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July 25, 2013

Big Ten Media Days Rundown

Big Ten Media Days breakdown CHICAGO - All 12 Big Ten coaches got their turn at the podium Wednesday morning/afternoon. We have Bo Pelini and Nebraska covered pretty well in our other content, so here's a synopsis of what the other 11 coaches had to say.

MORE ON MEDIA DAYS: Media Days preview | 2013 Wednesday LIVE Media Days updates

BIG TEN MEDIA DAYS DAY ONE BREAKDOWN
Wisconsin
Coach: Gary Andersen
2012-2013: 8-6, 4-4 conference (third in Leaders), lost Rose Bowl
Key question: What are the challenges of taking over a successful program and what kind of imprint do you need to put on it immediately?
Response: "There are going to be differences when you take over a program. It's important to put your own stamp on it. So I've never asked the question of how things work. There's a lot of different ways to do it. For us, it's sit back and get our core values into place... Let (the kids) understand the true set of core values and that we're going to hold them accountable to a high level."
Need to know: Tanner McEvoy, Joel Stave and Curt Phillips will all battle for the starting quarterback role. Andersen didn't set a timeline for when he wants to name a starter.
Quotable: "Coaching at the highest level is something that selfishly - I hate to use that word - for me and all of our coaches to have the opportunity to compete in the Big Ten and coach at the highest level, it's important to me."
Noteworthy: Wisconsin has won each of the last three Big Ten Championship games and returns 16 starters from last year's squad... Andersen coached with Urban Meyer at Utah... Andersen called Chris Borland the best linebacker in the country.

Purdue
Coach: Darrell Hazell
2012-2013: 6-7, 3-5 conference (fourth in Leaders), lost Heart of Dallas Bowl
Key question: You said you have a vision to change Purdue football to where it should be. Where is that and what's it going to take to get to that level?
Response: "One of the first things I said to my team... was Purdue was always a team that's perceived in the middle of the Big Ten. And I told them it's going to take a lot of work, but we're going to climb ourselves out of the middle and put this program on national prominence for a long point in time."
Need to know: Quarterbacks Rob Henry, Danny Etling and Austin Appleby will all get equal reps with the first team in fall camp. Hazell plans to make a decision on his starter two weeks after the start of practice.
Quotable: "There is not a great difference between team one and the last team in the conference... You've got to find a way in those critical situations to make a play, and I think we have enough good player s to be able to make those plays."
Noteworthy: Hazell spent 2004-2010 as an assistant at Ohio State and said he was heavily influenced by former Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel... One of the things Hazell is emphasizing is limiting turnovers.

Ohio State
Coach: Urban Meyer
2012-2013: 12-0, 8-0 conference (first in Leaders), ineligible for postseason
Key question: When it comes to off-the-field issues and player discipline, how do you view your own reputation?
Response: "I don't view my own reputation. I guess a reputation is what others think of you. I worry more about our team, about our players. I've been doing this for a long time... I'm not going to control what people think about myself or the program."
Need to know: Meyer had nothing new to report on running back Carlos Hyde, who is currently suspended indefinitely.
Quotable: "There has been zero conversation about anything other than competing for a (division) championship in November, which we were able to do last year.... We try to make training camp so focused and really difficult so that the focus is on getting to the next day."
Noteworthy: Meyer gave Andersen a strong recommendation when Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez called Meyer to ask about him... Meyer said the wide receiver position was OSU's weakest in 2012, but could be a strength of the offense this year.

Illinois
Coach: Tim Beckman
2012-2013: 2-10, 0-8 conference (sixth in Leaders)
Key question: How would you characterize the talent and depth that you inherited when you took the job and where's the program at now in those regards?
Response: "When we came in, I would say the inherited depth was an issue. I brought that up last year. We brought in 33 new faces, Does that bring depth? There's no question... We'll be young, but we will be a very eager football team."
Need to know: Nathan Scheelhaase is the starting quarterback, but Beckman said Reilly O'Toole and freshman Aaron Bailey will get the exact same opportunity to prove their worth.
Quotable: "We're not going to let negativity infiltrate our program. We're going to be positive with a great passion towards what we want to get accomplished."
Noteworthy: Illinois has had more players selected in the first round of the NFL Draft than any other Big Ten team over the past five years... 51 of the 91 players in spring practice had a GPA of 3.0 or higher.

Indiana
Coach: Kevin Wilson
2012-2013: 4-8, 2-6 conference (fifth in Leaders) Key question: When you're choosing at quarterback, what is the deciding factor in regards to those dynamics?
Response: "Our offense moves the ball but we don't score points proportional to moving the ball. And good teams score points. You don't win games by getting yards. So that's what we're looking for... a guy that gets to the fringe zone and gets his team into the end zone and a guy that's going to protect the football."
Need to know: Wilson said the team is unsettled at quarterback. Tre Roberson, Cameron Coffman and Nate Sudfeld are "in a dead heat" and no one separated during the spring.
Quotable: "Quite honestly, it's been embarrassing about how we played in our first two years. Our effort and toughness need to be better."
Noteworthy: The Hoosiers led the Big Ten in passing last season... Indiana returns 19 starters from 2012.

Penn State
Coach: Bill O'Brien
2012-2013: 8-4, 6-2 conference (second in Leaders), ineligible for postseason
Key question: Just how different is the feeling today compared to a year ago at this time for you?
Response: "It's certainly different. Last year, we arrived the day after the penalties were being announced, so I think we're in a better mood this year. Obviously you're a lot more comfortable with your position as a head football coach. Does that lead to victories? Who knows? We're going to go out there and play extremely hard."
Need to know: Tyler Ferguson and freshman Christian Hackenburg will compete for the starting quarterback job. O'Brien said he wants to have a decision made about halfway through fall camp.
Quotable: "I'm here to talk about the 2013 team. A lot of the things we talked about last year, it's water under the bridge. We're in a situation at Penn State right now that is unprecedented, sure... We're excited about the season and again just really want to concentrate on the 2013 season."
Noteworthy: O'Brien expects both defensive end Kyle Carter and running back Zack Zwinak will be healthy for training camp... He believes linebacker Glenn Carson can fill the leadership role vacated by departed seniors Mike Mauti and Gerald Hodges.

Northwestern
Coach: Pat Fitzgerald
2012-2013: 10-3, 5-3 conference (third in Legends), won Gator Bowl
Key question: You talked about the difficult schedule. How does that affect how you approach the season?
Response: "There's no question we're not afraid to play anyone... At the end of the day, it's how we prepare and what we do to determine if we're prepared for the game."
Need to know: The Wildcats won their first bowl game under Fitzgerald last year.
Quotable: "We're not satisfied with just going to bowl games anymore. That's not acceptable. That's the expectation. To be a consistent winner, to be a consistent postseason team playing in bowl games is the expectation."
Noteworthy: The Wildcats have gone to five straight bowl games... Fitzgerald had hip surgery in the offseason but is good to go.

Minnesota
Coach: Jerry Kill
2012-2013: 6-7, 2-6 conference (fifth in Legends), lost in the Meineke Car Care Bowl
Key question: More importantly than football, how is your health?
Response: "I'm doing great. I've got a great doctor that is a specialist in epilepsy. I may not look like it, but I feel like I'm in the best shape of my life, so I'm looking forward to the season."
Need to know: Philip Nelson is the starter at quarterback, but Kill also brought up Matt Leidner and Chris Streveler when asked about the position.
Quotable: "Right now we've got a beautiful stadium, a great place to play on Saturdays. But we have to improve our practice facilities, strength training and academic facilities... I commend (athletic director Norwood Teague) for moving it forward. OUr plan's to have one of the best indoor facilities in all of college football and we don't want to do it halfway."
Noteworthy: Two current Minnesota players have joined the Ed O'Bannon lawsuit against the NCAA.

Michigan
Coach: Brady Hoke
2012-2013: 8-5, 6-2 (second in Legends), lost the Outback Bowl
Key question: If Denard Robinson wouldn't have gotten hurt last year, would Devin Gardner be a wide receiver this year instead of a quarterback?
Response: "No, he was always going to go back to quarterback. He and I had talked about it. He really showed a lot of unselfishness by moving to wide receiver... With Denard getting hurt, the opportunity for Devin to get experience and move back to quarterback meant a lot."
Need to know: The Wolverines had 18 turnovers in their five losses and just nine in their eight victories.
Quotable: On Ohio State fan Grant Reid, who referred to his cancer as "Michigan": "Him beating Michigan in this context, we were all for it."
Noteworthy: Hoke expects linebacker Jake Ryan to return sometime in October... The Wolverines looked at both JUCO prospects and college graduates who could transfer to find a backup quarterback, but will go with Brian Cleary or Shane Morris instead.

Michigan State
Coach: Mark Dantonio
2012-2013: 7-6, 3-5 (fourth in Legends), won Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl
Key question: How much of your future scheduling is going to be predicated on trying to be in the mix for the college football playoff situation?
Response: "We'll always have a big opponent out of conference to play, so our schedule will be strong. And it will always be our dream to go to the Rose Bowl, to become a national champion, to get into the championship format... The previous years (before last year), we're right where we needed to be in a format like that to be able to be realistically playing in a game in a championship venue."
Need to know: Dantonio said incumbent Andrew Maxwell is the current starter at quarterback, but spoke very highly of Connor Cook. He also mentioned Tyler O'Connor and Damion Terry as other notables at the position.
Quotable: "There is a feeling, I think, among our football team that a foundation has been laid but we're still chasing a dream right now."
Noteworthy: The Spartans have gone to six straight bowl games... Dantonio believes Michigan State has found a niche recruiting in Wisconsin... This year's team mantra is "Chase it."
Iowa
Coach: Kirk Ferentz
2012-2013: 4-8, 2-6 conference (sixth in Legends)
Key question: How do you feel about the tailback position entering this season?
Response: "I never feel too good about that position, but we're certainly further ahead than we were last year. Last year at this time, quite frankly, I didn't know if we had a Big Ten running back... With those two guys (Mark Weisman and Damon Bullock) alone we feel a lot better about where we're at."
Need to know: Ferentz is now the longest-tenured coach in the Big Ten (15 seasons).
Quotable: "Last year was obviously very disappointing for all of us and as soon as the season ended in November, we encouraged our players to turn the page. We wanted to get them looking forward and then go back to work."
Noteworthy: Ferentz said he hasn't seen any statistical evidence that suggests hurry-up offenses lead to more injuries...



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