Big Ten Media Days – Leaders Division Recap

Denny Blount, Adam Brewster, and David Nows of the WOLV-TV Sports Department are in Chicago covering the Big Ten Media Days. Below is a recap of what the coaches of the Leaders Division had to say:

Joe Paterno- Penn State University

Thoughts on last season-
“ I don’t think we played very well last year. I don’t think I did a very good job coaching last year. I don’t think I did a very good job coaching last year, to be frank with you. Everybody has to do a better job.”

On his future with the University-
“Well, I feel great. Is this the last year of my contract (laughter)? I don’t even know I have a contract. I don’t pay attention to that.”

On the quarterback situation-
“I think we’ll be better, whether we’re going to be good enough, I don’t know… We’re not even allowed to watch them in pre-season, I don’t know how they’re doing this summer…”

Luke Fickell- Ohio State University

“I am honored and grateful to be representing the Ohio State University, a place I know, love and respect as much as anything in my entire life.”

On communication with Jim Tressel-
“I haven’t had a lot of contact with him, I know he has been very supportive. He loves Ohio State and wishes us nothing but the best.”

On advice moving forward-
“The best advice I’ve received is be who you are, do it your way, make sure you’re trying not be someone you’re not.”

On the uncertainty of his future beyond this season-
“Our focus is on what we can control. Nobody puts more pressure on themselves than me.”

Thoughts on coaching along a new coach (Brady Hoke) in the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry-
“It’s an exciting time, no matter what. Nobody will overlook that, I know that’s not something that will ever be overlooked at Ohio State… Obviously looking forward to continuing that great tradition.”

Kevin Wilson- Indiana University

On the excitement and momentum of the program heading into the future-

“We’re selling a great product, a great school, a great opportunity because we’re ready to take this ship and get this thing exploded.”

On the quarterback situation-

“… I have yet to watch one snap of last year’s games. I’m not looking in the rearview mirror, I’m looking forward. I’m not going to judge and anoint the quarterback with only having 15 practices.”

Thoughts on changing the history and tradition of Indiana football-

“There are so many great examples of turning programs around… Oregon, Kansas State, Northwestern… We should do well, we expect to do well. To me the culture changes with our performance, the fans aren’t going to be excited until we win games and do the things that winners do.”

Bret Bielema- University of Wisconsin

On attention surrounding the program-
“ I think the part that I really enjoy about our players, and you’ll have an opportunity to interview them over the next 48 hours, we really do concentrate on one thing at a time…. we say if you don’t like college football, then don’t come to Wisconsin.”

On coming down hard on coaches for major NCAA violations-
“ You know what, I think the proven thing is if someone knowingly and willingly violates a rule, I don’t see anything wrong with a substantial penalty. What that is, I’ll let other people decide.”

In regards to the brand of Wisconsin football-
“ I couldn’t be more excited, to be so privileged to be a part of our program, Wisconsin is what it is. We’re not real sexy. I always say we’re not the first girl taken to the prom, but we’re not the last. I think we’re a group that lines up, goes to work, does things the right way.”

Danny Hope- Purdue University

In anticipation of youth playing for the team-
“17 or 18 freshmen that played last year. So we return a young but somewhat experienced football team. Again, feel like we’ve made some great progress and are excited to get on with the season.”

On the new coaches in the conference and what that was like for Hope at one time-
“ Coming to a big-time media day, like we had today was exciting. A lot of fun… but coaching is coaching in laymen’s terms, 11 guys on the field, the field is the same regardless what field you are at. The same things that are important at winning at the FCS level are the same level as the BCS level.

Illinois Coach Ron Zook

People cringe at what happened at Ohio State because it’s something out there in college football. There’s so much exposure and excitement around the game so everybody is looking now. Everyone in college football does everything they can to protect and respect the game.

Divisional play is exciting for all the fans. If you win that division you have a shot to play for it all. Your goal is now to first get to the championship game and you have to get there to win the championship game.

There are less question marks this year and the players’ attitude is as good as it could possibly be. They lost a few key guys, like Mikel Leshoure, but their replacements are ready to step up.

It’s important to stay fresh from Mid October through Mid November. That’s when the athletic and academic pressure is the highest.