As expected, there were not any shocking developments coming out of Chicago over the past two days. That is part of the reason I decided not to go, at least this year. After seeing what some of my fellow bloggers did at the event I will definitely give it more thought in the future, but there were no huge developments. Rich Rodriguez did not challenge the other Big Ten coaches to a fight to the death. Ron Zook did not attempt to recruit a reporter who made a nice catch of a falling bagel. The room did not break out in laughter at Bill Lynch's new plan to have IU be a power running team
MGoBlog had the best post summing everything up. Essentially, we learned nothing new, but the coaches did surprise some with their demeanor.
As far as Purdue-centric stuff, it was again more of the same. Coach Hope's biggest quote was that he expects a special season, but he didn't define exactly what that means. If that isn't a CYA measure I don't know what is. Everyone expect improvement over last year's debacle. The question is how that improvement will translate over to wins against a tougher schedule. The team itself seems to be more together than it has been in the past. That is a major step forward.
I think it was obvious to almost everyone that the entire team hasn't been on the same page for years. Certain players, some of which I have called out like Bernard Pollard and Ray Edwards, projected and attitude of only being in it for themselves. I don't mind posturing and celebrating, but doing it for the sake of celebrating is stupid. I don't know how many times I saw Pollard celebrate a tackle he made 15 yards past the line of scrimmage. That's great, Bernard, but he had the first down 7 yards ago.
While we didn't exactly have posturing and celebrating last year you could feel something was off from the very beginning. Offensively, there is no excuse for us to have one of the best running backs in the conference and we struggle to move the ball. Defensively we improved, but Mike Neal said it best last year after the Notre Dame game:
"When you come out flat and you're not ready to play a football game and you look bored at halftime, what do you expect?" Neal told reporters. "Then you have a lot of guys after you go through a first series like that, and they run the ball down your throat and you get to the sideline and look into everybody's faces, and they don't look interested in playing a football game."
Amen to that! If this team is not ready to play Notre Dame, our serious rival in football, we might as well not even bother fielding a team. I think that problem has been taken care of with coach Hope running things. He has stressed that even having new coaches and a lack of proven talent this season is not an excuse for lack of success.
Other people don't believe that. Herb Gould of the Chicago Sun Times has already told us to get ready for basketball season after the completion of Media Days because we have no realistic shot at a bowl game. That's fine, keep doubting us. I'll actually watch the games and learn something about the teams as opposed to making a generalization based on one fact.
Other quick shots:
Ohio State picked as preseason favorite - Well, they have won four in a row, sharing two with other preseason favorite Penn State.
Terrelle Pryor named Preseason offensive player of the year - How come we don't have ESPN throwing a fit that it wasn't unanimous like they did over Christ Tebow? Oh, that's right, our coaches are allowed to think for themselves. Must be that lack of SEC speed.
Paterno doesn't understand Twitter - "You guys have to talk about something. The fans have got to put something on those, what do you guys call those things, Twittle-do? Twittle-dee? I haven't got the slightest idea what you're looking at." - Joe Paterno.
God bless him. I am glad I am not the only one that sees Twitter as absolutely useless.
Expanding the schedule to nine conference games - It was a very hot topic this week, but as the Rivalry, Esq. explains, it is impossible to have an 11 team conference have everyone play nine conference games. And I thought we stressed academics.
And some other notes:
Listen to T-Mill live tonight - That's right! Tonight you can here the voice behind the man who flashes gang symbols to represent the west-side of Kokomo, Indiana. At 6:30 ET/5:30 Central/12:30 Hawaiian I'll be appearing as a guest on the 5th quarter for the Wisconsin blog Bucky's 5th quarter. That will finally solve the question as to why I never ended up in radio short of a one-week stint as an intern broadcaster in the summer of 2001 at WZWZ/WIOU in Kokomo.
Podcasting - I am still working through the logistics, but tomorrow will feature the first-ever Hammer & Rails podcast with very special guest Adam Rittenberg of ESPN fame. Wish me like as I try to work through all the technical issues of getting this thing posted.
Help a Boiler out - My friends over at Boiled Sports found a story this morning about a fellow Boiler who is trying to be named the #1 Sports Fan in Seattle. This is especially good since most Seattleites are still a little upset about us eliminating the Huskies in March.
Drew Brees' mom is nuts - Yikes is all I can say. At least we all still love him.