Bret Bielema Slays First Big Ten Media Day as an Illini

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Shortly after he exited stage right Illinois Fighting Illini head coach Bret Bielema did a breakout media session with a dozen or so reporters. It was there Bielema said that with anything in life, if you have come with no or low expectations, you’ll probably enjoy it and have fun.

It certainly applies to Media Days in general, and his very first season leading the flagship school of his home state. Winning the press conference is one thing, winning football games is another animal entirely. Credit Bielema, today he nailed the former.

Bielema can be a polarizing figure, and he’s not for everybody, but when he turns on the charm, he’s definitely among the elite in the sports. Perhaps the same charm he conveyed with the media on Thursday works with recruits, and if so, then well, he’s really going to shape/develop a strong and deep roster.

Every coach fielded questions about vaccination rates, or they brought up the topic themselves. As you can see from above, Bielema had the best answer. Right now, in order to beat covid-19, we need everybody on board. You got to get it done, period.

At every media day, whichever coach is new always has the biggest swarm of reporters around him, Bielema was no exception.

In terms of media skills alone, Illinois football went from a Fiat to a Ferrarri when they made the switch from Lovie Smith to Bret Bielema.

“I think the part that is exciting for me especially is you learn so many things in life as you go through it that you had no idea you were going to learn that day, right?” said Bielema.

So to be in this conference, to be in this role, is truly a moment in my lifetime that means everything to me.”

Actually winning games is another story, and per usual, Illinois is picked by almost everybody to finish at or near last in the league.

And while a long season is most likely coming, it’s hard to think or feel that way when you hear Bielema on the mic. So listen to his individual podium session here.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank, partnered with News NowBanks, the author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America” and “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” has regularly appeared in WGNSports Illustrated and the  Chicago Tribune.

Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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