Nine Things Learned from the 2010 Big Ten Media Days
After watching, reading, writing, and tweeting about Big Ten’s 2010 Media Event for the last few days, I think I might need rehab for information overdose.
It was nearly impossible to keep up with the plethora of tweets and articles about every team and coach in the league. Some stories relate to social media’s influence on the conference; some stories provided updates on the health of coaches. Some made predictions; others warned against predictions.
I wanted to click on every article link I saw, and nearly came close to doing so before I ran out of caffeine and collapsed onto my keyboard in a spasm of exhaustion.
No matter what a Big Ten football fan’s fetish is, something will likely be written about it this week. The summer was long, writers are eager to get back to the grind, and the league’s media days provided no shortage of storyline ideas.
After replenishing my energy drink supply, I was able to skim through my RSS feed and pick out a few items that some people may have missed in the flood of post-presser information.
Some of what you are about to read is not for the faint of heart.
Joe Paterno has no intentions of retiring
As to be expected, several people were interested in Joe Paterno's health at Big Ten Media Days.
His weak voice and slow memory didn't help the cause. Instead of being asked about his Nittany Lions, members of the media kept pressing about his health and well-being.
"I wish you guys would knock it off," Paterno lectured. "I'm going to start asking what's the matter with you?"
Luckily, his humor was still intact. He would need it when dealing with questions from an annoying USA Today reporter asking about his "problem with his intestines."
He reminded the reporter that his problem was "a little bit below the intestines." Of course, the intestine question came after the same annoying reporter asked about Paterno's intent to coach until he died.
Despite what some have been suggesting, Paterno said he has no plans on retiring.
"As long as I enjoy it, I'll continue to coach, unless I don't think I can do a good job or anybody else doesn't think I can do the job. But we'll talk about that later."
Big Ten coaches are not fans of a nine-game conference schedule
Fans should likely start preparing for an additional conference game.
Big Ten Conference officials seem very serious about pursuing a nine-game league schedule. That's nine games in addition to a Big Ten Championship Game.
Most coaches were not pleased.
“In this conference, a home game is a tremendous advantage,” Bielema told the press. “I bet [it] would be a dramatic difference.”
Bielema echoed the opinion of the most Big Ten coaches. “I know one conference that did it is the Pac-10 Conference and they’re trying to do everything they can to get out of it. Maybe we ought to look at history.”
Tressel seemed to agree. He brought up another good point to reporters by asserting that some of the non-revenue generating sports may be in trouble if the football team can't schedule eight home games like most teams attempt to do.
A nine-game schedule can't fully be understood until divisions are established and rivalries are maintained. Those two things might not be easy to maintain in an eight-game conference schedule.
Regardless, after media days it's probably safe to say that most of the Big Ten Coaches are not in favor of a ninth conference game.
Bret Bielema is addicted to Twitter
One thing was very clear after the Big Ten's media day extravaganza: Bret Bielema is addicted to Twitter.
"I tweet. I'm not saying I'm any good at it."
During Bielema's question-and-answer session with the media, the Badger head coach fielded several questions about his love and use of social media. He was not shy about answering.
"One of the things that I tweeted actually, we tried to schedule Nebraska two years ago....Then when this came to life, when it was true that we were going to be adding Nebraska, I tweeted it right away."
Bielema agrees that Twitter has changed the game of football. He makes social media gurus around the country proud. If Twitter isn't sponsoring him, they should be.
Not only is Bielema addicted to Twitter, he also uses it to stalk his players.
The Badger coaching staff constantly monitors Facebook and Twitter usage. Bielema says it's an effort to make students understand and realize that by putting their personal life on social networks makes it become public knowledge.
"I point out stupid tweets when I see one."
No word yet if Bielema is aware of his bizarro Twitter alias, @BeingBielema.
Kirk Ferentz is NOT addicted to Twitter
Big Ten Media Days also tought us something Iowa fans have known for quite awhile: Kirk Ferentz is not Bret Bielema when it comes to social media.
“I can read texts. I can’t send them. I haven’t gotten that far yet.”
After Bielema's lovefest for Twitter, Iowa's head coach was asked about his thoughts on social media. Ferentz let it be known he isn't a fan and preaches of moderation.
Ferentz doesn’t ban players, but he would if he could.
“I think it’s potentially dangerous stuff,” Ferentz told Cedar Rapids Gazette writer Marc Morehouse. “There are so many good things about it and I appreciate that and understand that, but you keep hearing all these negatives.
“All of us make mistakes, but I think if you’re in that 18-to-20-year age group, you’re not thinking really globally about some things. It’s a long life out there.”
Don't expect to see coach Ferentz on Twitter anytime soon.
Mark Dantonio likes his team...I think.
While watching Mark Dantonio at the podium for Big Ten Media Days, I started to wonder if the guy even likes football.
I wonder this because I have never seen him smile. Ever.
To go along with his lack of smile, he also utilized most of his time to individually list nearly every member of his team. Several coaches did similar, but no one took quite as long as Dantonio did.
Whether it was a master strategy to avoid the USA Today reporter's questions, or whether he was dreading questions about suspensions, or whether he droned on simply because he was bored out of his mind, it's hard to pinpoint. My guess is a combination of all three.
To be fair, I think Dantonio is a great coach and appears to have an endless supply of football knowledge. Dantonio was full of praise for the 2010 team's chemistry, even going so far as to tell reporters that this could be one of the best he's seen in his coaching career.
"Either one of the best or the best, I can’t remember what I said but I’m certainly very excited about it. I just see a bunch of givers on our football team, I see a very unselfish attitude. I don’t see a lot of takers, I see givers. I see guys who care about each other."
If Dantonio was excited, then he's also probably a great poker player. That said, look for MSU to surprise a few people this year.
Broderick Binns and Jewell Hampton face a one-game suspension
Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz told reporters during Big Ten Media Days that defensive end Broderick Binns and running back Jewel Hampton will each serve a one-game suspension for their off-the-field incidents over the summer.
Binns was arrested in July for a drunken driving charge. He started every game last season, earning honorable mention All-Big Ten honors, and is expected to have a big year.
Hampton was arrested for public intoxication following an incident at an Iowa City bar back in June. He is expected to battle Adam Robinson and Brandon Wegher for the starting running back job.
Both will presumably miss the season-opener against Eastern Illinois.
The first conference title game will be December 2011
Commissioner Jim Delany expects the Big Ten to schedule a championship game in December of 2011, when Nebraska joins the league.
Adding one of college football's most historic programs in Nebraska puts the Big Ten in position to add a lucrative championship game to the schedule.
"I think there's a real consensus among our athletic directors to do that," Delany said during Monday's events at Big Ten Media Days. "I just think that selection, the philosophy, the economics around a championship venue may require more focused energy than we have right at this moment."
Now they just have to decide where it is going to be held.
Nebraska's move wasn't about the money
Nebraska's athletic director Tom Osborne let it be known that money wasn't the reason for Cornhuskers' move to the Big Ten.
Osborne said the new conference was just a better fit.
"We won't see tremendous financial reward for some time. That wasn't why we did this," Osborne said at the Big Ten meetings in Chicago. "It was simply more a matter of feeling comfortable with what we knew of Big Ten culture. It seems like our goals, ideals, aspirations matched up pretty well and there were certainly some issues academically that we thought were important. So we looked at that hard."
Osborne said the school's decision was an easy one, but the process moved very quicker than anticipated.
Denard Robinson has the edge on Tate Forcier?
Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez continued to repeat that the quarterback race between Denard Robinson and Tate Forcier is "wide-open" during Big Ten's media event. He did mention that things could clear up during training camp, though.
Cornerback Troy Woolfolk doesn't think things are as close as his head coach projects. According to Woolfolk, the neck-and-neck race between Forcier and Robinson is now in Robinson's favor.
"Denard has been out there through the thick and thin and been out there all the time regardless if he's hurting," Woolfolk told the Michigan Daily. "Tate, he tries to come out, but he's not as consistent as Denard is. And that's allowed Denard to jump a little bit ahead of Tate and I think that Tate's going to have to do a lot of work to catch back up to Denard in camp this year."
That wasn't even the worst of it.
"The only reason he's not really labeled as diseased is because of the way he was able to carry the team last year before we started losing. People still trust him a little bit, but he's starting to lose that trust."
Let the Tate Forcier transfer countdown officially begin.