Five things from the first day of Big Ten Media Days:
1. Big moment coming
Gophers sophomore Casey O’Brien will speak at Friday’s luncheon about his bone cancer diagnosis at age 13 and how he kept football a part of his life despite an ongoing battle with the disease. The walk-on holder received special dispensation from the conference to be the Gophers fourth player at this event just for the speech. And while O’Brien has given about 10 speeches before, he thinks this one will be his best. “It incorporates a lot of different teams in the Big Ten, and it’s a very relatable speech that’s going to keep everyone interested and listening closely,” O’Brien said. “I’ve given it to a few different people, and they’ve been pretty impressed. I’m excited to get up there and have a moment.”
2. Schedule audible
A last-minute schedule change affected the coaches’ news conferences, with Illinois’ Lovie Smith having to go first in Nebraska’s Scott Frost’s place. The Cornhuskers’ flight diverted, with thunderstorms hitting Chicago all morning. “Spent a little time at a hotel in Gurnee selling shower curtain rings, and we finally made it,” Frost joked with a “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” reference.
3. BTN2Go going
How fans can watch Big Ten football games this upcoming season will change, at least for those who stream. All network content — games, studio shows and original programming — will move from the BTN2Go app to the Fox Sports App alongside Big Ten football games that air on Fox and FS1. BTN2Go will transition to a BTN Plus app for nontelevised games and events as well as archives of past football and basketball games.
4. Two new faces
Two new Big Ten coaches, Ohio State’s Ryan Day and Maryland’s Mike Locksley, made their Media Days debuts on Thursday. For Day, his biggest question was how to follow up storied former coach Urban Meyer. “The easy thing to do is to ask how are you different than Urban Meyer, and that’s not something I really like to answer because first off, you don’t replace a legend,” Day said. “You don’t replace one of the best football coaches in the history of the game. What you can do is just be yourself, and I think that’s what I’m doing.” For Locksley, his first act on the job was to get to know his players. “I called it speed dating. I met with every player for about 15 minutes, and I asked them what they liked about being a Maryland football player, and I asked them what they didn’t like,” Locksley said. “And I took great notes and really worked on starting to develop a relationship.”
5. Question persists
Jim Delany’s 31-year tenure as Big Ten commissioner will wrap up in 2020, with Vikings executive Kevin Warren coming in. But in Delany’s final Media Days address, many of the questions still centered on how the conference can get more teams in the College Football Playoff. “The best I can hope for is that the College Football Playoff committee, as their members turn over and change … pays more attention to the founders’ effort to value strength of schedule as well as winning conference championships,” Delany said. “… Clearly, Alabama and Clemson have separated themselves, and they have deserved everything that they’ve earned in the last couple years. But I’m not sure that the strength of schedule or the conference championship has been adequately rewarded, in my personal view.”