Tuesday, July 5, 2011

BUCKEYE FOOTBALL PLAYERS AREN'T CRYING OVER THEIR UGLY BREAKUP

Photo by The Buckeye Times/Darla Dunkle-Hudnell
COLUMBUS — Have you ever been broken up with by a girlfriend and thought that the world, as you know it, would be no more?

That you might as well stand on the roof of a skyscraper during a lightning storm, sporting nothing but chicken wire and metal golf spikes, while wielding a 3-iron to the heavens?

Well, the Ohio State football team doesn't believe in that approach when it comes to dealing with ugly breakups. Apparently, there's a "no crying" policy at the Woody Hayes compound.

After losing their head coach (Jim Tressel), starting quarterback (Terrelle Pryor) and four other key players (DeVier Posey, Dan Herron, Mike Adams and Solomon Thomas) for the first five games of the regular season — for receiving improper benefits — the Buckeyes are taking a 'half-full' mentality when moving forward.

"I think people think we're just sitting around here crying," OSU senior all-American center Mike Brewster said. "If anything we got more pissed off and we're more ready to go than ever. You can get content after being so successful for so long.

"Maybe it came at a good time to get punched in the stomach."

Boy, that doesn't sound like 'half-full' to me. It sounds more like it's overflowing the brim.

"Whenever you have someone you care about, someone you love, someone you would go to bat for resign or have to go away, it hurts," OSU senior safety Nate Oliver said. "It still does hurt, but you always remember. It gives you an extra burst. It makes you want to work harder."

The best way to get over the ex-girl is to get on with the next girl — an approach the Buckeyes do believe in.

"With these younger guys, we're really going to push them a lot harder than we have in the past, seeing who is going to be able to make plays for us, who's going to be ready to step up if need be," Oliver said.

Players like true freshman quarterback Braxton Miller taking over for Pryor under center, Jordan Hall, Jamaal Berry and Rod Smith filling the gap in the backfield that Herron leaves for the first five games of the season, and young receivers like Corey Brown, T.Y. Williams, Devin Smith and Evan Spencer trying to replace Posey (for the first five) and team MVP Dane Sanzenbacher (who graduated), will ultimately determine how well the Buckeyes survive the breakup.

Again, the internal outlook is positive.

"We have a great group of young guys," Oliver said. "A lot of guys who are hungry, they're happy they're here at The Ohio State University. They are ready to play football."

Perhaps the most important replacement doesn't come on the field, but on the sideline, as Luke Fickell takes over for Tressel — a man who won seven Big Ten titles, five BCS bowl games and a national championship in 10 years as the Buckeyes' head coach.

No surprise ... the players aren't crying in their beer over it.

"(Fickell's) a great guy, a players' coach," OSU junior defensive lineman John Simon said. "I would say Coach Fick is a little more fiery than Coach Tressel, but their morals are the same, so I can't see a lot of things changing.

"He's the guy we need right now."

It's all about attitude in Columbus these days. Looking back isn't an option. The goal remains the same ...

"All we think about is winning," Brewster said. "Getting ready to win, doing whatever it takes to win. We've been a part of a winning program since we've gotten here.

"We're not going to let that stop just because of what's happened."