Ash Era Countdown: Big Ten Media Day

CHICAGO -- On the way to Big Ten Media Day, Scarlet Report looks ahead to a unique 48 hours on the news front. We look at key storylines and discussion points with a return to media day for Darius Hamilton and debuts for Chris Ash, Julian Pinnix-Odrick and Andre Patton.

5. Dig Through the Rhetoric – Every year's team, especially with a new coach, brings new buzzwords and cliches. But real themes also emerge during media day. Former coach Kyle Flood and star receiver Leonte Carroo spoke often about how Gary Nova's replacement had to “win the locker room.” That proved true with the support Chris Laviano received from teammates as the 2015 starter.

Look for receiver Andre Patton and coach Chris Ash to feel the brunt of quarterback questions Monday afternoon. As long as a starting quarterback goes unnamed publicly, especially with the sparse media appearances for Laviano, it becomes a daily interview question.

Once Rutgers moves on from questions about finishing low in the polls and an offseason coaching change, real commentary can be given … time permitting.

4. The Roster Reveal – For the hardcore fans, the media guide release and updated roster numbers and weights can be fun every media day. While Ash already told Scarlet Report at his charity golf event that the entire freshman class arrived for workouts on time, this is also an opportunity to announce additional transfers or position changes that took place.

Tight end Charles Scarff and linebacker Jonathan Pollock represent the most recent scholarship departures from the program. At Rutgers' first Big Ten Media Day, Flood chose to unveil his new recruiting coordinator in Phil Galiano. Greg Schiano's final media day at Rutgers included the announcement of Stephen Belichick as a long-snapper, now an assistant coach with the New England Patriots.

3. Respect – The improved respectability for Rutgers after the coaching change creates unique conversations at media day. Look for plenty of comparisons between Ash and D.J. Durkin, who also takes over a program after time as a Big Ten defensive coordinator. Ash's last boss, Urban Meyer, can look forward to plenty of questions about his former defensive coordinator and new one – Greg Schiano. Rutgers out-maneuvered Michigan in the New Jersey satellite camp battle, but the competition between the two has only just begun in the build-up to this season's rubber match.

If Rutgers wants to win the respect of the conference, its offseason was a good sign. Instead of arrests and suspensions, the focus was on football for once.

2. Television Deal Details – Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany addresses the state of the conference Tuesday afternoon from media day, where he is expected to addressed the reported $2.64 billion television deal between the conference, FOX and ESPN. Although it likely does not help Rutgers until full Big Ten inclusion, these details show a tremendous recruiting advantage in the conference. It also gives Ash and athletic director Pat Hobbs more ammunition in their ultimate vision of Rutgers football. Set to make $11.2 million for the upcoming season, a cash injection is cause for excitement.

1. Hamilton HealthDarius Hamilton is to media day as Abe Froman is to sausages in the Second City. This is Hamilton's third trip to Chicago for Big Ten Media Day, more than anyone in a Rutgers shirt including head coaches. Hamilton spent his first media day passionately profiling the reasons he picked Rutgers to a new media market. He spent his second dodging injury questions and plugging pop stars.

The third time is all about business.

How did Hamilton really feel about his trying fourth season? Can he be ready for the season after missing so much action? Can he play at 290 pounds? Look for the highest-rated commitment in Rutgers history to be the focal point for the Scarlet Knights.


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