SETTING THE SCENE: The two-day event returns to the Hilton Chicago on Michigan Avenue near 8th Street. It is about a mile south of the Chicago River. It had been at the relatively remote Hyatt Regency McCormick Place the last several years and the Hyatt Regency on Wacker Drive before that.
THE MAIN ATTRACTIONS: Every team will be represented by its head coach and three players. Penn State is sending Bill O'Brien, as well as seniors Glenn Carson, John Urschel and Malcolm Willis. This is Urschel's second-straight appearance. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, BTN president Mark Silverman and Rose Bowl official Scott Jenkins will also be on hand.
WEDNESDAY'S FORMAT: Starting at 10 a.m. (all times are Central), each head coach will speak and then answer questions from the main podium in the Grand Ballroom. Each coach is allotted 15 minutes. The other officials noted above take the main podium after all of the coaches have cycled through. This will all be carried live on BTN and ESPNU. Roughly 15 minutes after each coach finishes in the Grand Ballroom, he and the three players from his team will be available to all media at individual podiums in a different conference room. This is a change from previous years, where all reps from a team sat together while rotating through multiple daises in front of banks of TV cameras. That often led to the coaches answering all sorts of questions and the athletes facing very few.
THURSDAY'S FORMAT: Starting at about 8 a.m., each coach and player in attendance is available to the media in a roundtable setting in two different conference rooms. The players and coaches are scheduled to be available for two hours. Coaches and players from the more high-profile teams are usually surrounded for all two hours. But some of the men from lower-profile teams can cut out early if no one is talking to them. As a reporter, you can really get at least one question into anybody at this lengthy session. Also available at their own round tables are Jenkins (the Rose Bowl guy) and Big Ten coordinator of officials Bill Carollo.
OTHER STUFF: Thursday also marks the 42nd Annual Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon. Coaches and players are scheduled to be available at an autograph session for fans attending the luncheon from 10-11 a.m. in the Grand Ballroom. There is a photo session at 11 a.m. in the Grand Ballroom. Then the $100 per plate luncheon is at 11:30 a.m. in the International Ballroom. All 12 coaches will speak at the luncheon and Urschel will speak on behalf of the players in attendance. Dave Revsine of BTN is host of the luncheon. The event can't be seen on live TV but BTN will air what it is calling the Kickoff Luncheon Special at 8 p.m. (Eastern) Friday.
PENN STATE SCHEDULE: Many Penn State officials will be in Chicago Tuesday night for Big Ten meetings. O'Brien and the players will fly from University Park to Chicago Wednesday morning. O'Brien is scheduled to take the main podium at 1:15 p.m. (Central) Wednesday. The PSU individual podium interviews begin at 1:45 p.m. Penn State's athletics communications staff usually does a good job of making O'Brien and/or the players available only for the PSU beat writers at some point during the day.
FOS COVERAGE: We arrived in Chicago Tuesday afternoon and leave Friday morning. Any breaking news involving Penn State will be posted to our TAP forum ASAP. As in the past, our extensive front-page coverage will include stories, videos and photos.