Updates From Day One Of Big Ten Media Days

By Colin Hass-Hill on July 18, 2019 at 12:47 pm
Jim Delany

CHICAGO – Big Ten media days kicked off Thursday with press conferences from the conference commissioner, BTN commissioner and seven head coaches, including Ohio State's Ryan Day.

Here's a look at the schedule of speakers on Thursday.

  • Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany (11:15-45 a.m. CT)
  • BTN president Francois McGillicuddy (11:45 a.m. - noon CT)
  • Nebraska coach Scott Frost (noon - 12:15 p.m. CT)
  • Illinois coach Lovie Smith (12:15 - 12:30 p.m. CT)
  • Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio (12:30-45 p.m. CT)
  • Indiana coach Tom Allen (12:45-1 p.m. CT)
  • Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck (1-1:15 p.m. CT)
  • Maryland coach Michael Locksley (1:15-30 p.m. CT)
  • Ohio State coach Ryan Day (1:30-45 p.m. CT)

The seven other Big Ten head coaches will address the media on Friday.

You can follow along here for live updates from each press conference as the day progresses.

Jim Delany, Big Ten Commissioner

  • Delany calls incoming commissioner Kevin Warren a smart experienced executive who was a student-athlete and is the parent of student-athletes.
  • He says he has been working with newly hired BTN president Francois McGillicuddy and expects great things from him.
  • Delany mentions he appreciates the media's work and fairness in covering him and the Big Ten during his tenure.
  • He says he's particularly pleased that in 1989 the ratio of male-to-female student-athletes was 75-to-25. Now, it's close to 50-50.
  • Delany, when asked what his biggest regret was, says they made "some real serious mistakes in the 70s," which included freshman eligibility to play.
  • Says he has talked to Warren on the phone for an hour three or four times. He wants to give Warren "a sense of the rhythm of the conference."Calls Warren a "great fit." 
  • Delany says the NCAA ended the possibility of giving a game day injury report.
  • On the Big Ten: "I think we're built to win championships, and I think many of the teams in our conference are built to win national championships."
  • "I still don't know how Ohio State was ranked sixth last year, by the way." He mentions they were ranked behind a division runner-up.
  • He says there's a study on name, imagine and likeness that interests him. 
  • Delany says he hopes the College Football Playoff committee rewards the strength of schedule and conference championships more than it has in recent years. "I've been disappointed, honestly, with the (committee not properly weighing the) strength of schedule."
  • Asked about whether Gene Smith being on the playoff committee had an effect on Ohio State not making the playoff: "I'm going to be reluctant to project because I wasn't there." Says the constant churn of the committee is an issue to him.
  • When asked about the possibility of playing a games in Mexico City, Delany says he thinks it would be great to take a look at playing either an early season or bowl game internationally.
  • Says he doesn't think the playoff committee members' individual rankings should be made public. "I think people have to have a certain amount of confidentiality." He says it'll  allow people to disagree and argue rather than being "trotted out and turned into content.

Francois McGillicuddy, BTN President

  • His focus will be on production of live games, expert Big Ten analysis and 
  • "I should start by saying my name is actually Francois McGillicuddy. I know what many of you are thinking: Is that really his name? So I'll start with that."
  • On Jim Delany: "He leaves a legacy that is respected and admired by everyone in the sports world." He says BTN wouldn't exist without him.
  • Says more than 500 students helped produce more than 700 BTN Student U events.
  • McGillicuddy says he's pleased with the BTN preliminary schedule.
  • He says BTN will have its first primetime season opener with Michigan in Week 1.
  • BTN will have Ohio State vs. Miami (Ohio) on Sept. 21.
  • Matt Millen will be back in the booth this fall after going through a heart transplant. He'll return for Week 1.
  • BTN Tailgate will be live and on-site for every week this season for the first time.
  • All BTN network content will be housed in the Fox Sports App. BTN To Go, which will cease to exist in its current form, will transition to the Fox Sports App by mid-August.
  • More than 13 billion minutes of content was consumed last year.

Lovie Smith, Illinois

  • Says Bobby Roundtree has a long road ahead of him and is fighting hard. He injured his spine in a swimming accident in May.
  • "Last year offensively, we did some good things." However... "We were one of the worst defenses in college football. We're embracing that."
  • The last part of the program overhaul is to have a better team on the field, per Smith. "Our stick is a lot bigger now."
  • He says they have five graduate transfers who will "solidify" some of the younger classes. Also says the depth is better.
  • Says he agrees with the idea that the Big Ten West is improving. 
  • On transfers: "Sometimes divorce is a good thing in life, in general."

Scott Frost, Nebraska

  • On his recruiting strategy in Michigan: "We're going to go where the players are. I don't care where they are. If they're in Jamaica or Kazakhstan. If they're in Michigan, so be it."
  • He says everybody in the building is happy with the progress and late-season results, but he notes the road last year was tough. 
  • Says Nebraska was once one of the blue bloods in college football, and that wasn't built in one year, and this build won't take only one year.
  • On Adrian Martinez: "I wouldn't trade our guy for anybody in the country at that position." He says Nebraska will go as far as Martinez can take it. Also, he says he didn't play quarterback as well as Martinez.
  • He says strength of conditioning is the most improved area on the team since taking over.

Mark Dantonio, Michigan State

  • Says he has been "very, very impressed" with the players since the bowl game.
  • "The (transfer) portal's been interesting. You almost have to recruit that, as well as your high school seniors"
  • Says Michigan State brings back a defense than was top-10 in five different categories.
  • "Urban Meyer's done a tremendous job there. I have two hands, and I think he's only lost eight times."
  • Dantonio says he has been "very impressed" by Ryan Day as a coach even though he has only met him a couple times. He also said Day has impressed him as a person, calling him "down to Earth and charismatic."
  • Mentions "it's amazing" how players come to Michigan State as "free agents" (otherwise known as walk-ons) and become impact players. "Kenny Willekes is just another story. Great story."
  • Michigan State's mantra this year: "Chase the moment."
  • Raequan Williams' goal is to become the mayor of Chicago. "So, we await his campaign."

Tom Allen, Indiana

  • Says he would consider Indiana a "young, experienced team." Mentions they signed the highest-ranked class in Indiana history. He's optimistic about the depth.
  • He says "grit" is the word of the season.
  • Says he doesn't plan to run a two-quarterback system. "The plan right now is to pick one and let him be the man."
  • Doesn't think the offense will be dramatically different than what is was in the past despite coaching staff changes.
  • Asked about close losses: "Thanks for reminding me of that. That's a great thing." He says depth and finishing games/halves will aid them.

P.J. Fleck, Minnesota

  • He calls Kevin and Greta Warren the "ultimate power couple" of the Big Ten.
  • Says Minnesota was the youngest team in the nation last year, and now it is the second-youngest team.
  • He calls is "necessary" for Minnesota to have changed defensive coordinators during the 2018 season.
  • "We might not be the oldest team, but we can grow up fast."
  • Fleck calls Illinois and Chicago a "huge" recruiting state and city for Minnesota. He was born in the state.
  • He says he thinks the Big Ten West has improved greatly in recent years, especially with the additions of multiple coaches.
  • "The Big Ten, there are no easy games."
  • "We consider ourselves a life program, not a football program." He says they had the highest team GPA in program history.
  • He says it's healthy for the Minnesota-Wisconsin rivalry for the Golden Gophers to have won last year after a 14-game drought.

This will continually be updated throughout the day.

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