Happy Friday, ladies and gentlemen1. Let's crank up the A/C and enjoy the sweet relief of not just cooling off, but of the second Big Ten Media Day. Even though this event is always a welcome sign that college football is a-comin', this year, it's a godsend. We've had to endure watching our beloved program get crotch-kicked on a daily basis while, when it comes to other rule-breaking schools, the same media seems quieter than a key-free Michigan Stadium. I think we're all ready for things to get back to normal. Relatively speaking, anyway.
With four first-year coaches, as well as new member Nebraska's Bo Pelini, yesterday's press conferences should have felt like there was a change in the air. Yet, I was overcome with a sense of familiarity. Would Wayne Arnold doppelganger Bret Bielema call anyone a "scrote"? Would Danny Hope's mustache get injured on the way to the podium? Would anyone remember the name of Indiana's coach2? Would Mark Dantonio crack a quarter-smile, or even, dare we dream, a half-smile? Would Luke Fickell say the word "compete" fewer than 20 times? Would Brady Hoke, mid-interview, pull out a stack of Midwestern Meat & Potatoes Sandwiches and just go to town? Would Joe Pa reminisce about his childhood friend Socrates3?
Today's B1G Kickoff Luncheon will not air on the BTN until August 6th, so follow ElevenWarriors and Chris11W for updates as they suffer through the hardship of Wi-Fi circa 2003. They did an outstanding job yesterday of posting the goods, and I'm sure they'll have more for us later in the day. Here's hoping Mike Brewster, Orhian Johnson, and Andrew Sweat have more to say than the standard, "we're looking ahead, not behind". We know, guys, you don't want to turn into pillars of salt. So just tell us who will be the starting QB and we can all move forward.
Next time, he better bring a towel to mop up the sweat. Doug Lesmerises has his take on Fickell's first media day, and apparently, the new coach was not quite prepared to answer questions after addressing the media. Still, he seemed slightly more at ease than during his first press conference. As the article mentioned, media duty will never be his strong suit. He's more in his element on the football field, which is a more desirable trait for a coach, anyway.
Have you missed the word "swagger"? ESPN has plenty of coverage of the B1G Media Days, including Pat Forde's opinion that Brady Hoke is bringing arrogance back to U-M. I don't know how something so ingrained in a university could ever really leave, but whatever. All he has to do is say, "we're Michigan" to every question asked of him, and the fans will eat it up4.
Forde also wrote about Jim Delany meeting with the coaches to address the importance of following the rules, with special emphasis on Ohio State and Michigan. The benevolent figure that he is, he probably just went the "I'm not mad. I'm disappointed" mom route. Of note, Delany knows the system is broken:
Delany said the current NCAA model is outdated, describing it as "a system established in the '50s and stuck in the '70s."
Tread carefully, NCAA. You wouldn't like him when he's angry.
Of course the Big Ten would have 12 players when it was supposed to be 10. The conference released its first Players to Watch list. Last year's Offensive Player of the Year Denard Robinson was one of five players in the Legends Division to be selected. Thanks to a tie, there were seven players from the Leaders Division, including Mike Brewster and John Simon. Brewster is a no-brainer while Simon is a bit of a pleasant surprise. Though his stats weren't dazzling last season, Ohio State fans are expecting a big year from him, and it's great that others have similar expectations.
Wisconsin (RBs Montee Ball and James White) and Nebraska (DT Jared Crick and LB Lavonte David) were the only other schools who had two players chosen. Northwestern QB Dan Persa, who is recovering from Achilles' tendon surgery, was selected, as was MSU QB Kirk Cousins. His teammate, RB Edwin Baker, was a notable omission.
Because East-West was too simple. The Gazette (Cedar Rapids) produced an in-depth, 10-part series about how the Big Ten's realignment unfolded. If the internet has completely eroded your attention span—squirrel!—then you are in luck because I fixed myself a cocktail of 5-Hour Energy and horse steroids and have you covered.
One theme that came up repeatedly was balance, whether competitive or financial. The former was the number one criteria of realignment, followed by rivalries and then geography. The higher-ups thought East and West divisions would have created an inequity. They wanted to split up what they deemed the four most successful programs since 1993: Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, and Nebraska. Iowa and Wisconsin were next and they also had to be separated. And everyone fancied Northwestern:
When Big Ten officials and athletics directors discussed splitting into divisions last summer, several schools sought to align with Northwestern because of the Chicago market. Northwestern has the smallest football stadium and rarely provides more than the minimum to the league revenue-sharing pie in gate receipts.
But that market is priceless.
Nebraska AD Tom Osborne felt that his school was an ideal fit for the B1G culture:
"when I talk about culture, that's one thing that I've noticed is that there's maybe a little less maneuvering for an advantage. More of an attitude of we’re kind of all in this together. Let's make sure everybody survives and does well."
I wonder if that caught the attention of the B12. If not, Michigan AD Dave Brandon's words might have:
"So the fact we can have those discussions and it wasn't about a money grab, it wasn't about who was going to get a better financial outcome, it really was about what brings the best experience for our fans and what keeps the conference healthy, and it helps to have all the schools participate equally. To me that just made the process a lot easier lot with a less drama and a lot less hard-edge negotiating."
Not everything in the piece was brand-new information: the outcry from fans about potentially moving The Game to an earlier date helped scrap that idea, and no one is married to the Leaders and Legends names. Nevertheless, it was an interesting read if you have the time and the psychostimulant drugs.
We'll ride down baby into this tunnel of...pride. As you may have seen in yesterday's Buckshots, John Hicks has organized a tunnel of pride for the opening game against Akron. The former All-American, who took a young Fickell to his first Ohio State game, claims he's recruited up to 2,000 former players from across many different sports. Like most of us, they're tired of the detractors.
Though the tunnel of pride is usually reserved for the Michigan game, I think it's a wonderful show of support from former Buckeyes. If it weren't for the threat of being tasered, I'm guessing many fans would run on the field and attempt to join.
Link up! The OSU MBB team hanging with A Kid Again charity...The new 30 for 30 lineup...Midwesterners like beer...Want to buy a house with a pee-stained rug?...The manliest doll ever...Suck it, Old Yeller. Science says this is the saddest movie scene...Adulthood...Nostalgia.
- 1 Just for you, cronimi.
- 2 Dave? Gary? Steve?
- 3 Actually, yes he would. Between that and Dantonio referring to Tressel as a "tragic hero", it's safe to say that the B1G Media Days are a more erudite affair than that of the SEC, where I think Gene Chizik quoted Predator and Les Miles bragged about that time he nearly finished a word search.
- 4 No pun intended.