The former YSU coach has been busy with recruiting for the Buckeyes.
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
BOARDMAN -- Ken Conatser said there is not a lot of difference coaching football at Ohio State or Youngstown State once you get between the white lines.
Conatser, who served all 15 seasons under Jim Tressel at YSU and was Tressel's first addition to the OSU staff once he was named coach one year ago, spoke to the Curbstone Coaches Monday.
Conatser has been Tressel's right-hand man -- a job that has made him very happy.
"This Valley has been outstanding to the coach and myself and our roots go deep in this area," Conatser said.
The Cincinnati native is currently involved in recruiting and he's excited about what he's seen so far.
"Last year we had a great recruiting year and this year seems to be even better," he said.
Early start: Ohio State has received 18 verbal commitments, including Maurice Clarett of Warren Harding and Doug Datish of Howland.
Clarett, who graduated early, has already enrolled at Ohio State and will be at spring practice.
"Maurice is officially in school now, but we had to clear up one of his transcripts and I think his official papers cleared at five minutes prior to the school's deadline," Conatser said. "We were on the phone with Thom McDaniels for quite some time clearing up the matter.
"Recruiting is a war that seems to go on forever," Conatser added. "We've already started on the top juniors from around the state. We can't pay for anything for them, but we've invited a large group down to a basketball game to just get a look around."
Coaching at Ohio State is an unbelievable experience, Conatser said.
"The first thing you find out about this town is that they love Ohio State football. They might attack you as coaches, but they always are in love with the football team," he said.
Conatser also praised first-year YSU coach Jon Heacock.
"It was a tough situation to be in and he handled it admirably. To be the first man to follow Tressel is a tough job; nobody wants to be that first coach after a legend."
Local tie: Freshman redshirt Rick McFadden of Struthers contributed to the Buckeyes as a scout team quarterback, he said.
"He's not only a 4.0 student in the classroom, he's a 4.0 player on the field. He's like having another coach on the scout squad. He will definitely get a big opportunity this spring to show what he can do."
Among the questions Conatser answered included Tressel's demeanor in the pressure-packed battles of the Big Ten.
"One thing I've learned over the years with Coach is that you never want to get into a poker game with him because there is no way you'd ever know what he has in his hand," Conatser said.
Conatser believes the controversial BCS will be scrapped following the 2006 season.
"That's when the contract ends and what you'll probably see is a bowl championship game," he said. "Whatever the top bowl is that year will be played a week later with the top two teams who survive the other bowl games."