Tressel introduces Fickell as interim coach.

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Last updated: 03/30/2011 5:37 PM
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Press Conference Recap: Tressel Introduces Fickell as Interim Coach
By Brandon Castel

COLUMBUS, Ohio — We already knew that Jim Tressel would not be on the sideline for Ohio State’s first five games in 2011, but now we know who will.

Assistant Head Coach Luke Fickell
Luke Fickell

With only a handful of options to choose from, the Buckeyes have promoted linebackers coach Luke Fickell to assistant head coach. The 37-year old will run the team on game days for the first five weeks as the interim head coach, Tressel announced Wednesday at his first press conference of the spring (link to my other piece).

Below is a complete recap of Wednesday’s press conference, with updates from both Tressel and Fickell.

* Tressel could not talk about the NCAA investigation into his violations, but did say it has been “a difficult last couple months” for him and that he is sorry for the mistakes he made. He said the toughest part of the whole ordeal was letting people down.

“The largest regrets I’ve had in my life have been when I’ve disappointed people, when I’ve let people down,” he said.

“The mistakes I’ve made are very disappointing. I’m sorry for that, as I’ve mentioned many times.”

Despite the rumors floating around, primarily on the internet, Tressel said he never considered resigning and hasn’t heard the rumors he might be leaving Ohio State. He said his main concern is for the kids and doing what’s best for them.

Tressel also said he hasn’t had much time for reflection over the past few months in terms of whether or not this changes his thoughts about coaching past his existing contract.

* Tressel said he has been amazed at the attitude and leadership of the 5 suspended players this off-season. Every one of them has taken on a leadership role in his position group. He said that Terrelle Pryor will get his boot off next week, but probably still won’t participate in spring practice.

* Fickell will be the interim head coach, and the man in charge, for the first five games while Tressel serves his suspension. Fickell was quick to say that this is still Tressel’s team and that he will only build on the foundation that has been laid over the last 10 years.

Fickell said of his alma Mater, “I know, love and respect it with all my heart. It’s something I’m truly proud of.” He also said that “this place is not about one person, not even coach Tressel.”

He also said, “We know whose team it is. It’s our team. It’s the seniors’ team.”

* Although Tressel will not be on the field for the first five games, he believes he will continue to coach the team during the week. He said he feels he owes Ohio State 24/7, but for five weeks it will only be 24/6, meaning he will continue with everything he does, except coaching the game Saturday. He said that the 7th day is the one you love.

Tressel will continue to serve as the head coach through the spring and summer. Fickell will be the assistant head coach, but they won’t really discuss how things are going to be handled in the fall until after the spring is over.

* As far as play-calling goes, Tressel says not much will change because “we don’t have that many different plays.” He said that Jim Bollman likes to have the game plan in place by Wednesday night, but it’s always a committee.

* Tressel said this will be a different type of spring because they are heavy at certain positions and thin at others. The two he highlighted as being thin are offensive line and receiver. There are only 10 offensive linemen on the roster, including freshman Tommy Brown, who enrolled for spring.

Because of that, he expects a different format for the spring game, but said that they want to make it a more competitive event this year than in years past, at the request of the players.

Tressel said the two most important things this spring are figuring out what they can do and figuring out where the leadership will come from. Named off a bunch of upper-classmen, but I think they really expect Tyler Moeller, Andrew Sweat, John Simon, Michael Brewster and Jake Stoneburner to be big-time leaders for this team.

Fickell said that they lost 1,100 production points off their defense from last year, the most since the 2005 season.

* Tressel said that his staff visited with Dick LeBeau and the Pittsburgh Steelers this off-season, because the OSU defense is very similar to the one LeBeau runs. He said his staff also visited LSU, the New Orleans Saints, Oklahoma, the Atlanta Falcons and the University of Georgia.

* Tressel said that Marcus Hall had his best academic quarter ever this winter, and the same goes for for Solomon Thomas and Dominic Clarke. He said he told Malcolm Jenkins that Clarke had really made a significant jump after playing in the Sugar Bowl.

Tressel said that Kirk Barton named freshman TE Jeff Heuerman is MVP of the weight room. He said “you’re going to be impressed with him.

Tressel said Drew Basil would be the kicker and kickoff guy if there were a game tomorrow, but he and Ben Buchanan will compete at both spots this spring.

Tressel said he’s excited to watch the quarterback battle and see who can produce, and who can “lead the offense down the field.”

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