Matt Daniels: Five Big Ten Media Days storylines
Not how a coach coming off a 12-0 season wanted to start his week, especially when television cameras, recorders and smartphones will be out in full force. Ohio State’s Urban Meyer handed out swift punishments to Carlos Hyde after the Buckeyes running back was named as a person of interest in a weekend assault case against a female.
Hyde is suspended indefinitely. All-America cornerback Bradley Roby was scheduled to appear in Chicago, but Meyer will keep him away from the swarm after Roby was arrested this past weekend on battery charges. The Buckeyes, clear choices for a possible national title this fall, have capable players to replace Hyde and Roby if Roby is suspended. But these are issues coaches never want to deal with a month before the season.
Penn State a year later
The Jerry Sandusky scandal. Joe Paterno’s death. NCAA sanctions. Those three topics dominated the league’s annual event last year. New coach Bill O’Brien had to deal with all that and more before he even coached his first game in State College. O’Brien exceeded all outside expectations by leading the Nittany Lions to an 8-4 record. The bowl ban is still in place — and will be until 2015.
O’Brien isn’t headed to the NFL. At least not yet. All the folks upset Penn State didn’t pick a person connected to the program probably feel silly for making such comments. While O’Brien probably would love to talk about who is his starting quarterback, he won’t get much of a chance. The scrutiny won’t be at the same level it was a year ago, but attention to the situation Penn State is going through won’t go away for some time. Nor should it.
The new Big Ten
Rutgers and Maryland won’t have players and coaches in Chicago. They will in 2014, though. This is the first media days since both East Coast schools put their future in the Big Ten last November. It’s also the first media days since Jim Delany’s league decided to scrap the Leaders and Legends division names in favor of geographically centered East and West division names.
Your parents’ Big Ten most certainly looks different than the one younger fans are growing up with now. Delany addresses the media at 2:15 p.m. today and is scheduled for a half-hour. One of the more influential college sports figures should have plenty of topics on his plate, including the upcoming league expansion.
Hits to the head. Leading with the helmet. Hitting defenseless players. Concussions. The afore-mentioned scenarios have overwhelmed the NFL in the last few years. Expect the same at the college level, too. How college football officials deal with questionable hits during games this fall will prove interesting and noteworthy.
SEC commissioner Mike Slive said last week at his conference’s media days that the NCAA needs to do more in regards to player safety. Whether Delany or any of the Big Ten coaches and players follow suit will play itself out. But it is a hot-button issue that gets plenty of attention. As well it should.
A year ago, Danny Hope entered his fourth season at Purdue. A bowl-game appearance wasn’t enough for Hope to keep his job in West Lafayette. Tim Beckman has certainly felt the heat from fans in Champaign-Urbana and elsewhere about the disappointing 2-10 season the Illini went through last year.
Kirk Ferentz probably can commiserate after a rough 2012 for his Hawkeyes. Kevin Wilson at Indiana showed his Hoosiers can score points last year, but the folks in Bloomington still haven’t gone bowling since 2007. Those three coaches enter 2013 in hopes of avoiding another rough offseason.
Here’s the lineup of Big Ten coaches scheduled to take to the podium Wednesday at the Chicago Hilton for the league’s annual media days:
Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern 10 a.m.
Darrell Hazell, Purdue 10:15 a.m.
Gary Andersen, Wisconsin 10:30 a.m.
Tim Beckman, Illinois 11 a.m.
Kevin Wilson, Indiana 11:15 a.m.
Brady Hoke, Michigan 11:30 a.m.
Bo Pelini, Nebraska Noon
Mark Dantonio, Michigan State 12:15 p.m.
Urban Meyer, Ohio State 12:30 p.m.
Jerry Kill, Minnesota 1 p.m.
Bill O’Brien, Penn State 1:15 p.m.
Kirk Ferentz, Iowa 1:30 p.m.