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Foltz, Huskers in Big Ten coaches' thoughts

Foltz, Huskers in Big Ten coaches' thoughts

CHICAGO — You obviously hear plenty of coach-speak during Big Ten Media Days. It comes at you in waves.

If you listen closely enough, though, you'll hear at least a few meaningful thoughts.

Paul Chryst had one Tuesday.

In saying his thoughts and prayers are with the families of Sam Foltz and Mike Sadler, the second-year Wisconsin head coach also mentioned Nebraska coach Mike Riley's comments Sunday regarding the impact Foltz had on him.

Those comments struck a chord with Chryst.

"I think that gets lost sometimes in all of this, is that we as coaches certainly want to impact our student-athletes, the players that we coach," Chryst said. "But we really are impacted in so many different ways by the kids, the young men that we get to coach.

"That's one of the great things about coaching. I know it's what drives me and fuels me."

Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio also addressed the media Tuesday, doing so in a subdued tone. Sadler, a former Spartan punter, was the driver in a car crash Saturday night that killed both Sadler and Foltz.

"First off, I'd like to express our condolences to the Mike Sadler family and also to Sam Foltz and Husker Nation," Dantonio said. "What occurred is very tragic."

As for Sadler, "He was a giver," the coach said. "He lived life. There was no take in Mike Sadler. He made everybody's life around him better. We'll miss him terribly. But back to football. …"

Yes, back to football. But Dantonio's somber tone was reflective of how two fan bases in the league are feeling.

A realistic outlook: Lovie Smith, in his first season as Illinois' head coach, was frank about where the Illini stand in the grand scheme of things.

He said Illinois, 4-7 last season, isn't ready to compete for a national championship. No real surprise there.

"We realize we have to put a better product on the football field," Smith said. "It's as simple as that."

The Illini play Oct. 1 at Nebraska.

Pro mentality: An Illinois football beat writer made it clear that Smith has adopted an NFL mentality in regard to his access to the media. The writer said he hadn't seen or heard from Smith in three months.

Stingy Badgers: Chryst soon will have to choose between quarterbacks, with an August battle for the starting job pitting fifth-year senior Bart Houston and redshirt freshman Alex Hornibrook. Chryst didn't give a timetable for a decision.

Once again, Wisconsin may have to lean hard on a defense that last season ranked first nationally by allowing only 13.7 points per game. Six starters return on both sides of the ball.

"(The defense) gave us a chance to be in a lot of games (last season), and I think our kids know what good defense is, what it should look like," Chryst said.

Nebraska travels to Wisconsin on Oct. 29.

A first for Ferentz: Kirk Ferentz, in his 18th year as Iowa's head coach, had a streak end Tuesday.

For the first time, the Hawkeyes brought a non-senior to Big Ten Media Days, with junior linebacker Josey Jewell joining seniors Desmond King and C.J. Beathard as the team's representatives.

The 6-foot-2, 235-pound Jewell, second in the league last season with 126 tackles, was a unanimous choice by the coaching staff to be in Chicago, Ferentz said. As a sophomore, Jewell was an "overwhelming" choice by teammates to be one of the Hawkeyes' captains, Ferentz said.

"It was just common sense bringing him here."

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