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Established October 31, 1996
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Last updated: 06/28/2011 9:48 PM

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Buckeyes Moving Forward After Tearful Goodbye
By Brandon Castel

COLUMBUS, Ohio — It wasn’t easy to say goodbye to Jim Tressel, not for the family of players and coaches he had assembled in Columbus as the head football coach at the Ohio State University.

“It was rough for all of us,” junior John Simon said Tuesday.

“I think he did what’s best for the team and that’s the kind of guy he is, but at the end of the day we have to move on and (Luke Fickell) is our guy.”

Mike Brewster
Photo by Jim Davidson
Mike Brewster

Center Michael Brewster said there were tears in the locker room when the players found out Tressel was stepping down as the head coach after more than a decade at the helm of the Buckeyes.

“After we lost coach Tress, it was hard, especially right when you find out,” the senior center said.

“But you move on and coach ‘Fick’ is our head coach now. I have all the confidence in the world in him. I’m sure this is his dream, not this way, but we’re going to give him our best to make sure he can stick around.”

During his introductory press conference as the new head coach at Ohio State, Fickell stressed that he would have the program moving forward and not looking back what used to be or constantly reminiscing about what they have gone through.

“The 2011 Buckeyes will not be about comparing and contrasting what we've done before,” the 37-year old first-time head coach said.

“But what we believe we need to do to move forward.”

Because of the timing of Tressel’s resignation, which took place back on Memorial Day, Fickell hasn’t had much opportunity to spend time with the team since he isn’t allowed to watch summer workouts. It appears like their getting the message anyway.

“We haven’t missed a beat to be honest,” Brewster said of the team’s response to such a drastic change during the offseason.

“I think people think we’re just sitting around crying after everything that happened, but we’re more pissed off and we’re more ready to go than ever.”

This team has been through turmoil before. First with losing back-to-back national championship games in 2007-08 and then with the initial NCAA investigation into the violations committed by Pryor, DeVier Posey and four other teammates.

Like the times before, the adversity seems to have brought the team together.

“I would say we rallied together,” Simon said.

“It showed us that we need each other more than ever and it really showed during workouts and practice. It’s turned out to be a positive.”

The Buckeyes will be without their head coach and their star quarterback Terrelle Pryor this fall, along with a talented group of seniors, but they aren’t going to hand over the conference championship without a fight.

And expectations won’t stop there, Tressel or no Tressel.

“Our goal is always to go undefeated,” Brewster said.

“That’s a tall order but you have to take it one week at a time, one day at a time. You can’t lose a day. You need every day of lifting and conditioning.”

Even with a commitment to getting better and a desire to prove the world wrong, the 2011 Buckeyes would still not appear to be as strong as their 2010 counterparts. Along with the loss of Pryor, they will be without Herron, Posey and Mike Adams for the first five games of the year. That includes a trip to Miami (Fla.) and a visit from Michigan State, but this team isn’t thinking about a 9-3 season.

“No absolutely not, especially with Fick being head coach,” Brewster said.

“That’s not the plan and I know myself and the other seniors are not going to let that happen. There’s plenty of talent here to get the job done and get what we want done.”

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