As we begin rolling along here at The Big Ten OT we’ll continue to bring in new and interesting features. One of them will be a weekly look at the biggest questions facing the Big Ten. However, for our first edition we’re going to go off script and that’s because we’re going to be looking at Big Ten Media Days.
The annual media-schmooze fest (which us media types actually enjoy the hell out of) takes place in just a week’s time and believe you me there are already questions piling up in my head and I’m sure in the heads of the hundreds (OK, probably closer to 1,000) media members preparing to gather in Chicago.
Just like it’s tradition to take in some deep-dish pizza while in Chi-town visiting, there will be the invariable obvious questions asked by those media scribes hoping for a quote to . That’s not what we do here, and it’s not what I’m about at all. Save the obvious and give me an answer to a question that’s going to give us some actual insight please.
So, in honor of that, our first ever “Asked & Answered” will feature the 5 questions that will get asked and then promptly not answered at Big Ten media days (in no particular order).
5. Are you worried about expansion watering down the Big Ten football brand?
They don’t call it “coach speak” for nothing, and those that ask this question on Monday and Tuesday are only setting themselves up for a giant heaping of it.
I’ll tell you what, here is your answer in near word-for-word fashion: “The additions of Maryland and Rutgers are a good thing for the Big Ten, both are great universities with great traditions and they will add a lot to our conference on and off the field.”
Don’t get me wrong, there are some interesting story lines surrounding the additions of these two schools, but going for the “these aren’t two traditional football powerhouses” angle is going to get nothing but coach speak.
4. Who will your starting quarterback be in the fall?
There will be that guy, you know the one who’s searching for something to fill up a pre-conceived story his boss has given him. He’ll inevitably ask coaches like Gary Andersen (Wisconsin), Darrell Hazell (Purdue) or Bo Pelini (Nebraska) if they know who the starting quarterback will be come the fall.
Just ans inevitable as the question is, so will be each and every answer. It will probably go something like this. “We have X number of good quarterbacks, and we feel comfortable that each could lead our team out on the field in week one. But, we haven’t named a starter yet and we won’t name one until we feel comfortable doing so.”
If the media in attendance are smart, lets stray away from asking this one will ya? Can we make it a professional pact please?
3. What do you think of the “Power 5” autonomy proposal?
Again, a question that will inevitably come up, and I’m guessing it will take exactly one coach in to the event for this one to come up. It’s a hot-button issue to say the least, but that doesn’t mean coaches are necessarily paying attention to it.
If they gave unanswers and coach speak to many of the questions surrounding players getting paid last year, what makes you think anything different will happen with this hot-button topic?
2. Do you support the players union movement?
Speaking of not touching a topic with a ten-foot poll. The real question here is what is the over/under on number of times Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald will be asked about the Players Union movement at his school?
You know at the very least he’ll field a half-dozen questions twisted in different ways all aimed at getting him to say something about the Players Union movement. Fitz isn’t stupid, after all he did get his degree from Northwestern.
He also knows drawing any more attention to the topic isn’t worthwhile. So, please fellow media members, spare us all from repeated coach speak and the obligatory “next question.”
In fact, if Fitz is really smart he addresses the issue with a simple, “The focus of this team and myself is on the season ahead on the field, so I will not be answering any questions about the Players Union or the NCAA set up,” while giving his opening remarks to the media.
As for the rest of the coaches out there? Well, maybe an Urban Meyer or Randy Edsall may give you something, but in my personal experiences with these men it’s highly unlikely anything is going to come of asking them about this topic. These guys have mastered the art of not answering a question while going on for five minutes at a time.
1. Do you think you’re on the hot seat?
This one will undoubtedly be asked to the likes of Tim Beckman of Illinois, Kevin Wilson of Indiana, Bo Pelini of Nebraska (because it’s an annual tradition), and Kyle Flood at Rutgers.
It will also be completely sidestepped with coach speak about “controlling the things you can control and the rest will work itself out,” along with the obligatory “no comment” likely thrown in for good measure.
Whether a coach is or isn’t on the hot seat is besides the point. Do you really expect a head coach to admit he’s on the chopping block publicly? I mean, why doesn’t he also throw his crappy players or athletic director under the bus for not giving him what he needs to be successful while we’re throwing hypothetically true answers around.
Now if this were Big 12 media days or SEC media days, maybe we’d get some surprising answers. Yet, my experience tells me these guys are way to slick and way too smart to say anything that will really rock the boat next week. Least of all admitting this upcoming season could be make-or-break for themselves.
…and that does it for this week’s Asked & Answered…
*Each week from here on out we’ll be answering the burning questions around the league, and that’s where you the fan come in. Submit your questions to us via Twitter, Facebook or in the comments of our stories and we’ll answer them for you. Pretty simple, now don’t be shy!