Hurricanes' Romberg leads Big Ugly parade
OSU defensive tackle Tim Anderson will battle Miami's wild lineman.
By ROB TODOR
VINDICATOR SPORTS EDITOR
PHOENIX, Ariz. -- In a game sure to be filled with many plots and sub-plots, perhaps the strangest one during the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl Friday night will take place in the middle of the trenches.
"The Big Uglies," as television commentator Keith Jackson is fond of calling them, are center Brett Romberg of Miami, against Ohio State defensive tackle Tim Anderson.
Romberg has quite a reputation for being on the wild side. He showed up for Wednesday's press conferences wearing a cowboy hat and did his best to entertain the media.
The native of Windsor, Ontario, said he made a recruiting visit to Ohio State.
"It was cold," he recalled, "and the campus was huge. I couldn't have gone [to school] there because my parents wouldn't buy me a car to get to my classes."
Instead, he went to Miami and developed into an All-American center and was this year's recipient of the Rimington Award, given to the nation's top offensive interior lineman.
Friday night in the national championship game, he'll go up against the Buckeyes' Anderson, a fourth-year junior from Clyde, Ohio.
"We've been looking forward to [the game] since our win over Michigan," Anderson said. "It's finally here; the talk's over with.
"All the talk about Miami being this great team and the talk between individual players, it's going to be finally settled on the field."
But the opening kickoff certainly won't mark the end of the talk, especially from Romberg, whose reputation includes a lot of trash talk -- and some other rather interesting habits.
For instance, he's fond of pinching opposing players in their posterior.
"Well, if he pinches me, I'll just pinch him back," Anderson said.
"Oh yeah?" replied Romberg. "Good. That's awesome. I'm sure you'll see us grabbing each other's [derrieres] on TV. It's bound to happen. I'm glad to hear he's got the same mindframe."
Anderson said, "With everything I've seen he's a big jokester. I'm a jokester, too. I'm looking forward to Friday night's game. Me and him, we're going to have a good time out there."
Anderson had better be ready. Miami quarterback Ken Dorsey, who is Romberg's roommate, said his public persona is rather subdued.
"You guys get the PG version of Brett Romberg," said Dorsey. "I get the rated R, rated X."
In a more serious tone, both players were complimentary of each other.
"I think Anderson is a hell of a player," Romberg said. "We're going to battling back and forth."
Anderson said Miami's offensive line is "probably the best we'll see all season."
"Obviously, they're led by Romberg, but their tackles are pretty good, too, and so are their guards.
"It's going to be a big challenge for the [Buckeyes'] defensive line, but we're looking forward to it."
Anderson was named to the All-Big Ten second team by the conference's coaches and was an honorable mention selection by the media, but his performance in Friday's game could as important, if not more so, than many of the Buckeyes' marquee players.
If he is able to neutralize Romberg in the middle, it will free the other defensive players, like linebacker Matt Wilhelm and safety Michael Doss, to make tackles.
"Their diversity [on offense] impresses me the most," said Anderson of the Hurricanes. "If you go in there and shut down the run, you still have to play the pass, and vice versa.
"They're equally effective in both areas of the game. That's very hard to stop and also very impressive at the same time. Not too many teams can throw the ball and run the ball successfully."