CHICAGO — Nebraska coach Bo Pelini has a message for potential football players: Put away your phones, tablets and computers, and start practicing your communication skills.
Pelini said Thursday at Big Ten media days that the rapid rise of social media and other forms of communication have had a detrimental effect on the communication skills that are found more frequently in older generations.
"These kids, they're in a different day and age," he said. "Getting them to, obviously that goes to communication on the field, but I'm also talking about ... building leaders and developing leaders and getting guys, because to lead you've got to be able communicate. You can't lead anything if you don't have great communication, and that isn't natural to this generation."
"If you had a problem with somebody, our generation just walked up and you confront somebody, you talk to them face to face. Now they send a text."
The 45-year-old Pelini said communication on the field has become a major point of emphasis for the Cornhuskers.
"We can't harp on it enough," he said, "to the point where, you can't assume anything. You have to constantly enforce it and reinforce it and reinforce it again and demand it."
A BAD WORD: Kirk Ferentz is entering his 14th season at Iowa, making him the dean of Big Ten coaches. Even if he doesn't care for the term.
"Never call a football coach a dean," he said. "That's a misnomer."
Ferentz begins the year with a 100-74 record with the Hawkeyes, behind only Hayden Fry on the school victory list. Iowa is coming off a 4-8 season, including four losses by three points or less, and opens on Aug. 31 against Mid-American Conference champion Northern Illinois.
Ferentz said his long run at the school is attributable to a couple of factors.
"I think it's a reflection of two things," he said. "I work with great people, day in and day out, and then I work at a place that's sort of like the Pittsburgh Steelers. I think that traditionally our administration gets it and they understand there's going to be highs and lows."
COACHING TREE: Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said Jim Tressel never overruled him while he was the defensive coordinator at Ohio State, and it's important to him to give the same freedom to his coaches with the Spartans.
The way Tressel treated his assistants is something that sticks with Dantonio to this day.
"I try to do a lot of things like Tress in terms of how you treat people and things of that nature," Dantonio said. "Again, I go back, you know what are my goals for our assistant coaches? It's those relationships. It's launching a career. Their graduation is when we go (to) a BCS game or a Rose Bowl or January 1 game or a championship game. That's their graduation, and then I help them launch their career."
SEASON-ENDING SLIDE: Illinois lost its last nine games last year, including a 50-14 loss at Northwestern to conclude the dismal 2-10 season.