The Rutgers football season kicks off in less than six weeks at High Point Solutions Stadium on September 1st at 8 p.m. against nationally ranked Washington. However, the first true event marking the beginning of the 2017 season in Big Ten Media Day, which takes place early this week. Here is a full preview that includes how to watch all the press conferences, when Rutgers head coach Chris Ash will take Here we go!
When: Monday, July 24 & Tuesday, July 25, 2017
Where: Hyatt Regency McCormick Place & McCormick Place Convention Center, Chicago, Illinois
How To Watch: BTN, full schedule below
Media Address: Chris Ash will take to the podium on Tuesday at 10:15 a.m. EST
Players Representing Rutgers: Sebastian Joseph, Dorian Miller, Blessuan Austin
Cleveland.com unofficial media poll:
Since the Big Ten doesn’t organize an official preseason media poll, the folks at Cleveland.com include 38 writers that cover the conference and have their own poll. Here are the results, which were released this past Friday:
BIG TEN EAST
1. Ohio State, 260 points (34 first-place votes)
2. Penn State, 231.5 (7)
3. Michigan, 192 (1)
4. Michigan State, 128
5. Indiana, 114
6. Maryland, 100.5
7. Rutgers, 38
BIG TEN WEST
1. Wisconsin, 259 points (31 first-place votes)
2. Northwestern, 219 (5)
3. Nebraska, 176.5 (2)
4. Iowa, 164.5
5. Minnesota, 131
6. Purdue, 57
6. Illinois, 57
Media Poll Reaction
So yes, Rutgers was unanimously picked to finish in last place of the Big Ten East by all 38 writers. That really shouldn’t surprise Rutgers fans, despite the fact that many of us surely hope the program can prove everyone wrong this season. This will likely come up in conversation when the media speak with Ash on and off the podium, as well as with the players. The reality is expectations for Rutgers football entering the 2017 season could not be any lower from a national perspective. I personally think it’s a good thing, as Ash and the staff can only use the us against the world mindset to their advantage. I believe the players are already extremely motivated to prove the doubters wrong, but this is black and white proof to add to the fire....and the bulletin board.
As for the rest of the poll, the good news for Rutgers is that two of their three crossover opponents from the West tied for last place in the voting. We already knew though that Rutgers has a real opportunity to make progress on the field this season if they can take advantage of back to back games against Illinois and Purdue. As for the third West opponent, Nebraska was voted to finish in third place.
Continuing with the preseason poll, no surprise that the power structure at the top remains the same. In the East, the top three in the poll were Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan, all of whom received at least one first place vote. In the West, Wisconsin was predictably picked to win the division again. While Iowa and Nebraska finished second and third in the standings last season, the only mild surprise was Northwestern being picked to leapfrog the two West squads and finish in second place. The media picked Nebraska and Iowa to follow the Wildcats, who return a majority of starters from a team that went 7-6 last season.
Janarion Grant Snubbed By Media
In the voting for Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, Grant didn’t receive one vote. Grant is the only Big Ten player to be named to both preseason watch lists for the Maxwell Award, given to the college player of the year, and the Paul Hornung Award, given to the most versatile player in college football. Obviously Grant missed the last eight games of the 2016 season due to injury, but it surprises me the Big Ten media completely forgot the type of impact he can have on the field. Hopefully, Grant can remind people on a weekly basis this fall that he is healthy and one of the most dynamic playmakers in the Big Ten.
As to be expected, Penn State stars Saquon Barkley and Trace McSorley garnered many votes, as did Ohio State star J.T. Barrett. Here are the full results of the poll:
1. Saquon Barkley, Penn State RB, 103 points (30 first-place votes)
2. J.T. Barrett, Ohio State QB, 59 points (5)
3. Trace McSorley, Penn State QB, 30 points (2)
4. Justin Jackson, Northwestern RB, 25 points (1)
5. Mike Weber, Ohio State RB, 2 points
5. L.J. Scott, Michigan State RB, 2 points
5. Alex Hornibrook, Wisconsin QB, 2 points
5. Rodney Smith, Minnesota RB, 2 points
9. Troy Fumagalli, Wisconsin TE, 1 point
9. Simmie Cobbs, Indiana WR, 1 point
9. Jamarco Jones, Ohio State LT, 1 point
As for Defensive Player of the Year, Rutgers cornerback Blessuan Austin did receive one vote. Here are the results of the poll:
1. Tyquan Lewis, Ohio State DE, 61 points (11 first-place votes)
2. Josey Jewell, Iowa LB, 59 points (12)
3. Rashan Gary, Michigan DE, 23 points (3)
4. Tegray Scales, Indiana LB, 19 points (4)
5. Jerome Baker, Ohio State LB, 12 points (2)
6. Sam Hubbard, Ohio State DE, 11 points (2)
7. Jack Cichy, Wisconsin LB, 10 points (1)
8. Maurice Hurst, Michigan DT, 9 points (1)
9. Marcus Allen, Penn State S, 9 points
10. T.J. Edwards, Wisconsin LB, 7 points (1)
11. Nick Bosa, Ohio State, DE 4 points (1)
12. Godwin Igwebuike, Northwestern S, 2 points
13. Steven Richardson, Minnesota DT, 1 point
13. Blessuan Austin, Rutgers CB, 1 point
Media days will be the first opportunity for the new head coaches at Minnesota (P.J. Fleck), Purdue (Jeff Brohm), and Indiana (Tom Allen) to formally introduce themselves in a Big Ten setting. Fleck, the former Rutgers assistant, will certainly garner a lot of attention, as he looks to continue to build momentum he has created in recruiting with positive results on the field this season. Brohm had great success at Western Kentucky and seems like a good choice for the Boilermakers. Indiana is moving on from their disgraced head coach Kevin Wilson, who was fired over mistreating players. He was replaced by Tom Allen, who was the defensive coordinator under Wilson. Allen looks to build off back to back 6-7 campaigns, which believe it or not, ties for the second most wins for the program in a season for Indiana since 1994. The lone exception was their only winning record in that time frame of 20+ years, when they went 7-6 in 2007.
Potential FCS Scheduling Change
A few years ago, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany announced that in addition to the conference playing a nine game schedule, which began last season, that starting in 2018, schools would no longer be able to schedule FCS opponents. However, last week North Dakota State athletic director Matt Larsen told In Forum that a new policy is set to be put into effect due to the nine game conference schedule. Larsen stated that during years that a Big Ten team has four home league games, instead of five, it will be allowed to put an FCS team on its slate. NDSU is an FCS power and has beaten their last six FBS opponents since 2010, including knocking off #13 Iowa on the road last season, so the school was obviously upset by the ban.
Expect Delany to address this report and even announce the new policy, which would benefit bottom tier Big Ten schools fighting for six wins each season in order to become bowl eligible. Rutgers doesn’t have an opening on their schedule until 2020, with FBS newcomers Liberty and UMASS previously added to the 2019 slate. The Big Ten has also not announced conference matchups past the 2019 season as well. More to come on future scheduling, as this reported new policy will certainly be a hot topic this week in Chicago.
Delany confirms reports that B1G schools can now schedule FCS games when they have only 4 league home games in a given season. #rutgers— Keith Sargeant (@KSargeantNJ) July 24, 2017
Big Ten Is Best Conference In College Football
Sports Illustrated’s Joan Niesen published an article on Friday declaring the Big Ten as the top conference in all of college football. I’m sure it was received well by the SEC and their devoted fans. Still, it’s a fact that the Big Ten had four teams finish in the top ten of the AP Poll last season and have had nine appearances in the New Year’s Six Bowls since the College Football Playoff began three seasons ago.
I’m sure this discussion will be included at Media Day and many have made the argument before that the Big Ten East is the most difficult division in college football. If Rutgers can improve this season and win multiple conference games, it will only help that point of view.
PRESS CONFERENCE SCHEDULE
Monday, July 24
12:15 p.m. ET : Mark Silverman, BTN President
12:30 p.m. ET : Jim Delany, Big Ten Commissioner
1:00 p.m. ET : Paul Chryst, Wisconsin
1:15 p.m. ET : Tom Allen, Indiana
1:30 p.m. ET : Lovie Smith, Illinois
1:45 p.m. ET : Mark Dantonio, Michigan State
2:00 p.m. ET : DJ Durkin, Maryland
2:15 p.m. ET : Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
2:30 p.m. ET : Urban Meyer, Ohio State
Tuesday, July 25
9:00 a.m. ET : P.J. Fleck, Minnesota
9:15 a.m. ET : Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern
9:30 a.m. ET : James Franklin, Penn State
9:45 a.m. ET : Jeff Brohm, Purdue
10:00 a.m. ET : Mike Riley, Nebraska
10:15 a.m. ET : Chris Ash, Rutgers
10:30 a.m. ET : Jim Harbaugh, Michigan
10:45 a.m. ET : Bill Carollo, Big Ten Coordinator of Football Officials
11:15 a.m. ET : Jim Delany, Big Ten Commissioner
BTN will show every press conference listed above live. In addition, on both Monday and Tuesday between 3-7 p.m. ET, they will have every coach and the players in attendance on the air talking with BTN Live hosts Dave Revsine, Gerry DiNardo and Howard Griffith.