Big Ten Media Days Football

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh smiles during Big Ten Media Days on Friday in Chicago.

Iowa (Kirk Ferentz)

Opening statement word count: 790.

Tight end U: Iowa is among the favorites in a wide-open Big Ten West Division race, but like the other teams, the Hawkeyes have question marks, including a big one at tight end. They must replace Noah Fant and TJ Hockenson. Both were first-round NFL Draft picks last spring.

So how does Iowa replace their production?

Ferentz said Nate Weiting is waiting for his opportunity. Shaun Beyer and Drew Cook also are in the mix to help at tight end.

"Even if those guys play well, we won't be as deep as we were a year ago, so it'll change things a little bit in terms of our formula of guys on the field," Ferentz said.

They said it: "Someone earlier this week told me the first time I came to these meetings Sammy Sosa was playing right field for the Cubs and there were 11 teams back then, so it just kind of highlights the kind of change I think that we've all seen in the world over the last couple decades, and that really hasn't changed." — Ferentz.

Purdue (Jeff Brohm)

Opening statement word count: 339.

The schedule: You won't hear anyone barking about the difficulty level of Purdue's nonconference schedule. The Boilermakers open the season at Nevada, and then play two Power Five opponents at home in Vanderbilt and TCU.

Playing two Power Fives in the nonconference portion is not new for Purdue. It played Missouri and Louisville two years ago and Missouri and Boston College last year.

"Sometimes those games make it tough where you've got to figure out a way to win a few of those, but getting in ready for Big Ten play, I do think in the long haul we've had some success," Brohm said.

They said it: "I know teams are going to key on (sophomore Rondale Moore). So will he put up the numbers he had last year? I'm not for sure, but we are going to try to get it done for him. But he's unselfish, as well. He wants to win." — Brohm.

Penn State (James Franklin)

Opening statement word count: 797.

Playoff talk: Franklin was asked about the Big Ten being left out of the College Football Playoff the past three years. That included his Nittany Lions, who won the Big Ten in 2016.

"I think obviously when you're left out of the playoffs for two years in a row, I think there needs to be discussions, and there's discussions that are going on, and I think we've got to look at it all," Franklin said.

"The hard part I think with that is the set of criteria that you've been told are going to impact being able to make the playoffs, strength in schedule and things like that. There's a lot of variables there. There's a lot of things you can't control."

They said it: "We probably have more question marks this year than we've had over the last couple years. Obviously when you lose a quarterback who's played as much football as Trace McSorley has played for us, that's going to lead you off with some question marks going into the season." — Franklin.

Northwestern (Pat Fitzgerald)

Opening statement word count: 668.

Facility buzz: Facilities was a hot topic with Nebraska coach Scott Frost on Thursday in Chicago.

Northwestern, meanwhile, is starting to see the effects of its brand new facility, which sits next to Lake Michigan.

"It's been amazing," Fitzgerald said. "Yeah, you look at where our recruiting is going, I think young people want to go to school and get a great education. They want to play for the staff that recruits them, and they want to obviously compete for championships, but they want to be supported, and to have the support that we have right now from a facilities standpoint, as you know, is something that we've never had in our program."

They said it: "We're not great clickbait, I guess, so picking us first isn't real sexy. But we'll just earn it. We'll just earn it. That's what's so great about football. The West gets knocked. I enjoy it." — Fitzgerald, on the Wildcats being picked to finish fifth in the Big Ten West.

Wisconsin (Paul Chryst)

Opening statement word count: 228.

All rested up: Here's an interesting fact pointed out in Chicago. Wisconsin will play five teams coming off bye weeks this season, including Nebraska.

Chryst said it's something his team is aware of, but the Badgers will maintain a week-to-week approach.

"That's one thing I've always loved and appreciated about playing in the Big Ten is that you know every week it's going to be a big game, and you've got to play at your best to give yourself a chance," he said.

They said it: "You know, certainly Jonathan (Taylor) is obviously a very talented and great running back." — Chryst with the most factual statement at Big Ten Media Days.

Rutgers (Chris Ash)

Opening statement word count: 656.

Looking for quick help: Rutgers added several transfers in the offseason, including graduate transfers McLane Carter (Texas Tech), Kyle Penniston (Wisconsin) and Ron Johnson (Michigan).

Carter is a likely candidate to start at quarterback.

Drew Singleton, a former four-start linebacker recruit, comes in from Michigan. He is immediately eligible.

They said it: "I get asked a lot about what we have to do to improve, and first and foremost, I believe that more games are lost than they are won, and for us we have to figure out, and it starts with me, how not to lose games." — Ash.

Michigan (Jim Harbaugh)

Opening statement word count: 190.

What a start: The first question asked of Harbaugh: The Big Ten has missed the last two playoffs; what's wrong?

"I don't have all the answers to that," Harbaugh said. "Maybe something that would be worthy of you researching, studying."

Oh, boy.

Thy said it: "I don't really have any thoughts on that anymore. I'll just refer you back to the comments that I made about I really love our staff at the University of Michigan right now." — Harbaugh, when asked about former Michigan assistants Greg Mattison and Al Washington going to Ohio State.

Reach the writer at 402-473-2639 or cgrell@journalstar.com. On Twitter @LJSSportsGrell.


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