Big Ten Media Days Notebook

Tidbits we picked up while attending the first day of the event at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago. It was a busy day in the Windy City. You can get a recap of most of our news here.

CHICAGO -- The preseason All-Big Ten football selections have a decidedly scarlet and gray tint to them -- again.

The picks, made by a panel of reporters who cover the 11 conference teams, were revealed shortly before Big Ten Media Days kicked off at the Hyatt Regency here Monday.

Ohio State has been tabbed to win the conference, followed by defending champion Penn State and Michigan State. Only the first three teams in the voting were revealed.

Meanwhile, Buckeye sophomore quarterback Terrelle Pryor was named Preseason Offensive Player of the Year. Since the results of the voting are confidential, it is not clear where the reigning All-Big Ten quarterback -- Penn State's Daryll Clark -- finished in that race.

“It's been like that for the last couple of years,” Clark, a team captain, said of Ohio State dominating the preseason awards. “Terrelle Pryor is a good player, a really good player, and to be voted that is a tremendous honor. But it's preseason. You still have to play the football games and win the football games. We really don't feed into that too much.”

Added linebacker and fellow captain Sean Lee: “That's gonna fade away as soon as the season starts. We're working to have all those awards after the season. Because the preseason stuff all gets erased. … We're worried about what we have to do to win.”

Michigan State linebacker Greg Jones was named Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.

Being the toast of this event is nothing new for Ohio State. Last year, the Buckeyes swept all three preseason awards, as they were predicted to win the conference (they finished second behind PSU), Beanie Wells was named the best offensive player (Iowa's Shonn Greene won the postseason award) and James Laurinaitis was named best defensive player (he won the postseason award).

“Last year, [Ohio State] was predicted to be first and we were expected to be sixth or seventh,” Clark said. “But we ended up winning it. So you can use it as motivation.”

The media really flubbed the team rankings a year ago, tabbing OSU as the top outfit in the league followed by Wisconsin and Illinois. The Badgers finished in seventh place and the Illini in eighth.

Precarious Ground

Since early July, rumors have circulated that Penn State senior cornerback A.J. Wallace and redshirt junior defensive tackle Abe Koroma had had their lockers in Lasch Building cleared.

Monday, Paterno said “there's some question” regarding Wallace's status with the team because “he cut some classes.”

Meanwhile, he added, “Koroma has some personal problems. … I doubt if he will be [back].”

Coming out of spring ball, Wallace projected as a starting cornerback for the Nittany Lions. He has more game experience than any other corner on the roster, which appeared to be a key in the rebuilt secondary.

Koroma projected as a backup at defensive tackle. He was also suspended for three games early last season when police found a small amount of marijuana in his on-campus apartment.

“They are guys we would like to depend on, and are guys who are older guys and who know they can't make mistakes,” Lee said. “At the same time, we have a ton of guys who are excited to play and who are ready to play. We're going to move on as a team.”

Bowled Over

One of the themes Monday was the Big Ten's recent struggles against marquee nonconference opponents, especially in bowl games. Illinois' Ron Zook, who previously coached Florida of the SEC, believes Big Ten coaches have no choice but to deal with such questions until the conference proves itself on the national level.

The Big Ten is 4-11 all-time in BCS games.

“In my opinion, there are teams in this league that can play in any league in the country,” Zook said. “I know there is talk that the conference has slipped a little bit. But until we go win the bowl games and win the games out of conference, there is not a lot we can say.”

“All it takes is one or two wins in a big bowl game and that goes away,” added Michigan's Rich Rodriguez. “And it's gonna happen.”

The Big Ten's biggest regular-season nonconference game this year will happen early, as USC visits Ohio State Sept. 12. In Zook's eyes, the entire Big Ten should be rooting for the Buckeyes.

“Obviously it's going to be a big game in September when they play USC,” Zook said.

Meeting of the Minds

Conference athletic directors met privately at the Hyatt Monday morning. Penn State's Tim Curley said one of the focuses of the AD meetings this year is on evaluating the Big Ten's various bowl partnerships.

“There are probably three our four bowls that have visited with us that would like to break into the [Big Ten] alignment,” conference commissioner Jim Delany said. “And there are some within the alignment that would like to move up.”

He was not specific on those bowls.

Sign of the Times

Printing costs have risen so much in the past few years that three Big Ten schools -- Michigan, Ohio State and Wisconsin -- have stopped printing media guides.

That's not say they've stopped making media guides. But rather than producing hard copies of the publications, they are only offering them in digital formats.

In fact, at registration here Monday, reporters were given a tiny USB flash drive loaded with complete digital media guides from every Big Ten team.

Sign of the Times 2

Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald kicked off the press conferences Monday. And he began his comments by expressing his appreciation for a group that has been hit hard by the downturn in the economy -- the media.

Fitzgerald said he realizes how difficult things have been for the press and that he was pleased to see so many people show up in the massive ballroom at the Hyatt to participate in Big Ten Media Days.

“I know it's tough times in the media industry now, and I hope the situation improves,” he said.

From the Penn State beat, only five full-time reporters are attending the event this year. Also on hand are three reporters from the Daily Collegian.

All A-Twitter

Paterno once again proved he is technologically challenged. In wrapping up his formal press conference, he addressed a question about the perceived lack of strength in Penn State's nonconference schedule.

He defended games with Syracuse (the Orange were good when the game was scheduled), Temple (gets Penn State into Philadelphia and former Lion captain Al Golden is head coach) and Akron (a “well-coached team”).

He added that writers have to have something to talk about and then dropped this gem.

“The fans have got to put something on those - what do you guys call those things, Twittle-do, Twittle-dee?”

He was looking at former Indiana coach Gerry DiNardo, now an analyst for the Big Ten Network. Sitting at a laptop typing as the press conference was going on, DiNardo laughed and shrugged.

“I haven't got the slightest idea what you're looking at, either,” Paterno said.

The word they were looking for was “Twitter.”


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