After getting checked in I was walking the lobby talking with some other members of the media when Michigan State linebacker Greg Jones came walking down the hall. I've known Greg since his junior season at Cincinnati Moeller High School. It's been great to see Greg grow in so many ways and I look forward to watching his final season up close.
Sat down to my $19.00 breakfast (at least it was good) and looked at the local wrap to see what they had in it about the Big Ten. Found it funny that they only wanted to go after and attack the different programs for the most part.
Well I'm headed over to the the first of the many interviews. Check back for more updates.
Here is the order of the coaches.
First Up Bret Bielema
Bret Bielema is the first Big Ten coach to take on the media as he talks about Wisconsin.
Each Big Ten head coach is given 15 minutes to give an opening statement and then take some questions from the members of the media.
Bret Bielema feels his got a good group of players coming back. And is looking for his seniors to be leaders as 16 of them have started games.
Knows a lot of people are saying great things about them as one of the three teams picked to be at the top of the Big Ten.
Mike Taylor and Chris Borland could be limited a little big at the start but should be ready by the time the season starts.
Gets a question about the Big Ten expansion.
Doesn't know much except what is said by the media and is happy about keeping rivals together.
Hopes that Nebraska will become a rival when they enter the Big Ten next season.
Talking about social networking like Facebook and Twitter. Said he found it a good tool as he learned that his players were going out of town on a night off to go to a concert.
Says what is history is history about looking back at previous seasons.
Feels adding Nebraska can open up some more areas for recruiting that will help Wisconsin.
Happy that he's got a veteran quarterback coming back.
In talking about expansion said Lloyd Carr was against a Big Ten Championship game. But that he and Ron Zook are two of the coaches that are looking forward to it.
More on Nebraska and Wisconsin playing as Wisconsin was working on getting a series with Nebraska before they joined the conference.
Pat Fitzgerald - Northwestern
Has 15 starters back for this season. Says he's not going to kill the media with kindness, just giving the facts.
Says the foundation of success is setting up the program to go to a bowl game for the first time in program history 3 years in a row.
Says he feels they've got 8-9 guys up front that can play.
Also has 15 other players who have started games.
Says the Outback Bowl has proven to be a major reason he feels Northwestern is a team with a chance to have another good season.
Talked about the success the program has had in the classroom.
Looking forward to playing Illinois in Wrigley Field. Feels this will be great for the program, players and fans.
About being the youngest coach in the Big Ten but also being an old school guy. Says he trust the conference and director of athletics at Northwestern with the direction of the conference.
Key to beating Iowa over the past couple of years, the shape of the football that bounces strange ways is the difference.
Feels they've built a good system to develop quarterbacks and lots of high school quarterbacks have shown interest in Northwestern with what they've done.
Knows the offensive line must come together early and the running game will be very important for success.
Said bowl game was a 4.5 hour infomercial for the Northwestern program despite the loss.
Ron Zook - Illinois
Zook back for his 6th year and has 14 starters back.
Said there are a lot of new things at Illinois and excited to get started. Has been a smooth transition with the coaching changes with their first practice on Thursday.
Does he feel pressure? No, he doesn't feel more pressure as he feels all the coaches have pressure. Said it will be important to keep the pressure off the new quarterback and the offensive staff.
Says he feels more relaxed than he's ever felt since taking over at Illinois because of the staff that he's put together.
Says on paper they are a better team than the one that went to the Rose Bowl.
Hopes he doesn't have to rely on a lot of freshmen.
Told his team they must be a better team at the start of camp then they were at the end of the spring. Said his players feel they've had the best summer ever.
Feels great about Nebraska coming to the conference. Feels the championship game is something that is going to happen.
Feels he's got something to prove, it's about winning and they need to do that. He's been able to step back and not be as involved giving him a different view of the program. But knows they must win games.
Game against Northwestern at Wrigley Field. Feels it's a great thing for both universities and the players are excited about playing in a place with such history.
Rich Rodriquez - Michigan
Has 18 starters back (most in the Big Ten) said he's very excited to get started this season.
Said its been fun to be around the players and watching them grow up. Knows they have some questions on both sides of the ball, but feels they'll be ready to play.
Feels they'll have more depth this year over last season.
Says at times the past two years have gone fast, but there have also been times when things seem to go slow.
Quarterback leader going into camp. Says it's wide open. But feels he'll know after the first two weeks who will be the starter.
Linebackers: Said he's excited about Greg Robinson taking over coaching the position. Says they've got competition at the position and feels this will help them play at a higher level.
Had the seniors over to his house and in talking with them he learned they feel some of the young guys have really prepared themselves well over the summer.
Fans have been terrific despite the past two seasons and feels they've been supportive and hopes to reward them a much better year.
As for expansion, feels it's exciting and hopes they are able to keep the traditional rivals but also feels excited about playing a championship game.
As for Ohio State, knows they need to play better and knows they need to win this game. Same for Michigan State. Said they'll win these games when they deserve to win these games as they made too many mistakes in last years game.
Wants the Ohio State/Michigan Game to stay the same. Not sure if it will stay on the schedule for the last week or if it's even important to stay there.
Said J.T. Floyd has given the coaching staff something to be excited about on the defensive side of the ball.
Mark Dantonio - Michigan State
Excited about the leadership being shown by his team from winter workouts, spring practice and summer workouts.
Hopes to continue the foundation that has been built over the past three years as they work towards winning a Big Ten Championship.
Must improve and get more turnovers. Feels they are strong in the defensive backfield.
On offense says it all starts at quarterback and feels good with where Kirk Cousin is right now. Feels Cousins can place the team where Brian Hoyer had them just a couple of years ago.
Very happy with what Keshawn Martin brings to special teams and as a wide receiver. Also very excited about B.J Cunningham and Mark Dell.
Said Larry Caper and Edwin Baker are poised to have a great year.
Right side of the offensive line is open for battles in camp.
Feels the incoming recruiting class will have about 6 guys on the field.
Who will be the kicker? It's open and has been even to this point. But he feels good about both players.
Feels Denicos Allen could have a special year on special teams and also on the defensive side of the ball.
Mike Sadler (punter/kicker) - hopes to redshirt him but if he's the best he'll be the guy. Feels he's the guy who will follow Bates and be the guy for the next four years.
Knows the defense must make plays on deep balls.
3-4 is part of what they do, this allows for putting the best players on the field as linebacker is a very solid spot. Bullough and Gholston will play this year.
Knows they have some things to prove and one of those is turning around losing games in the last minutes.
Bill Lynch - Indiana
Theme is to finish in 2010.
Have redshirted a lot of players and feels this will prove to be good this season as guys have developed.
Feels they are solid at QB and also WR.
Young WR to watch is Duwyce Wilson who redshirted last season but is a very special player.
On defense feels they may be no-name players to fans, but have a lot of talent as they redshirted a lot of the players.
Feels the strength is at defensive tackle with Larry Black and Adam Replogle who are both sophomores.
Tyler Replogle is what you look for in a Big Ten linebacker and brings great experience.
Feels they've done the work needed to have depth in the defensive backfield by bringing in two Juco players and moving a couple of players from offense to defense.
Feels the upgrades made to the facilities have really made some changes to the game day experience and has helped the program to work better in recruiting and as a staff.
Feels they were 12 plays away from playing in a really good bowl game. But because of 3rd downs on both offense and defense, they didn't make the plays needed to win. Have used the off season to work on this area.
Will find ways to get Tandon Doss the ball in open space. He will also return kicks.
Spent a lot of time in the spring on 3rd down situations to make sure they are better in this area this fall.
Danny Hope - Purdue
. Has 6 starters back on both sides of the ball.
Said they had 90 players on campus this summer with some leaders stepping up.
Opener with Notre Dame makes them have to push hard towards the start of the season.
About the slow start last season. Knows they must secure the ball and if they had taken care of the football early they'd been one of the great success stories of college football last season. Also feels they did a poor job of tackling in the early part of the season.
On his new quarterback Robert Marve, everything excited Coach Hope about what he brings. Feels he's the most talented quarterback he's been around. Has the ability to beat you with his arm or legs as he's able to escape and make plays. Said he's got a great passion to play football and bring great leadership abilities.
Ralph Bolden will have to wait and see how it goes coming off the injury. Feels he's going to be a fast healer but only time will tell if he can help them this year.
They've moved Keith Carlos from receiver to running back and feels he's a player that can make things happen.
Also feels Dan Dierking is a player who doesn't get much press but does a lot of great things.
No statement, just questions. First question brings a smile as he's asked if he'll be the coach until he dies. Says he has no plans on when he'll no longer be head coach.
I've seen Joe Pa before and this is not a great site to watch as he's a little lost. Still has a great wit, and his mind is still there but he looks very weak.
On getting teams from the East Coast? Feels Nebraska is a real good move for the Big Ten, but will leave any choices to the conference but would hope a couple of the schools in the east get a serious look as it will help Penn State with recruiting and other things.
About playing Alabama, said they've had some luck playing Bama and that they are a very good team, but feels it's a very good game for PSU and it's early so it should be very exciting for the young kids in the program and make them a better team.
On a championship game? He's glad he doesn't have to make the decision, but has not thought much about how things will change as for teams.
About young coaches? Said because of outside people there are younger coaches that have been put in place.
On winning 400? Eddie Robinson was one of the great people he's known and felt he and other coaches have not gotten the respect they deserved. But he really doesn't care if he ends with 399 or 401.
He hopes PSU will sit down with him about anyone who will follow him when he makes the choice to step down.
Tim Brewster - Minnesota
Returns 12 starters. Very humbled to follow Joe Paterno and looks forward to Penn State coming to Minnesoat.
Knows they have a hard schedule this season but will be ready.
Feels Adam Weber is poised to have a great season as he'll be back to 100%.
Decker has told him the football team has had a great summer and that every player made the commitment to improve this summer.
Feels they've had a great summer recruiting as a lot of guys have been on campus.
Asked about expansion, says it's vital that Minnesota play Wisconsin and Iowa each year and it's very important for each of these programs to continue to play each other.
On having a stronger schedule with USC and losing games against a couple of other programs: Is very proud that USC is coming to Minnesota and is very disappointed that Texas has backed out of the game. But they'll continue to be very aggressive to be a top notch program and will do so with very solid schedules.
Feels they need to get more student involvement into the program. Feels they have the best stadium in the conference.
Feels for the first time they've got a roster where there is going be great competition across the board. Knows this will make the team better this season and in the future.
Kirk Ferentz - Iowa
16 starters back with 8 on defense.
Is happy that it's time to get back to work with the players.
Knows they've got some questions along the offensive line with all the quality losses they've had over the past few years.
Has a two way battle at the kicker spot.
Feels every team will have a lot of challenges in front of them.
Feels Nebraska brings a lot to the Big Ten and will help Iowa open some recruiting areas.
On being picked to finish behind Ohio State? Ohio State has done a great job and if you're going to try to win a Big Ten Championship you've got to find a way to beat them.
Not worried about the heat on their West Coast trip but is worried about the time change as he's not crazy about making these trips early in the season.
Hopes to have two running backs in good health going into each game. Three would be really nice to have.
Jim Tressel - Ohio State
The last coach of the day.
Is excited about getting things going as it will be four to five months before he and the other Big Ten coaches will come up for air.
Feels he's got a very solid veteran team but still needs to find out about the back half of the team to see how they've come along to help them.
Freshmen who came in this summer are getting the job done in the classroom and in the weight program.
Ohio State has a target on them but just continues to focus on what they've got to do.
Terrelle Pryor's development has been good to watch as he's come a long way. The team now looks to him to be a leader and he's always thinking about football.
Feels the Big Ten will be as veteran and tough as the ten years he's been at Ohio State.
Ohio State / Michigan game worries about the new expansion. There is always going to be change but can't see any change in the games importance. But game may be moved from the final week of the season.
Adding Nebraska brings a lot of neat things to the future of the Big Ten.
The Rose Bowl win as compared to losing the final game. Feels going back looking at the film they did some good things but feels they may have played a better game in the loss to Texas. Said it felt good to win and felt it was a signal for the Big Ten in a nose-to-nose battle against Oregon.
Nine game conference slate: Feels in his mind it wasn't a great idea because it could hurt a team at the end of the season from playing in a National Championship. Feels it's not a good thing for Ohio State and may not be right for the conference.
End of Coaches
That is the end of the coaches, not looking to listen to the head of officials or a few others. Check back to Spartan Digest for more to come from Big Ten Media Days.