Buckeyes Arrive in Phoenix Minus Several Players
By John Porentas
The first of two Buckeye Charters to the Fiesta Bowl site in Arizona touched down at 10:15 local time today. It carried most of the OSU assistant coaches, the medical staff, and other support persons.
The second plane arrived at about 10:30. It carried OSU Head Coach Jim Tressel and his wife, Director of Athletics Gene Smith and his wife, a number of OSU walkons, and other members of the OSU support staff.
In his remarks to the media Tressel said that he was more excited about this game than any other post-season game in his entire career as a head coach.
"I was sitting across the aisle from Bob Tucker and I mentioned to him that I'm getting up there in years and this is my 43rd post-season football game that I've coached. I told him that for whatever reason, I'm more excited about this one than any other game I've ever been a part of. There's something special about the people here at the Fiesta Bowl.
"There's something special about this team of ours, we have 28 great seniors who have been as unselfish as any group I've ever been around.
"And to play against a team like the University of Texas who we admire and have so much respect for Coach Brown and his staff and his team and their fans. We know they just love clean, hard, tough football," said Tressel.
"There's nothing like being part of a team, part of a family, and the fact that we get to spend seven or eight more days together is something special."
Most of the OSU team flew out on commercial flights, and according to Tressel, all of the players who have been practicing and whom the coaching staff is counting on were accounted for except four. Three players, Beanie Wells, Maurice Wells and Marcus Freeman, were stuck at the Columbus airport due to a mechanical failure on an aircraft. According to Tressel, the airline had dispatched a truck to Pittsburgh to pick up a necessary part and the flight would take off for Phoenix as soon as the plane in Columbus was repaired. Also stranded was freshman wide receiver Devier Posey whose flight has not yet left Dayton.
Tressel was asked about reports that his team was practicing offensive sets with both Todd Boeckman and Terrelle Pryor on the field. Tressel confirmed that report. When reminded that there were reports that the Buckeyes practiced a similar setup last year for the bowl game using Antonio Henton, but that the formation never materialized in the game, Tressel responded "We talked about that (using Henton with Boeckman) in early bowl practice. We didn't talk about it that much at the end. We're talking about it at the end this year."
The Buckeyes are appearing in the Fiesta Bowl for the fifth time in Tressel's eight years at Ohio State. The frequency, said Tressel, does not diminish from the excitement his team feels for being here.
"It's not like putting on the same coat and the same pair of shoes again, because you have a different group of kids. There are some of our guys who have been here before, but over half of our team has just heard about how wonderful this is,:" said Tressel.