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Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Buckeyes coach will keep calling plays

ESPN.com news services

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State coach Jim Tressel says he has no desire to give up calling plays and will not change his offensive philosophy in the wake of the Buckeyes' sixth consecutive loss to a top-10 team.

For the first time in his now-nine-year tenure in Columbus, Tressel is catching fire from all directions in the wake of Saturday night's 18-15 loss to No. 3 USC.

Letters to the sports editor of the local newspaper, bloggers, Web sites, columnists, radio talk shows and TV analysts have all criticized Tressel's conservative approach to the game and his handling of the team.

Tressel's offensive philosophy basically is built on playing for field position, avoiding turnovers at all cost and relying on defense and special teams to win the game.

"I'm not sure exactly what a wholesale change would entail. I mean, are we going to go to the Navy triple option? Probably not," Tressel said Tuesday. "Will we go conceptually to this or that? If you look at our teams from 2001 on, they haven't been exactly the same because, you know, you don't have the same people. But I don't know that we would make a wholesale [change]."

Tressel, who said he makes most of the play calls even though Jim Bollman has the title of offensive coordinator, disdained going for a touchdown in favor of an easy field goal on fourth-and-goal at the USC 1 early in the second quarter. He also favored punting on fourth-and-1 at the USC 45 in the third quarter.

With around 8 minutes left in the game and Ohio State gripping a 15-10 lead, the Buckeyes drove to a first down at the USC 35. After a run gained 3 yards, quarterback Terrelle Pryor threw an incompletion and then was sacked for a 4-yard loss that meant kicker Aaron Pettrey would have a 53-yard attempt on fourth-and-11 at the USC 36. Tressel elected to punt again.

That punt led to the Trojans taking control for an impressive 86-yard drive that won the game.

"I'll always believe that you win tough ballgames by making sure that you're the group that makes less mistakes, wins that field-position battle, [and] wins the battle in the trenches statistically," Tressel said. "So, no, I philosophically wouldn't go against that."

The vitriol Tressel has faced after the game is unlike any he has encountered in his eight-plus years as Buckeyes coach. His first Ohio State team went 7-5 in 2001 but beat Michigan, earning him genius status with the Buckeyes' frequently fickle fans.

Since then, he led the Buckeyes to a surprising national championship in 2002 and has dominated the series with the archrival Wolverines, winning seven of eight meetings.

But landslide losses in the 2006 and 2007 national title games to Florida and LSU, and subsequent defeats in high-profile games to USC, Penn State, Texas and again to USC have caused the critics to come after the guy in the sweater vest.

With the 11th-ranked Buckeyes (1-1) preparing to play Toledo at Cleveland Browns Stadium on Saturday, the glow of that 2002 national championship game seems light-years away.

Tressel said he has received critical e-mails, but said the fans' poison makes him feel sorry for them.

"When I read some of them I feel terrible for them because there's no way they're happy," he said. "They've got to be some of the most unhappy people in the world, and I feel bad because we just made them less happy, and I hate to be a part of making someone less happy. I mean, they're already miserable."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.