SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel shares his commentary, analysis and random tidbits on the latest developments around the country.
1/06/2008 05:29:00 PM
Ready, Set Smile: The Game's Almost Here
Jim Tressel (left) and Les Miles were all smiles some 30 hours before kickoff.
NEW ORLEANS -- On the day before their teams are set to duel for the biggest prize in college football, LSU coach Les Miles and Ohio State coach Jim Tressel stood together behind the crystal coaches trophy, holding smiles as they posed for a paparazzi-like throng of photographers.
The staged Kodak moment is an annual aspect of the coaches' final pregame press conferences at the BCS Championship Game, and while they both grin and don their Sunday best, I'm sure it's not the highlight of their day. As Tressel said following his opening statement: "If there are no questions, I could go back to work. Put my sweatsuit back on."
∙ Both coaches were highly complimentary of their Sugar Bowl hosts and the city of New Orleans. Both seem keenly aware of the importance of this game for the still-rebuilding city. "It appears to me New Orleans is a very live and thriving city," said Miles. It sure is, here in the French Quarter/Warehouse District where the teams and media are staying, but I'm guessing a tour of the devastated Lower Ninth Ward was not part of the teams' pregame agendas.
∙ Asked to describe the "mood of his team" roughly 30 hours before kickoff, Miles replied, "Pent up, trapped, held hostage." Indeed, with practices concluded and both teams now in lockdown mode, I can't even begin to image what it's like to be an Ohio State or LSU player at this point waiting for the game to finally get here. "If they feel pent up now, see how they feel tomorrow," said Tressel. "We don't play until 7 p.m. (central) tomorrow night."
∙ As mentioned here earlier in the week, there continues to be incessant buzz about the Buckeyes' rumored plans to mix things up with mobile backup QB Antonio Henton. Miles was even asked how his team was preparing for it, considering Henton -– who was suspended for seven games -- has only played a handful of snaps all season. "We saw all of his early tape and we kind of got a decent feel for his abilities," said Miles. "I think we have a nice plan ready to go once he steps on the field."
∙ This is the second straight year that Ohio State is facing a school that its coaches visited in the spring. In the spring of 2006, they visited Florida, this year, LSU. Asked about the coincidence, Tressel joked, "We anticipated Jan. 7, 2008, and that's why we asked Les if we could come down and visit during the spring." Such informational visits are common among coaching staffs, and it's doubtful the Buckeyes unearthed any deep secrets about the Tigers. Just witness the results of last year's Florida visit. "Maybe they didn't go to the football office too much," joked Tressel.
∙ Tressel drew the biggest laughs of the day when a reporter mentioned to him that LSU was planning to watch the "underdog" movie 300 Sunday night and whether he feared the Tigers were using it as motivational ploy. "I don't know what 300 is," replied Tressel. "I'm not a real movie guy. The last movie I went to was Jaws I."
∙ Finally, college football's title game doesn't exactly draw your A-list celebrities like the Super Bowl -- but that doesn't mean we don't have our share of B- and C-listers. At a media function last night, I met Andrew Hawtrey, the actor who plays dim-witted football fanatic Bergwood in those amusing Allstate commercials. You know -- the guy whose car rolls backward into a truck.
Hawtrey, who is much more clean-cut in real life (though he does sport that instantly recognizable beard), is here participating in a series of promotions for Allstate, the game's title sponsor -- and he's quickly finding out just how big a celebrity he is among college football viewers. I saw people posing for pictures with him throughout the night, and was told later that he was mobbed on Bourbon Street. He also had the unique experience of watching himself on the JumboTron at the Sugar Bowl, where the ads aired during seemingly every TV timeout.
"The first time it came on, I was out in the concourse buying a beverage," said Hawtrey, a diehard Iowa fan who grew up across the street from Kinnick Stadium and cleaned it after games. "I yelled out, 'Hey, look at those guys, they're so funny!'"
Good report, Stew. Better pics of the coaches, as well. I'm sure they both want to "go back to sweats" after the session with the media.
N'Awlins is a great place. I'm glad most of it survived. I don't know what they will do with the 9th Ward but expect them to rebuild.
Backup players are interesting. I'm glad Henton is back in Tressel's graces, as Perrilloux is with Miles. I understand now that both may be played.
I did not know Hawtrey's name before, but thanks to you I do now. He's the guy who takes the car into Bobby Bowden's statue, and who loses a car in the commercial you identify. Nice to put a name behind a beard.
There IS a game today . . and I hope my Tigers win!
Good luck to LSU tonight. I'm hoping for a good, competitive game and a strong showing from OSU. I think preparations on our side were different this year than last, and from "reports from the field" I've received from folks in New Orleans, OSU is well-represented and people are having a nice time, so overall it sounds like it's been a good event thus far. Here's hoping the fully-rested Buckeyes and the fully-rested Tigers put on a memorable game (and in a positive way for the Buckeyes of course!).
Did you check out those pics of the LSU and OSU cheerleaders in SI's tale of the tape? What a contrast. OSU's looks like your average, pretty college girl, while LSU's look like thirtysomething MILFs. In my book, advantage OSU.
I'm a UGA Dawg who watches LSU close-up due to living in Baton Rouge. I see Ohio State as being a very good team with a lot to prove; however, they have not had to go up against defenses like the one LSU has. Oklahoma had a lot to prove against WVU; VT had a lot to prove against KU. Big 10 opponents like Michigan couldn't stop anyone (they simply outscored Florida) and neither could anyone tOSU played. I believe LSU can and will score on Ohio State with either QB; and, the Buckeyes will not be able to put up as many points against a healthy set of Tigers. QB is the vulnerable spot for OSU, so their guy had better get rid of the ball quickly. Even if they do this, yards after the catch are not likely to help OSU much. In this year, events may prove me wrong but I decided to be brave and put my prediction in black and white. Geaux Tigers, Les is more!
--Did you check out those pics of the LSU and OSU cheerleaders in SI's tale of the tape? What a contrast. OSU's looks like your average, pretty college girl, while LSU's look like thirtysomething MILFs. In my book, advantage OSU.--
eric y-town you need to get your facts straight first....
1. That osu cheerleader is cute--she could probably make the Tiger Cheerleaders on looks alone. 2. Those were the Golden Girls of Tigerland--one of our DANCE TEAMS, not our cheerleaders. (Not to be confused with the Bengal Dancers. Sorry we have so many beautiful women that we have to add new teams for them.) 3. With a lil work, you might even learn that we've had a nationally ranked gymnast, Kristi, on our cheerleaders.
But I digress....
Gawd... I hope they show the Golden Band From Tigerland do the salute to the 4 corners of the SuperDome.
Much more exciting than doting some i.
It's almost game time, so: Tiger Bait! TIGER Bait!! TIGER BAIT!!!
On the cheerleaders, one of LSU's was a good childhood friend of my daughter's at a quality gymnastics program in Baton Rouge. She's grown into a lovely college co-ed, nothing more.
I also want to warn anyone attending the game that the production of the Sugar Bowl was incredibly poor. A number of writers and blog posters have commented on this, a good example being Dan Magill in the online addition of the Athens Banner-Herald. http://www.onlineathens.com/stories/010608/football_20080106088.shtml
Will tonight be better? "I may be wrong, but I don't think so."
I'm sure that OSU is talented enough, and fast enough, to be in this game. However, I can't help but think that they'll be too tight for this game. Everything has pointed to this moment, and all that pressure... everything else being equal, they won't be able to stand up if things don't go their way. this is going to be another rout, and it's going to be sad to see...
I'm sure OSU is talented and fast enough to be in this game. But all the pressure, from thinking about this moment all year, from not being able to enjoy N.O., doesn't help. You've had all season to prepare, you're either ready or you aren't. The only thing left is if you can play at peak efficiency, and being wound too tight doesn't allow for being your best. I'm afraid this is going to be another rout of OSU, and it's going to be tough to watch...
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