Now playing: Ohio State's motivational DVD
NEW ORLEANS -- Because I care, a friendly suggestion for ESPN college football analyst Mark May, Skip Bayless of "ESPN First Take," Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon of "PTI," Woody Paige of "Around the Horn," XM Radio's James Carville and anyone else seen bashing Ohio State on a 10-minute-long DVD distributed to every Buckeyes player by coach Jim Tressel:
Flee! Now! Do the Henry Hill thing and go into witness protection. Make yourself scarcer than Jason Bourne. I hear Belize is nice this time of year.
"Oh, my goodness, I was beside myself,'' she said Thursday during a phone interview. "I don't remember everything that was said. I was just so damn mad.''
It happened in the basement of her Lakewood, Ohio, home while she was folding clothes. Boone had come home for Christmas break and had brought with him the DVD.
"Nana, you got to see this,'' he said.
So they walked down to the basement, turned on the big-screen TV, and inserted the disc into the DVD player. It didn't take long for Sulzer to quit folding shirts and start wiping away tears.
"It got my back up,'' said Sulzer, a retired hospital worker who still works 20 hours a week for the local school board.
"People just talking smack,'' Boone said.
I haven't actually seen the DVD, but it sounds like your typical motivational tool -- but with a twist. Instead of newspaper clippings pinned to the locker room wall, Tressel wanted something suitable for laptops and big screens. He wanted something that would get his players' full attention as they prepared for this Monday's BCS Championship Game against LSU.
He got it. Ohio State's video staff put together a series of anti-Buckeyes rip jobs beginning with the aftermath of last January's 41-14 loss to Florida in the national title game.
Nana Sulzer remembers the blowout. How could she ever forget?
"I was crying, of course,'' she said. "I just felt so darn bad every time those Gators scored. I was just a mess. It was like somebody saying you got an ugly baby.''
According to grandma and grandson, the DVD includes footage of the Florida players holding up the national championship crystal trophy, of postgame commentary (Hello, Mark?) calling the Buckeyes slower, weaker and less talented than the Gators. Boone and offensive tackle Kirk Barton are singled out for poor play.
It features Carville, the former Bill Clinton campaign advisor turned talk-show host, aiming the Ragin' Cajuns flamethrower at the Buckeyes.
"He's on it,'' Boone said, "and, oh, my god: 'The Rose Bowl has to pay the Big Ten and that's where we get our money we're disgusting ' I'm sitting there and I'm like, 'Whew! This is hurting.' But sometimes you gotta watch that stuff.''
There was more stuff. Lots more.
The Buckeyes still aren't athletic enough.
How could they lose to unranked Illinois at Columbus?
They don't really belong in this year's BCS Championship Game.
They're 0-8 against SEC teams in bowl games.
Sulzer yelled at the TV as the DVD played. Boone knew better than to try to stop her.
"My grandma, she's a little crazy,'' he said. "She gets out there, she'll swing with the best of them. She's got a good heart.''
The DVD made an impression on every player (and grandmother) who saw it. Barton, whose sense of humor is drier than sawdust, mentioned "the PTI guys,'' and Paige and May. He said something about removing his May poster from the wall, but "I'll have my throwback Mark May [jersey] on.''
Fair enough. But even Boone admitted, "I just got embarrassed, completely embarrassed'' in last year's national title game. "We got our [butts] handed to us.''
They did, which is why Tressel had the Buckeyes first watch the DVD during a team meeting in Columbus. He wants them to remember the humiliation, the criticism, the hurt.
He doesn't have to worry about Boone's memory. It was Boone who first noticed that few, if any fans were there to greet the Buckeyes' charter flight when they returned home after the Florida loss. That's when he stood up in the team bus and told his teammates they had "one week to heal up'' before going back to work.
"You come back and you're hoping to see all these fans and nobody's there,'' Boone said. "Nobody wants to talk to you. Nobody wants to be your friend. A lot of people called me after the game and cursed me out.''
But it wasn't fans who called. "Oh, no, my friends,'' he said. "They say a good friend will always tell you the truth. So I guess they're pretty good friends.''
To address the Ohio State-can't-run-fast concerns, the Buckeyes run sprints before practice begins. Instead of buying into the pregame hype of last year's BCS game, when they were favored to beat Florida, the Buckeyes are embracing the role of underdog. And rather than worry about LSU playing in what amounts to a home game, Ohio State players remind themselves they've won all five of their road games this season, including at Michigan, at Penn State, at Purdue, at Minnesota and at Washington.
And if nothing else, there is family. Boone will always have Nana Sulzer. She'll watch Monday evening's game in that same basement.
"Oh, man, I would like to get out there myself,'' she said. "But I'm a little bit too old, a little too weak.''
She meant to play in the game, not simply to fly to New Orleans. Boone wasn't kidding when he said she could bring the wood.
Boone doesn't have the lowlights DVD anymore. He threw it out. But before he left Sulzer's house that day he made a promise to her.
"Nana, it's going to be a different story this time, you watch,'' he said. "Don't worry.''
So Sulzer tries not to worry. After all, if you can't believe your grandson, whom can you believe?
Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for ESPN.com. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ESPN TOP HEADLINES
- Pacers clutch late, even series against Heat
- Report: Rogers, openly gay, to join Galaxy
- Mauer only Twin with hit off Tigers' Sanchez
- Penguins thwart Sens to advance to East finals
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
2007 Bowl Season
• Maisel: What a way to geaux
• Wojciechowski: Miles deserves a wa-hooooo
• Forde: Ohio St. buckles under BCS pressure
• Schlabach: Game analysis
• GameDay: Big Ten weak?
• Forde/Schlabach: BCS analysis
• Forde/Schlabach: Keys to the game
• McShay: BCS breakdown
• Postgame quotes: Jim Tressel
• Postgame quotes: Glenn Dorsey
• Postgame quotes: Les Miles
• LSU celebrates win over Ohio State
BCS Title Game Preview
• Forde/Maisel: 10 reasons Ohio State/LSU will win
• Forde: BCS title game important for more than football to New Orleans
• Maisel: OSU's children of the scorn
• Forde: Destiny's Team tag fits Tigers well
• Wojciechowski: Don't believe the hype
• Forde: Tale of the tape
• Maisel: BCS QBs not stars, but leaders
• Schlabach: 'Ironhead' Heyward's memory alive in son
• Beanie carries the load for Bucks
• Maisel: Healthy Dorsey ready to roll
• Wojciechowski: Ohio State's motivational DVD
• Maisel: Face of the Ohio State
• Wojciechowski: Les is more
• Schlabach: BCS notebook
• Low: Steltz family ties
• Low: Early bowls offer BCS game clues
• Scouts' edge: LSU or Ohio State?
• Forde/Maisel: Breaking down the title game
• Forde/Maisel: Hester, Laurinaitis define teams
• Forde/Schlabach: X-Factors
• Schlabach: Bucks' WRs key
• Players expect electric atmosphere
• GameDay: Which defense will prevail?
• Forde/Maisel: LSU's D-Line vs. Ohio State's O-Line
• Maisel/Schlabach: Title game intangibles
• Forde/Schlabach: Pelini's impeding departure a factor?
• McShay: BCS Championship preview
• Forde: Stewart nails on-the-job interview
• Forde: Scene of the crime
• Forde: Mo' money, mo' problems
• Forde: Picture worth 1,000 words
• Schlabach: USC looks like nation's best team
• Feldman: McKnight's impressive coming-out party
• Schlabach: Illinois' offense as easy as 1-2-3
• Feldman: USC defense starts, finishes up front
• Schlabach: Rose coaches have similar stories
• Feldman: Patience helps Booty weather storm
• Schlabach: Leman's success mirrors Illini's rise
• Feldman: USC still up despite 'down' year
• Schlabach: Third year a charm for Zook, Illini
• Maisel: Seems like old times
• Low: Howard hosts sack party
• Maisel: Sweet smell of success
• Schlabach: Richt takes a walk on the wild side
• Dinich: Jones finds ohana in Hawaii
• Low: Growth spurt helps Georgia come of age
• Nielsen: 'Dread-Heads' Hawaii's unsung stars
• Dinich: Kansas proved it belonged
• Dinich: Kansas time share
• Dinich: Virginia Tech makes two work
Other Bowl Coverage
• Adelson: A final spin in the old Carr
• Dinich: Texas Tech steals a bit of luck
• Low: Liberty Bowl win caps MSU's season
• Low: Croom's breakthrough season
• Low: UCF's Smith running into record books
• Feldman: Motivated Horns stampede Sun Devils
• Maisel: Lone Star State QBs shining on bowls
• Schlabach: Coaching transition game
• Forde: Schnellenberger takes road less traveled
What To Watch
• Pat Forde: Bowl-der Dash
• Feldman's picks: December | January
• Flash Gallery: Chris Low's impact players
• Heather Dinich: Bowling for the best gifts
BCS Selection Sunday
• Pat Forde: The grateful duo
• Ivan Maisel: Tigers, Bucks survive, advance
• Gene Wojciechowski: Theater of the absurd
More Bowl Coverage
• BCS: Rose | Sugar | Fiesta | Orange
• BCS National Championship Game
• Bowl Overview | Bowl Schedule | Bowl Index