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Big Ten Media Days: No SEC Circus, but Controversy Brews on Day One

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Big Ten Media Days: No SEC Circus, but Controversy Brews on Day One

Maybe if Joe Paterno showed off that brand new hip by tap dancing, Savion Glover style, at the podium.

Or maybe if Jim Tressel showed up wearing a red nose and big floppy shoes.

Or maybe, just maybe, Rich Rodriguez showed up wearing his old West Virginia gear.

Maybe then the annual Big Ten Conference Media Days could compete with the circus that was the SEC Media Days.

But probably not.

The SEC sure knows how to cause a ruckus, and this time around, Lane Kiffin wasn't at the center of the mess.

Most of the brouhaha centered on Florida quarterback Tim Tebow.

It started when FanHouse blogger Clay Travis asked Tebow if he's still a virgin. As if we have the right to know that any more than we have the right to see a peephole video of ESPN's Erin Andrews in her hotel room, ironing in the buff.

But when one of the SEC coaches did not vote for Tebow to the All-SEC preseason team, all hell broke loose, and "Votegate" was in full force.

After a lengthy and exhaustive investigation (witch hunt), South Carolina's Steve Spurrier fessed up, claiming miscommunication with his director of football operations, who filled out the ballot on his boss' behalf.

Spurrier, a former Florida quarterback and Heisman winner himself, was allowed to change his vote, Tebow became an unanimous selection, and the SEC got back to the business of patting itself on the back as the best college football conference in the land.

Over the next two days, the Big Ten could use such distractions when its 11 head coaches and selected players convene in Chicago to meet with reporters as a kickoff to the 2009 season.

Anything to take the focus off the fact that the Big Ten has lost six straight BCS bowls—including two lopsided losses by Ohio State in national title games—and has no Rose Bowl wins since 2000.

The media, always willing to fuel the fire, may have provided the first bit of controversy right out of the gate.

The festivities began Monday with the announcement that the media had selected Ohio State the preseason favorite to win the Big Ten, getting the nod ahead of Penn State and Michigan State.

It marks the second consecutive year and the third time in the past four years that Ohio State enters the fall as the league's preseason favorite.

The media also named Michigan State's Greg Jones the preseason defensive player of the year. Jones, who has been consistently excellent throughout his first two years in East Lansing, has largely flown under the radar, but is a deserving choice nonetheless.

But the biggest surprise, so far, was the announcement of Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor as the media's choice for preseason offensive player of the year.

Many believed that Illinois receiver Arrelious Benn or Penn State quarterback Daryll Clark was the leading choice for the honor, but instead Pryor, the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, is now expected to be the best offensive player in the conference.

It will be interesting to hear the reaction from the Penn State camp. Paterno, who is known for holding no punches, will no doubt be asked how he feels about Penn State being picked second behind the Buckeyes.

But his response to what will most likely be a perceived snub of senior quarterback Clark is most intriguing.

The Big Ten is not the SEC. Big Ten fans are reminded of this on an almost daily basis.

But at least the Big Ten is talking about football and not promise rings. At least no one will be shaking down Pryor for his sexual history.

The preseason MVP won't be there.

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