NEW ORLEANS -- Jim Tressel remembers watching the lanky Michigan freshman quarterback warming up at the Big House before The Game in 2007.
"I mean, he could spin it," Tressel said of Ryan Mallett.
Tressel wasn't sure which Michigan signal caller Ohio State would face that day in Ann Arbor. Wolverines senior Chad Henne had been dealing with a shoulder injury, and Mallett had seen action in the previous 10 games.
Mallett relieved the banged-up Henne for a stretch against the Buckeyes and had three pass attempts, completing one, in a 14-3 Ohio State victory.
"It was kind of a sleeting, rainy [day]," Tressel said. "It wasn't a wonderful time for a guy to try to spin the ball out there. Ryan came in and played some. And for a freshman, his composure and command and so forth were outstanding."
When Mallett decided to leave Michigan following a coaching change, Tressel was happy.
"I don't know if that's an honorable emotion or not," Tressel said, "but I was. And as fate would have it, I guess I was being punished for that terrible thought because here we are."
Suffice to say Tressel isn't giddy about his reunion with Mallett on Tuesday night in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
"Now I get him as a [redshirt junior]," Tressel said. "And I get him with a great tight end and great running backs and an offensive line that hasn't missed a start and wide receivers who can make plays."
It'll be quite the challenge for Tressel's Buckeyes.