- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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It won't be long now until Big Ten media days are upon us. There won't be burning controversies like the Penn State penalties or Bret Bielema's supposed tiff with Urban Meyer, but there are plenty of storylines. Here's a primer to get you ready.
When: July 24-25
Where: Hilton Chicago
Big names in attendance: QB Braxton Miller and CB Bradley Roby, Ohio State; QB Taylor Martinez, Nebraska; QB Devin Gardner and OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan; RB Venric Mark and QB Kain Colter, Northwestern; LB Chris Borland and WR Jared Abbrederis, Wisconsin; LB Max Bullough, Michigan State.
Five storylines/things to watch: Here are a handful of what we think will be the most popular topics in Chicago:
Ohio State/Urban Meyer: The Buckeyes and their coach remain the elephant in the room. After going 12-0 last season and entering this year ranked No. 1 in some polls, Ohio State will be the story in the Big Ten. Is Meyer's team a legitimate national title contender? Can anyone -- especially in the Leaders Division -- beat back the Buckeyes? Meyer will be a big focus, and he surely will face questions about the Aaron Hernandez/Florida arrests situation. Whether he answers any is another story.
Heisman hopefuls: There will be some bright stars shining in the Hilton ballrooms, including Heisman Trophy contender Miller and some with outside shots at the prize, such as Martinez and Gardner. All three quarterbacks figure to get the most attention, and all three have interesting yet different stories to tell.
New coaches: Wisconsin's Gary Andersen and Purdue's Darrell Hazell make their first Big Ten media days appearance as head coaches at their new schools. Both have enjoyed honeymoon periods and they will attract curiosity in Chicago, especially Andersen, who inherits a Badgers program that has gone to three straight Rose Bowls.
Quarterback battles: Indiana, Iowa, Michigan State, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin have heated and open competitions for the starting quarterback jobs. While we don't expect many answers on any of those fronts, we're sure that many of the same questions will be asked, and every nugget will be parsed for meaning.
The future: While there are plenty of interesting things to talk about with the upcoming season, there are also big changes on the horizon. This will be the final season before the Big Ten adds Maryland and Rutgers and goes to new divisions, not to mention the forthcoming four-team College Football Playoff and the new bowl lineup. Nine-game conference schedules are just a few seasons away. Commissioner Jim Delany likely will talk about all of it and more when he takes the podium.
6hSam Khan Jr.
8hDavid M. Hale