Football wasn’t made to be played in late July, but it’s OK to talk about it, even if there isn’t much to talk about.
On paper, the 2013 Big Ten Football Media Day event leaves something to be desired from a news standpoint.
That could change once things get started Wednesday in Chicago because you never know what will happen when you put 12 head coaches, 36 players and hundreds of media members together for two days.
But much like the Big Ten’s national perception is in football, this particular media day gathering has ordinary written all over it. There is no Johnny Manziel to help spice up the activities or any recent national championships to talk about.
The fact that Maryland and Rutgers are set to join the Big Ten hardly is news anymore. And yet it’s still far enough away from happening — both teams will become official members of the Big Ten on July 1, 2014 — that it would be premature to dwell on it at this year’s event.
The child rape scandal that rocked the Penn State football program and ultimately cost Joe Paterno his job will be etched in our minds forever, but is no longer front-page news like it was last summer.
The hype from the coaching change from Paterno to Bill O’Brien also has faded in the wake of Penn State finishing a surprising 8-4 under O’Brien last season.
So, too, has the shock from Bret Bielema resigning as the head coach at Wisconsin in December in order to accept the same job at Arkansas, a move that was considered lateral at best.
I’m sure Bielema’s replacement at Wisconsin, Gary Anderson, is a stand-up guy with his own inspirational story to tell. But it’s still not the same as a having a former Iowa walk-on defensive lineman, who has a tendency to speak his mind regardless of the consequences, running the show in Mad Town.
The only other new coach in the conference is Purdue’s Darrell Hazell. No disrespect to Hazell or to Iowa’s protected rival for one more season, but Purdue hiring a new football coach is about as interesting as Nebraska hiring a new men’s basketball coach. You’re happy for the people directly involved, but that’s where it ends.
Northwestern’s role as the little engine that could also has run its course because we’re now used to the Wildcats having success under head coach Pat Fitzgerald. The novelty has rubbed off.
Also, Michigan is close to being Michigan again with Brady Hoke entering his third season as head coach.
And with so few story lines to feed the beast, it’s likely that reporters will turn to the all-too familiar topics to generate copy, topics such as why the Big Ten is so vastly inferior to the Southeastern Conference in football, the latest on conference realignment and bowl affiliations and the latest on the police blotter.
Speaking of the police blotter, it might be the only thing that keeps Ohio State from dominating the conference this fall. The Buckeyes already have suspended starting tailback Carlos Hyde, who was accused of punching a woman. And they could lose all-Big Ten corner back Bradley Roby, who was arrested this past weekend in connection with an alleged assault.
Roby is one of three players selected to represent Ohio State at Big Ten Media Day, and his timing couldn’t be worse.
Combine the two assault charges with the fallout from the Aaron Hernandez murder case and reporters might have enough to ruin Urban Meyer’s media day experience. The Ohio State coach should be the toast of the event as his star-studded team looks vastly superior to the other 11 Big Ten teams on paper.
But he also might have some explaining to do.
Meyer has been accused of taking a soft stand with Hernandez during the three seasons in which Meyer coached him at Florida. According to a report in the New York Times, 41 of the 121 players on Florida’s 2008 team, including Hernandez, have been arrested, either in college or afterward.
Don’t be surprised if Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz gets dragged into the Hernandez controversy, considering Hernandez’s older brother, D.J. Hernandez, is a graduate assistant at Iowa. It’s unlikely that Ferentz will say anything about the Hernandez case, besides offering his support for D.J., because there really isn’t much Ferentz can say about it.
It’s also unlikely that Ferentz would do much besides let out one of his famous snorts when asked to comment on Sports Illustrated’s Stewart Mandel ranking him among the five worst college coaches in the country. Ferentz almost certainly will be asked about Mandel’s criticism, but he has too much class to lash out publicly. And despite what some people on the outside think, he has too much job security to feel threatened by a national writer looking for shock value.
Ferentz also has too many other things to worry about with Iowa coming off a 4-8 season, its worst since 2000. The Hawkeyes are in danger of becoming irrelevant outside of our state, if they aren’t already.
A panel of media members picked Iowa to finish fifth in the Big Ten Legends Division in a survey that was published Monday in the Cleveland Plain-Dealer.
Now that’s a story.