I had heard about how impressively eloquent Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins was, but I had never spent any time talking to him before Big Ten media days. After listening to him for about 10 minutes during Saturday's individual breakout sessions, I was ready to vote for Cousins for councilman or governor or whatever.
The Spartans' senior does a lot of public-speaking engagements, so he was well prepared to deliver the keynote address on behalf of the players at the Big Ten kickoff luncheon. It's a really good speech, and it's especially refreshing to hear something like this after a long offseason of scandals in college football. You can watch the whole thing here.
A couple of highlights:
Cousins' main theme in the speech is that playing college football is a great privilege, but one that comes with responsibility.
"It's here in the place of privilege where perhaps danger lies," he said. "I've been taught that human nature is such that the place of privilege most often and most naturally leads to a sense of entitlement. The notion that I deserve to be treated as special because I'm privileged. The truth is, privilege should never lead to entitlement. I've been raised and taught to believe that privilege should lead to responsibility -- in fact to greater responsibility."
You won't hear Cousins echo Charles Barkley's infamous "I am not a role model" creed. Cousins says college football players have to lead by example.
"I don't believe it's too far-fetched to think that we as college football players can make a significant, positive difference in the youth culture of America simply by embracing the responsibilities that accompany this place of privilege," he said. "We can redefine what is cool for young people. We can set a new standard for how to treat others."
Cousins also told a story about a grade-schooler who asked him if he wished he were as good as Michigan's Denard Robinson.
"I told him, yes, but then added that I heard Denard's only wish is that he could run like me," Cousins said. "The boy looked back at me a little confused, understandably."
Cousins received a standing ovation after his speech. Just try to watch it and not be impressed.