CHICAGO — Big Ten Media Day One is in the books and with that comes plenty of zingers and one-liners that will be remembered well into the fall.
That’s mainly because football is close, yet so far away. But there really were some intriguing sound bytes and eyebrow-raising quotes from the first day of action at McCormick Place.
Here are the best quotes from Big Ten Media Day One:
10. A tribute to Sam Foltz
Six coaches spoke on Monday and all gave tributes to the one coach and team who wasn’t there: Nebraska. The Cornhuskers did not make the trip to Chicago after the tragic death of punter Sam Foltz, as well as former Michigan State punter, Mike Sadler. Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald started the day with a somber and respectful tribute to both players.
“It’s with heavy heart and great sadness that I kick off here this morning,” Fitzgerald said in the opening Q&A session.
“On behalf of Northwestern, our football program and all our players we’d like to express all the thoughts and prayers to their families, Coach Dantonio, Coach Riley and the Spartan and Husker families on their tragic loss. We recruited Mike and know him well. And just sad, tragic news and our thoughts and prayers are with them.”
9. Darrell Hazell believes!
All coaches are pretty much cheerleaders for their respective teams, other than the occasionally dry Jim Harbaugh. But the most positive of all was Purdue coach Darrell Hazell.
Now, that might sound like a bit of a surprise, given that Purdue is 6-30 in Hazell’s first three seasons. Boilermakers fans might be dejected, and rightfully so. Well, allow Hazell to lift your spirits!
“I’ll tell you the most important people where the morale counts is in the locker room,” Hazell exclaimed. “Our morale is off the chart. We’re ready to go. That will stimulate the morale of the rest of the Boilermaker Nation. That’s why we’re excited to get this team started.”
8. A new Big Ten East rivalry?
The Big Ten East is loaded with epic rivalries mainly played between Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State. Could Rutgers be jumping into the pile of hate?
Coach Chris Ash was asked at his first media day conference what he thought about the social media quarrels taking place between Wolverines and Scarlet Knights fans. His response was sneakily candid.
“I’ll start by saying there’s no rivalry with Michigan yet,” Ash said.
The key word is “yet.” Clearly, Ash has aspirations to join the party at the top of the Big Ten East.
7. Tough love
Purdue defensive tackle Jake Replogle comes from an Indiana family, yet he landed at Purdue. His brothers played for the Hoosiers. Naturally, his brothers haven’t been totally enthusiastic for their in-state rivals, but they’re working on it.
“They come to a lot of the games when they can, and sometimes they even wear Purdue gear,” Replogle said. “The (Old Oaken) Bucket game is really important and I haven’t won one yet in three years, so they let me hear about that. My parents root for Purdue; they tell me they do. My brothers want me to do well, but I think they want IU to win.
“I’m trying to shift them to be Boilermakers, but that’s kind of hard.”
“And sometimes they even wear Purdue gear.”
That comment says it all. The brothers clearly want what’s best for Replogle individually. But these former Hoosiers won’t be jumping on the Boilermakers bandwagon anytime soon.
6. Jake Butt compared Michigan’s blitz schemes to a video game
Michigan brought in defensive coordinator Don Brown from Boston College after D.J. Durkin left for Maryland. Brown’s schemes, much like Jim Harbaugh’s personality, are fiery and involve a ton of blitz packages.
Tight end Jake Butt has seen his fair share of “Engage Eight” blitzes in the since defunct NCAA Football video game franchise. Nothing in the virtual world could compare to Brown’s chaotic one.
5. Tracy Claeys doesn’t read the paper much, but when he does…..
Claeys clearly doesn’t put much stock into preseason predictions, but he happened to take a gander at the ole newspaper and didn’t like what he saw.
His Gophers were picked to finish fifth in the Big Ten West in Cleveland.com’s preseason poll. That didn’t make Claeys too happy.
4. Claeys doesn’t care for slogans, either
Apparently Claeys won’t be writing any cheers or anthems anytime soon. The coach wants football players, not song writers.
3. James Franklin is ready for “pivotal” third season
Penn State has gone 7-6 in James Franklin’s first two seasons. Some may call that a success given the battles Franklin had to fight due to the lingering effects of the Jerry Sandusky sanctions. Others in Happy Valley deem it as underachieving.
When asked about making progress in his third season, Franklin sort of played both sides of the coin.
“I think it’s two things,” Franklin said. “I think there’s very high expectations at Penn State, and there should be. I also would say that there’s very few programs that would have been able to come through what we’ve come through with the type of success that we’ve had, two bowl games in a row. Never had a losing season through the challenges.
“So there’s positives there to build on. There’s no doubt about it.”
2. Progression, progression, progression
Jim Harbaugh wasn’t as bombastic as his inaugural media day presser. But he still stole the show if you had a dry sense of humor.
One of Harbaugh’s big talking points was improvement. Even if that improvement is marginal, it’s still improvement. So what kind of improvements does Harbaugh see from his team thus far?
“Just the idea can we get one percent better each day, can we be better today than we were yesterday?” Harbaugh rhetorically asked an audience of objective journalists. “Can we be better tomorrow than we were today? The notion that improvement will lead to success.”
Is that clear enough? No. Oh, all right. Well maybe a math problem will help us understand.
“So trying to paint that picture. If it’s one percent better, each guy or we got one percent better as a team each day, then after 30 days we’d be 30 percent better. After 60 days, we’d be 60 percent better.”
Yes, please go on.
“Now, even if it’s can we get .01 percent better each day, then that would be something that would be worthwhile. That would be worth pursuing, aspiring to. Another way to say is look at the NASCAR boys. They will try to stay up all night long to get one mile an hour faster. Can we get one mile faster each day?
“That mentality, simply put, is better today than yesterday, better tomorrow than today.”
I wish he had just skipped to the “simply put” version.
1. It’s hip to be Harbaugh
It would be inappropriate to leave this quote out, and believe it or not it was better than the former quote above.
If you haven’t heard, Harbaugh starred in a rap music video. The video has garnered more than 682,000 views and Harbaugh has also gotten some good reviews on his rap debut.
“My default is usually yes,” Harbaugh proclaimed. “Action, why not? And the reaction has been very good. I’ve gotten multiple texts, phone calls, comments from people that really liked it and I think the cool people liked it.”
If by “cool people” he meant recruits, then yes. But if you didn’t like it? Well, Harbaugh has a message for you too.
“Everybody has critics. Well, screw ’em. They’re irrelevant.”