Here’s selected quotes from various Ohio State Buckeye coaches and players at the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game in Phoenix, Arizona:
Q. Guys, can you talk about you have been here in Arizona a few times now this time of year, can you talk about the familiarity with Arizona and if you think that gives you any advantage at all? We will start with Troy?
TROY SMITH: The first thing that I am most familiar with is In-and-Out Burger, which is around the corner from our hotel. Probably the height of my day every day getting a chance to go to In-and-Out burger. I love those cheeseburgers.
DOUG DATISH: In-and-Out Burger is very good. But also I have to say that the Princess is a pretty great place. I think having that sense of familiarity is definitely something that I appreciate. We are not seeing many new things, although this media day is pretty new for me.
But other than that, it will pretty much the same thing. I don’t know if it gives us any sort of advantage. We both have to play the games. Who knows.
ANTONIO PITTMAN: This being only my second time out here compared to these guys, I have been out here a couple times by now. I am really just getting to see everything and just take everything in. I am enjoying it.
Q. Another thing with the long lay off, there are a few theories whether it is good, bad or indifferent. What do you guys of think of that? Does it help or make any difference?
TROY SMITH: For everybody who thinks this is a lay off, I wish they could come and practice with us for the days we were supposedly off. It is never—it wasn’t off the whole time. We have been practicing. What people don’t understand is sometimes practices are more brutal than the games, simply because the preparation for the games is everything. When you prepare well, you play well. And being in the situation that we have been in that many practice days thus far is really helped us to become a better team.
Q. For all you guys, the Big 10, two Bowl games on New Year’s day, how closely do you follow that and root for other teams in the conference and how important is it for yourselves to represent the conference in this game?
DOUG DATISH: I think that—I do follow it personally. I think that—I try to root for the Big 10 teams. Those are the guys we play. Those are the guys we know about. We know different guys from different squads from going to All-Star games and things like that. I think it is a tremendous honor to play for a conference like the Big 10. Any time we go out to representing them, too.
ANTONIO PITTMAN: I feel the Big 10, I root for those guys also. I’m a big fan of Wisconsin. You know, I like the way they go out there and they play. But I was happy that they won.
Q. Troy, the way you have been using your speed obviously is another thing for defenses. Have you seen the kind of speed the linebackers have had this season? Do you approach the game a little different, maybe gone back a little more? How do you approach that?
TROY SMITH: I think a lot of times and thus far during the coverage of their defense, we don’t give the line backers in the Big 10 enough credit. Because we face guys all the time that are very, very fast, extremely talented and just as strong as the guys that the Gators are going to bring.
But, I am a firm believer in giving respect when respect is due. And any time you play a defense like this whom their front four is just as fast as their line backers, their line backers are just as fast as their safeties and so on and so forth, you have to give respect. They do have great linebackers.
Q. When Clarett was here a bunch of years ago, there was talk about guys behaving badly in the program and arrests. Can you talk about the transformation for you guys and it seems now that the program is very clean?
TROY SMITH: I don’t want to say when he was here the situation was totally opposite than what it is now. Don’t get me wrong, there are guys in situations that you want don’t approve of. I guess now there is a better sense of decision-making. I mean, it is not like one guy just made the situation the way it was because everybody, you know, at the end of the night—you look at yourself in the mirror and you make your own decisions.
We just have guys who are, you know, very, very in tune with what’s going on and obviously the situations in the past have helped them in their decision-making now.
Q. Troy, can you just describe the last month or so winning the Heisman, whirlwind, doing the late-night talk shows and all that and if at all it has affected your preparation for this game?
TROY SMITH: It hasn’t affected my preparation for the game because any time I am in a situation to where I can give back, I give back to my teammates. I think bringing them and putting them into the situation where they can get just as much notoriety as I am getting, that levels everything out. I don’t take it as if it is just me in a situation. I try to bring it and incorporate them into everything that they have done and obviously it has paid off because I haven’t pulled my hair out yet.
So the guys have helped me thus far. They helped me on the field and they helped me off the field also.
Q. Troy, at times in your life when maybe things weren’t going exactly the way you wanted in high school and early in your college career, whom did you turn to to keep you straight, to give you guidance and to—who do you credit to making you, I guess, the man that you are?
TROY SMITH: First off, God. You know, praying day in and day out really settles me and helps me come to ease and get a better sense of what’s going on in the day. And, obviously, any time you want to be in a situation where you want positive things to happen to you, you look for somebody who has been through those kind of situations and that are positive people. In that case, I look to my mother. I look to Ted Ginn, Sr. I look to Coach Jim Tressel. I look to my closest friends back home in Cleveland, and I also look to my teammates.
Any time you can have that kind of support system around you, you can’t fail.
Q. I have two questions. Troy, I would like you to compare the 2002 Buckeyes with the 2007 Gators. If you see similarities there, especially in the underdog role. But for starters, Antonio, do you and Chris talk about the fact nobody has run on Florida this year? Do you like that challenge? And what are some of the strengths and weaknesses you see in Florida’s defense?
ANTONIO PITTMAN: On film, they haven’t shown to many weaknesses. They go out there and a lot of teams haven’t put any good yardage up against them except Auburn. They ran the ball very well but they also sacked the quarterback five times.
As far as me and Benny go, we make it a challenge upon ourselves to go out there and get the job done. His success is my success and vice versa.
TROY SMITH: I really can’t make that comparison simply because I am not in the state of Florida. I don’t know any of the guys on their team. I can only talk about the people that I have had an encounter with and that I know. It is incredible to me how people make assumptions along the lines of trying to get some kind of hoopla started. The 2002 team to me is totally different from the 2007, 2016 from Florida. Literally, they are in two different states. Literally they are two different teams. We have different coaches. So to me they’re not the same at all.
Q. The one thing for all you guys is the fact that Ohio State throughout the last four, five years has played in so many big games. I mean, the Michigan game this year was obviously massive and for many of you guys who are fifth-year you have already played a national title game and seen it in person. Where does this register in importance to you guys in terms of what it means to the program, what it means to you personally, and the fact that you have played in so many big games? Does that ease you into getting ready for a game like this?
ANTONIO PITTMAN: I think playing in a game like this doesn’t ease anything. I think it make it is more stressful. Like Troy was saying earlier, he is anxious about getting this game started. And I think this is probably the biggest game in all of our career. You know, a lot of us will go on and play in Super Bowls and probably for some of us this will be our last game. This is something you remember forever.
Q. Troy, can you talk about the Cleveland connection with the players on your team? I talked to Teddy and Gonzo about it. You guys playing together, coming together and playing in this big game together. Is there a special bond there because you guys all came from the same roots?
TROY SMITH: I try not to do that, try to say that there is something special here and not there because I think you take away from other players on the team who you have a bond with. I think as a quarterback and as a leader, you have to be able to talk and be friends before everybody. You are not going to be able to do that sometimes but the majority of the time when you can, you should take advantage of it.
You know, for those out there who don’t know, we have adopted a couple guys from Akron, too, Antonio Pittman and Benny Wells are now from Cleveland also. So I would like to get that out there (smiling).
Q. Troy, can you talk a little bit about the challenges you had growing up and how it has molded you as a man? I recently read where you said you want to go back to the Cleveland mean streets to help the work to help out some of the kids. What’s your vision for that?
TROY SMITH: Growing up, I never liked to try to put a crutch on my situation because kids everywhere go through things, you know. It is going to be tough. It is going to be hard. That’s life.
Some of the things that you might go through might be different from mine but who is to say my struggles are deeper than yours, you know.
I love my city. I love where I am from. They are not mean streets either. They are the main streets. I just want to change my city. I want to make it better for the kids coming up now because a better city, a better situation, better chances and opportunities for kids growing up.
But then at the same time, if I go back into the community and I take some of the things away that made me who I am, how will they find their identity? It is a catch-22.
Q. I would like to start off with Troy but like his teammates to answer this, too. Big-time college football is generating more money than it ever has. With given your pressures and time demands as students and athletes, do you think it is time that the NCAA allow players to be paid some sort of stipend beyond scholarships?
TROY SMITH: I think that’s a whole different world and we start a whole different kind of uproar. I think we should just talk about Florida and Ohio State. And I am going to pass that question. Doug?
DOUG DATISH: You know, I am not an expert on what type of economic issues that deals with. I know what we get is sufficient enough for us to live and eat. And other than that, all we do is play football and go to class. We don’t have much time to get money for anything else. But that’s definitely something for the presidents and various members of the NCAA administration to decide.
ANTONIO PITTMAN: I’d rather not preach on that topic (smiling).
Q. I was going to ask Doug and Antonio about winning the battle in the trenches because both teams have huge offensive lines and big backs. Do you expect to be kind of a power game that way?
DOUG DATISH: I don’t know if it is going to be a power game. I think any time we go into a football game we preach several things and one of those things is to win the rushing battle. Any time we can do that generally we will be successful. That’s a huge emphasis for us going into any game, especially this one.
ANTONIO PITTMAN: I take it as a challenge. You know, my job is to go out there and work as a team. Me and Benny both take that personal. We go out there and get the job done. It makes Troy’s job a lot easier, just like when he was out there passing the ball, it makes my job easier. Both ways, we try to get it done.
Q. A lot of people have made the assumption that Florida has more speed than Ohio State. Are you tired of hearing that assumption? And secondly, do they actually have more speed?
TROY SMITH: I guess it—you know, it depends on what you define as speed. Don’t get me wrong, they definitely have guys that can run, but the way that it has been portrayed is like, I guess, we have been winning our games by walking and jogging. It is like our guys haven’t been running.
Again, I think if you buy into that and feed into that hoopla, that’s another added thing—that’s another pitfall, that’s another trap. I think that’s one of their team’s upsides is their speed.
In any situation, that can be countered. So with a great emphasis on game planning and our coaches and our staff doing an extremely—you know, they are the best to me at getting us ready for the games. There is no doubt in my mind we will be ready.
DOUG DATISH: Like what Troy said, I think we got some guys that can move a little bit. I haven’t heard anybody not talk about Ted Ginn and how fast he is and I personally know how fast he is. He is one of the fastest people I have ever seen. I think we have tons of guys that can move and make plays.
I think as you have seen over the year, we have played some pretty fast teams. Texas is pretty fast, I think. I don’t think people consider them slow. I think Michigan they would also consider pretty fast. At least nationally.
But we played against guys in the Big 10 that are just as fast as anybody I have seen. I think speed is relative. I think speed is as fast as you can play. And I think we have fast guys that should be able to run a little bit and do some things like we have done all year.
ANTONIO PITTMAN: I think overall our team is real fast, you know. Just because we are in the Big 10 conference, and they don’t expect teams to be as fast as we are. I think Florida, they’re a fast team. You can’t take nothing away from those guys. The SEC is a fast conference. I think that’s why they get on and talk about their speed and everything. But we’re all right.
Q. Troy, a follow-up to your first comment. For the folks back in Ohio, describe an In-and-Out Burger, what you like about it and will it be a pregame meal?
TROY SMITH: For the folks back in Ohio, they need to understand first and foremost, it is a fresh burger. The lettuce and tomatoes are extremely fresh. And they toast the buns. That’s huge. That’s key. They toast the buns. They use a special kind of sauce, too. It is an extremely—the sandwich is incredible after a long night.
Q. How can I follow that? Troy, in recent years, Heisman winners by the fact that the other team seems to want to prove a point have not had real good Bowl games. Does it put a target on your back in any way or are you guys too much of a team for that?
TROY SMITH: I think we are too much of a team for that. I am not going into this game thinking I am the Heisman trophy winner so I have to do this.
I am going into this game with the same kind of notion that I go into every game. Let’s send our seniors out on a positive note. Anything and everything we can do to win this game, let’s do it as a team. For everybody out there, I want them to know that I think the Heisman trophy is a team award. If my team is not undefeated, I am probably not in this kind of situation.
If your team does not win the necessary games, you are definitely not in that kind of thought. And that says it all to me. But you are going to get people who are going to say, you know, he is a Heisman trophy winner so let’s try to disrupt him and then we get to the Buckeyes. That’s not the way you get to the Buckeyes. You have to do that teamwise. You have to do that as a team to get to us because we work as one cohesive unit.
Q. For Doug and Troy, you talk about the seniors. 18 of you guys, this will be your last game. What’s going through your heads as you prepare for your last game? What do you guys think you will miss the most?
DOUG DATISH: I think just like Troy said, any year it is our final game, we go out there and try to send the seniors out right. Now that it is my final game, I am trying to make sure I can do everything I possibly can to make sure that happens, that we go out on a positive note and on a great note.
For me personally, I am going to miss all the guys I came in here with, all the guys I have met that are still on the team. Everybody is has really done something for me or impacted me in some positive way, and I will never forget those guys. I will miss all them, all the personal relationships.
TROY SMITH: It is going to be very emotional for me because this is the last time this group of guys will be together like this in a positive situation to where it is the biggest game of our careers thus far.
And I think it is scary. I think it is scary for two reasons. One, because you are not promised tomorrow. Who is to say what’s going to happen as soon as you leave here. And, two, I love every single one of my teammates and I won’t be able to sit down in the locker room and sit next to Anthony Gonzalez again. I won’t be able to go onto the field and crack jokes with Antonio Pittman. I won’t be able to slap fives wearing the Ohio State colors with Doug Datish again. That’s kind of scary.
Q. You guys have talked about stress, anxiety, pressure because of the experience playing in this game. How do you turn all your experience into a positive on the field common?
DOUG DATISH: With any big game, which we have been a part of a couple this year, any time there is stress or anything like that, you just kind of take it inside yourself and realize that’s just—it is a tremendous honor. At least that’s what I do. I try to think of it as a huge honor to be able to play in one of these games. It is a privilege and an honor to make it thus far. And all the stress and everything, that’s just a part of it. Whether or not how you deal with it, I think you can look to our teammates, you can looks to guys like Troy or Pitt, those guys deal with it more than anybody and they handle it better than anybody. If anybody is having trouble, they should talk to them and see how they deal with it and turn it into a positive.
Q. For any of you guys over the 40-day break when you are talking to classmates or family and friend when you go home, the attitude might be it is a foregone conclusion you will win this game. What were some of the things you were wearing from classmates, family and friends that you had encountered?
TROY SMITH: I stayed pretty secluded in my—secluded in my approach to the game. I tried to steer away from people who had views or points to how we should win a game. It is incredible to me how you see some of your friends and they tell you what kind of plays you should run during the game. If you heard some of these play calls, you really would be laughing in their face.
Obviously the main thing that they want is a win, and any which way they can get it, they just want to win.
Q. Doug, I was wondering if you knew about the incredible number of fans that are supporting you guys on the Internet, particularly like the Facebook groups and stuff. What do you think of all the students and the student body rallying around you like that?
DOUG DATISH: I can’t believe the face book got mentioned on the press conference. I am personally not on the Facebook. I just want to get that out there (laughter).
But I think that just shows how great our fans really are to be on the Internet and getting on various Web sites, starting Web sites, creating Web sites, doing everything they can to get the word out about the Bucks. It is a tremendous thing for us to be a part of. We feel honored and privileged to have those people around us and to have that type of support whether it is on the Web or wherever. It is a great thing.
Q. Good morning. Ted and Anthony, can you guys talk about the familiarity—you guys have been here to Arizona a lot this time of year. Do you think that gives you any advantage at all? Ted, first?
TED GINN, JR.: Well, you know, coming back out here is a great thing, you know. It is kind of like home. You know, we just come out, just enjoy the weather, you know, and just try to have fun. I think it really don’t have too much to do with the game. I think we can go anywhere and play a football game.
ANTHONY GONZALEZ: I tend to agree with him on that. To me a football game is a football game. And this particular game is so big that the game itself is the story, not necessarily the location, how familiar we are with the surroundings or what have you. The most important thing is that it is the national championship game. No matter where it is, both teams are going to come to play.
Q. What about the long lay off? There are various theories whether it is good or bad or indifferent. What do you guys think of that?
ANTHONY GONZALEZ: The thing about that, both of us have a lay off. It would be one thing if they played last week and we haven’t played in two months or something like that. But both of us have a huge lay off. So I think it is a complete nonissue.
Q. There seems to be an assumption that guys are like born fast. Ted, there is a—I know there is a rumor going around that first time you were timed at 40 you ran a five something. Would either of you comment on that? How much can you improve God-given speed?
TED GINN, JR.: Well, you know, I wasn’t born fast. I worked at my—you know, you just got to go and work as hard as you can, you know. I work plenty of days. I stayed up plenty of hours. I just made me who I am. There is a lot of commitment, a lot of work you got to do. If you call yourself —
Q. Did you run track?
TED GINN, JR.: Track stuff, working out daily, working on different techniques of running. A lot of that helps you. If you get good people around you and you get people around you that want to help you, you can succeed in anything you want.
Q. This is for both of you guys, or all of three of you. As you look at Florida, what concerns you about their defense the most?
ANTHONY GONZALEZ: They are very fast and very athletic. I think those are the two strengths they have as a defense, is just their speed and athleticism.
Q. Guys, Woody Hayes was known for his cloud of dust and his three-yard dust. What would he have thought of you against Michigan and you came out in the first drive, what do you think he would think of this offense?
ANTHONY GONZALEZ: I think he would have been very happy that we won the game (laughter). I think that’s pretty much all he would have cared about.
Q. Teddy and Gonzo, can you talk about your Cleveland connection and the group of Cleveland kids you have on your team, is there a special bond between you guys having played high school football in the same place?
TED GINN, JR.: On the way over here we were talking about high school things and the times where, you know, me and Gonzo and our teams met up at certain track meets and we played against each other. Not me and Gonzo but our schools.
It is always going to be competitive. We brought that competitiveness together as one and now we are playing together for the same cause. We are in the same boat for the same thing.
You know, it is just great to have a guy like Gonzo on my left and to have Troy coming from the same high school as me and just people from the city.
ANTHONY GONZALEZ: It is something that I personally take a lot of pride in, being from Cleveland. I know Ted feels the same way as we all do. Just being from the same city, having common experiences growing up, being able to relate on a lot of different levels and always competing in track meets. I never played Glenville in football but Ted played Agnatius. Just having those common issues is always fun and exciting for us and it is just nice to be able to bring it together as one just as he said.
Q. Question for Ted and Anthony. Could you comment on Florida’s safety Reggie Nelson, what you have seen on tape and as a receiver with obviously his hitting ability? Do you know where he is on every play?
TED GINN, JR.: Well, you know, from one he is a great player, you know, fast, likes to hit. We will know where he is at because most of the times he is a high safety. You know, but, he likes to come down, hit you. He is going to play as hard as he can and I know he is a big player on their defense. We are going to watch out for him.
ANTHONY GONZALEZ: Yeah, he to me—to me, when you play against a team you can’t be overly concerned with one person and where he is on the field. I have never gone into any game thinking, All right, where is number so and so. There he is, okay, now what am I going to do?
But that being said, he is—you can tell their leader in the secondary end does an amazing job. He has tremendous range. He intercepts balls on the sideline coming from the opposite hash. You don’t see that very often.
He is definitely a very talented player. Like you said, he also likes to hit you pretty good. So that’s kind of one of the many challenges we have this week. You know, we are obviously preparing as well as we can to deal with it.
Q. There is a core group of you guys call the “fun bunch.” Can you talk about that? I am sure it came from a lot of hard work, more than fun, and you guys are like the leaders of the team. Can you talk a little bit about the fun bunch, both of you?
TED GINN, JR.: Well, you know, I don’t really know how we got the name the “fun bunch.” But it is a group of great guys, of leaders in our own individual way.
You know, we always talk as a receiver core, you know. We can all put ourselves together as one. We might be one of the biggest, greater receivers of all time. And that’s kind of like the “fun bunch.” The fun bunch comes out and plays hard and we are leaders of our group. We try to enjoy ourselves as much as possible.
ANTHONY GONZALEZ: Yes, that’s the thing. People, I think, a lot of times when you watch college athletics and you can’t see the people’s faces or whatever, you impose certain mind-sets on people. And I think college athletes are treated more like adults and less like kids and it is kind of fitting because you are in that transition period where you are kind of becoming an adult. And we just kind of would like to keep it light and fun.
Again, I don’t know where that name came from, but I think actually Tim May, if he is in here. I think he came up with it.
Anyway, it is more—it is more just—I don’t know—a description of how we approach the game.
Q. As receivers, have you faced a secondary with this much speed and how do you adjust to a secondary that has this kind of speed that Florida has?
TED GINN, JR.: Well, you know, the whole year we did play against some good corners. Texas was pretty fast. Penn State was actually pretty fast, too. Michigan was pretty good. But, you know, all around for Florida, you know, they got some great guys that come down and hit you and can run with you.
It is just going to come down to a lot of technique things, you know, and just being—being a special player in that game.
ANTHONY GONZALEZ: I feel like when I watch their defense, I feel like they say to themselves, Okay, we feel like we have better athletes than you and we are just going to prove it. We are just going to play man coverage and we are just going to be better than you.
I feel that’s one of their defensive philosophies. Whether that is true or not, I don’t know. They have had a tremendous success doing that against some pretty talented receiving cores. When you look across the country, I would say Tennessee’s receiving core is one of the better, LSU. They have done a nice job dealing with those receivers. So that’s one of our challenges as our group approaches the game is to see if we can do better than those teams that have maybe come before us.
Q. For Coach Bollman, first of all, what do you think—what jumps out on the tape about Florida? And secondly, about—about their defense and, secondly, what do you think they will try to do to you?
COACH BOLLMAN: The first thing that jumps out at me is their experience. All across the board, they have a lot of guys who are third-, fourth-, fifth-year guys. At this stage of the game, no one is really a rookie if they have played all year anyway. But they don’t have any younger guys that are regular players for them.
I think like most defenses—most great defenses, up front is where they’re exceptional. Their defensive line is, I think, as a group of exceptional, big athletes who are very, very quick.
And then everyone else kind of follows suit. Everyone else is better because of the way that defensive line plays. Not have many people—in fact, I haven’t seen any games where people consistently block them very well, for much of the entire football.
Q. What do you think they will do to you?
COACH BOLLMAN: In bowl games when there is so much time, when people—I think most people would tend to go with what got you to the game. But there are always going to be some wrinkles, something a little bit different, you know.
And I think that’s been reflective of both of the games you have seen. So you have to kind of prepare for what to expect. But it is kind of like an opening game kind of deal where there is going to be something a little bit different, too.
Q. Ted, you spoke in Columbus about wanting to play cornerback again and you took so much satisfaction in your touchdown pass this year. How many positions do you want to play? Do you think you could play a slash-type thing or what?
TED GINN, JR.: One thing about me, I like to play for my team, you know. If that means that I have to go and play center, I will. That’s just the type of team player that I am.
You know, corner was one of my first loves, you know. But, you know, I do what’s best for my team, you know. And going out and catching a ball or throwing a ball or receiving a punt, it is all for my team. It is for me, too. But most likely for the team.
Q. Ted, Anthony, there is an incredible number of Facebook groups involving the Buckeyes winning the championship. Are you guys in any of those groups or what do you think of the way the students support you guys like that?
TED GINN, JR.: I am not even on the Facebook. I don’t even mess with the Internet like that. Myspace, Facebook. I have no part with that situation. I know it is out there, and I know my name is on a lot of things out there. But, hey, what can you do.
ANTHONY GONZALEZ: I am in the same boat. I am not on facebook. I go back and forth. Sometimes I am on it, sometimes I am not. Currently I am not.
Q. For Ted and Anthony, can you talk about for a bunch of seniors this will be their last hurrah at Ohio State. Talk about what it means for you going into the game with the seniors in mind?
TED GINN, JR.: First off, the whole year is all about the seniors. You know, when you are an underclassmen, and I was taught this in high school, you always want to come out and pass as hard as you can for your seniors because this is their last go-round. They can never get this back.
We can always try to come back to the national championship. But 18 guys can’t, you know.
So we are going to try to go out and play as hard as we can for them, you know, because we can always have this opportunity again. I mean, that’s how the whole season went. That’s how we are going to go into this game. We are just going to play hard for them.
Q. Ted, can you comment on Troy Smith and not only how he has grown on the field but some of the adversity he has faced off the field in his life and how you have seen him grow as a person and as a quarterback?
TED GINN, JR.: Well, yeah. Since I have been knowing Troy, you know, he didn’t have a lot—he had a lot on his plate. And he didn’t eat every piece of it. Troy is the type of man that, you know, he got a big heart, you know. He is going to fight through everything. And that’s the type of person that you want in your life no matter what it is, if it is football or basketball or track. I remember when Troy ran the 800, he couldn’t do it but he did it.
That just shows what type of man and his character, you know. And for Troy to come out and win all these big awards and be the Heisman and all of that, man, I am happy.
People always ask, should it be you? No. It should be Troy. You know, he went out and did things to make him the man that he is. I just congratulate him every time I can.
Q. Coach, I wonder if you see—Coach Bollman, similarities between the 2002 Buckeyes and the 2007 Gators maybe in terms of how long the head coach has been on the job and in particular the underdog role?
COACH BOLLMAN: I think there is a lot of similarities on the surface that without knowing the Gators inside out that people can assimilate. That’s just kind of facts that you can draw up and have a conversation from.
But football teams are individual football teams, you know. And the circumstances of a year is just kind of on the surface, things, you know. You really don’t know what’s going on inside.
But they have had a great year. Certainly have played in a fine, highly respected conference. Played some great football teams and did a great job getting here.
Q. For all three of you, if you don’t mind, the last time Ohio State was in the BCS title game, I don’t think anyone was calling them a fun bunch. They had a reputation for perhaps being a little bit of vanilla offensively. Over the last five years since you guys have arrived, have you seen the offense grow and diversify? There must be a number of factors that have allowed you to go to the spread and such?
COACH BOLLMAN: I think any time as a football coach, any year on any team, everyone is trying to utilize their talent to the best ability that they have.
So as our talent has grown and evolved, changed a little bit, I think we’ve tried to do a good job utilizing the people that we have. And that will continue to be that way for as long as we are coaching.
You know, that’s—I think you owe that to your team and everyone that’s out there, they are working together.
And part of us having success on offense, I believe a big part of us having success on offense is the fact that people have not been selfish. People have kept together as one unit. There is a problem when you only have one football and have you that many people that are capable of carrying the rock and catching the rock.
And I think that’s been a big thing. We’ve talked about that throughout the year and I think it is the same thing being in this game. Who knows who is going to have an opportunity to make a play when. And we’ve had a lot of guys been able to do that.
Q. For Coach and then the players afterward. For the last 40 days all you have been hearing about is who is worthy to play your team. A lot of debate over that. And I’m sure over the holidays when you go back home, a lot of people are just assuming that you are going to win this game. How is a coaching staff and as leaders on the team do you battle against the overconfidence factor and thinking that a game like this is debate about who is worthy of playing you and not a game that you really go out and compete against?
COACH BOLLMAN: I don’t think that has been a problem for us at all. If anybody has an overconfidence factor in this football game, you are going to get beat.
When you get to this level of—if you are in any BCS football game, the level of competition is very, very, very high. And if you are not ready to play your best football game, you are not apparently doing the things the way you should.
I think for the most part, our team has done a very good job of playing every week. There has been some moments in some games that we could have played a little better. But, I think, that overconfidence, I would be surprised, very disappointed if I thought after the game that we played as an overconfident outfit.
Q. This one is for Ted and Anthony. Guys, when you showed up at Ohio State, you were both touted individually as having sort of different skill sets. Is there anything you have learned from each other over the last couple years in terms of how to play receiver and different things?
TED GINN, JR.: Well, yeah. When I came to Ohio State, I wasn’t receiver. I was a DB. And just to come on that other side of the ball, you know, and experience the things I experience. I have talented guys that was over there from Centennial Hall that played for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He showed me a lot, to Gonzo that had been playing the game and playing receiver for years. I remember Gonzo on TV always making the over-the-shoulder grab for the winning touchdown.
The guys that you put yourself around and the team and the type of team that we have and the type of people that’s on the team. I mean, a lot of guys could have been selfish and not give me the whole inside about everything or the whole inside about being a receiver.
But the guys that our coaches recruited, you know, it is all about football. It is about their ability to help people and their ability to make everybody around them good, you know.
And Gonzo was one of the people that showed me some things that I needed to know.
Q. Ted, building on your experiences as a defensive player in high school, how do you think that helped shape you as a wide receiver? Did it give you an edge knowing what the defense was trying to do against you?
TED GINN, JR.: It did a little bit because as playing corner, you can always tell by a DB stance of what he is going to do. And me being the type of player I was coming out of high school at the cornerback position, it kind of helped me to know what people were going to do to me now. And it do give me a little edge sometime.
Q. How would you guys describe practice the last couple days, being on the road in a camp-like situation but still away from the spotlight without all this stuff?
ANTHONY GONZALEZ: I think you said it pretty accurately. It felt a lot like camp to me, it did. Just because we are kind of in the middle of nowhere. The only thing we were doing was practicing and meeting.
That to me could ultimately end up being a real positive for us just because we were aware from all of the hoopla and kind of got to focus in on what it is we needed to focus in on. That’s kind of how that went.
Q. For Anthony, can you explain why you have had so much success converting first downs with your receptions? I wanted to ask Ted also about how you have seen Ohio State’s offense change from the championship team in 2002 to what you guys have now?
ANTHONY GONZALEZ: I think the reason why maybe I have been successful in picking up first downs, a lot of it has to do with just the situations that the coaches trust me in.
You know, you can only do so much and if your number is called on third down or when you need a first down, then you better be there to make the play or else somebody else will. So that’s just part of being a football player.
TED GINN, JR.: Well, you know, Coach can say no better. You got to use the talent you have and the people that’s around you.
You know, coming in, you know, we had some great guys. We just using our talent and that’s what’s helping us get to where we are now.