Recap: 2021 Big Ten Media Days updates, Day 1

Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren and coaches from seven programs will speak Thursday during the first day of Big Ten Media Days.


Jerod Ringwald

Lucas Oil Stadium is seen in Indianapolis, Indiana, on Thursday, July 22, 2021. (Jerod Ringwald/The Daily Iowan)

Robert Read, Summer Editor

INDIANAPOLIS — The first day of the 2021 Big Ten Football Media Days is underway at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The event was not held last year because of COVID-19 restrictions. Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren, as well as coaches from seven Big Ten football programs, will take the podium on Thursday. Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz and three Hawkeye athletes will not be available until Friday, the final day of the two-day event.

The Daily Iowan has reporters on location in Indianapolis covering Big Ten Media Days. Follow along here for live updates, and check out for stories throughout the next two days.

10:20 a.m. (ET) — Warren, the sixth commissioner in conference history, takes the podium at his first Big Ten media day. Warren took over as commissioner on Jan. 2, 2020, replacing Jim Delany. In his opening statement, Warren said he expects a Big Ten football program to compete for the national championship every season.

Later on in his statement, Warren made several references to Hawkeyes. He mentioned Iowa’s Heisman Trophy winner Nile Kinnick when listing off Big Ten “legends.” Warren congratulated the Iowa wrestling program for winning its 24th national championship. Luka Garza got a shoutout for winning National Player of the Year, and Warren later said he has gotten to know Marissa Mueller, an Iowa track and field athlete who recently earned a Rhodes scholarship.

10:28 a.m. — During his opening address, Warren announced that Barry Alvarez has been named Special Advisor for Football for the Big Ten Conference. Alvarez will begin his new role on August 2, 2021.

The former University of Wisconsin head football coach and recently retired Director of Athletics earned membership in the College Football, Rose Bowl, Orange Bowl, and Wisconsin Halls of Fame. Alvarez served as an assistant coach with the Iowa football program under Hayden Fry from 1979-86.

10:30 a.m. — Warren announced that the Big Ten will announce the hiring of a chief medical officer before the 2021 football season.

10:39 a.m. — Warren says that athletes having the opportunity to profit off of their name, image, and likeness has changed the landscape of college sports forever. He said the Big Ten embraces the empowerment of student-athletes. Warren said he believes NIL needs federal legislation.

10:41 a.m. — Warren says he wants to take the appropriate time with the necessary to determine “when the right time is” and “how we need to structure” a potential expansion to the college football playoff.

10:47 a.m. — When asked about Texas and Oklahoma reportedly in talks to join the SEC, Warren says:

“These are the kind of issues we all will be dealing with this year and for many years. That’s the world that we live in right now. From where we sit, we’re always constantly evaluating what’s in the best interests of the conference.”

10:53 a.m. — Warren says the Big Ten presidents and chancellors have agreed to a decentralized approach to COVID-19 issues, so each school will be handling things on its own. Once things are finalized in August, there will be league policies on what will happen if there’s an outbreak, whether it be a forfeit, no contest, etc.

11:00 a.m. — While answering his final question on the podium, Warren said he “would make the same decisions [the conference] made” last year if he had to do it again.

11:10 a.m. — Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck said he has “no idea” where rumors he may leave for a different job came from. “What I love is they’re talking about the University of Minnesota,” Fleck said. “My name is attached to the University of Minnesota, and I love when people talk about the University of Minnesota.”

Answering his next question, Fleck said he is “fired up” about new NIL policies.

11:08 a.m. — “I got an 18 on the ACT, everybody,” Fleck said.

11:15 a.m. — “Wow, [I’m] already done,” Fleck said. “This is great.”

11:27 a.m. — It’s time to stop talking about potential and actually do it,” Maryland head coach Mike Locksley said. Iowa plays Maryland Oct. 1. Locksley was not asked a question during his time at the podium at media day, and left the stand after his opening statement.

11:33 a.m. — “Without a doubt, this is the most excited I’ve been about a team and the most confident,” Nebraska head coach Scott Frost said.

Frost is entering his fourth year with the Huskers, and has compiled a 12-20 record with the program (0-3 against Iowa).

11:57 a.m. — Former Iowa football player and assistant coach, and the new head coach at Illinois, Bret Bielema, is now battling the Hawkeyes in recruiting.

Bielema got a Tigerhawk tattoo on his calf when he was 19 years old and a defensive lineman for the Hawkeyes. He said Thursday, now that Iowa is a rival, that he explains to recruits that Iowa is a big reason why he is where is he today and why he is the person he is. However, like when he was at Wisconsin, he is still prepared to recruit against Iowa and in Iowa by making a pitch for his program to recruits.

12:10 p.m. — Penn State head coach James Franklin said he took great pride in wearing a mask during games last season so he could set the tone for his program in following COVID-19 guidelines. Franklin said he has yet to master wearing a mask in a way that will not fog up his glasses.

12:15 p.m. — “That’s the goal — to get back here,” Franklin said of hoping to return to Lucas Oil Stadium for the Big Ten Championship game.

12:26 p.m. —  “This is a job, you’ve got to do it the right way,” Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald said of players profiting off their NIL.

Fitzgerald said players need to educate themselves before locking into deals to ensure they are being treated well and not being taken advantage of. He also called NIL a “great opportunity” and somewhat jokingly said he was jealous that he couldn’t do this in his playing days.

12:47 p.m. — Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh said he is as driven and enthusiastic about winning a conference championship and beating Ohio State this season as he has ever been. Harbaugh has not accomplished either of those things during his six seasons with Michigan.

“We’re going to do it or die trying,” Harbaugh said.

This is a developing story. Check back for more information.

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