There hasn't been a season in over a decade in which media members across Big Ten territory have not heard Jim Tressel's senatorial demeanor on the other end of the phone. That changed earlier today when Luke Fickell participated in the Big Ten Coaches Teleconference Call, officially kicking off a new era of Buckeye football.
In preparation for the season opener this Saturday against Akron, Fickell was peppered with questions by the media, ranging from the release of the first depth chart to his level of excitement to get the season going. The new head coach held up fairly well during his first experience with the media during a game week and at times sounded eerily similar to his predecessor, Tressel. Like The Vest, he was vague and left a lot of questions virtually unanswered at times, but at other momemnts, did differ from "The Senator" as he showed an intense and straight to the point demeanor during the call.
For a majority of his time on the phone, Fickell talked about how he was excited to start the 2011 campaign, being able to fully look forward to playing football after the strenuous offseason. When asked about the confidence level of the team, given that they are missing key suspended players for the first five games of the season, Luke spoke to the fact that the players who will get the opportunity to play are going to take full opportunity of their time on the field. He stressed that the players stepping in for those suspended aren't replacement players and that they have the opportunity to keep their starting roles on the team for the entire season if they earn it.
Diving further into the topic, he spoke of the team’s determination, focusing on Jordan Hall’s versatility and smarts, and of Mike Brewster’s leadership qualities. Fickell continually emphasized leadership as an important role, saying players like Brewster are important for the team, and that the four year starter has been a leader since he was recruited. It's players like these that Buckeye fans can expect a lot out of this year and their performance and leadership could help determine the fate of the 2011 season.
Questions about the quarterback play also surfaced as expected during the teleconference, with Fickell being asked how he would like the situation between veteran Joe Bauserman and freshman Braxton Miller to turn out. He responded by saying that the situation needs to be handled internally, with the coaching staff constantly evaluating the play of both Bauserman and Miller. He stressed that both quarterback’s will get their opportunities at some point in the season, and if they stick together as a team, the quarterback play won’t be an issue.
Ultimately, Fickell seemed excited to get the season underway, and was eager to get his head-coaching debut under his belt. He, like all of us, seemed to be anxious to see his team compete and grow during the upcoming season, and looks forward to his first season at the helm of the Ohio State football program.