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Big Ten Media Days: Winners and Losers of Day One

While the SEC has the glitz, glamour and trash talk at its media days, the Big Ten is more about the actual football and substance. After day one of the Big Ten media days, hardly any big news was broken and things were pretty calm in the Hilton ballrooms.

Having said that, it doesn’t mean there weren’t some interesting things learned and some moments to not what to forget and vice versa. So, who are the winners and losers of Big Ten media days’ first go-round?

Let’s take a look, shall we?

Winners:

– Purdue head coach Darrell Hazell:

His team was god-awful in 2013, but that may have been a case of hitting rock bottom before building up the program. One thing no one can say after day one of the Big Ten Media Days is that Hazell isn’t candid. He admitted the challenges facing his program, and candidly answered questions about turning things around and specific positions groups and players.

There’s no such thing as coach-speak when it comes to Hazell, and that’s a great thing. Not only for those of us in the media, but also for the fans. He isn’t going to tell you something you want to hear, ever, and that’s refreshing in this day and age.

– Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen:

It’s little secret that dealing with the media was not one of ex-coach Bret Bielema’s strong suits. His replacement at head coach, Gary Andersen, is about as opposite as it can get in that respect. Not only did he handle himself well in the face of the general media questions, but he also set aside nearly a half-hour for local media types on top of all his other obligations during day one in Chicago.

That’s more time than Bielema ever gave the Badgers local media contingent and it was not a waste of time. Those of us in attendance found out about some under the radar players with big expectations, got some anecdotal pieces of gold like talking about Joel Stave’s golf game and his own son’s lack thereof.

It’s clear that Andersen has a much better relationship with the media than his predecessor, and he knows how to use that to his advantage. It’s also a great tool to trot out to the national media gathered in Chicago. Hey, free publicity of the good kind is always a good thing.

– Bo Pelini’s Cat:

We all know that someone was going to ask about Bo and his now-infamous cat, and it happened early on in his Q&A session with the media. Pelini had some fun with it, noting the cat did make the trip with him, but was up chilling in the hotel room and doing some sightseeing later.

Such a hard life that cat has, huh?

– Commissioner Jim Delany:

The venerable commissioner was bobbing and weaving like the great Muhammad Ali up at the podium during his question and answer portion of the Big Ten media day bonanza. He even got around outright calling the NCAA enforcement arm a joke, unlike his Big 12 counterpart, Bob Bowlsby.

In that respect he came out a winner. While Bowlsby may have generated headlines, Delany would rather work behind the scenes to ensure change in enforcement and culture rather than throw a grenade on the situation. For me, that’s a smart business move — especially given all the change already happening around collegiate athletics.

Oh, and did I mention Delany managed to keep this year’s speech to just 10 minutes and not the 20 minute marathon we all had to endure last year? So, thank you commissioner Delany, we’re all better off for that.

Losers:

– The Media:

While nearly every head coach made an effort to welcome new members Maryland and Rutgers, the media wasn’t exactly as kind. As Rutgers’ Kyle Flood took the stand one could’ve heard a pin drop at the opening of questions and it took some prodding to even get questions out to him.

One of two things is reflected in the mass media gathers in the Hilton Chicago’s Grand Ballroom — either the B1G Media simply hasn’t done their homework on the two newcomers or they are as unenthusiastic about the additions as most fans are heading in to the season. It’s a shame because this could’ve been a great opportunity for the gathered media to get to know the new coaches much better. Instead, most made little use of the opportunity in front of them and made the rest of us look bad in the process.

Crickets being heard on national television? When was the last time the media was speechless on anything? They’ll even gossip away about the lunch provided to the media throngs.

– College Football Playoff COO Michael Kelly:

There was 30 minutes of my life that I will never get back, and judging from the reaction on Twitter a lot of others felt exactly the same. While some of it was informative, anytime you’re talking for 30-plus minutes without something interactive happening inside of it…you’re doing it wrong.

Kelly did a good job of re-laying the foundation of how the College Football Playoff will work, but my word was it B-O-R-I-N-G (no I’m talking about the state of Nebraska, even if Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald was right in his description). For those of us who pay attention to these things on a year-round basis there was little in the way of newsworthy stuff from Kelly and that also didn’t help matters.

We’ll see if things change tomorrow as he actually fields questions from the media.

– Big Ten rap video:

I just…thank God I was in the ballroom and not watching on TV. The immediate reaction on Twitter told me as much.

So did the fact that I also had curiosity get the best of me and had to look the darn thing up for my own edification. Bad choice, which means I’ll spare you from the horror here. Let’s just hope that isn’t a “thing” for the upcoming season indeed.

 

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Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He’s a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

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