Tressel had lots to say today in his presser. The big news that he revealed is that the five suspended juniors will return for the 2011 season. In fact, Tressel would not have let them make the trip to New Orleans had they decided to leave.
"We told them they would have to make the decision on the NFL prior to leaving for the bowl game," Tressel said at his first Sugar Bowl news conference. "It wouldn't be fair to not face the consequences down the road."
Tressel will undoubtedly take a ton of criticism nationally for the decision to play these guys and not suspend them right away, but he is pretty limited when it comes to options. While some will make this sound like he is bribing the players to stay for another year, he really is ultimately just ensuring they do receive some punishment for what they have done. While I still have my doubts as to how binding this whole agreement really is, in the end the player will look bad for jumping ship and not Tressel. I do think he would have preferred to suspend them for this game, but due to pressure from others involved, this appears to be the next best option for both he and the university going forward.
Tressel also addressed the fact that they sold important Buckeye keepsakes, something that has brought on a lot of grief from fans. From the sound of things, Tressel is frustrated as well.
"It's disappointing. A number of people reached out as we've been dealing with this thing maybe to calm my thinking or whatever and one the thing said was, 'Keep in mind coach you're dealing with a different generation. Back when you were growing up one guy got a trophy, maybe, and now you're dealing with a generation that if you were on the team and you were seven years old everyone got a trophy. Maybe this generation doesn't understand the value of awards like we did.' I understand the argument. Not sure I justify the deal, but it does make it disappointing."
Anyway, Tressel answered a few more hot button issues that have surrounded the program the last few weeks. You can find the video of the presser and some of his quotes on the official website here. Below are a few of the ones that grabbed my attention when I filtered through everything.
Tressel had this to say about what effect the suspensions could have on the Sugar Bowl...
"Gosh, I hope none. I think the thing that will have an impact on how we play in the Sugar Bowl will be how we play. Will we take care of the ball? Will we knock it loose? Will we cover our lanes on the kickoff coverage? So, will those things have an effect? I would sure like to think they wouldn't."
On the idea of him retiring after the season, he said this...
"Apparently it was somebody on a website using their freedom of speech. It's not true at all but that too is kind of a waste of time. Recruits are calling asking if it's true or not. Other coaches (from other schools) keep calling saying this is true to our recruits. The rumor is a waste of time but this world is an ever-evolving waste of time. I don't know when people have time to spend so much time reading all this stuff. It's amazing how much stuff is out there. The rumor is not true but its part of the deal. It's better than the alternative, the day they fire you."
On not winning the Big Ten Coach of the Year award, he answered with my favorite response of the presser...
As far as the coach of the year award, I've got many of plaques and trophies in my office so that doesn't blow my mind