BOARDMAN - You get the feeling that members of the Ohio State football team are fed up with talk about former coach Jim Tressel.
With so much emphasis placed on Tressel's resignation, no one has said much about how the Buckeyes will look on the field next season. Training camp can't start soon enough.
"We're just ready to play football," said Buckeyes defensive lineman John Simon, who played at Cardinal Mooney High School. "We're done with this whole scandal. We just want to focus on the season. We really closed ranks together, and we're just looking forward to having a good time."
That hasn't been easy to do during an offseason that won't soon be forgotten. Tressel, who seemed as secure in his employment as any coach in the country, got caught up in players' off-the-field issues that proved overwhelming.
Among the problems were reports of players trading memorabilia for tattoos. Simon was implicated in the issue in a story in "Sports Illustrated."
Simon, speaking before the start of the United Way of Youngstown Champions Among Us banquet Thursday at Mr. Anthony's, has no idea where that story originated.
"I understand that mistakes happen," Simon said. "I guess there was a misunderstanding. It's really rough for my family because they have to answer questions and things like that. That's the part that hurts the most."
When pushed further on the topic, he set the issue straight.
"I don't even know where the place is, so you guys don't have to worry about me," said Simon, who noted that he added one tattoo at Ohio State to the two he had in high school. "I went to the same place, so I'm clean."
Simon had a breakout season in 2010. Breaking into the starting lineup, he registered 41 tackles (22 solos and 19 assists). He had 18.5 tackles for lost yardage, three sacks and two fumble recoveries.
The future might be clouded for the Buckeyes, but it remains bright for Simon.
"We have a lot of great guys coming in," he said. "We have a lot of great players coming back. Like I said, we really closed ranks this summer and past winter, and we're biting at the chops to get after it, and it's going to be a fun year.
"We just want to make sure we welcome the young guys in and they handle the ropes because they can really help us out this year. They came in this last week and did a nice job. It's like I've been saying, we've handled this as a team."
With Tressel gone, the reins of the team have been turned over to interim head coach Luke Fickell. Simon thinks the task won't be too great for Fickell.
"Coach Fick is a great guy," Simon said. "He's a players' coach. He's going to look out after us no matter what. He's a very passionate guy, and I think he's going to instill that in the team. I think that's going to be great for all of us."
The difference between Fickell and Tressel is that Fickell brings a bit more emotion to work.
"Coach Fick is a little more fiery than coach Tressel, but their morals are the same," Simon said. "I don't see a lot of changes around work. He's the guy we need right now."