In this Aug. 8, 2011, photo, Ohio State running backs coach Dick Tressel points during NCAA college football practice in Columbus, Ohio.
associated press Enlarge
COLUMBUS-- Sometimes blood is thicker than, well, Gatorade.
Mike Tressel, Michigan State's LBs and special-teams coach, is the nephew of deposed Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel and the son of current Buckeyes RBs coach and special-teams coach Dick Tressel.
Mike and Dick Tressel spoke this week as both prepared for the Michigan State-Ohio State game (3:30 p.m. on Saturday). That in itself was an oddity for them.
"We sort of have a no-talk policy from Sunday through game time," Mike said of the weeks when his team and his dad's team meet. "I think my dad cheated a little bit. He texted me today (Wednesday) because it was my birthday. We haven't played on my birthday week before. And I texted him back, so I cheated, too! Oh, boy, we've got problems now. But maybe it'll work out better than it did the last two times."
The Buckeyes have beaten the Spartans both previous times the Tressels were on opposite sides.
There are 24 native Ohioans on the Michigan State roster, which adds some flavor to the game.
"It'll be a good thing, knowing our people," Mike Tressel said. "Possibly in the past, we've had a lot of Ohio kids who thought, 'I wasn't quite as good as those guys.' Now, we have a lot of kids who feel, 'Let's go in there and win this ballgame.' I think it'll work out well because of the mentality of those kids."
As for the competition between the Tressels, along with several other Michigan State and Ohio State coaches who have friends on the other staff, that all gets put aside for one week.
"I'm not uncomfortable with it," Mike Tressel said. "Yeah, sure, I'm worried about my dad over there on the Ohio State staff. But I want to beat those guys."
NO GO: Ohio State interim head coach Luke Fickell confirmed on Thursday that the Buckeyes will not have three key performers available due to injury.
WR Corey "Philly" Brown and DL Nathan Williams have each missed the last two games, Brown with a high ankle sprain and Williams after arthroscopic knee surgery.
Fickell also said that backup LB Jordan Whiting would miss the Michigan State game. He said he didn't know when any of the three might be back on the field.
SCHOLAR-ATHLETES: The National Football Foundation has announced 127 candidates for its national scholar-athlete awards.
Nominated by their schools, which are limited to one nominee each, candidates for the awards must be a senior or graduate student in their final year of eligibility, have a GPA of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale, have outstanding football ability as a first-team player or significant contributor, and have demonstrated strong leadership and citizenship.
Past winners include Ohio State's Bobby Hoying and Craig Krenzel. No current Buckeyes made the list this year.
The nominees from Ohio colleges include: in the Football Bowl Subdivision, Ben Bojicic (Bowling Green), Anthony Kokal (Miami of Ohio) and Mike VanDerMeulen (Toledo); in the Football Championship Subdivision, Devon Langhorst (Dayton) and Andrew Johnson (Youngstown State); and in Division III, Russell Krouse (Bluffton) and Richard Doolin (Case Western Reserve).
A committee will select up to 16 recipients on Oct. 26 who will receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship.
THE ONE LOSS: Fickell said Thursday that he and his staff had looked closely at Michigan State's lone loss, a 31-13 setback at Notre Dame.
The key, he said, was that the Fighting Irish got an early lead.
"They got some turnovers. The other thing they did was they got up on them," he said. "Sometimes when you're a team that depends on being balanced and running the football a lot, you get in a situation where you can't do some of those things because of the defense they're going to play. They're going to bend a little bit more when they're up."
He said the same thing happened to the Buckeyes in their only loss, 24-6 at Miami. Ohio State trailed 14-0 after the Hurricanes' first two possessions and never got back in the game.
"That's probably one thing that I would look back and say it hurt us the most," he said.