Ohio State coach Jim Tressel has made up his mind five days before the biggest game of the season.
Craig Krenzel will be OSU’s starting quarterback against Michigan. Scott McMullen will be his backup, and Rick McFadden will be third on the depth chart.
That leaves senior quarterback Steve Bellisari fourth in line for the regular-season finale against the Michigan Wolverines. While Tressel didn’t come out and say he was 100 percent sure Bellisari would stay on the sideline, he left little doubt he would not spend any time under center.
“As I stand here today I guess he would be No. 4,” he said.
“Unfortunately I don’t think there are those numbers of repetition available especially with the thought in mind that Craig and Scott need significant repetitions.”
In fact Tressel said he could not envision any situation where he would use Bellisari in the game.
“Can I envision that? No.” he said. “One (situation) hasn’t popped up in my mind.
“As I stand here today my plans are to get Craig and Scott thoroughly prepared for Michigan,” he said.
Tressel said Bellisari addressed the team Sunday night in a closed meeting and asked the players if they could accept him back as a member of the team. There was no ambiguity among players or the coaching staff on whether to accept Bellisari back.
“There was really never a point in time when Steve was never really a part of our family,” Tressel said. “Steve Bellisari is, and will be a member of this football team.”
In a written statement released yesterday, Bellisari expressed his sorrow and regret concerning Friday morning’s incidents.
“I want to apologize to the university, my coaches, our great fans and especially my teammates for my behavior,” Bellisari said in the statement. “I let everyone down by my actions and for that I am extremely sorry.”
At the weekly luncheon Tressel would not allow any of his players in attendance to talk about Bellisari’s situation or how they felt about it. Bellisari will also not be available to the media until sometime after the Michigan game.
The players said they needed to have Bellisari with the team for support, Tressel said. In making his decision Tressel asked administrators and coaches about their thoughts and stopped at the senior level of his team before making his decision.
“(My players) have mixed emotions as they shared a little bit yesterday,” Tressel said. “Steve will be with the team. We all thought that was very, very important.”
Tressel said he spoke with Bellisari on the phone after the incident Friday morning and while he was upset, Tressel reaffirmed Bellisari had the team in mind when reflecting on his personal situation.
“I talked with him on the phone and he told me ‘Coach, whatever you think is best for the team is what I want to do,’ ” Tressel said.
While the first-year coach has made up his mind as of yesterday, he still leaves a little window for Bellisari to see some action.
“He would be available to play,” Tressel said. “I can stand here quite honestly and say to you that I have mixed emotions.
“Life is how you react to things. We wanted to get out early on to (the media) our reaction.”
While there is a little glimmer for the senior quarterback, Tressel has all but nailed down the issue on Bellisari’s future with the team.
He would not discuss if other players being present at The Spot Bar on Thursday night with Bellisari had anything to do with the length of Bellisari’s suspension.