Five story lines from Media Day
1. Big Ten coaches were bombarded by questions about the new California bill to pay athletes for their likeness, but the players in attendance Wednesday were asked to react to the issue, too. Their take was obviously one-sided in favor of getting that chance to make money of endorsements, even if it likely won’t happen during their careers.
2. There was lots of appreciation given to Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany in what was his last media day on the job. Former Vikings Chief Operating Officer Kevin Warren will officially take over in January, but he was already shadowing Delany in suburban Chicago. Big Ten coaches endorsed Warren as Delany’s replacement.
3. New coaches Fred Hoiberg (Nebraska) and Juwan Howard (Michigan) come into the Big Ten with respect as great former college players with NBA ties. Hoiberg coached the Chicago Bulls and had success as a player and head coach at Iowa State. Howard was an up-and-coming assistant with the Miami Heat, but his Fab Five days are what brought him back to Ann Arbor.
4. The Big Ten suffered big talent losses with players leaving college early to enter the NBA draft. Thirteen of the 15 All-Big Ten players last season were underclassmen, but eight of them decided not to return. Four of those eight players weren’t drafted, including Gophers guard Amir Coffey. “If he’s back, we have a different team,” Richard Pitino said.
5. Can the Big Ten be as deep as last season? A record eight teams made the NCAA tournament from the league in 2018-19, double from the previous year. Michigan State, Maryland and Ohio State appear to be in the top tier, but many observers believe it’s wide open after that. Does Michigan fall a bit with John Beilein gone to the NBA’s Cavaliers? There also was palpable buzz on Illinois and Rutgers being sleepers on the rise. “We’re deep and versatile,” Scarlet Knights coach Steve Pikiell said. “In Year 4, we have more solutions [for challenges] the league poses.”