Asmussen: Media Days winners and losers
The Big Ten just completed its annual football media gabfest in Chicago.
Who scored points? Who needs to work on his delivery?
Here are my winners and losers from the two-day event:
Winner: Pat Fitzgerald
Hard to believe the former star linebacker is now second in the Big Ten on the coaching seniority list. Always smooth with the media. It’s easy to see why Northwestern values him so much. And the Big Ten could use more guys like him.
Fitz makes jokes when appropriate, deftly answers tricky questions and makes you feel better for having talked to him. The school is lucky he hasn’t decided to move on.
The old professor said he didn’t mind cliches as long as you made them up yourself and only used them once. Indiana coach Kevin Wilson must have missed that class. He said his team wasn’t “playing with a full deck” last year and also said “blah, blah, blah.” Apparently, “yada, yada, yada” wasn’t available.
Winner: Jim Tressel
The former Ohio State coach was mentioned prominently by new Purdue coach Darrell Hazell, who used to work for Tressel in Columbus. Hazell talked about the positive influence Tressel had on his career.
Unfortunately, he came across very Tressel-like in terms of personality at the microphone. Nothing dynamic to excite the Purdue fandom.
At a place that got used to clever Joe Tiller, dull doesn’t work. Never a good sign when they run out of questions at your first Big Ten media event.
Winner: The other new guy
First-year Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen has a difficult job taking over Rose Bowl hog Wisconsin. No pressure there.
Is it just me, or does he look a lot like Mark Dantonio? Have you ever seen them in the same room?
Give Andersen credit for praising new boss Barry Alvarez and the work done by Bret Bielema’s staff. It would have been easy for Andersen to avoid comments about past success.
Winner: The rumpled look
Nobody wears it better than Michigan coach Brady Hoke. Not a threat to Tom Brady as a cover-boy model, all Hoke does is win games and raise expectations in Ann Arbor.
We always will remember his “We’re Michigan” as the reason the Wolverines would return to power in the post-Rich Rodriguez era. You have to love a guy who refers to himself as “an old defensive line coach.” Perfect.
Loser: The Motor City
Hoke was asked about Detroit’s financial troubles. Not the kind of publicity the city was hoping for at the Big Ten meetings. Good news, Hoke said he is pulling for Detroit. I’m sure the city appreciates his support.
Winner: Long-winded questions about Nebraska’s defensive struggles
The probe seemed to bother Nebraska coach Bo Pelini. But the questions are legit after his once-proud unit got blown out game after game in 2012.
Winner: Nebraska’s offense
Pelini had special praise for fourth-year starting quarterback Taylor Martinez.
Winner: Moms, wives and kids
Pat Beckman, Tim’s mother, received birthday wishes from her son. Beckman wasn’t the only one to mention his family. Good call by the coaches, who often cut into their private time because of the demands of their jobs.
Winner: Postseason consistency
Michigan State is very proud of reaching six consecutive bowls. It would be better if they were called Rose and Fiesta, but who’s keeping track?
The Big Ten has to work on the pregnant pauses between questions. The coaches look goofy while hemming and hawing during the sessions. There has to be a better way. Make it work.
Winner: Big words
Yes, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer used the term “esprit de corps” during his time on stage. Just a hunch that most of the media members had no idea what he was talking about.
The reporters hammered Meyer, in a nice Midwestern way, about the discipline breakdowns at Ohio State under his direction. Meyer seemed peeved but came up with answers. It wasn’t Mike Wallace-tough but closer than we could have expected.
Winner: Contractors in the Twin Cities
They already built a new stadium at Minnesota. Now, coach Jerry Kill is pushing for an indoor facility. Would you want to practice there outside in December? Didn’t think so.
Winner: Schools in need of a head coach after this season
Penn State’s Bill O’Brien seems like an easy choice for the next big opening. He has thrived in a terrible situation in Unhappy Valley and might be ready for a change of venue. Talented and motivated, he will be an easy hire for the right job.