Big Ten

Big Ten Media Days – Day 2 – Live Updates From Coaches

INDIANAPOLIS — The second and final day of Big Ten Media Days kicks off today and will feature podium sessions for Indiana head coach Tom Allen, Maryland head coach Mike Locksley, Minnesota head coach PJ Fleck, Purdue head coach Ryan Walters, Nebraska head coach Matt Rhule, Wisconsin head coach Luke Fickell, and Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh.

We will provide live updates of everything the coaches have to say throughout the session. Please refresh for the latest.

Michigan Head Coach Jim Harbaugh

  • It seems like they just finished last season. The offseason has been one of work. Camp starts August 2.
  • What’s the next step for JJ McCarthy? He played a little as a freshman, then became a first-time starter as a sophomore. He can’t remember anybody who’s had a better first season as a starter than McCarthy. He’s a generational player. He’s at the top of his game in all aspects. Everything he does is at an elite level. The thing he does best is his willingness to do anything for his team. Compare it to Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen.
  • Should there be a conversation about moving the date of the Ohio State game? They’ll play it whenever “but I don’t have a particular opinion of when it should be played.”
  • There is nothing to be ashamed of regarding the ongoing NCAA investigation. He’d love to lay it all out there for everyone but he can’t speak to it at this time.
  • Edge rusher and cornerback opposite Will Johnson will evolve during fall camp and into game one or two. Similar to what they saw last year at quarterback.
  • The longer it takes TE Colston Loveland to realize how good he can be, the better off he will be.

Wisconsin Head Coach Luke Fickell

  • He is grateful to be back in the Big Ten.
  • It’s been eight months since he’s been in Madison and everything to this point has exceeded his expectations. The community, the city, the campus, everything. More than anything, however, has been seeing the culture of the program. “I must give recognition of those that have come before.” It’s evident and deep-rooted “and to them I owe a lot.”
  • Nobody outside of the program will be allowed to define success for this team this year. Success for Fickell is playing your best ball at the end of the year. They will contend for championships. Success will also depend on how they handle adversity and grow from it.
  • Why Wisconsin and what imprint have you made so far? It has a lot to do with being back in the Big Ten, and also preparing to play against Wisconsin. Seeing it from afar, it felt like something that would “really, really” be in his wheelhouse. The imprint? It’s not about him, it’s about the way they do things together. The ability to feed off of one another and be physical up front and win games in the fourth quarter.
  • Why change the offensive philosophy of Badger football? “Why not?” It’s about the people you have, not the system you run. It’s still gonna be about the guys up front and being physical. What he also liked about this job is that he was never asked about what he was going to change or not changed. They believed in Luke Fickell, and whatever that entailed.
  • How have all of the Ohio State coaches impacted him? He has borrowed, stole, became a part of all of those guys. They have all shaped him. He was very fortunate to be in one place for so long. He was with three Hall of Fame head coaches. He learned there are many different ways to lead and grow a program, “but it’s gotta be you. It’s gotta be authentic.” The failures he had as the head coach in 2011 have also shaped him as much as the coaches he worked for and played for. The ability to be consistent and believe in what you are doing are so important.

Nebraska Head Coach Matt Rhule

  • On the game against Colorado: He is a college football junky and he remembers this rivalry well. He thinks it’s good to be playing it again. Games like this that fans can drive to is great as well.
  • What’s a successful first season? He hasn’t really thought about that, but they’re going out trying to win every game. There is something bigger than record, however. There used to be a time when Nebraska was feared. They need to take back the respect that Nebraska used to have around the nation. It’s not just earning the respect, it’s taking it back. Then once you do that, you can talk about being feared.
  • They have focused on in-state recruiting intentionally. They want guys who grew up wanting to be a Cornhusker. That’s important for the program. Then when you bring in out-of-state guys, you have local players who can take them home to their own families and make them feel comfortable.
  • They have a new football facility coming. “It’s beautiful.” His wife told him he better “win some dang games” with a place like that.
  • What is Big Ten football for him? When he was looking for a job this past year, he wanted to end up in the Big Ten and he and his wife wanted a good place to raise their kids. Lincoln was the perfect place for them.
  • The key is not letting people get ahead of themselves in the attempt to win. It is a day-by-day process of building through every little detail.

Purdue Head Coach Ryan Walters

  • The players have embraced the new coaching staff and the change in culture.
  • He’s excited to show the Purdue fans what they’ve been working on. They have more season tickets already sold than any year since 2008. It’s the 100th year of Ross-Ade Stadium.
  • RB Devin Mockabee has had a strong offseason and will once again be a huge asset on the ground.
  • They are going to air it out and be aggressive on the ground.
  • How do you construct a defense that can defend both Ohio State and Michigan? You have to be creative and then build your roster and put them in the best position possible to be successful. The coaches have to adapt to the players and make plays on game day.
  • OC Graham Harrell has been awesome. Walters knew it was important to hire an offensive coordinator who could handle the entire offense, teaching and motivating and holding everybody accountable. Walters intercepted him twice in college in one game and beat him twice, by the way.
  • How do you make sure chemistry is good after adding so many players after spring ball? It was important to find the right type of people. When you have a locker room that doesn’t have a lot of experience together, but they like the game for what it is, that gives everybody common ground. It becomes an organic way of building relationships and handling adversity.

Minnesota Head Coach PJ Fleck

  • Nine of Minnesota’s 27 Academic All-Americans in the history of the program have come in the last six years.
  • Some have said Minnesota’s schedule is the second-hardest in the nation. He presented this to the team, telling them that this is the “second-most opportunistic schedule” in the nation.
  • With that schedule, they need to be poised, competitive, and balanced.
  • Minnesota is a developmental program. Players grow behind starters and then step in and produce.
  • On the season opener against Nebraska: He and Matt Rhule go back a long time. Opening against a conference opponent is always tough, but then to do it against a new coach makes it more interesting.
  • The Fleck Bank was used in 2017-2018 as an analogy. It was about investing in a program and getting more out of it. There was no currency ever exchanged.
  • They do not use physical activity to discipline their players. They never have. The athletic department handles the discipline for the players. The department changed the policies to reflect Fleck’s handling of discipline since his arrival.
  • Every year this comes up with former players who were dismissed having issues with Fleck. There are six anonymous forms of reporting anything, “and to this date, there have been zero claims” using any of those avenues. “We’re one of the most transparent programs in the country.”
  • When the schedule changes for 2024 were brought up initially, each school had to suggest rivalries that they wanted to keep. Minnesota had a number of rivalries they wanted to protect. You can’t make everybody happy but the Big Ten did a great job with it.

Maryland Head Coach Mike Locksley

  • A coach’s job is to take players where they can’t take themselves.
  • Maryland is now at a position to be able to compete for a Big Ten Championship. He hasn’t said that before.
  • To win the Big Ten, you have to win in the trenches and win in November. They have recruited to do that on both sides of the ball with those goals in mind.
  • They don’t feel any external pressure at Maryland. The pressure is from within. It’s not about building on last year. You start from ground zero and you take the work you’ve done in the past and do it better.

Indiana Head Coach Tom Allen

  • Their one word for 2023 is “toughness.” They had eight games decided last year in the fourth quarter, so they have spent the offseason focused on finishing those games in a positive manner.
  • Is it difficult to build confidence with a young team when you open with Ohio State? It will be challenging but it forces you to grow up really fast. “I think it helps you. It helps you grow. It helps you have an attention to detail.” This kind of opponent raises everything to another level. They embrace the challenge “without question.”
  • They have spent time working on creating more explosive plays on offense. It’s hard to drive the football 75 yards in the Big Ten. So they recruited and went into the portal to find different skill sets and body types at wide receiver.
  • What do you learn from the experiences when you open against a conference opponent? It fast-forwards everything. You can’t build up to it during the season, so you have to be ready at the outset.
  • Is it important that your starting quarterback is a dual-threat? As a defensive coach by trade, a mobile quarterback is tough to defend. They keep plays alive. You have to account for that guy in the pressure that you call. Whoever wins the job will be a young guy who will have to grow up fast.
  • Allen will not call defensive plays this year because the job as a head coach has evolved and his time is required in more places. He did it last year because it was the best thing for the team, but this year he’s handing that over.
  • How does the elimination of divisions affect you? Bringing in USC and UCLA is exciting and awesome. The schedules are going to be more equitable.

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