical redshirt after another painful, season-ending injury – “Why would I want to keep playing football? Because I love it. People look at my situation and feel sorry for me and a lot of people have been through worse than me.”

    Wide receiver DeVier Posey on his daily motivation – “The guys I get dressed with in the locker room every day are some of my best friends. Those are some of the guys what are probably going to be in my wedding one day. Anytime you can add that element into it, having a friend play next to you, it just gives you that extra edge. It makes you want to fight for your teammate. I really feel like that’s the difference, how close we are.”

    Defensive coordinator Jim Heacock when asked to explain how Eastern Michigan QB Alex Gillett was able to hit some big passing plays against the Buckeyes – “But if you watch the film from last week, if you’d seriously sit down and watch it … or if you called him and asked him, he’d say he got hit pretty good.”

    Center Mike Brewster, a Florida native, just days before the Buckeyes were about to host the Miami Hurricanes, explaining his decision to attend Ohio State – “I caught a lot of stuff from people like, ‘Why are you going to go there? They can’t beat the big SEC teams. They can’t beat Florida. Why don’t you just go to Florida?’ I just went with my gut instinct and got as many good guys around me as I could. I surrounded myself with a lot of great talent, which added into the talent that was already here – we’ve all just kind of jelled as a class this year – it’s paying off right now.”

    OSU head coach Jim Tressel on Brutus Buckeye being attacked by Rufus Bobcat – “That was a different one. I was standing at the National Anthem and I heard some of our guys talking, ‘Hey, did you see that mascot?’ And I’m thinking, ‘You’re thinking about the mascot?’ I didn’t know it was live mascot week (as in live tackling). And I saw Brutus over at the Block O event last night and asked him if he was going to be ready for Saturday, and he’s probable from an injury report standpoint.”

    Posey on the prospect of facing his brother, Julian, a cornerback for Ohio University – “I remember last time we played my freshman year he told me he was going to line up and hit me in my face for all the times he left the living room and I stole the remote or I took his seat when we were at the dinner table or something.”

    Posey on the matchup after the game – “I was hoping I could have gotten him on the ground. That would have been something nice that I could have bragged about. And I wanted to give him a stiff-arm because he thinks he knows all my moves and I wanted to bring something new.”

    Offensive guard Justin Boren on wanting to win the battle up front with the Bobcats – “Some of our offensive linemen are getting absolutely killed, and that’s something where you can’t take it for granted. I don’t think you need motivation. We watched the film, we saw what happened in ’08, and we know we can’t let that happen this year.”

    Cornerback Devon Torrence on how teammate C.J. Barnett immediately dealt with news that he would be lost for the season with a knee injury – “C.J., he’s a cool kid, man. He’s not down or anything like that. He’s a happy, joking guy all the time, so he’s not really down. He’s doing all right. We’ll keep our prayers with him and he should be back soon.”

    Tressel on Heyward’s 80-yard interception return against Miami (Fla.) – “That play was extraordinary because it was down in the red zone. I was shocked how far he got. I kept thinking that someone was going to catch up to him and strip the ball a la (Maurice) Clarett and Sean Taylor because he was swinging it out there. The other impact it had is he was tired for about 15 minutes. That was a long run for a big guy.”

    Linebacker Brian Rolle after the win over the ’Canes – “We’ve got a little swagger ourselves and I feel like our defense out-swagged theirs.”

    Brewster on how much he considered going to Miami before opting for OSU – “In ninth grade I really wanted to go there. Then they fired all their coaches. Obviously things change.”

    Wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher on where he was when the Buckeyes beat Miami in January 2003 to claim the national championship – “I was in seventh grade, I want to say, and I was at my friend’s house back in Toledo, Ohio. You’re not in junior high sitting there on the couch watching Mike Doss and all those great players thinking, ‘Oh, yeah, that could be me one day as well.’ ”

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  • A Quotable Ode To ET

    This time we felt it was only appropriate to dedicate this space entirely to Evan Turner, who continues to mop up All-American appointments and college basketball player of the year awards at a dizzying pace.

    The 6-7 Turner, as expected, announced July 7 that he would forgo his senior season at Ohio State to pursue early entry into the NBA draft. He doesn’t yet have an agent but likely will retain David Falk, who famously handles Michael Jordan.

    A product of the town Jordan once ruled, Chicago, Turner is now a household name himself and could be the first or second player taken in the June draft.

    In further tribute to one of the greatest seasons ever logged on the hardwood by a Buckeye, the following is a look back at some of the comments from and about Turner that didn’t appear previously in other articles:

    OSU head coach Thad Matta on wanting Turner to tighten up his handle once the decision was made to shift him to point guard –
    “That and quick decisions. Those were the two areas we talked the most about in the offseason. If you remember last year or the first two years, when he’d make a move his head would be over his toes. So balance was a big issue for him. I think we even showed him one time Beanie Wells running through a hole that he was parallel because it was a point of explosion. I think those are the things that he took to heart and got better at.

    “I’ve been very pleased with his decision making and his aggressive patience, if you will, of kind of when to go, when to wait on things. I think he’s done a great job with it.”

    Matta on Turner not being able to log time at PG once David Lighty was injured and lost for the season – “His freshman year we started him at the point one time against Wisconsin and he threw the advance pass to a Bucknut in the eighth row the first play of the game. But when Dave went down we had to kind of use him as a point forward last year.”

    Matta on his hunch about Turner’s junior year – “When we went to Canada and we got back a couple weeks later and I saw the improvement he had made from playing in the games up there to how much better he was in practice, I was very excited about what he was going to bring to the table. And I felt like offensively we were able to come up with enough things that, in case there was ever a problem, we could manage it throughout the course of a game. We’ve got a lot of different things we can do with him to move him around.”

    Lighty on how Turner endured fractures in his lower back against Eastern Michigan in early December, an injury that cost him six games in midseason – “He was down, but who wouldn’t be. I told him, ‘Don’t make this be a burden on your heart’ or think that he let the team down.”

    Turner on the same topic – “It could have been way worse. I could have tilted a little bit more and hit the top part of my spine or hit my head or it could have been way worse. I was really blessed. I just hurt my L-2 and L-3.”

    Matta on not having Turner for a month but being told he could be out for eight weeks – “The hard part was the unknown of knowing when he was coming back. (It was) a little bit different from Greg Oden when you knew when he was coming, but you didn’t know exactly what you were going to get. With Evan it was, ‘Hopefully we can get back to this stage and get a little bit better.’ ”

    Turner on his pursuit of a Big Ten title – “That’s an extremely big deal. There’s nothing like winning, because if you don’t win what you did the whole time doesn’t really matter.”

    Lighty on Turner’s offbeat personality – “He’s just different. Like we go out to eat or something, he’ll just order steak and bread, like a plain steak with nothing on it. That’s what he’ll eat. If his food is touching, he won’t eat it. He’s a little different in his own way.”

    Teammate and roommate Jon Diebler on the same subject – “He’s so unique because when you see him on the court you think, ‘Man, this guy is crazy’ because he’s so competitive and emotional. But off the court he’s completely different. He’s a funny guy who likes to crack jokes. It’s almost like two different people.”

    Turner on himself – “I think I’m more different than people perceive I am. Like a lot of people who meet me say, “I thought you’d be like this, I thought you’d be like that.

    “If my food is touching on my plate, I’m not eating it. I won’t eat anything that’s white. I can’t really do that. It’s just all mental with me. I’m weird about certain stuff.

    “I’m a normal kid but I like weird stuff. People always tell me, ‘You’re weird, but I love you to death.’ ”

    Matta on how his star player dealt with all the fanfare and distractions during the season – “I think that he’s done a fabulous job of keeping the focus on the right things and knowing that if he would want to pursue that he’s done everything he was supposed to do leading up to it.”

    Diebler after the season-ending loss to Tennessee on whether or not Turner would consider returning for his senior season – “There is that slight chance because he is such a competitor and he’s got that bad taste in his mouth. He hates losing. Knowing the guy, it’s the worst thing to him. It doesn’t matter what he’s doing. He does not like to lose.”

    Turner, during the season, on the idea of returning for his senior season – “If I stay, it wouldn’t hurt. I’m going to get better as a basketball player and keep maturing as a person. We have a great class coming in. We have great players who are going to be returning. It’s only going to go up and up.”

    Turner admitting he looked into leaving at the end of his sophomore season – “When I first found out I could I thought, ‘That would be cool,’ but at the same time what really just stuck with me was realizing I hadn’t done anything. I hadn’t left my mark. If I never win a Big Ten title or anything that would nag at me for the rest of my life.”

    Turner on the human temptation to look ahead – “In that certain situation, how could you not get anxious. Let’s compare it to you guys working all day and you’re super hungry. You might be rushing through stuff to try to hurry up and get home and get food. That’s kind of how it is sometimes, unless you have a certain type of discipline and certain type of patience it’s almost hard.”

    Turner on why he wears No. 21 now – “One of my good friends, John Moll, he passed away when we were sophomores in high school. He was No. 21 and when I got here I had the opportunity to wear No. 21. He had dreams to play big-time basketball. He wasn’t fortunate enough to do it and I was. This is a way to represent him. A lot of people loved him.”

    OSU quarterback Terrelle Pryor on watching Turner this season – “Evan Turner is a beast, man. I can’t even go watch him because I miss basketball so much. That’s my favorite sport. But I have a love for football, too.”

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Quote Me

From time to time, we will take a look back at some of the more interesting remarks we came across, funny quips or meaningful statements that may have been bypassed. Here is a sampling:

 
 
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