Posted July 26, 2012

Big Ten Media Day 2012 Highlights

Big Ten, Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Northwestern Wildcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Penn State Nittany Lions, Purdue Boilermakers, Wisconsin Badgers

Illinois’ Tim Beckman called Northwestern “the team upstate” at Big Ten Media Days. (Reid Compton-US PRESSWIRE)

We’re watching from home as the Increasingly Inaccurately-Named Big Ten coaches assemble in Chicago for their annual carousel of preseason press conferences. Assorted highlights from the daylong media blitz follow. As with most media blitzes, not much was learned, but fun was had.

Conference to conference, some things just never change.

• Big Ten Media Day MVP: Tim Beckman. First things first: We must inform you that Beckman now coaches football at Illinois. It is entirely possible that this fact has slipped your radar. Anyway, approximately half a dozen of Beckman’s staffers were spotted in State College yesterday, and some people thought that total was kind of tacky in terms of sheer volume. So Beckman took the stage today and made very sure everybody knew that Illinois assistants weren’t actually banging on the door of the football complex: “We were in State College, but we did not go on campus. We went to two establishments outside campus and called some individuals.” That is not why Tim Beckman is our Media Days MVP of Thursday, however. This is:

Q.  Can you talk about your renewed emphasis on Illinois’s game with Northwestern and why you chose to emphasize that game in particular?

BECKMAN:  Again, being around college football for my whole life, rivalries are something that make college football so unique. And even in the Big Ten, I’ve been in those big rivalry football games, and I think it’s something that you breed through your program. We call it the team upstate. And I’m not scared to say that. That’s the school we’re going to call it. We’re going to make it a rivalry and we’re going to make it a very, very important part of our football season.

Don’t make Pat Fitzgerald’s neck angry, Tim Beckman. You wouldn’t like it when it’s angry.  

• Speaking of Pat Fitzgerald (all of him), he knows how to win allies in a room full of sportswriters. Here’s the first chunk of his opening statement: “I hope I’m not interrupting your lunch. I hope the Big Ten took care of you and your lunch is good.”

Talking about Penn State players in a conference actually affected by their presence or absence. Coach positions on the poachability of PSU’s roster ran the gamut from Bret Bielema (doesn’t intend to go after anybody — not that Wisconsin needs the help) to Danny Hope (“As long as we’re compliant, we’re gonna exercise every opportunity we can”).

• And now, Penn State’s actual coach.  Bill O’Brien sees the Nittany Lions’ plight as “a little bit of adversity that we need to overcome,” and spoke about how he’s used to working with a smaller roster in the NFL. He said, “[I have] no idea what schools are on campus, nor do I care.”

He is also keeping things pretty terse, which is probably understandable:

Q: Could you give us any update on the Silas Redd situation?

COACH O’BRIEN:  No.

Q: Have any of your players informed you that they intend to transfer?

COACH O’BRIEN:  Right now, no.

But onto more crucial matters: Penn State’s uniforms might change! Clutch those pearls!

• Urban Meyer, hu-man. Did Urbz enjoy his gap year in broadcasting? “[It] gave me an opportunity to go visit some other programs, and you can’t do that, especially myself. I got in a little bit of a cocoon, I don’t know if it was paranoia, [I] wouldn’t let anybody in. We certainly didn’t let anybody out.”

Meyer expressed further people-like feelings, saying he was concerned about his own unfamiliarity with his conference opponents.

Someone’s not so pleased to be away from his DenardBot3000 workshop. “We’re glad to see you. Kinda,” said Brady Hoke.

• Steve Moore update. Mark Dantonio said that Michigan State long snapper Steve Moore, who broke his neck over the weekend diving off a boat, “will be getting out of the hospital very soon.”

• Hey! Old guy! Kirk Ferentz is now the longest-tenured coach in the Big Ten: “I feel fortunate we’ve had five kids graduate from one high school. That’s hard to do in this profession.”

• Have you seen his Pinterest page? Bret Bielema knows exactly how long he’s been married: “19 weeks and five days that we’ve been into this relationship.  It’s because I get reminded on a daily basis, not that I knew that stat.”

• Fitzgerald Toussaint update. Brady Hoke said that the Wolverines’ top running back remains on indefinite suspension, and that his status for the Alabama game has not yet been determined. (WE WONDER WHAT WILL HAPPEN.)

• Ohio State public urination suspendees update. Jake Stoneburner and Jack Mewhort are still working through various penances set by Meyer following their arrests.

• Appropriate sentiments for associating with Minnesota football. “We’re excited about our program, as I imagine all coaches are this time of year,” said Jerry Kill.

• And now for Indiana! Kevin Wilson, with some sharp candor at the podium: “I think we’ll be a lot better on defense, but we’re not at a point physically and in year two to play lights‑out great defense. We’ve got to score a lot more points, too. … Everybody talks about our D struggling. We average 18.1 points. That’s as poor an offense as I’ve been around since 1999.”

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