COLUMBUS — Ohio State head coach Ryan Day met with reporters on Tuesday to provide some updates on his football team and talk more about OSU’s Peach Bowl bid. Also speaking with the media were Peach Bowl CEO Gary Stokan and OSU AD Gene Smith. Stokan was on hand to officially invite Ohio State to the Peach Bowl, which Smith accepted. The highlights of everything that was said by all parties can be found belowl
Gary Stokan CEO of the Peach Bowl
- They expect to break the attendance record at Mercedes Benz Stadium. Ohio State sold out its allotment in two days, which may be a record for the Peach Bowl. They have added 2,000 standing-room-only tickets.
- They view Atlanta as “The Capital of College Football.”
- 53% of the games in the Peach Bowl have been decided by a touchdown or less.
- Teams will be paid $6 million each. Two million of that will be for travel.
- The Peach Bowl was started in 1968 with a mission of charity. They have given $60.9 million back to charity since 2002, which is by far the most of the bowl games.
- They are providing $100,000 to Ohio State to endow a scholarship. Half of that will be provided by Chi-Fil-A. They will be for high school students from Atlanta.
- 13,000 tickets go to OSU and UGA. 500 go to each band, so it’s 12,500 for each team.
- Styles make fights, and to have these two teams playing against each other makes for a great fight. “This is going to be a true war.”
- They want the players to have a great week. The motto is “live, laugh, and learn.” They have nightly competitions between the two teams in various games and contests. There is a belt up for grabs each night. They also want the players to learn to give back. The Peach Bowl is currently funding seven trials to find a cure for childhood cancer with $20 million. They will also bring both teams together and sit them next to each other at Ebenezer Baptist Church where Martin Luther King, Jr. once preached. They will receive a living history lesson.
- Why isn’t there a major bowl game in the Midwest? There should be. There’s no reason. Just takes somebody to do it.
- Thanks to the Peach Bowl for their charitable work.
- “We’re excited about the opportunity.” “It’s a place we haven’t been and a place we wanted to go.” It’s a place that Ohio State fans can get to pretty easily.
- It’s an honor to be invited to go to the Peach Bowl. The players are obviously excited.
- Atlanta has been a wonderful place for Ohio State in recruiting and there are a ton of fans down there. “Can’t even imagine what the atmosphere is going to be like.”
- They have had two good weeks of work while also dealing with Finals.
- How does Kevin Wilson’s departure affect bowl prep? They will cross the replacement bridge after the season. They knew replacing him would be a possibility. He’s working 24 hours a day right now but he’s keeping Ohio State first and foremost. He’s been at practices.
- What can you say about Keenan Bailey? They won’t do anything formal until after the season, but he is an excellent coach. A really sharp young man who is going to do excellent things in his career. “Keenen’s turned down a lot of opportunities to go a lot of other places over the years.”
- Practices have been spirited. The guys have an urgency about them. Every play is going to be important. They are still in the fundamental phase right now. They’ll get to game planning soon. The third phase is game week.
- Georgia’s offense? They do a great job of playing off of their defense and special teams. Stetson Bennett gets it all going. Both tight ends are talented. It’s the quarterback that makes it all go. Bennett is an unbelievable story. They do multiple things and they are creative in how they do them.
- Why didn’t Dallan Hayden play much against Michigan? It was just a flow of the game thing. Tony Alford makes those decisions. Chip Trayanum played well.
- “For the most part everybody is healing up.”
- How do you balance adding players to your team through the portal and recruiting while getting ready for a game? “Don’t sleep.” “That’s December.” Most people think about Christmas in December. He thinks about recruiting, bowl prep, the transfer portal. That’s the situation in big-time college football. “It’s exactly what you wanted.”
- What might they do in the transfer portal? “We look at everything and it’s constantly changing.” It’s difficult to walk into Ohio State and start right out of the portal. They look for culture fits and the right expectations. Playing time is earned. He doesn’t know how a coach can guarantee players a starting job. The portal has become like free agency so it’s something that OSU has to be a part of.
- How has NIL changed recruiting? It was never part of the conversation, then became part of the conversation. Now it is trending to THE conversation for recruits.
- It is a priority to make sure OSU has everything they need to support their players in NIL.
- On NIL: “We’re going to need all the help we can get, but that’s the way it is across the country right now.”
- What’s the mental state of the team right now? This time of the year you’re generally taking an exhale because it’s also finals, but this team is out there to work and they want more.
- How much hope did you have for Jaxon Smith-Njigba to return? It was most frustrating for Jaxon Smith-Njigba. It was tough to adapt to him not being available. It never got to the point where he was comfortable returning to play. The last evaluation was that it wasn’t going to happen without him possible doing more harm.
- Is it good to know now that JSN won’t be available? Yeah, you can move on from that possibility and plan accordingly, which is what they have had to do all season long.
- He met Mike Leach a couple of times. Tremendous respect for him and thoughts and prayers to his family and the folks at Mississippi State. That’s too young and makes you take a deep breath and think about life in general. “It’s a tragedy.” “I didn’t know him as well as others, but it looked like he enjoyed his time. He did it his way, and there’s a lot to be said for that.”
- CJ Stroud has a lot to be proud of, “but I think he would also like to win it.” “I know he’s very, very excited to play in this game. He has given a lot to Ohio State.”
- Don’t really have an update on TreVeyon Henderson’s health right now. That’s really the situation for the entire team right now. They’ll know more in the next few days after the staff gets off the road.
- There have been a lot of changes. The early signing period made a lot of sense for a lot of people, but it has now made for a very hectic December. Now you throw the portal in there, it’s even more so. You don’t always know the ramifications of decisions until after the fact.
- Georgia’s tight ends? Brock Bowers is so versatile and Darnell Washington is just a massive human being who can overwhelm you with his size and athleticism. They can do multiple things, which allows them to create mismatches offensively.
- Is ball security an issue with Dallan Hayden in practice? No, that’s just something they talk about all the time with running backs.
- How did Dallan Hayden take not playing much against Michigan? “It’s just kind of the way went.” Dallan wants to play.
- Where is the NCAA with all of this NIL talk for recruits? That’s a question he asks a lot and he’ll just leave it at that.
- It’s going to be loud at the Peach Bowl. Ohio State is going to travel very well, but they also know it’s going to be a loud game.
- Has there been a discussion on how injuries were handled this season? That’s why they have doctors and professionals advising the coaches when players are available. “That’s why I stay out of those conversations.” “That’s above my pay grade.” Injuries are a frustrating part of football.
- How do you change what you do when dealing with a DT like Jalen Carter? You have to know where he is all the time. It will be a big challenge for the guys up front.
- Where is the Ohio State NIL kitty right now? How close to the $13 million? They are working towards that. NIL is here. You have to embrace it and move forward. “We’re all in.” Not sure where the dollar figure is now, but they need to be on the forefront of that right now. The players need to know they are fighting for them right now, same with recruits.
- There’s not a lot of room for adding a bunch of guys through the portal every year. They’re never going to go and bring in 15 transfer guys because they rely on 20 high school recruits every year to build their program. It has to be an upgrade and the right fit regardless.
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