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Big Ten Media Days: Let the big talk begin

[ 1 ] July 28, 2011 |

Chicago, Ill. — Bo Pelini wore a tie.

“I didn’t know he even owned one,” longtime Omaha World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel said of the usually open-necked or mock-turtled Nebraska football coach.

But on Thursday, when Big Ten Conference coaches and players gathered with reporters, Pelini was all gussied up — with someplace new to go.

The Cornhuskers were first-timers at this 40-year-old, two-day media affair. They attended last year, but as outsiders.

Now, they’re full-fledged members of the Big Ten — with all the hoopla (aka Big Ten Network) that goes with it, and in his first large meeting with reporters, Pelini bluntly laid out his plan:

‘We’re going to play against some teams where the style might be a little bit different than we’ve seen in the Big 12,” he said, referencing Nebraska’s former conference.

But …

“We’re going to do what we do,” added Pelini, whose team has been picked to win the Legends Division, “and we’re going to do it well. We’re not really going to adapt what we do to the conference. We’re going to hopefully make the conference adapt to what we do.”

And then this less daunting shot from Pelini, a 1991 graduate assistant on Hayden Fry’s Iowa staff, about a scheduling initiation that includes games against Wisconsin, Penn State and Michigan.

“Obviously the schedule makers didn’t do us any favors in our first year, did they?” he asked. “We have a tough schedule ahead.”

That includes the final conference game, a Legends Division rivalry with Iowa that will happen this season on Thanksgiving’s Black Friday — at 11 a.m. in Lincoln.

“Tell Iowa fans to be prepared for an experience like they have in Madison and Columbus,” said Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez, who has lived Big Red life as a Nebraska player and experienced the rivalry as an Iowa assistant.

“Attending a Nebraska football game is a happening. Tell them that.”

Alvarez learned about the Memorial Stadium crowd as a Nebraska linebacker between 1966 and 1968 — and none of the games were against the Hawkeyes.

“The fans are rabid in both places,” he said.

“It’s going to be a great rivalry.”

Tell Iowa fans, too, Cornhusker media relations director Keith Mann said, that many of the local night spots will open sometime after the Thanksgiving dinner dishes have been washed.

“The town won’t be shut down,” he said.


Iowa fullback not cleared

Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz said fullback Brad Rogers hasn’t been cleared from last December’s heart ailment.

“It’s a serious issue, but a lot of the things that they were really concerned about have been ruled out,” Ferentz said. “It takes time to run tests and see how he’s progressing.

“It’s going on eight months now. Hopefully he’s cleared and we’re moving in the right direction.”

Ferentz also said reserve offensive lineman Dan Heiar will be disciplined after being charged with an OWI following an April accident.

“He’s been in pretty serious shape physically,” Ferentz said. “He’s been working on getting his academic work completed, and once he gets back with us, we’ll handle that.”

Ferentz said Heiar is a likely redshirt.

“I don’t see him getting back full speed until September,” Ferentz said. “He’s missed a lot of time.”

No prep games on BTN

Don’t look for the Big Ten Network to televise high school football games anytime soon.

“It’s going to be the Big Ten Conference’s position that we refrain from telecasting high school games for at least the next couple years until we sort out these other more important issues,” commissioner Jim Delany said when asked about the Longhorn Network’s idea of televising prep games.

“If the NCAA in its wisdom makes these games televisable, we’ll probably have to look at it, but it’s our position that it does nothing but confuse an already confused environment, and we’re going to stick to the collegiate telecasting of games.”

Bielema has wise words

One good line Thursday came from Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema.

Here’s what he said when asked about his recruiting philosophy:

“I tell my coaches — they’re all fathers and they all have children — if you are not willing to let a recruit come in and baby-sit your children when you’re not in the house, don’t recruit them.

“If we have a young man who is disrespectful to his mother, disrespectful to a woman, don’t recruit them. Usually that’s an indicator of something that’s bad to come.”

No Hawkeyes make list

Iowa was snubbed on the conference’s list of 12 players to watch. … Who’s starting at quarterback? “Good question,” said Ohio State interim coach Luke Fickell.

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Randy Peterson: Randy Peterson covers college football, college basketball and the Iowa Cubs for the Des Moines Register. Randy can be reached at randypeterson@dmreg.com or on Twitter via @RandyPete View author profile.

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