The 2008 Big Ten Football Media Days later this week got me thinking about the previous ones I’ve attended.
For those who don’t know, it’s a two-day event in Chicago that features three players and the head coach from each school. There are a few hundred media from around the Midwest and the nation and they all have access to the players and coaches in a variety of formats. There’s a big news conference-style gathering. There’s a room in which the players and coaches rotate around in front of TV cameras. And there’s a session where the writers can visit with any coach or player at one of 44 round tables (this is everyone’s “favorite” because it starts promptly at 8 a.m.).
Along with Coach Bielema, we’re taking tight end Travis Beckum, linebacker DeAndre Levy and offensive lineman Andy Kemp. It’s actually something of an honor for the players because they are representing our program for two days in front of not only the media, but also fans who have access to the players for autographs prior to the Friday Kickoff Luncheon that is the exclamation point on the two days.
This will be my 14th consecutive year at this event. Thinking back, it’s funny what you remember …
I remember Dave Lysek, one of our team captains in 1997, getting on an elevator at the hotel. A couple players from other teams saw him and said, “Hey, how’s it going Katzenmoyer?” They’d obviously mistaken Dave for Ohio State LB Andy Katzenmoyer.
I remember our running back, Anthony Davis, placing a sign at his table in 2004 informing the media he was done answering questions about the health of his ankle. His hand-made sign said: “No Ankle Questions.”
I remember what a fantastic job Luke Swan did last year speaking at the Kickoff Luncheon. There are somewhere between 1,500-2,000 people at this luncheon. Each coach takes a turn addressing the crowd, but they always have one of the players get up and say a few words. Those of you who know Luke can imagine how well he did. In fact, click here if you want to watch it.
I remember having Coach Bielema come to the 2005 event just after he’d been named head coach so he could see what it was like. Now he’s about to do his third one as head coach.
I remember thinking it’s cool that the players got a chance to meet each other and hang out. Coach Bielema has mentioned before that he and Kirk Herbstreit became friends at this event when the two were playing for Iowa and Ohio State, respectively.
And I always look forward to hearing the coaches tell jokes or good-naturedly rib each other at the Kickoff Luncheon. Penn State’s Joe Paterno and Purdue’s Joe Tiller are always good for a few laughs as are many of the others. If you ever get a chance to go, take it. It’s a good time.