Ask Bob Asmussen about his annual trip to media day in Chicago here.
The Big Ten holds its annual media kickoff Thursday and Friday at Chicago's McCormick Place. News-Gazette college football beat writer Bob Asmussen has been attending the event for two decades. Here are five things he expects to see this week:
Big Question I
The smartest man in the room turns 85 in December. Yes, that's older than Loren Tate.
And like with Tate, Penn State coach Joe Paterno isn't going anywhere. In fact, his health reportedly has improved in recent months as he has resumed his walking routine that was slowed by an injury.
Paterno's time in front of the media throng is the best 15 minutes during the day. He will come up with entertaining answers for mundane questions.
His retirement, or lack thereof, has been a topic at the Big Ten meetings since Penn State joined. Remember, when he came into the league in the early 1990s he was already at an age when many would start thinking about golf and winters in Arizona.
Paterno lives in the same State College house where his kids grew up, a short drive from Beaver Stadium. He doesn't get angry when the retirement questions come up, often making a joke out of it.
Big Question II
The former coach used to draw a sizable crowd. But not like the one Luke Fickell faces this week.
Everyone wants to know the same thing: What is the NCAA Committee on Infractions going to do to the Buckeyes? If anything.
Ohio State seemed to catch a break last week, when the NCAA said it wasn't going to question the school's institutional control (somewhere, Pat Haden has smoke coming out of his ears).
Fickell still has to deal with any fallout from possible penalties imposed during the season. He already has lost one starter (Terrelle Pryor) and will be without four others for the first five games. The early schedule includes games against Miami and Michigan State.
How much will the Ohio State contingent talk about the NCAA and Jim Tressel? The guess here is not much. But the questions will be asked early and often.
New kids on the block
In case you haven't heard, there is a new team in the Big Ten. It wears red, sells out every football game and the fans travel like they are going to see the Rolling Stones (1970s version).
Coach Bo Pelini, running back Rex Burkhead, defensive tackle Jared Crick and linebacker Lavonte David will be asked the following about a thousand times each: So, what do you think of the Big Ten?
They could be honest and say "Haven't played a game yet." But they are so used to the questions back home that they will come up with some sort of answer.
Pelini is known for his on-field theatrics. It got to the point during Nebraska's final season in the Big 12 that he had to be told to knock it off. In a public setting with a bunch of cameras and microphones, Pelini will be much more calm. Unless, of course, somebody asks him about the potential opening at his alma mater, Ohio State.
Haven't seen the media list from Nebraska, but the newspapers, radio stations and TV stations in the state travel like the fans. There will be all sorts of new, friendly faces in crowd. Should be fun.
For three years, Rich Rodriguez went to the microphone in Chicago and tried to convince everyone he had a plan for his Michigan tenure. Turns out, the plan was to go to work for CBS Sports after getting fired in Ann Arbor. The money still spends.
In his place goes a Michigan Man, Brady Hoke. The former Ball State/San Diego State coach spent eight years as a Wolverines assistant. Not the most glamorous pick to take over for Rodriguez, but a guy who immediately brought back many of the disgruntled fans.
Hoke's got good timing. The troubles at Ohio State have boosted recruiting. And Hoke has made himself plenty of fans with the countdown clock to the game against "Ohio." Awesome.
Honestly, Rodriguez was a nice enough guy but never seemed to fit in as Michigan coach. You knew he wasn't a lifer. Same can't be said about Hoke, who will be grilled plenty about his plans for Denard Robinson.
Ron Zook, Jeff Allen, A.J. Jenkins and Tavon Wilson are representing Illinois. It's a much better trip than it was in 2009. Or 2010.
Unlike the past two years, the Illini are coming off a winning season and a bowl victory. They are optimistic about their first year in the Leaders Division. They have eight home games and don't leave Memorial Stadium until October.
Because of the location there will be oodles of Illinois fans slapping the backs of the players and Zook. It won't be as obvious the first day, which is more of a media event. But Friday's activities include an autograph session and luncheon with fans.
Too early to tell how much the Illini will hang out with the other Big Ten players. Some years they stay to themselves or with friends from other schools. Other years it becomes more of a group outing.
Wilson is making his second consecutive appearance at the Big Ten event, so he can help the others with the process. Allen is relaxed in an interview setting, and Jenkins has plenty to say.
Because of the team's success in 2010, the Illini trio will be more popular with reporters.