Asmussen notes: Too much of a good thing
CHICAGO — Twelve schools at a media event is manageable. Fourteen, as it turns out, is not.
The Big Ten found out the hard way during this year’s event. The addition of Maryland and Rutgers might be good for the Big Ten bank account (ch-ching), but it leaves coverage of the summer showcase less than satisfying. Too many teams. Too many players. Too many reporters. Not enough time.
The Big Ten needs to give serious consideration to expanding the kickoff event from two days to three.
Sure, it will add to the expense for the schools and the media. But the tradeoff will be better coverage. That is good for everyone: readers, viewers, teams, players, coaches.
It is a pretty simple fix. Bring half the teams, say the West Division, in for the first of three days. Put the coaches in front of the room of reporters to blather on for 30 minutes or so. It won’t feel crammed like this year’s 15-minute sessions.
On the second day, bring all 14 teams into a ballroom, like they do now, for two hours of one-on-one interviews. Follow that with the annual banquet. Afterward, the seven teams from the West get to go home.
On the third day, it is the East’s turn. Again, 30 minutes for each coach and the usual station-to-station interviews for the players. When the time is up, the seven schools go home.
The plan might cause a few logistical headaches, but the timing won’t interfere with the start of training camps. Coaches hate when you mess with their training camps.
The Big Ten deserves an extended preseason talkfest. This year’s model didn’t work and needs to be changed.
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One item the Big Ten got right: the autograph session. One former player representing each of the 14 schools was at Tuesday’s luncheon. The players on hand included Illinois’ Dana Howard, Indiana’s Anthony Thompson, Iowa’s Chuck Long, Northwestern’s Darnell Autry, Michigan State’s Flozell Adams and Michigan’s Jon Jansen. You could have won a Big Ten title or two with that group.
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You will find Ohio State defensive lineman Michael Bennett on several preseason award lists. The senior won himself some votes in Chicago.
Smart, thoughtful and modest, he talked about his teammates much more than he talked about himself.
“We have a very dangerous defensive line,” Bennett said. “I’m really impressed with the maturity of the freshmen. All of them do what we ask them to do. They try really hard, and when they don’t understand something, we’ll explain it to them. It’s great to have young guys like that because you know they are going to go far.”
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Illinois tight end Jon Davis had never tried Chicago-style pizza. Davis can scratch that from his food bucket list.
Davis and his Illini teammates went to Lou Malnati’s on Monday night.
“I really enjoyed it,” Davis said. ”It was definitely better than I thought. But it still isn’t better than New York style.”
He likes to fold his pizza and dip it in ranch dressing.
Davis is from Louisville, Ky. Not the pizza capital of the world.
“Barbecue is real good,” Davis said. “We are famous for chicken. Definitely not pizza.”
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It took until his senior year, but Iowa’s Mark Weisman is finally going to play against Illinois.
“It’s crazy (because) they are three hours away,” Weisman said. “It should be a good game. We’re back in the same division and can make that a rivalry again.”
Weisman is having a blast as a Hawkeyes running back.
“It’s great,” Weisman said. “We have great fans, always filling up the stadium. It gets loud in that place, and they get crazy for us.”
Weisman is an old-school player with old-school goals.
“Just to help the team,” Weisman said. “I could care less about numbers.”
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Illinois fans should be nice to Weisman when he visits C-U. He might have some influence on a potential Illinois basketball recruit.
Weisman attended the same high school, Stevenson, as Jalen Brunson.
“What he’s doing right now is unbelievable,” Weisman said. “He’s a man among boys in a lot of games he’s playing. It’s cool to see someone from Stevenson doing that.”
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Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown is looking forward to visiting Penn State this season as a member of the Big Ten.
“I’ve had a bunch of buddies play there in the past,” Brown said.
Brown is learning about the Big Ten from offensive coordinator Mike Locksley, a former Illinois assistant.
“Coach Locksley is doing well,” Brown said. “He is still a very passionate guy, full of enthusiasm. I’m happy he’s my OC.”
Going into his third year, Locksley is learning.
“He’s continuing to grow,” Brown said.
When Locksley first took over the Maryland offense, Brown watched Illinois film to see what Locklsey was about. Lots of Juice Williams and Arrelious Benn highlights.
“We asked questions,” Brown said. “He doesn’t bring it up too much now.”
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Purdue running back Raheem Mostert didn’t take much time off after the season. He found another sport to star in, winning Big Ten titles in the sprints at the indoor and outdoor track meets. He earned All-America recognition outdoors.
“I like both sports,” Mostert said. “Both sports bring out the best in me. I like to compete.”
When he plays football, opponents can point to him and say, “There goes the fast guy.”
The difference? No linebacker is going to hit you on the track.
“The only beating I get is with my legs,” Mostert said.
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The Purdue coaches are more relaxed after a rough first season.
“They are calmed down and relaxed, like we are,” Mostert said. “The confidence level has gone through the roof.”
“I think everyone is more relaxed,” defensive end Ryan Russell said. “Transition is hard. It’s definitely a lot better.”
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Reporters at the meetings love to ask wacky questions. One quizzed Rutgers fullback Michael Burton on the Big Ten’s history.
“Name three Big Ten Heisman winners?” Burton was asked.
“Ron Dayne,” Burton said.
“I know more. I can’t think right now,” Burton said.
He was also asked, “Who plays for the Little Brown Jug?” Burton wasn’t sure. Maybe next year.
When Burton first heard about the Big Ten, he was fired up. Doesn’t matter that the rest of the league fans said “What?”
Burton is going to miss some of the rivalries from the Big East, Louisville and UConn. Time to make new rivals.
“We don’t get to play them anymore, but I’m excited for this new conference and these new teams,” Burton said.