The annual right of passage from summer in to football season is nearly upon us. Of course, we’re talking about Big Ten media days emanating from Chicago.
In 2018, that extravaganza of ridiculous questions, canned answers and a few quirky moments will take place on July 23 and 24.
With that in mind, we’re here to give you the lowdown on what to expect from the two days.
Hottest Topic: Nebraska and Scott Frost
Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh don’t have a lot in common to say the least. However, what they do have in common is that they hold court like no other when it comes to Big Ten Media Days. They attracted huge crowds the moment they stepped up to the podium and where ever they went the first few media days.
This year, look for that personality to be Nebraska’s new head coach Scott Frost. Sure, part of it is the novelty of a former player coming home to coach a team that has hit hard times as of late. But, the other part of this is Frost is not afraid of the media and is a young coach with a lot of energy around him. If he’s smart, he uses the Big Ten Media Day’s to reset the image of Nebraska football and as a great tool to setting the expectations of what this program will be going forward. It doesn’t hurt that Frost will be the first coach to speak to the media on Monday morning.
Who Will Surprise: Nick Allegretti, Illinois
While the coaches get the headlines at these events, some of the best quotes and funniest moments come from the players who get surrounded by media for an hour at a time. While there are bigger names on the player front than Allegretti, from what I know of him you can expect to be entertained.
Heck, if Allegretti can garner a story or two out of media days, Illinois might actually be talked about more than anyone thought. That’s a win for sure, and I expect Illinois to be a surprise team to talk about following media days and that could have a lot to do with the personality of Allegretti. I mean, if you know anything about offensive linemen, it’s a good bet they are the quirky and funny ones on the team. So, having Allegretti emerge has an entertainer would be a fun surprise.
Who’s Act Will Wear Thin: P.J. Fleck
It could be easy to go with Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck here, but that thought is more about whether you buy in to or hate the way he approaches life and the game of football. Love ’em or hate ’em type of guys aren’t what this is about.
Rather, we are going with Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, who like Fleck, is a master user of the media. Unlike Fleck though, he has three years of losing to that school down south and zero championships to hang his ‘Block M’ hat on. Not to mention Harbaugh is less of a novelty and much more abrasive than in the first year where everyone with a microphone wanted a piece of him all day long.
There’s no doubt it is put up or shut up time for Harbaugh. For myself, and a lot of other media members, his words are starting to ring hallow. Whatever he says during media days, I’ll need to see action on the field before I believe anything is for real with the Wolverines.
Last week we saw headlines made at the Big 12, ACC and SEC media days…and not just because writers needed something to talk about. However, for the vast majority of Big Ten media days, controversy doesn’t reign.
I’d be shocked to hear talk of CTE being a joke or controversial opinions coming from coaches and further more, I would be shocked to see players touching on controversial issues other than to say the bare minimum or defer to the “hey man, I’m just here to play football” lines.
That’s due to this other truth:
The Big Ten team media staffs are some of the best in the business. It’s been awhile since this event was anything other than a quality information gathering session instead of a gossip session and I don’t expect that to change much here.
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