Winners and Losers from Day 2 of Big Ten Media Days
The 2012 Big Ten Media Days have come and gone, which means the college football season is one step closer. I think I speak for all of us when I say, “YES, YES, YES, YES” and perhaps a few thousand more of those.
Penn State was the topic most frequently discussed, which made for a subdued few days. With that being said, there was still much to digest.
Day two mainly spotlighted the players, although coaches seemed to open up a bit as well. Who were the winners and losers, you ask? You asked, right?
Oh, Nebraska. Why did you have to do your uniform announcement on this day? SPOILER ALERT.
And here they are.
Loser: Illinois (Again)
Although there weren’t many notable sound bites out of the Illini players and coaches on day two, the spotlight remained on the team’s decision to actively recruit Penn State players.
It was nothing they said, but instead what was said about them. Penn State linebacker Michael Mauti–who has served as PSU’s mouthpiece for the players–took aim at Illinois and their decision to head to Happy Valley to recruit.
“I know for a fact that they (Illinois) reached out to our players,” Mauti said. “If you’re from our conference and you’re going to try and steal our players and then wish us well, then I’ve got a serious problem with that.”
It’s been touched on plenty, and what Illinois has done in terms of recruiting these players is completely legal. It just did not come off well throughout the entire weekend, and Mauti’s passionate shot only enhanced it.
Winner: Michigan QB Denard Robinson
Kirk Cousins’ Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon speech in 2011 was one for the ages, and it soon went viral shortly after he received rousing applause from the Big Ten crowd.
Michigan QB Denard Robinson had the task of following him in 2012, and he was magnificent, personal, honest and inspiring. His words were powerful and they had meaning.
“What you may not know is, I was so self-conscious of the area I grew up in, I used to hold recruiting visits at my grandparents’ house,” Robinson said. “What you may not know is, I wasn’t even the best athlete in my neighborhood, but I happened to be one of the ones who made it out. Why? Choices.”
Hats off to Denard, who also spoke about his academic struggles early on in his eight and a half minutes at the podium. Do yourself a favor and watch this. My words won’t do his words justice.
Loser: Nebraska’s New Uniforms
As Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini and star running back Rex Burkhead were addressing the media, images, videos and tweets began to circulate featuring Nebraska’s new uniforms that they will wear on September 29th against Wisconsin.
Wait, is that real? It’s not Photoshopped? Oh.
Yes, they’re only worn for one game, and they’re likely just looking to garner attention (mission accomplished), but I am not a fan of these particular designs which come with a cape, the ability to fly and an awesome fake mustache for when you're in civilian clothing.
It’s like a UFL uniform crossed between jerseys from a movie that can’t get licensing for an NFL team, so they just mocked up something else instead.
Winner: Wisconsin Head Coach Bret Bielema
On day one, he set the tone with his firm statement that the Badgers would not be recruiting Penn State players. On day two, Wisconsin’s head coach finally lightened up the mood a bit, which was more than welcomed.
Bielema talked a bit about his marriage, spent time discussing why he tells random dudes that he’s actually a “history professor” and not a football coach, and he also explained his ideal selection committee member which just so happened to be the school’s athletic director.
He was fun, he was likeable and he capped off a brilliant few days simply by being himself.
"Blackjack table at the Wynn casino, been winning ever since," Bielema said when asked how and where he met his wife. That’s real and that’s spectacular.
Loser: The Big Ten Luncheon Video Montage
At the Big Ten Luncheon, three Big Ten coaches went on the stage at once, and three separate video montages played before each coach had an opportunity to speak and answer questions. It mainly featured music (some MUCH better than others), stats and some of the returning stars that each team had.
For Penn State, running back Silas Redd was one of the centerpieces of their video. Meanwhile, Joe Schad of ESPN is reporting that Redd is still very much considering transferring to USC now that the NCAA has given him that opportunity.
It shows just how complex this entire process has been and how fast everything has moved over the past few weeks. No one is at fault here, and there really was no way to change this ahead of time. And, after all, Redd is still a very valuable member of that team. Well, at least he was at the time.
But…I cringed, as did many others.
Winner: Penn State Head Coach Bill O’Brien and Michael Mauti
Shortly after that video montage ended at the Big Ten Media Days Luncheon, Bill O’Brien was tasked once again to answer questions about the state of the University. And once again, he was brilliant when put in the spotlight.
I can’t imagine how exhausting these two days (and the process in general) have been, but you certainly wouldn’t know it given the energy and purpose that O’Brien speaks with.
PSU linebacker Michael Mauti was also fantastic, despite not originally planning to travel to Chicago. Yes, he expressed his disgust with how his teammates have been recruited, but he also explained how he’s taken to his new role of team leader and how they’re moving on.
“It’s just what need to be done right now,” Mauti said. “I’m just privileged to speak on behalf of our teammates.”
Well done, Penn State. This weekend/week/month/eight months must have been incredibly difficult, but you handled things as well as possible.