In nearly two weeks, the local and national media for all 12 Big Ten teams will flock to Chicago for the conference media days. As a journalist, it's the time of year we transition from summer to fall coverage.
Media days have the potential to be hit or miss. Every year major story-lines come from the two-day event, but not always are the topics worthy of major headlines.
Last year the talk was dominated by the arrival of Urban Meyer and the mess at Penn State. In 2011, the story-lines were mostly surrounding the mess at Ohio State and the arrival of Nebraska in the conference.
So what could have Chicago buzzing this year? Check out some of things expected to be hot topic items in two weeks.
Big Red Report's Big Ten Media Days Projected Story-lines:
How good is Ohio State and do they really have a shot at the National Title?
Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delaney is really hoping so, but are the Buckeyes as good as they are made out to be? They had nice performances and beat schools like Nebraska and Michigan, but also struggled with teams like: Indiana, Purdue, and UAB – needing the fourth quarter to pull away with a win. Some will say the Buckeyes were just not motivated, knowing they had no postseason to play for. But the fact remains Ohio State was just 6-6 the year prior. Urban Meyer will win in Columbus, there is no doubt about it. But does he have enough of his own talent to win a national championship this year?
What does a post-Denard Robinson Michigan offense look like?
For three-and-a-half seasons, Robinson was the face of the Wolverines attack, becoming a first-team All-American and the all-time rushing quarterback in NCAA history. We have seen a small sample size of newcomer Devin Gardner, but how will the offense look with him at the helm full-time. According to multiple reports, the Michigan quarterback seems to be establishing solid chemistry with his receivers this summer.
Who takes the Legends Division?
The money appears to be on Michigan and Nebraska, but don't count out Northwestern. They have the talent to do it, although their schedule won't make it easy. Nebraska has the easiest road, and while a matchup in Ann Arbor could decide things, the Huskers could find a way to sneak into the Big Ten title game without beating the Wolverines. Brady Hoke's squad has to face Ohio State, in-state rival Michigan State on the road, and Penn State in State College.
No more FCS teams starting in 2016
With no more payouts to lesser opponents, is the Big Ten destroying college football? It's a question FOX Sports Wisconsin asked in a recent article. In addition, will the lack of FCS teams on a Big Ten squad's schedule make it harder for Big Ten teams to make the National Title game every year? It's just another week the conference has to prepare heavily for.
Has Nebraska gotten over their blowout losses to Ohio State and Wisconsin?
The way the Huskers lost to Georgia was respectable, some would say the Bulldogs were the second beat team in the country behind Alabama. The way the Huskers played against Ohio State and Wisconsin – a different story. They looked like a team that wasn't ready to play for a conference championship. So can Nebraska win the big one? A road game against Michigan will be a good gauge of that.
Other possible headline story-lines: Braxton Miller's Heisman chances, Bill O'Brien and Penn State year two, and Northwestern's run at a conference title.
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