Day Two of the Big Ten Media Days features the seven coaches who didn’t speak on Thursday, as well as Bill Carollo, who is the Big Ten Coordinator of Officials. Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz kicked off the morning session, followed by Purdue’s Jeff Brohm, Penn State’s James Franklin, Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald, Wisconsin’s Paul Chryst, Rutgers’ Chris Ash, and Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh. Here are the highlights from what everyone had to say.
Big Ten Coordinator of Football Officials Bill Carollo
+ 2019 is an off year with regard to rule changes, unless it pertains to health and safety.
+ There are five new health and safety rules. Targeting has been changed in that all elements of targeting MUST BE CONFIRMED. If not, the player stays in the game. That equates to around 10% of the plays last year where players were ejected for a play standing, rather than being confirmed.
+ If a player commits three targeting fouls in a season, he will be suspended one full additional game.
+ Two-man wedges are now outlawed on kickoffs that are returned. It is now a 15-yard penalty.
+ Blindside blocks are now outlawed. It will be a 15-yard penalty. “You have to make sure that player sees you.”
+ Blocking below the waist has a minor change in that defense can’t block low just like offenses can’t block low.
+ The overtime rules have changed. When a game gets to the fifth overtime, the ball moves to the 3-yard line and teams will have one shot to score from there. “We don’t want the game to end in a tie, but we want the game to keep moving.”
+ Football officials are way better than they were in the ’80s.
Michigan Head Coach Jim Harbaugh
+ This is a young, enthusiastic team, but they have a lot of experience.
+ He doesn’t know why the Big Ten is missing the playoffs.
+ Beating Ohio State and winning the Big Ten Championship are two of their four goals, along with making the playoffs and win the national championship. How do you make it happen? You have to put it in the back of your mind and focus on how to achieve those. That’s what they are focusing on day to day. “But like an anaconda, you wanna keep squeezing it tighter and making it better.”
+ The quarterbacks’ playmaking ability has increased under new offensive coordinator Josh Gattis. The shotgun and the RPOs fit the up-tempo move that they are making. This is what their quarterbacks are used to in high school now.
+ “I have not coached with a better coach than Don Brown.”
+ Ed Warinner really improved the offense last year in terms of the running game and pass protection.
+ Asked about any regrets about his comments about how controversy follows Urban Meyer, he said no because it’s stuff that the people in the room have all written about.
+ He doesn’t have any thoughts any more on the departures of Greg Mattison and Al Washington and would just refer people back to his previous answers.
+ It is a misconception that he has some control on departed receiver Oliver Martin — who transferred to Iowa — and his immediate eligibility. It’s a compliance and NCAA issue. His opinion is that everybody should be given a 1-time immediate eligibility transfer.
+ On being Big Ten favorites: “That’s where I would pick us.” “I feel like our team is in a really good place. Young, enthusiastic team with a lot of really good players.”
+ Michigan is scheduling a team on foreign soil and it will be announced soon.
Rutgers Head Coach Chris Ash
+ Because of Jim Delany, the Big Ten is the best conference in college football and Rutgers got to be a part of it.
+ Rutgers has continued to improve the facilities on campus, which is big for recruiting.
+ This is a new year and a new team. Last year, being 1-11, “I own it.” “It wasn’t fun.” He likes the way the team has responded.
+ “I believe that more games are lost than won.” And that starts with him. He has to find a way to stop losing games.
+ This is the most competition he has had on his defense so far at Rutgers. They have more players than every that they are comfortable playing. Linebacker is the strongest position in terms of depth and ability.
+ Rutgers hit the transfer portal hard after evaluating the needs on the roster.
+ “I don’t think you’re going to be able to realign the conference and make everybody happy. I like where it’s at right now and I don’t see it changing anytime soon.”
+ This is the first time in 10 years that Rutgers will have the same offensive coordinator two years in a row.
+ Running backs Isaih Pacheco and Raheem Blackshear are getting better and will lead the running game.
Wisconsin Head Coach Paul Chryst
+ Wisconsin plays five teams coming off of byes this season. “You have to take it week to week. That’s when you as a team are at your best.”
+ Jonathan Taylor has grown as a leader off the field as well. From the time he got to campus, he has been as impressive off the field as on it. He had a lot on his plate as a true freshman, but was able to become more of a leader as a sophomore because it wasn’t a new situation anymore. That has continued now entering his junior season. “He cares a ton about this team and his teammates. He is staying unbelievably grounded.”
+ Asked about top QB signee Graham Mertz, Chryst said he has a nice personality and handled the buzz well this spring. “I appreciate that he’s the same person. He’s grounded. An unbelievable worker.” “I’ve been impressed with how Graham has handled himself.”
+ “I like our group” of quarterbacks. Asked about the quarterback situation this year, he said there will be one. He likes the growth made by Jack Coan. “He has gone about it the right way and gotten better.” There are two younger guys who have been in the program that he likes as well, and they are obviously excited about Graham Mertz.
Northwestern Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald
+ Proud to be the reigning Big Ten West Champions. The next step is to win the Big Ten Championship Game.
+ Northwestern is winning at a rate it has never done and hasn’t sacrificed any of the academic challenges the student-athletes face.
+ This is now the second year with their new football facilities. It has helped recruiting. Also, if year one in that facility leads to a division championship, he can’t wait to see what year two brings.
+ The message about defending a championship? “There’s a reason the rear-view mirror is small and the windshield is big.” You start back over with the building blocks and what you value. They need to start faster. The team needs to become more consistent throughout the season and that starts with him.
+ Until college football gets to the point where everybody that plays Power 5 conference football plays the same number of conference games and plays a conference championship game, it’s not any different than the BCS. It’s just a different name. Everybody should have the same number of data points. “We’ve got to have shared data points” to have a true champion on the field.
Penn State Head Coach James Franklin
+ Franklin began his comments by thanking outgoing B1G commissioner Jim Delany for his impact on Penn State football.
+ Penn State is one of five programs in the country with winning seasons each year over the last 14 seasons. They are one of six programs to win 9 or more games the last three years. One of six programs to finish in the Top 15 each year the last three years in the CFP polls.
+ The team has more question marks this year than they have had the last few years. “We are young. We are talented. We are probably the fastest football team I’ve been a part of.”
+ Franklin believes the WRs and TEs will be a strength for the team.
+ There is a 2-man competition at quarterback with sophomore Sean Clifford and redshirt freshman Will Levis.
+ Big shoes to fill at quarterback with the loss of Trace McSorley. They have recruited extremely well at the position and they develop it well. He considers his two quarterbacks “veterans” despite their lack of experience.
+ Asked why the Big Ten is being left out of the playoffs, Franklin said there needs to be discussions. Do you look at the divisions? “I think the East is very strong and has been very strong for a number of years.” “I think you at least have to look at that. I think the nine conference games has to be discussed.”
+ Franklin thinks his comments last year that Penn State wasn’t elite like Ohio State was misinterpreted. They are better than most programs, but it’s everything about the program that needs to be elite, including himself as the coach, nutrition, scheming, etc. “I think we keep chipping away it.” “We’ve been as competitive with Ohio State as anybody in the conference.”
Purdue Head Coach Jeff Brohm
+ The team needs to develop more consistency and figure out how to play with high intensity each week. They have to do the small things to give themselves a chance each week. Youth will need to step up. There are around eight seniors on the team.
+ Linebacker Markus Bailey is a playmaker who works hard. He likes to prove to people that he is one of the top linebackers in the league. He can play anywhere and rush the passer as well. He brings great energy to each practice and has the kind of approach that is contagious.
+ Freshman receiver David Bell could possibly start this year. They signed four receivers that could play this year quite a bit.
+ Freshman defensive end George Karlaftis enrolled early and was probably the best player on defense in the spring.
+ They don’t have to worry about how Rondale Moore will handle the hype. He’s a great student, good kid. “We’re going to get him the ball.”
Iowa Head Coach Kirk Ferentz
+ The first time he attended these meetings, Sammy Sosa was in the outfield for the Cubs.
+ The world has changed, but the goals remain the same.
+ The attitude of this team has been consistent since January when this thing got started. There are players trying to step up as leaders.
+ This team has a chance and an opportunity to win the Big Ten, but it’s a matter of handling the little things.
+ Quarterback Nate Stanley has always handled his role well. He is very serious, caring, and team oriented. If your best guys aren’t improving, you’re not going to have a good team. Stanley embraces that and is working hard to lead this team.
+ If he had a magic wand and could make one change, he would change the speed of recruiting. It’s going too fast. In a logical world, you would wait until players have finished their high school careers before fully evaluating them, just like the NFL does. “We’re recruiting 10th graders.”
+ Some clarity on the transfer portal would be nice. “Who gets a pass to the field and who doesn’t?” That didn’t just start this year, but it’s become a bigger thing.