|Basketball stars at the reins of the football Buckeyes|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 18 April 2007 12:50|
Basketball point guard Mike Conley Jr. will be an honorary head coach in Ohio State's annual intrasquad Scarlet vs. Gray spring football game on Saturday.
Conley, along with high school classmate and friend Greg Oden, led the Buckeyes to a 35-4 record and the national championship game. Now he, Oden and a third freshman, Daequan Cook, are contemplating jumping to the NBA.
Conley said he was looking forward to being in charge of the Scarlet's offense.
``I play my share of video games,'' he said Wednesday. ``I like to get up and down the field with the passing game. I'll mix in some run plays here and there as well.''
Football coach Jim Tressel said he wasn't trying to hide the fact that he wanted to keep Conley and the other freshmen at Ohio State.
``I certainly want them around here. If we have to put them on the staff to do that, then we'll do it,'' he said with a grin.
The 7-foot Oden was also offered a chance to coach, but had to turn down the opportunity to be the tallest college coach in the country.
``Oden is in the tank because his aunt is getting married,'' Tressel told his team as they drafted players on Wednesday afternoon for the scrimmage. ``He's already started watching film, but he can't be here.''
Conley will be assisted with the Scarlet squad by hoops teammates Cook, Mark Titus, Othello Hunter and Kyle Madsen. Jamar Butler, also a starting guard, will be the head coach of the Gray team, with help from Ivan Harris, David Lighty, Danny Peters and Matt Terwilliger.
``This is going to be a great experience being down on the field at the 'Shoe coaching the football players,'' said Butler, who will be a senior. ``I've played football but never coached - but I'm still going to out-coach Mike.''
They'll actually call the plays, off a list given to them by the football coaches.
Tressel first proposed the coaching jobs soon after the basketball team returned from an 84-75 loss to Florida in the national title game in Atlanta on April 2. Basketball coach Thad Matta checked with the players and sent a text-message to Tressel 10 minutes later: ``The guys are ready and they're already watching film, getting ready for the draft.''
None were at the actual draft, but they'll play major roles on Saturday.
``They're going to give the halftime talks and they're going to talk to the guys when they're off the field,'' Tressel said.
Asked if he was taking the day off, Tressel smiled and said, ``Absolutely.''
Each year the football coaching staff tries to make the spring game - which concludes 15 humdrum practice sessions - as much fun as possible for the players. To keep interest high, they run quirky plays that will never see the light of day during the season.
``I am going to have to think about some trick plays,'' Conley said. ``I don't have anything in mind right now but I'll have to work on something for the weekend.''
At Wednesday's draft, a degree of trash talking was not only permitted but encouraged.
After the football coaches divided up the veteran players, offensive tackle Kirk Barton and several others drafted players to round out the Scarlet squad.
Later, Barton was so pleased with the players he picked that he said one of the Scarlet quarterbacks wouldn't have to play hard in the fourth quarter because he'd be taking a knee to preserve a lopsided win.
Brandon Smith, a tight end and fullback, was in charge of the Gray's picks.
Goaded into predicting victory, he eventually said, ``We're going to win. ... We've got a great defense. We should be able to hold them to just a handful of points and hopefully dominate and ring up the scoreboard on them.''