By Paul Haynes
Games like these are different for players and coaches. I was asked recently about how we are preparing players like freshman quarterback Colin Reardon to play in front of 92,542 fans at Tiger Stadium, and honestly I don't know how much that is going to bother him.
Once the ball is kicked off, I think players like Colin block all of that stuff out. You never know until you get there and see how guys react to it.
Personally, I get more into these games. I get more into it, both as a player and as a coach. I haven't changed. I wear my emotions on my sleeve when I get out there, and I take it personally. The louder it gets and the rowdier the fans get, the more I got focused and the more I was inspired to do good things.
My first game like this was as a freshman when we played Craig "Ironhead" Heyward at Pitt Stadium in November. It was the last game of the season on that old turf. It was a great atmosphere.
I was about 160 pounds soaking wet, and Ironhead was about 250 or 260. I hit him. I don't know how much damage I did, but I hit him.
The awesome thing about that was later in life I ended up recruiting his son Cam to Ohio State.
I try not to get too hyped up, even though I know a game like this is a crazy environment. The reality is that you are talking about a lot more people, but it doesn't really impact what goes on between the lines. The louder they get, the more we have to be focused. If that's the case, then you want them to get louder because we'll concentrate and focus even more.
We have tried to simulate the noise with some speakers at practice this week. You can do that, but you can't simulate the atmosphere. Until you see 92,000 in the stands with pom-poms and going crazy, you can't know what that is like. The only way to simulate that is to go out and hire 92,000 actors to come in here to Dix Stadium.
This is part of the fun of playing college football. This is why you play the game.