COLUMBUS (AP) - Winning the Heisman Trophy or the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year award are about as big an honor as a college football player and head coach could achieve.
However, during Tuesday's Ohio State press luncheon at the Fawcett Center in Columbus, Buckeyes head coach Jim Tressel received an honor that some could say is even more momentous than the aforementioned accolades - the Patrick Henry award.
The Patrick Henry award recognizes civic leaders, who in a position of great responsibility distinguish themselves with outstanding and exceptional service to the Armed Forces of the United States, the National Guard or NGAUS.
Tressel has been an incredible supporter of the armed forces - and the Ohio National Guard in particular - ever since becoming the head coach of the Buckeyes in 2001. The Ohio State coach even visited U.S. troops in Iraq, Kuwait, Germany, Turkey, Djibouti and Spain back in the summer of 2009.
Maj. Gen. Gregory L. Wayt, Ohio adjutant general announced during Tuesday's media luncheon that Tressel - along with former OSU Director of Football Operations, Bob Tucker - had been selected for the great honor.
"Without question these individuals have each made significant contributions and provide unwavering support for the men and women that serve this state and nation," Wayt said. "I could not be more pleased that their efforts are receiving national recognition."
Tressel said that it's a major goal of his to make sure that his young athletes understand how important the men and women who serve this country are to them.
"I think their awareness is heightened during this time while they're at Ohio State. It may be the first time they meet a service person," Tressel said of his team. "Then all of a sudden a service person comes in - and we have a lot of them speak to us - and all of a sudden you can see our guys are riveted and the more and more they grow to appreciate them. And that's really our goal, is to get them to understand how blessed we are and that we didn't just wake up as this country and you wake up as this guy that can come play football at Ohio State. There were a whole lot of people that paid a dear, dear price for any of this to ever occur."
Tressel said that most of the players never understand how important the members of the armed forces are until they are actually face to face with them.
"Most of us in eighth grade history and ninth grade history, yeah, we got through it, but did we really know it? Did we really understand it?" Tressel said. "When they meet these soldiers and they see these units come in and they talk to them a little bit about the fact that they're leaving their jobs and families and so forth to go and serve, and our guys are belly aching about the training table food last night because the steaks weren't done well.
"It's really is important to us and we're lucky to be where we are, to have the folks willing to come in and help our young people grow and really help all of us because I don't care how long you've been living, sometimes you forget how fortunate we are to live in this country."
HOMAN READY TO GO ... Tressel said that unless somethings goes seriously wrong in the next couple of days, senior linebacker Ross Homan (foot) should be able to play on Saturday against Penn State.
"Good," Tressel said of Homan's health. "I would expect Ross to be ready."
The main question, though ... will Homan be limited at all after missing nearly a month of action with the foot injury?
"I hope not," Tressel said. "He's been out there. We didn't go live or anything. He was out there, ran 7-on-7 Sunday. Just like the trainer said, the key will be how does he do two days in a row. But based upon after Sunday, I would say there's no doubt."
Tressel also stated that redshirt freshman linebacker Dorian Bell (head) will also be ready to play Saturday.
WHAT THE BUCKEYES LEARNED DURING THE OFF WEEK? ... Tressel stated that when stepping back and looking at where the team is at the current time, the word "balance" kept coming up in his head.
"There was nothing that really popped up and said, oh my gosh, you know, I thought we'd be better than this or that, or we've got to stop doing this and start doing more of that," Tressel said. "We need to be balanced. In this day and age, balance is so critical and we've gotten to the point where we've got probably better balance right now than maybe since Troy (Smith) was a senior."
The Buckeyes coach said that the improving running game is helping balance things out offensively, and he attributes that success to the communication up front and the great running of junior tailback Dan "Boom" Herron.
"I think that we've grown up front with our communication together and we haven't had too many situations where we've had minus yard plays where someone might say, well, I thought you called this or that. We had a little bit less mistakes," Tressel said. "I think Boom has raised us through his play. I think his play has been excellent and if he'll play like he did this past month and like he did last November, we have a chance this November.
"I think (Boom's) a difference-maker."