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.
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