Buckeyes assistant taking spring off to recover

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Joe Daniels now finds himself using all those life lessons about coping with adversity and battling against the odds.

In 37 years as a coach, including the past seven working with Ohio State's quarterbacks, Daniels has been there for countless players, pushing them to give just a little bit more, to fight a little harder and to be focused against an unrelenting opponent.

Now the terms are almost identical even if the stakes are far higher as Daniels deals with cancer. He's not coaching the Buckeyes this spring while he recovers after having a diseased kidney removed in February.

"The biggest thing right now is recovering from the surgery," he said quietly in a hall at the team's practice facility. "They told me it would take time. Now, I didn't want it to take as long as it is. But I understand."

Nick Siciliano, who was on the Ohio State football staff as an administrator, is filling in for Daniels. He said he's trying not to worry Daniels with the daily concerns of spring workouts -- and makes it clear that he has no design on taking the job permanently.

"As soon as he gets healthy, he can have his warm seat back," he said.

Sometimes Daniels has to battle his impatience. Head coach Jim Tressel has noticed.

"He's got to be smart. We always tell our guys you can't win the championship in the spring," Tressel said. "I told him the last I checked we didn't have a real game until Aug. 30."

Quarterback Todd Boeckman, preparing for his second year as a starter, has noticed how Daniels has confronted his health problems.

"That's very inspirational to me," Boeckman said. "I look up to him so much. I can't believe what he's going through."

Daniels is certain each morning that he is improving.

"Every day I'm getting a little bit better, a little bit stronger," he said.

Many have been touched by what Daniels has already overcome.

"He's the toughest guy I ever met in my life," Siciliano said.