|More than just a stadium: Tressel marvels at Superdome's place in history|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 05 January 2008 13:15|
Alone in thought, he took in the whole scene.
``This is the first time I've ever been in the Superdome,'' the Ohio State coach said Saturday.
Tressel and the Buckeyes got their initial look at the stadium during media day interviews. On Monday night, Ohio State will be back to play LSU for the BCS national championship.
``I've watched it on television, so many huge games,'' Tressel said. ``And whether they be college football or pro football, just look around and tie that together with where you saw it in the national scheme of things, with Katrina.''
Opened in 1975 and home to the New Orleans Saints, the Superdome held a string of major events during its first three decades, including six Super Bowls, more than any other stadium.
There's more. Michael Jordan's jumper won the 1982 NCAA basketball title for North Carolina. Muhammad Ali earned the heavyweight title for the third time. Sugar Ray Leonard beat Roberto Duran in the ``no mas'' fight at the dome.
Beyond sports, former President George H.W. Bush delivered his ``thousands points of light'' speech during the 1988 Republican convention. Pope John Paul II spoke and the Rolling Stones played there.
When Hurricane Katrina hit in August 2005, upward of 30,000 evacuees found shelter inside the Superdome.
Ohio State tight end Brandon Smith and safety Jamario O'Neal brought video cameras Saturday and walked around together, talking about the building's present and past.
``Being football players, you think about this is where Reggie Bush breaks a lot of ankles,'' Smith said. ``We were talking about the Saints, but then quickly shifted to the significance of the Superdome and its place in history. You think about the thousands of people who were here during Katrina, and what they must've gone through.
``I really wanted to come and look around here today. It was important.''
HAT VS. VEST: Les Miles opened his time on the podium with an extensive primer on the most prominent part of his coaching wardrobe: the cap.
Miles didn't have anything on his head for media day, but rest assured he'll be wearing his old-style baseball cap when the Tigers take on Ohio State for the BCS championship.
``Coach, where is the hat?'' someone asked.
``It doesn't stay on my head all the time,'' Miles replied. ``I put it in the locker occasionally.''
Some have billed this game ``Vest vs. Cap,'' since Ohio State coach Jim Tressel always wears a sweater vest on the sideline.
``Well, I suspect the vest keeps him warmer than the hat,'' Miles quipped. ``But it's just kind of a game-day regimen and something that you're used to.''
He then explained why he started wearing a cap.
``My father was an ol' baseball coach in youth sports, and I started wearing caps with him,'' Miles said.
Then it got real technical.
``I was a baseball player growing up, back when there was a nice superstructure to the front part of the hat, if you recall. Kind of vertical,'' Miles said. ``If you look at a lot of pictures, you can see the hats really have changed and have come down a little flatter in the front.
``It's kind of important to me that there's just a little high-rise on the front end of the hat. My hats aren't as old by design as some, but I like a traditional hat, if you don't mind.''
HENTON'S DEFENSE: Ohio State backup quarterback Antonio Henton, who pleaded guilty in November to a minor misdemeanor count of loitering for prostitution, pleaded his case to the media for the first time.
Henton, a redshirt freshman from Fort Valley, Ga., said police wrongly arrested him and did not read him his rights.
It was the first time Henton had spoken with reporters since his arrest just south of the Ohio State campus on Sept. 24. He was charged with offering a female police officer $20 for a sex act.
``I was in the wrong place at the wrong time,'' Henton said. ``The police officers pulled me over to the corner. Like anybody else I stopped, and she was harassing me. Then it got flipped around, the story got flipped around. So of course they're going to take the officer's side of the story.
``It really wasn't nothing like I was looking for sex or whatever.''
Henton was suspended from the team for a week by coach Jim Tressel, who said he believes the player's version even though he agreed to a plea deal on Nov. 12. Henton paid court costs of $156 and is required to attend classes for people convicted of prostitution-related offenses.
``I believe that whatever he and his legal team decided to do was the best thing for him, and that he may have been 'misunderstood,' (which) might have been the best word,'' the coach said.
Police in Columbus, Ohio, stood by their investigation.
``There are certain parameters we look for in these types of crimes,'' said a police spokesman, Sgt. Rich Weiner. ``The officer felt the elements were met, she acted appropriately and made the arrest.
``If he wasn't guilty, perhaps he should have taken it to a jury or a judge and pursued it that way.''
Henton has climbed from third to second team in the weeks leading up to the bowl game and will back up starter Todd Boeckman in Monday night's game.
Robbie Schoenhoft, the No. 2 quarterback all season, has shifted to tight end for the bowl game but expects to return to quarterback in the spring.
FAST LITTLE MAN: Trindon Holliday always gets the same question, even from his teammates: Just how fast are you?
The LSU running back, who is just 5-foot-5 and 160 pounds, finished second in the 100-meter dash at the NCAA track championships last year.
Punter Patrick Fisher - who, by the way, is a foot taller than Holliday - conducted a mock interview with his diminutive teammate on media day.
``What do you run the 100 in? About 8 seconds?'' Fisher asked.
``Nah, I'm not that fast,'' Holliday replied.
At the NCAAs, he put up a time of 10.02 seconds, setting a school record. He also qualified to run at the world championships in Japan last summer, but gave up his spot to prepare for the football season.
You see, Holliday is equally valuable on the gridiron, lining up at different positions and forcing defenses to account for his speed and quickness. The sophomore rushed for 351 yards, averaging 7 yards per carry. He also had the second kickoff return touchdown of his career, a 98-yarder against Mississippi.
``I'm constantly challenged to use him more,'' coach Les Miles said. ``I was never skeptical of the abilities he had. He just needed to show and develop the ability to run the football a little bit more, and he's done that.''