July 31, 2007

Big Ten news and notes

Brian Golden is in Chicago Tuesday and Wednesday to cover the Big Ten football media days for the Orange&Blue News. Here's a rundown of a scattering of tidbits from today's opening press conference at the Hyatt Regency.

College football will now have kickoff's from the 30-yard line starting this season. Wisconsin's Bret Bielema weighed in on the kickoff issue by saying this his independent research showed that, since the NFL moved their kickoff line back to the 30-yard line, that the team receiving the opening kick has won 80 percent of overtime games. Every bit of research I can find says the number is much closer to 60 percent. In my opinion, the biggest thing the new kickoff rule will do is help keep games closer. Why? Well, who receives kickoffs? With the exception of each half's opening kick, the team receiving a kick is always a team that has just been scored on. So, its an extra five (or seven) yards for every team that has just given up points. It might not make a huge difference, but over the long run, it will mean closer games.

I attended MAC Media Day in Detroit last week, and the presentation of that event really trumped this one. Sure, the Big Ten brings the ESPN crew, a whole bunch more people, and the downtown Chicago setting, but I don't think they got the little things right. MAC: free dinner for all reporters that included sirloin, pork, asparagus, free beer and amazing desserts. Big Ten: Cellophane-wrapped hoagies with potato chips and fruit. Sure, they've got more people to feed here, but the difference was marked.

In discussing his squad's crucial road victory at Iowa last year, Wisconsin Coach Bret Bielema referenced the hostile environment at Iowa, saying "I went to school there, and they called me a bunch of names I'd never even heard before." Ironic, since Bielema, after a 1992 victory over cross-state rival Iowa State at that same Kinnick Stadium, told Cyclone Coach Jim Walden at midfield, "I think you're a big (expletive), and I've enjoyed kicking your (expletive) for five years." Instant Karma - its gonna get ya.

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