The annual rite of passage that is Big Ten Football Media Days starts today in Chicago. this is the event that is often a big deal, but not really. It is hyped as the official kickoff to the season and it is the first real sign that football is just around the corner. That said, very little substance comes from it. it is all canned questions and quotes, especially when I am not there to ask odd questions.
Last year I created phrases to use on a bingo card and they still apply:
"Excited to be here"
"We had a great offseason"
"He's just an Athlete"
"We have to (gain/carry over) momentum"
"Just ready to get started"
"We made great strides in the weight room"
"We're ready for a breakout year"
"It starts up front…"
"We have an excellent recruiting class"
"We have an excellent Senior class"
"The Big Ten is just so tough every week"
"It is great to be here today."
"We have great fans."
"Practice starts on X day."
Excuses (good or bad)
"This is a whole new season"
"It won't happen overnight"
"He made some mistakes, but he's a young player."
"He took his redshirt year very seriously"
"Last year was a transition year."
"We were riddled with injuries last year."
"Things just didn't go our way."
"We have great focus coming into this year"
"Some of our coaching staff changes were really beneficial"
"We have finally figured out the quarterback situation."
"We re-evaluated some things."
"It is always tough to win on the road."
"We made changes from the administration on down."
"We have never been this ready for a season."
"We are really coming together as a team."
Really, you will hear all 30 of those things in some variant by the end of business on Tuesday. Sometimes it is more telling which coaches get the fewest questions or are view with open contempt from the media. We don’t really have a “Dead Coach Walking” this year among the 14, with Lovie Smith coming the closest at Illinois. We do get new appearances from Tom Allen and Indiana, Jeff Brohm at Purdue, and P.J. Fleck at Minnesota.
Things get underway today just after noon eastern time and everything will be televised on Big Ten Network. Here is the schedule for day 1:
12:15 a.m. ET | Mark Silverman, BTN President
12:30 a.m. ET | Jim Delany, Big Ten Commissioner
1:00 ET | Paul Chryst, Wisconsin
1:15 p.m. ET | Tom Allen, Indiana
1:30 p.m. ET | Lovie Smith, Illinois
1:45 p.m. ET | Mark Dantonio, Michigan State
2:00 p.m. ET | DJ Durkin, Maryland
2:15 p.m. ET | Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
2:30 p.m. ET | Urban Meyer, Ohio State
Coach Brohm and Purdue will not be represented until tomorrow, and here is that schedule:
9:00 a.m. ET | P.J. Fleck, Minnesota
9:15 a.m. ET | Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern
9:30 a.m. ET | James Franklin, Penn State
9:45 a.m. ET | Jeff Brohm, Purdue
10:00 a.m. ET | Mike Riley, Nebraska
10:15 a.m. ET | Chris Ash, Rutgers
10:30 a.m. ET | Jim Harbaugh, Michigan
10:45 a.m. ET | Bill Carollo, Big Ten Coordinator of Football Officials
Don’t forget that David Blough will also be delivering the student-athlete speech at the kickoff luncheon Tuesday afternoon. Hopefully it goes better than the last Purdue player to give a student athlete speech. That was Keith Smith in 2010, who then went out and tore his ACL in the second game of the year.