Big Ten Media Days were fun while they lasted, but now it’s go time for the Michigan Wolverines and the rest of the conference.
With the dog days of summer officially continuing after the brief hiatus, Sam Dodge, Anthony Broome and I decided to collaborate and explain one takeaway we all had from the teams in the conference after Media Days.
Without further ado, here they are.
Northwestern: Very little purple and gold love after a 10-3 year
Following up the fanfare from new Nebraska coach Scott Frost, Pat Fitzgerald and Northwestern barely entered anyone’s consciousness at Media Days.
There’s little respect for a 10-3 team returning four offensive linemen and most of the front-seven from the No. 9 national rush defense in 2017. Jeremy Larkin looks to fill the Justin Jackson’s big shoes, and should Fitzgerald find a quarterback to replace the injured Clayton Thorson, they’ll be a tough out again. - Sam
Ohio State: All the talk was about the former WR coach
Yes, it was all warranted, but the first few questions, and several questions after that, directed at Urban Meyer were about the since-fired wide receivers coach Zach Smith.
If you haven’t heard, Smith was fired due to his ex-wife filing a domestic violence restraining order against him. He has also been charged with criminal trespassing, and Brett McMurphy even reported other issues Smith has had in the past dating back to 2009.
It is great Meyer and Ohio State fired Smith. What’s not great is Smith was able to get away with these things for so long and keep his job. I don’t see this story going away any time soon. - Von
Minnesota: P.J. Fleck Knows the Gophers Will Suck in ‘18
Fleck quoted old colleague Greg Schiano during his presser, saying: “Never sacrifice what you really want down the road for what you want right now.”
This reads as tempering expectations in Minneapolis, as only 11 starters return. With the Gophers getting Wisconsin, Nebraska and Ohio State on the road, it’ll be an uphill climb in Year Two. - Sam
Maryland: Dark horse team in 2018?
I think the Terrapins have a chance to be a real pain this year. Perhaps not by making serious noise in the division, but would I be surprised by a scenario where maybe Penn State regresses and Maryland sneaks into that top four? I would not. That team played very hard last year despite using what seemed like quadruple the amount of quarterbacks that Michigan did. If they stay healthy at that position, keep an eye on the Terrapins. - Anthony
Wisconsin: The lone star in the West
SO many questions were raised to Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst pertaining to the fact the East division is filled with talent, while the West is Wisconsin and...well, everybody else.
“My view is that I think there’s really good teams in the Big Ten,” Chryst said at Big Ten Media Days. “They’re in the East or in the West, so don’t spend a lot of time trying to figure out narratives. I know who we play this year, and you respect every opponent and you know that you’ve got to play well to give yourself a chance.”
Chryst goes on to say another five sentences or so, but I will spare you the time of reading it; it is a long-winded way of covering up how bad the West’s competition is. - Von
Purdue: Brohm Sees Northwestern as “Launching Pad”
Purdue coach Jeff Brohm has the Boilermaker steam building after a 7-6 first year. They host Northwestern — 10-3 in 2017 — on Aug. 30 to start the year, a game that he sees as necessary for a big season.
“We’ve got to step up to the plate,” he said on BTN. “It’s a big, big game for our season.”
We will see Aug. 30 if they are able to step up to the plate. - Sam
Nebraska: Scott Frost is here and I still hate him
I can’t stand this dude.
He goes to Big Ten Media Days and pretty much puts his OWN program on blast for being mediocre at best since he left it. Here’s a little bit of what he said about how he will get it back to being relevant again.
“Nebraska stood for a lot of things when it was great,” he said. “It was an organization of integrity and character. Unity, unity across the whole state. We used to build it from within by developing players better than anybody else. We went out and recruited good players that were hungry and had upside and got to work with the best strength and conditioning program in the country with the best nutrition program in the country, best academic support in the country, best life skills development in the country.”
Harbaugh was asked something similar at his introductory press conference in Ann Arbor. His answer was pretty much, “I don’t know what you’re talking about” when it comes to Michigan being in a rut over the past nine years at that time and how he’ll get it back to championship-level.
I’m sure Frost believes he “outhit” all the competition at Big Ten Media Days, too. - Von
Rutgers: Wait...they were at Big Ten Media Days?
I’m not going to sit here and pretend I followed Rutgers at all during media days. They don’t even feel like a blip on the radar in the Big Ten once again. Let’s break it down. Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State make up presumably the top four teams in the seven-team division. That leaves Maryland, Indiana and Rutgers for the final three spots in the pecking order. I don’t think Indiana will be very good, but they always find a way to chaos their way into some wacky situations.
Rutgers is going to suck again, but thank god Jim Delaney was able to lock down that New York market. - Sam
Penn State: The offense is bound to take a step back
Starting quarterback and Heisman-hopeful Trace McSorley is back for one more year, but top running back in the nation Saquon Barkley is gone. As is wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton, tight end Mike Gesicki and offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead, who took the heading coaching gig at Mississippi State.
Despite the turnover, Penn State still has a former 5-star running back ready to take the starting spot — Miles Sanders. The offensive line is returning some talent, too, but I would still expect this unit to take a slight step back in 2018. - Von
Indiana: A Year to Honor Bill Mallory
Former Indiana coach Bill Mallory, a two-time conference coach of the year winner, passed away last May, and current Indiana head coach Tom Allen is dedicating the season to him.
“We want to honor him this season by wearing a decal on our helmet each week,” he said at the podium, “and we want our players to play with that same type of intensity and passion (he had) for the Hoosiers.”
Helmet/jersey decals are always a great way to honor a former coach or player. Kudos to Allen and the Indiana program for doing this. - Sam
Michigan State: Dantonio making things right, but still not right what Reschke did
I kind of think for all of MSU’s problems in the last year or so off the field that Mark Dantonio is sort of taking the right approach with the Jon Reschke situation. The kid made some awful comments and was kicked off the team, but he is back without a scholarship and his teammates had to vote him back into the mix. I’m by no mans condoning what he did, but if his peers decided he was worth a second chance, it is what it is. There’s always something controversial going on in that program. - Anthony
Iowa: Kirk Ferentz is back for the millionth year in a row
Seriously, will this guy ever retire?
But for real, Iowa could be a sneaky team in the conference this season; luckily for Michigan, there is no night game at Kinnick in 2018.
Quarterback Nathan Stanley returns after a solid sophomore campaign that saw him throw 26 touchdowns and only 6 interceptions. The completion percentage was a bit on the low side (55.8) but he has a lot of potential to be a top quarterback in the conference. Well, at least in the West. - Von
Michigan: Harbaugh’s treatment by the media
People love reveling in Harbaugh’s misses at Michigan so far. We don’t need to call anyone out by name here, but it’s pretty telling how hated the Wolverines are that there is a bigger outcry over Harbaugh’s media days attire and poking fun at the record against rivals than there is outrage over those same rivals letting a player back onto the team following a pretty disgusting racially charged statement and the other rival firing a coach over alleged sexual violence. The way he is treated is so petty, but it can be fixed by winning the big games he has not done enough of just yet. - Anthony
Illinois: Lovie Smith has possibly retired to become a prospector
That is all - Sam