Updates From Day One of Big Ten Media Days

By James Grega on July 23, 2018 at 1:03 pm
Jim Delany

CHICAGO – Day one of Big Ten Media Days got underway Monday morning, as seven of the conference head coaches met with the media, following an opening statement and interview period with conference commissioner Jim Delany

You can follow along with the first day of podium interviews on Big Ten Network, and we will be providing updates on the more relevant comments made by each coach below as the day goes on. The full schedule of coaches set to appear on day one can be seen here

Jim Delany, Big Ten Commissioner

  • Delany is not concerned with the Big Ten division alignment as of now. Said Legends and Leaders, which were based on success in recent history, were not well-received. Added he believes the Big Ten will see more competition in the future and does not foresee any changes in the near future. 
  • When discussing the College Football Playoff, he said moving to a nine-game conference schedule "doesn't make achieving an undefeated season more difficult." Added the conference schedule will continue to be monitored. 
  • When it comes to sports gambling, he said the Big Ten needs to "double down on the educational element." 
  • Discussing the proposed injury report, Delany said he wanted to call it a "player availability report," including players that are both injured and otherwise unavailable for athletic contests. Added he advocates for it on a national scale. "Probably should have done it before."
  • Said he believes basketball players should have the opportunity to turn professional after high school if they desire to make such a jump. Added that the NFL system of three years out of high school works well for college football, but that the one-and-done rule in basketball has been "disruptive."
  • Until the Jenkins Case is resolved in court, Delany said he was not comfortable discussing payments for players in college athletics. 
  • When it comes to Friday night football games, Delany said the Big Ten has worked with high school associations to keep from stepping on high school attendance. Added that the home team has the right to say whether or not they want to play on Friday nights and that such games "will be there going forward."
  • Discussing transfer rules, Delany said there needs to be more balance between the player and the institution. Added he believes recent changes have been positive. 

Scott Frost, Nebraska

  • When asked about what factors he considered when leaving UCF, Frost said he not only considered his own thoughts, but the thoughts of his coaching staff as well. Frost brought the majority of his staff at UCF to Lincoln.
  • Said he is proud in his quarterback recruiting track record. Frost helped develop Marcus Mariota at Oregon.
  • Said the No. 1 trait a QB needs to have in his offense is that of a "fast-thinker." 
  • "The kids have really drawn to us," Frost said when discussing recruiting. Added he has been pleasantly surprised with how the Cornhuskers have been received on the recruiting trail. 
  • Said there are multiple things that need to change in order to bring Nebraska back into the national spotlight. Said changing the players' mindset is one of those things. 
  • Said he spends plenty of time with legendary Nebraska coach Tom Osborne. "We are going to adopt a lot of those things again, and do them in a modern way," he added when discussing Osbourne's approach to coaching in Lincoln.
  • When it comes to the the playoff, Frost said he believes an eight-team playoff is the best way to approach the postseason. Added it should consist of the five major conference champions and three at-large teams. 
  • "Nebraska stood for a lot of things, when it was great. We used to build it from within," he said. "That is what we are trying to get back to in our program."

Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern

  • On linebacker Paddy Fisher, Fitzgerald said Fisher deserves more than the comparisons to him as a player. Added he is very athletic and should be poised for a breakout season. 
  • On the season opener against Purdue, Fitzgerald said he doesn't need any added motivational tactics for his players as they open the season on the road. 
  • On possible institution of player availability reports, Fitzgerald said he would not have a problem with it as long as all programs adhere to it. Added he would make a point to educate players on the importance of it. 
  • "We have to get to Indy to do our part," Fitzgerald said on taking the next step as a program.
  • Fitzgerald, "fired up," about new freshman rule that allows first-year players to play up to four games and still keep their redshirt. "I will make sure I manage that the right way."

James Franklin, Penn State

  • Said he feels as good about his offensive line as he has since coming to Penn State. Added he feels like it is a strength of his team. 
  • Biggest question marks come on defense at defensive tackle and linebacker. Nittany Lions lost their middle linebacker and three DT's. Franklin added he isn't worried about replacing four starters in the secondary, because so many players played last season. 
  • Described his starting kicker situation as a major question mark. Added a number of people will compete this fall for the job.
  • Said Trace McSorley has grown each year both on and off the field as a player. Said he will have more leverage on what he can do in the offense this season because of his experience. "He will have a lot of opportunities to make plays."
  • Said he is most proud of the way Penn State has developed players since arriving in State College, Pa. 
  • When it comes to the playoff, Franklin said his biggest problem with it is that it's subjective. "When they can't compare apples to apples, it makes it really challenging." Added he believes all conferences should play the same amount of league games to make comparisons easier on the committee. 

Jeff Brohm, Purdue

  • Categorized his first season at Purdue as a success. "We finished with a bang," he said. The Boilermakers won their final two games of the regular season to become bowl eligible, and won the Foster Farms Bowl. 
  • Said Purdue is recruiting more speed to try and compete with the five elite teams in the conference. 
  • When discussing his schedule, he said he is excited about the fact that Purdue is playing 11 Power Five opponents this season. "For us, it's about getting better and getting over the six-win threshold."
  • On his decision to bring both quarterbacks Elijah Sindelar and David Blough to Big Ten Media Day, Brohm said both players are "great ambassadors" for Purdue. Added each player brings something to the table athletically, personally. "I think the competition brings out the best in both of them. I couldn't ask for two better people."
  • On the QB battle; "We are going to let it play out." Added he is OK with playing both, but did not rule out naming a sole starter. Said he hopes to name a starter just more than a week before the first game against Northwestern.

P.J. Fleck, Minnesota

  • Opened his podium session by sending his thoughts and prayers to the family of Tony Sparano, the Minnesota Vikings' offensive line coach, who passed away on Sunday. 
  • Said his team will rely heavily on young players. Said the model for the season is, "The Race for Maturity."
  • Fleck said current Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano is one of the biggest influences in his life. Fleck coached under Schiano at Rutgers and with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 
  • Said he views the 2018 season as "year one" and last season as "year zero" when it comes to building a program. Added most of last season was spent establishing culture and getting to know the situation. 
  • Fleck said the College Football Playoff is "the best thing to happen in college football." Also praised the new redshirt rule. 
  • When it comes to the player availability report, Fleck said he is for it, but not for disclosing specific reasoning for why a player will or will not play. "Teams have the right to know," if a player is or is not going to participate.

Chris Ash, Rutgers

  • Ash said the goal for year three at Rutgers is to play in a postseason game. Added he is encouraged about the progress made from year one to year two. 
  • Asked about new QB coach John McNulty, Ash said he is excited about the alignment he has with him. Added Rutgers has not yet landed on a starting quarterback. 
  • The quarterback battle is "everything for our program," Ash said. Added that it is the most important position battle on his team this offseason. 
  • Mentioned mental errors as one of the reasons Rutgers has not been able to get over the hump and get to a bowl game. Said if they can avoid those, Rutgers can compete in the Big Ten. 
  • Said he is excited about the leadership and veteran presence in his locker room. 

Jim Harbaugh, Michigan

  • Said there has been "great collaboration," among the offensive staff at Michigan. Harbaugh added Jim McElwain and Ed Warinner to his staff this offseason. 
  • On the playoff system, Harbaugh said he would be for expansion. "Let's go to eight and eventually go to 16." Cited the success that the FCS level has had with an expanded playoff. Added that a playoff expansion would likely remove conference title games.
  • On the pressures of not having beaten Ohio State, Harbaugh said that game-by-game progression is key and will lead to success in rivalries. 
  • "Ed has done a tremendous job. Has plenty of experience coaching in the Big Ten and is just a good dude," Harbaugh said on bringing in Warinner.
  • No announcement made on possible starter at quarterback. 
  • Harbaugh praised defensive end Chase Winovich's effort on the field. Added he has tremendous athleticism for his position.
  • Said Dylan McCaffrey has made the most improvement of any quarterback on the roster. "I would say overall, as a group, it's better. Our starting quarterback will also be better and play better."
  • Said he "would be fine" with an injury report.
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