Friday, July 29, 2011
Big Ten media days: Best of Day 1
By Adam Rittenberg and Brian Bennett
Best call for change: Jim Delany. The Big Ten commissioner said he wouldn't disagree with any of the reform proposals SEC commissioner Mike Slive raised last week. Delany said college football leaders need to work together and clean up the game.
"We compete with the Big 12, the Pac-10 and SEC on the field," he said. "This is not a time for competition. This is a time for collaboration, for coming together, for giving [NCAA president] Mark Emmert the ideas and concepts that he needs to produce to university presidents around the country and to establish a renewed way of ensuring that the intercollegiate athletic model can be sustained in the 21st century."
Best sartorial statement: Nick Toon, Wisconsin. One of the fun parts of any media day is seeing how the players deck themselves out. The most head-turning outfit of the day belonged to Wisconsin receiver Toon, who combined a seersucker suit with a pink tie and white shoes. "I am a wardrobe connoisseur," he said. "I was debating whether to pull it out, but why not?" Red carpet analysts might have had a field day debating another one of Toon's choices: going sockless with his suit.
Best guest questioner: Orhian Johnson, Ohio State. As new Ohio State coach Luke Fickell dealt with a mob of reporters, defensive back Johnson sneaked into the scrum and asked the coach where the players were heading for dinner. Fickell said it depended on how well behaved the players were. "So are we getting steak?" Johnson asked. "That's to be determined," Fickell answered.
Best quote: Joe Paterno. You can always count on the Penn State legend to make things interesting on media day. Here is how Paterno answered a question about all the recent scandals in college football:
"The old days when I first started to coach, … I used to get a telephone call from one of the campus cops who'd say, 'Hey, Coach, you better come up here and get a hold of Mike. Too much to drink, making a lot of noise.' I'd go up at 2 in the morning, grab Mike, put him in bed, get him up at 5 in the morning, run his rear end off for a week. You guys never heard about it.
"Every once in a while, I hear one of these guys that I know a little bit talking about when they were 19 and 20, about all the kids today. They ought to go back and read Socrates. Socrates, 400 years B.C., said, 'The kids today are terrible; they're tyrants. They don't pay attention.' That's 2,500 years ago, OK?'
"Anyway, I'm shooting my mouth off too much. Let's go."
Best memory: Jeff Allen. Most college football fans probably would be hard-pressed to identify which teams are in the Legends Division and which are in the Leaders Division. Not Allen. The Illinois left tackle said he studied the divisions in the offseason, then proved it by correctly naming each team's division assignment. If Allen is that good at comprehending scouting reports, Nathan Scheelhaase won't have to worry about his backside this season.
Best tribute: Mark Dantonio. Jim Tressel wasn't at Big Ten media days for the first time since 2000, but his close friend and former colleague had some warm words for the disgraced Ohio State coach.
"He's had a lot to do with my life as a mentor really since 1983, and that's a long time," Dantonio said. "He's done a lot of good for college football. Every person he's come in contact with as a player and a coach, he's made a positive impact on their lives.
"To me, it's tragic. He becomes a tragic hero in my respect, in my view. Usually tragic heroes have the ability to rise above it all in the end, and that's what I'll look for in the end."