Media Day Notebook

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Last updated: 07/24/2013 7:56 PM
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Football
B1G Media Day Notebook
By Rob Ogden

On Target: In March, NCAA officials approved a new rule which will create harsher penalties for players who target defenseless opponents above the shoulders. Wednesday, the rule change was a major focus at Big Ten Media Day in Chicago.

Questions regarding the new targeting rule – which carries an automatic ejection – were posed to nearly every coach who took the podium.

While each agreed that the safety of their players is the top priority, each had different ideas or concerns regarding the rule.

“As coaches, I think all of us are concerned about any of those types of plays,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “They're bang, bang, flagrant fouls to anybody in the stands. Anybody can recognize that needed to be dealt with. I'm just hoping the officials will use good judgment.”

The rule has been a cause of much controversy during the offseason. Critics claim that the rule will dilute the way the game is played. The poster hit for the rule is the one Jadeveon Clowney laid on Michigan running back Vincent Smith in January’s Outback Bowl. The hit, once seen as a textbook tackle, would now likely warrant an ejection.

Nebraska coach Bo Pelini, a former Big Ten safety, is worried about how the new rule will change the game.

“The scary thing to me is ... the application part of it,” Pelini said. “It's going to be pretty subjective. And I don't think it's an easy thing to call. And in my opinion it's going a little bit overboard right now.

“But I understand where it's coming from. It's about the safety of the players, and we're all for that. We just have to make sure that we're not messing with the integrity of the game or the sport and how it's supposed to be played.”

Minnesota coach Jerry Kill stressed that the best way to lessen the number of concussions is to teach better tackling technique.

“We have a great game. It's a game that's physical,” Kill said. “We all as coaches have to take our responsibility to make sure that we're teaching the proper fundamentals.”

Coaches discuss player discipline: In the wake of Ohio State’s recent off-the-field issues, Big Ten coaches offered up their opinions on player discipline.

Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald was the first to step to the microphone, and was quickly asked about the topic, setting the tone for the rest of the day.

“I think discipline begins in recruiting,” Fitzgerald said. “In Evanston, it starts with that character evaluation.

“If you look at our history in recruiting, we're typically a day late, a week late, a month late in potentially offering a young person, and I know sometimes it frustrates our fans, but we're going to make sure when we offer a young man, that's someone we truly want to become a part of our football family.”

Ferentz’s Iowa program has also had its share of off-the-field problems in recent years.

“I think all of us would probably agree the most important thing you can do is try to equip them to make good decisions,” Ferentz said.  “Try to educate them in terms of some of the challenges that are going to be out there for them, some of the things that they're going to have to contemplate and think about.”

Tree Branching Out: When Darrell Hazell was hired by Purdue last December, he became the fifth current Big Ten coach to play or coach at Ohio State. Hazell was an assistant under Jim Tressel from 2004 to 2010. Illinois coach Tim Beckman coached cornerbacks at Ohio State in 2005 and 2006 while Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio had two stints with the Buckeyes, most recently as their defensive coordinator from 2001 through 2003.

Pelini played for the Buckeyes from 1987 through 1990.

During his first Big Ten Media Day as a head coach, Hazell credited Tressel for much of his success.

"Coach Tressel was a big influence on me, the way I do things today,” he said. “There's a lot of great values and just his demeanor through the course of my time there was something that you can take from and the great decisions that he made on game day, when those bullets are flying, it's a chaotic moment. I learned a lot from Jim Tressel there at my seven years at Ohio State.”

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