Big Ten football media day observations -- Indiana hired itself a football coach, Paterno looks peachier this year, and 58 "exciteds"
I don't necessarily believe in first-impressions, but I do believe in going with your gut.
My gut says Indiana has the right football coach in Kevin Wilson.
Wilson gave off the kind of commanding vibe Thursday at the Big Ten football media day that you want to feel if you're a fan. It's the kind of vibe Fran McCaffery gave when he took the Iowa men's basketball job, and one he still gives. McCaffery has the kind of presence that makes you think it's not if he'll get the Hawkeyes winning, it's when.
Wilson came to IU from being an offensive coordinator at Oklahoma since 2002 That means he knows how to run an offense. The Sooners have scored a few points in the last decade. He was the quarterbacks coach for Sam Bradford. That, in my mind, is a resume in itself. Bradford is going to make St. Louis Rams fans pleased for many years.
Here are a few of Wilson’s comments:
“The key thing I think we've done in recruiting, we recruited our current team. If you talk to our three guys representing us today, we're not trying to be good four, five, six years from now.”
“To me … it's all about the future moving forward and it starts with me. I have no issues in complaining or what should have been done or why things have happened in the past. I've been fortunate to be a part of programs that have turned it around. I look around the country, see so many programs, I don't think 15, 20 years ago we thought of Oregon as we think of those guys today. We look at programs that came on so strong, Northwestern, what Coach (Gary) Barnett, Coach (Gary) Walker, Pat (Fitzgerald) have done, what Coach (Bill) Snyder has done at K-State.
“There's so many great examples. We should do well. We should do well. We expect to do well. To me the culture changes with our performance. I don't complain about our culture. I want our fans to be excited about it, but they're not going to be until we win games and do the things that winners do. When we get our program in place, that's when the culture will change.”
“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. Recruiting is off to a great start for next year as well.”
That last comment was an understatement. This week, Wilson got a verbal commitment from quarterback Gunner Kiel of Columbus, Ind.
Big deal, right? An Indiana kid stayed home. Well, this Indiana kid chose the Hoosiers over Alabama, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Tennessee, USC, and, oh yeah, Oklahoma.
Weddings were a subject here, thanks to Illinois Coach Ron Zook.
I'm probably a little bit more excited to get back to work," Zook said. "I endured both my daughters getting married this summer. I learned how to take orders and stay out of the way. I also learned a new meaning of organized chaos. "
And, Wisconsin Coach Bret Bielema, one of the few bachelors among major-college football head coaches, confirmed to me that he is indeed engaged to be married.
Last year, Penn State Coach Joe Paterno looked and sounded ... not so good.
This year? He looked and sounded better.
"I feel a lot better than I did a year ago," Paterno said. "I had two tough years physically. The kid from Wisconsin running into me in the sideline, when I broke my knee that time. Then I threw my hip out showing off, trying to show the kids how to kick a football. I couldn't kick when I was healthy. I sure as hell couldn't kick with a broken knee.
"But anyway ... I feel good. I'm back to doing a lot of things I used to do, walking a lot more. I've been watching what I eat. I feel good. I enjoyed this spring, have a lot more enthusiasm."
I tried to keep count of how many times league coaches used the word "excited" Thursday. Every year, they're excited to get going. And they say so, in lieu of actually saying something that is interesting.
I gave up early in the session, but here is the official count thanks to the Big Ten, which transcribed all the coaches' comments at the press conference. All 12 coaches gave 15-minute addresses, by the way.
The total: 58
Kevin Wilson, Indiana 13
Ron Zook, Illinois 10 (7 in his opening statement)
Bo Pelini, Nebraska 5
Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern 5
Danny Hope, Purdue 5
Bret Bielema, Wisconsin 5
Luke Fickell, Ohio State 5
Brady Hoke, Michigan 4
Joe Paterno, Penn State 2
Mark Dantonio, Michigan State 2
Jerry Kill, Minnesota 1
Kirk Ferentz, Iowa 1
or someone else? Both photos are from Associated Press, by the way.