Big Ten Media Day One Wrap-up, Coaches Edition


big ten conference
Check out that snazzy graphic above.  Study it.  Love it.

And then realize that this is the last year that it will be relevant and current.

Much like the conference expansion dominated the news after the NCAA Basketball Tournament, the Big Ten’s expansion to add Nebraska was the dominant topic of Big Ten Media Day on day 1.

It got a little tiresome, quite frankly.

By Paul Schmidt

While expansion (current and future), future scheduling, divisions and the potential site for the Big Ten Championship game dominated the talk of the day, there were plenty of great tidbits from the coaches, Big Ten coordinator of officials Bill Carollo, Big Ten Network president Mark Silverman and Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany.

Some of my personal favorites from the day:

  • Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema (a Rob Riggle look-a-like if there ever was one) started the day off right by saying, “Thank you, Julie. Sorry I was a little late. I was on the phone with Commissioner (Jim) Delany and I have the new expansion guidelines right here in front of me.” Bielema was a pleasure to listen to for his 15 minutes, and talked about his resolution to be nicer and more friendly with the media, but from our standpoint here at The Sports Bank, he not only is friendly, he’s always been a hoot.
  • Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald turned Bielema right around and said, “I appreciate Bret’s ice breaker. I’m pretty good with the media. So I’m not going to kill you with kindness; I’m just going to give you the facts and go from there.” Say what you will about Fitzy, he’s a fun guy.  Go ‘Cats!
  • Here’s a quiz: only one coach at media day spoke about their academics and the hours they’ve given back to their local communities. Three guesses who that was and the first two don’t count (and here’s a hint…they wear a lot of purple and have a cartoony cat as their mascot).
  • RichRod not only raised the bar for unintentional comedy, he dropped the understatement of the day (if not the whole event). The Michigan head coach actually said, “The last two years have, there have been quite a lot of experiences, a lot of drama, so to speak.”  That’s mealy-mouthing the negative things that have happened in Ann Arbor over the last couple of seasons, and that’s without getting into the poor performance on the football field. Is RichRod just playing out the string there, or does he even care? It was difficult to tell today.
  • Ron Zook’s wife made him buy appliances this summer, and that was something that he hadn’t done before. And he says he won’t ever do it again. I’d like to know what he bought if it’s going to last that long…
  • Indiana’s Bill Lynch was fairly outstanding at the dais, reading off all 22 starters for this season.  Or at least it seemed like it.
  • Not to be topped, Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio talked a whoooooole lot about his kickers, the ones currently playing and the new ones he has recruited.
  • Dantonio also won the contest of “Coach Most Likely to be a Robot.”
  • Back to Lynch, he spoke of the new facilities in Bloomington being a big reason why kids are looking at the Hoosiers as a potential landing spot. He said they just opened up a 25,000 square foot weight room (which, that sounds big, is it?) and are working on a 25,000 square foot academic center for the team.  When you have to have an academic center that’s as big as your weight room for the football players, that’s probably doesn’t reflect well on their performances in the classroom. 
  • Lynch also said that his Hoosiers, last season, were 12 plays away from having an outstanding season and playing in a pretty good bowl game. Not to be outdone in statements of absurdity, Ron Zook said that the Illini were 15 plays away from the BCS Championship Game…
  • The first question to Joe Paterno was, “Are you going to coach until you die?” His response: “Is that wishful thinking?”
  • Another female questioner was asking him about his health and the intestinal ailments that he dealt with last spring, and he said he didn’t want to get into it, but when pressed, admitted, “It was actually a little bit below the intestines.” JoePa, ladies and gentlemen!
  • Kirk Ferentz, Iowa’s head coach, has all the credibility of a used-car salesman.  But it’s also easy to see why people and recruits like him, as at his presser he was easy-going and very self-depreciating. When a questioner started to ask a question with, “Kirk, you often joke that no one asks your opinion for anything,” he interrupted with, “There’s a reason for that.”
  • Ferentz also thanked the hotel gift shop for providing him with a belt to wear, because he didn’t pack very well. He also said he doesn’t get to dress up much and hasn’t lately, so this was a nice change. See, these are the things you needed to know about the Big Ten coaches.
  • Tim Brewster is a really nice guy, but during his whole time at the podium, the Minnesota head coach came across like his job was on the line. Which it is.
  • Jim Tressel said he knows Ohio State is the one with the target on it’s back. And they are.

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