Ranking the 2014 Big Ten Football Media Guides

By Jason Priestas on July 28, 2014 at 11:58a
Michigan State's media guide cover screams scoreboard.

One of the small joys of Big Ten Media Days is getting your hands on the B1G-branded USB drive packed with the football media guides of all league programs.

We live in an era of talented graphic designers embedded in football programs and the cover of a media guide is one of the most important tasks they'll face. Not only can the cover help set the tone for the season (okay, maybe that's a stretch), but media guides are powerful recruiting tools, serving as the gateway to 100-plus pages of humble- and not-so-humblebrags.

By and large, covers of the media guides of Big Ten programs hit the mark this year, but as always, there were a few duds. Here they are, ranked.

#14 Purdue

I'm pretty sure Darrell Hazell designed the cover of Purdue's 2014 football media guide. To be fair, Purdue's cover looks like this every year, though.

2014 Purdue Football Media Guide

#13 Wisconsin

Wisconsin, like Purdue, rides the austerity wagon when it comes to media guide covers. Which is a shame, because the program has quite a few things to boast about in recent years (at the top of the list would be the fact that Bret Bielema has taken his stumbling act to a new city).

2014 Wisconsin Football Media Guide

#12 Illinois

We get it, Illinois, you have cool new helmets. Nice touch adding the Memorial Stadium press box. Not pictured: thousands of empty seats.

2014 Illinois Football Media Guide

#11 Nebraska

If clean is your thing, the cover of Nebraska's media guide is strong. But this cover should be a photo of Pelini holding his cat.

2014 Nebraska Football Media Guide

#10 Iowa

Ah, the classic player montage on the cover of the Iowa media guide. Left tackle Brandon Scherff gets the star placement on a cover that features two other linemen and a skill player wearing No. 45. That's peak Iowa.

2014 Iowa Football Media Guide

#9 Northwestern

Northwestern gets points for somehow coming close to creating a menacing media guide cover with purple as the dominant color. Also, the "Chicago's Big Ten Team" effectively jabs Illinois, so there's that.

2014 Northwestern Football Media Guide

#8 Minnesota

If you had Minnesota as the program that would bring grunge and a graffiti font to a media guide cover, take a bow. I probably would have slotted them a bit lower, but my affinity for Jerry Kill bumps them up in the rankings.

2014 Minnesota Football Media Guide

#7 Ohio State

Of course Ohio State's cover looks great because of the Block O and all of that scarlet and gray. But replace the logo and colors with another school and it's just a good, but not exceptionally great media guide cover.

2014 Ohio State Football Media Guide

#6 Penn State

Penn State went with a shot from Beaver Stadium for its cover and it works. Bonus points for not taking the photo in front of a Paterno statue or memorial.

2014 Penn State Football Media Guide

#5 Michigan

What do you do when your team goes 3-5 in Big Ten play? Why, you feature your cathedral of a stadium – at night, no less. It's a great photo of Michigan Stadium. So great, you can almost forget it's packed with fans rattling car keys.

2014 Michigan Football Media Guide

#4 Indiana

Congratulations, Indiana graphic designer. You managed to do the impossible: make Hoosier football seem intimidating.

2014 Indiana Football Media Guide

#3 Maryland

Quarterback C.J. Brown and wide receiver Stefon Diggs feature on Maryland's media guide cover. Remember: when in doubt, mean mug.

2014 Maryland Football Media Guide

#2 Rutgers

I love this Rutgers cover. It manages to both tout the school's role in college football history while also showing excitement for joining the Big Ten. It's pretty cool they managed to get a shot of the Hound in action, too. Or is that Jaime Lannister? Either way, it works.

2014 Rutgers Football Media Guide

#1 Michigan State

What can you say – scoreboard always works on the cover of a media guide and Michigan State enjoyed scoreboard quite a bit last season, dumping Michigan for the fifth time in six games, knocking off undefeated Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game and then locking up the school's first Rose Bowl win in nearly 25 years.

2014 Michigan State Football Media Guide


OSUpawn's picture

How did they find a picture of "the house" with so much yellow?  Where they playing Iowa?

I believe the SEC players put their pants on one leg at a time like we do.

+33 HS
BuckeyeInOrlando's picture

its gotta be photoshopped. Even if they were playing Iowa, there would still be a lot of blacks and blues in the crowd.

+2 HS
OSUpawn's picture

If that is true than this picture is even more impressive.  50-60K of shirts needing recolored.  I feel sorry for that guy.

I believe the SEC players put their pants on one leg at a time like we do.

+3 HS
M Man's picture

Michigan:  That photo's a Notre Dame game.  When all our hopes still spring eternal in the second week of the season.  And it is photoshopped.  Proof: the block M on the back of the south endzone scoreboard is not back-lit in real life.  There's no way that that photo could appear that way with the block M so bright.  If Given that they photoshopped that, who knows what else they might have done?  As a matter of fact, the spot in the northwest corner of the Stadium, first 20 rows or so, is where the band sits and those seats are all "Maized" over.  Not Michigan band uniforms; it is practically strobing.  Five fakes out of five.

Penn State:  What marketing genius thought of "Prison Stencil" as a font for the cover art?

OSU:  It's a pretty good cover.  Best runner-up.  But I've seen about 50 better graphic designs on 11W.

MSU:  Props; I agree that it's the best one.

Indiana:  This was their second-choice cover photo:

+15 HS
Boxley's picture

Well played Sir, well played!

I mean PSU does look like they are coming out of a prison gate.

"...the man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic-the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done." President T. Roosevelt

+3 HS
M Man's picture

Yeah, I kept scanning all of the faces in the blue and white jerseys, looking for Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman.

+6 HS
ogama843's picture

When i first glanced at Penn State's cover I read "Unravelled". 

Holy Buckeye!

Oldschoolbuck's picture

Awesome, MMan, awesome!

I agree Sparty's is far and away the best... two thoughts, though: I really liked Minny's; and Purdon't/Wiscy - WTF?! Did they have some 4th graders design those?

jwarner6's picture

Michigan Man:  11 upvotes on a Buckeye web site.  Well played, M-Man.


+1 HS
ogama843's picture

BTW, MMan, i sat down and had cocktails with Bobby Morrison while on vacation in Northern Ontario a few weeks ago. He saw my Ohio State shirt and gave me shit. Anyway, interesting and fun to talk with.

Holy Buckeye!

Young_Turk's picture

Laughable how plain the first two are.  Way to mail it in PR-guy for Wisconsin and Purdue.  


+1 HS
B1g14's picture

You realize that you can't give media guides to recruits, right? So covers are irrelevant. 

Who dat

Young_Turk's picture

You seem like you'll flame out early here, noob.  


+1 HS
chicagobuckeye's picture

Skill player 45 is Mark Weisman

+3 HS
Jason Priestas's picture

Oh, I'm well aware of the Hebrew Hammer.

funtubs's picture

This made me laugh way more than it should've. Is that actually his nickname?

+3 HS
chicagobuckeye's picture

Figured just letting you know if you didn't.

+1 HS
Curt Heinrichs's picture

If I remember correctly, Ohio State's Alumni Association president was a skill player who wore #45. 

+2 HS
Jason Priestas's picture

Yeah, 40 years ago.

gumtape's picture

Putting him on the cover is trifling with the AIRBHG. Just sayin'.

High and tight boo boo

+14 HS
M Man's picture

Lord, there aren't enough helmet stickers in the entire WHAC for this comment.  One upvote from me.

+3 HS
Jugdish's picture

Oh sure. Pick on Purdue. You're just jealous over their hype video.

Remember to get your wolverine spayed or neutered. TBDBITL

+9 HS
Buckeye Knight's picture

Indiana and Rutgers look cool.  What the hell are Purdue and Wisconsin doing?

+2 HS
Hovenaut's picture

This might be the highest Rutgers is ranked all year.


We have filled the Braxton Miller position.

+15 HS
Jack Burton's picture

"Why, you feature your cathedral of a stadium"

Ohio Stadium is a college football cathedral, a beautiful work of architecture. The big house is a glorified hole in the ground.

It's all in the reflexes - Me

+3 HS
AndyVance's picture

It's a great photo, nonetheless. Ohio State needs to dial up some swag aerial photos at one of the 27 night games we're playing this year. This Dispatch photo is pretty cool, but we can do much, much better.

+8 HS
dcviper's picture

They should probably wait until the Olentangy River Restoration Project is complete, though.

+4 HS
11UrbzAndSpices's picture

daggone I miss living there

"Quit skipping leg day bro" - Dr James Andrews

+2 HS
shaggybuckeye's picture

Man that photo really makes me miss Columbus.

AndyVance's picture

Some of these are pretty great. Hats off to Sparty and Indiana especially.

+1 HS
GlueFingers Lavelli's picture

Minnesota: Kick by Kick.... Phillip Nelson front and center.

Edit: Sorry I couldn't help myself. No hate for the Gophers.

Dustin Fox was our leading tackler as a corner.... because his guy always caught the ball.

+1 HS
BuckeyeInOrlando's picture

For a brief moment after seeing the Rutgers cover, I'm happy to welcome them to the B1G. OK, time's up, go back to where you came from...

+1 HS
BuckeyeInOrlando's picture

It's hard to argue with that MSU cover. Just gotta make it so they can't use it next year!

+2 HS
Boxley's picture

What's even better about MSU's cover is if any other team uses it when they win, That team will just seem like lame copycats. A perennial winner that just keeps on sticking it to the rest of us.

Cannot beleive tOSU went with that cover, but it is meant to honor this years stars.

"...the man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic-the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done." President T. Roosevelt

+1 HS
buckeyedog's picture

Those Penn State players look kind of scared. 

+2 HS
wojodta's picture

Honestly, I don't think the Maryland cover is very good at all. I'd probably have that in the bottom 3 or 4.

+4 HS
Tater_Schroeder's picture

+1 to Rutgers. Legitimately pretty awesome.


+2 HS
What Would Troy Smith Do's picture

Agreed.  Best DESIGN here by far.  The only problem is that it's hard to trump MSU's "Scoreboard" approach.

+2 HS
osuguy2008's picture

How did Curtis Grant get on the cover?

+1 HS
OSU069's picture

I think Armani Reeves is on it as well. It probably had to do with leadership and character as well as production.

+1 HS
The Urban Legend's picture

I'm glad that the staff here can actually rank all B1G teams and not have Ohio State in the top 3 of every list. Good but far from great media cover that was ranked appropriately. 

The Legend continues

+1 HS
My buck's picture

Flip Indiana and Maryland and I'd totally agree. Rutgers' is a great cover. 

+1 HS
BroJim's picture

Rutgers' cover is pretty corny. 

I season my simple food with hunger

Buckeye On Elba's picture

Maybe they're making a push to enter the B1G West?

Sorry for the bad pun.

+2 HS
tennbuckeye19's picture

Couple Observations:

1.) Why does UM's cover say "The Team" 3 times? Do they have 3 teams? Shouldn't it just say "The Stadium", cause we all know the Big House is the only thing they've got going for them.

2.) Minnesota's use of "Brick by Brick" is interesting. Butch Jones has been using that phrase to describe his rebuilding project at Tennessee ever since he got the job. 

M Man's picture

"The team, the team, the team..."

+10 HS
tennbuckeye19's picture

M Man dropping some enlightenment. Thanks. 

+1 HS
AndyVance's picture

Great video M Man. Not hard to see the Woody Hayes influence on Bo in that speech; I love watching clips of those two guys. Never a pair of friends/rival better in this sport. Never.

M Man's picture

Andy, I think the exact same speech could be given, with the exact same conviction, to an Ohio State football team.  (Edit. - Bo says "Michigan" twice in the last few seconds of the clip.  Without that, it could be delivered word-for-word in Columbus.)

I don't know how many former OSU players who also played in the NFL you've spoken to, Andy; I know several such players out of Michigan.  And to a man, they say that they never had so much fun as when they played football in Ann Arbor.  Not in high school (where they were basically all H.S. all-stars and all-state selections); and not in the NFL, or MLB.  The NFL, they all say, was just work.  And often times extremely unpleasant.  Nothing, for them, came close to the experience of college football.  

My guess is that there is a lot of the same feeling in Columbus.  I think players coming out of Oklahoma think the same way.  And USC; and probably Notre Dame and perhaps a whole lot of places.  I know it is true for Michigan.  Bo had it right, and it has always been interesting to hear somebody verbalize it.  I can actually picture Woody Hayes giving the same speech, and I'd have liked to have heard it, because coming from Woody it would be damn good.

+5 HS
Buckeye On Elba's picture

For some reason that Iowa cover just reminds me of a 1997 Topps card. If not that, I feel like that exact setup could have been used at any time in the past 30 years for Iowa's cover and it would be totally appropriate.

+1 HS
Tony's picture

Does the Maryland QB's pants have a QR code on them?

+1 HS
vitaminB's picture

I'm glad Penn St finally agrees that we aren't their rival.

+6 HS
hodge's picture

That font on UM's guide is exceptionally bland.  Good photo, terrible design outside of that.

Rutgers wins this contest running away, I'd vote MSU second, Indiana third, Penn State fourth, and OSU fifth. 

+1 HS
M Man's picture

Yep; you're right as usual.  2013 was better graphically (the players on the cover are all of the "Legends" number-honorees):

2012 had a cleaner look too (but again with the bargain-basement font):
Shangheyed's picture

Rutgers looks awesome...  Maryland not so much...

+1 HS
sb97's picture

I like Nebraska's cover :(

+1 HS
UrbanCulture's picture

It was my second favorite you are not alone!

+1 HS
MN Buckeye's picture

Purdue and WI: That's it???

IL: Fight?

NB: confusing montage

Iowa: this is supposed to look intimidating?

NW: what jumped out to me was the Under Armor symbol

MN: cool, of course

OSU: really? This can't be Sammy

PSU: too many guys with hands covering their crotch

MI: good photo, even if photoshopped

The top four look really good.

+1 HS
johnblairgobucks's picture

Lol about Penn State

# 13 looks like he is next in line to get hit in the nuts, and # 4 looks like he doesn't even want to be there.

DaveStephens's picture

Props to Minnesota for sporting all three colored tops in the cover. Id have it higher on the list. 

I'd expect Purdue's guide to come out looking like an engineering manual, but Wisconsin's let me down.  

The Dude abides.

+1 HS
Maestro's picture

Eff Sparty

vacuuming sucks

+1 HS