July 31, 2007

And the season begins

The Big Ten conference season got officially underway Tuesday on Lower Wacker Drive in downtown Chicago.

With eight bowl bids in play, the annual BCS bid (or two), three new head coaches, and the introduction of the Big Ten Network, there was plenty to talk about at the opening press conference. With the ESPN News cameras and even the pretty boy, Kirk Herbstreit, in the house, the league's 11 coaches addressed the media in the Hyatt Regency's Grand Ballroom. Each coach began with an opening statement, and then proceeded to answer questions from the assembled media.

The Orange&Blue News rates the best and worst of the day's events:

Best Opening Statements:

Tim Brewster, Minnesota - I came in prepared to not like this guy, but once he started talking, it became obvious immediately how he's assembled his reputation as ace recruiter. Speaking with noticeably more volume, animation and intensity than every other coach, Brewster extolled the virtues of Minnesota football past, saying "Minnesota has always been and will always be about winning." Brewster also said that he will take his squad to spend time around John Gagliardi at nearby St. John's University, the winningest coach in college football history. Who knows if the fire and brimstone will translate to W's, but one thing is certain: Brewster looks the part.

Joe Paterno, Penn State - There's a lot to love about JoePa. This is my first time seeing the old codger up close and personal, and I wasn't disappointed. He was genuine, humble, didn't indulge in a lot of "coach speak," cracked a few good jokes, and most importantly - was honest about his football team. "We'll be a good team, but not a great team, we're just a little too young for that," Paterno told the assembled media. In person, Paterno plays like a tender-hearted Junior Soprano; tough, very funny, with just a touch of "crazy like a fox." Good stuff.

Worst Opening Statements:

Bill Lynch, Indiana - Sadly, for the second straight year, a Big Ten coach takes the reins following the untimely passing of his predecessor. Although I'm wishing the entire Hoosier family the best in dealing with that situation, Lynch didn't impress me today. There's no creative way to say it: the man was boring. He didn't move, he didn't inspire, he didn't stir much emotion of any kind outside of "I wish they'd just bring back JoePa." Additionally, in his opening statement, he went through a verbose description of everything that even resembles a positive on his football team, trying to make the Hoosiers sound dangerous and improved. It felt like a classic case of "methinks he doth protest too much."

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