Big Ten media days were sort of dragging along until the second half of the coaching line-up got a chance to speak to the media. The second half kicked off with Nebraska’s Bo Pelini and Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio, each leading Legends Division contenders in 2013 and representing the division’s two representatives in the Big Ten Championship Game the past two seasons. But as usual, Ohio State’s Urban Meyer was under the brightest spotlight Wednesday afternoon in Chicago.
The Buckeyes enter the 2013 season with lofty expectations and have a Heisman Trophy worthy quarterback in Braxton Miller. Meyer praised many areas on his roster, but stated his junior quarterback continues to develop as a leader. Unfortunately, Big Ten media days came with a number of concerns off the field in Columbus.
Ohio State is pegged as a national title contender but much of the focus on Urban Meyer had to do with situations away from the field.
Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde was recently suspended indefinitely by Meyer following his alleged involvement in a police investigation relating to assault. On Tuesday evening Yahoo! reported video evidence may clear Hyde of any potential charges, which should be seen as good news for the Buckeyes. Meyer, suggesting he is not heavy on social media, said he had not received the news.
“We have to evaluate the facts,” Meyer said. “Once I do that we’ll make some decisions.”
Meyer was also asked for his response on Ohio State’s accusations against Florida, Meyer’s former coaching spot, in recruiting. Perhaps as expected, Meyer played down the story.
“I’m not sure how all that became a major story,” Meyer said. “There was certainly no intent to go after Florida.”
Nebraska’s biggest concern for the 2013 season should be the state of the defense. The Huskers had a Swiss cheese defense at critical times last season, most notably against Ohio State and Wisconsin, and the Huskers lack any returning starting depth going in to the fall. Bo Pelini though believes his staff and players have taken a good look at some of the problems from last season and hopes that the work in addressing those issues pays off in the fall.
As for the offense, Pelini feels more comfortable with what returns with quarterback Taylor Martinez and running back Ameer Abdullah in the back field. But up front Pelini seems to be strong about the stability on the offensive line.
“I think we have the opportunity to have the best offensive line since I’ve been here,” Pelini said. “I wouldn’t trade our offense for anybody. I like what we’re doing.”
The Spartans have reached the postseason six consecutive seasons but Mark Dantonio says Michigan State is still “chasing a dream” right now as a program. Dantonio said the foundation for the program has been set and he is focused on finding a way to get Michigan State back to the Big Ten championship game and beyond. Dantonio also touched on future scheduling, with the Big Ten moving to a nine-game conference schedule in a few years.
“As the years progress things are going to get more complicated,” Dantonio said referring to the complexity of scheduling football games. “I think we’ll play nine games [in Big Ten play] and we’ll always have a big opponent out of conference.”
Michigan State plays at Notre Dame this season. Dantonio said this year’s mantra was “Chasing.”
Kevin is a member of the FWAA and National Football Foundation and host of the No 2-Minute Warning podcast. Follow McGuire on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.