Jul 24, 2016 at 3:26 pm | Print View
CHICAGO — Honestly, nothing substantial happens during Big Ten media days. Last year, Iowa defensive end Drew Ott ate a raw egg on camera. We’ll happily mark that down as "substantial."
So, yes, the easiest, safest thing to do is wave this off and pretend it’s playtime. And it kind of should be. There are going to be a million cameras and notebooks recording every move 42 Big Ten players make for two days this week at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place.
For the 42, this is the time to have a little fun. In a week or so, they’ll be grunting and sweating for real. This week, they’re in suits and they’ll be asked what their favorite cereal is and about that time in a game last year when they had a great triumph or disappointment.
Oh, if the Big Ten confirms its new TV deals with Fox and ESPN, that’ll be bigger than Drew Ott eating a raw egg.
— Sports Business Journal broke the news this summer that the Big Ten will sign media rights deals with Fox and ESPN. The six-year, $2.64 billion deals are a huge win for the Big Ten Conference, which will see its average media rights payout nearly triple when it takes effect next fall.
At the Big Ten athletics director meetings this spring, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany was asked about the initial report on Fox from Sports Business Journal. He didn’t refute it and said there would be something to report, perhaps, at the end of the summer. This is the end of the summer, at least going by the college football calendar.
This could be announced and it will be news. Sources have said that the SBJ report is mostly dead on with a few tweaks here and there. This is perhaps the biggest potential bit of news.
— The Iowa contingent speaks Tuesday. Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz will hit the big-room platform 9:15 a.m. Iowa athletics director Gary Barta also will be available Tuesday morning.
Will there be news on a Ferentz contract rollover/extension/whatever? Maybe?
Ferentz will begin his 18th season as Iowa’s head football coach with four seasons remaining on a contract that pays him around $4 million a year. During an I-Club event in Cedar Rapids last month, Barta said work has begun toward something new.
“I want Kirk to retire at Iowa,” Barta said. “You’d have to ask him, but I’m pretty sure he’d like to retire at Iowa. He’s got a great contract now, but we continue to have discussions about what we can do in addition to that.”
Ferentz’s agent, Neil Cornrich, was in Iowa City earlier this month. It might’ve been a courtesy visit, who knows.
It’s college football industry standard for a coach to have at least five years on a contract, so recruits know that staff is at least under contract for the five possible years they will be at the school. Ferentz said in June that topic hadn’t come up in recruiting. Iowa’s current recruiting class (15 total oral commitments) is ranked No. 17 in the country by Rivals.com.
But maybe it is coming up on the recruiting trail. Tyler Barnes, Iowa’s director of recruiting, tweeted this Saturday afternoon: “It’s comical when a school tries to negative recruit Iowa by asking a recruit how long HC Ferentz is going to be here! #Stability #IowaEdge”
If this bit of news drops, let’s hashtag it #kindofabigdeal.
— Iowa linebacker Josey Jewell is among the three Iowa players in attendance. One guess who the other two are. (OK, one guess and two names, which are quarterback C.J. Beathard and cornerback Desmond King.) Jewell is the first junior during Ferentz’s 18 Big Ten media days who received an invite to speak.
Someone will ask the junior if he’s given the NFL any thought. Facts: Jewell is a fourth-year junior. He plays linebacker, a high-impact position that takes a toll on the body. He was second-team all-Big Ten last season. He enters 2016 as one of the league’s stars if not one of its megastars.
The question is fair, and harmless, two weeks before camp starts. It’s also less relevant now than it will be in January, especially if Jewell duplicates his 2015 season. It’ll come up again during bowl prep. The bowl will be played and it will be asked again. Then, there will be a pause and a decision will be made away from prying eyes. At least, that’s how these usually go.
It’s July. Don’t hold Jewell to his answer now. There’s a season to be played.
— Last but not least, let’s talk realignment/expansion.
HAHAHAHAHA. No, really, it’s ... sigh ... a thing. You know the Big 12 is looking to expand. The league currently is shopping for two or four or more schools to add to the league, probably in 2018 at the earliest.
Delany dismissed the question in May. The Big 12 is driving this. It remains to be seen which schools are added and how that process works. Houston has received heavy endorsements, including Texas. This could get political. Nebraska and Texas A&M got tired of living in that orbit and bolted for the Big Ten and SEC.
Bottom line, Oklahoma football is incredibly strong right now, so it’s probably not looking. That leaves Delany passing on the expansion/realignment question through this week.
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