I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
Just got back from Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon in Chicago ... a fan's take on things (just edited and added photos)
My buddy and I arrived at the hotel about an hour before the pre-luncheon player and coach signature sessions.
While we were wondering around killing time, we walked by a ball room where all the coaches and players were at tables being interviewed by the media. There was no one at the door at that moment (to check for a media badge), so we just strolled in. We were wearing ties and did not seem to attract any attention, so we walked about and listened in to various interviews. It was the first time I was able to see most of the Big Ten coaches and other non-Michigan players up close. I was especially excited to see JoPa, who had a nice big audience at his table.
We didn't stay long and headed off to get in line at the fan area. While in line, we noticed many of the fans with BigTen Footballs (had all 11 school logos on them) to get signatures. Seemed like a great idea to have players and coaches to all just sign one ball. Stepped out of line and went and bought a football and a mini Michiganhelmet.
Once in the team booth area, there was a stage where the BigTen Network was filming live ... they were bringing up the coaches one and two at a time for a few words. From where we were standing, we could not hear what was being said. When the coaches were done, they went to their team booths, met up with the players and met with the fans.
I think there were at least 500 people standing in various team lines. My goal was to get all 11 coaches to sign my new football ... I got 8 before time ran out. JoPa was not available for autographs, and someone said he typically was not for this event in the past.
Highlights from meeting the coaches and players:
- All the coaches were very nice, with the exception of Dantonio ... he seemed aggravated and refused to sign my ball on the way to his booth. Even in the luncheon speech Dantonio was the least outwardly positive (had a frown even when saying good things about his team).
- The most positive were RichRod, Fitzgerald, and I am sorry to say Tressel.
- I was surprised at how chummy the coaches were with each other. They seemed to gravitate to one another during the transitions from one place to another ... they were patting each other on the back and seemed to enjoy each other's company.
- The Michiganboys were great ... Troy, Mark, and Stephen were all joking with each other and having a great time.
- Ben Chappell (IU QB) went out of his way to make conversation, and was impressed with his presence.
After the sig session was over, all the players got on stage for a photo, followed by the coaches. Then at 11:30we all went into the auditorium for lunch.
Rough count was 150 or so tables with 10-12 guests at each. The room was huge. All the players and coaches were introduced and sat along one wall. There were many video screens so everyone could see what was going on.
Rece Davis was the host, he was great ... he had some great jokes and did a few impersonations between speakers. All the Big Ten coaches spoke, JoPa, was the clear favorite ... he really warmed up the room. I took a video of RichRod and JoPa that I will post later. Rich's speech was good, but nothing new. Fitzgerald was the best public speaker.
Rece said in his opening that it would not surprise him to see Kelly (ND) and Schiano (Rutgers) here next year ... but that seemed tongue in cheek.
We also heard from the Big Ten commissioner, and a few others. A Purdue player spoke on behalf of the athletes, and he did very well all things considered.
They did a fun thing at the end ... all the QBs went in the center of the room and tossed footballs to table guest with winning door prize ticket numbers ... some where real deep balls! One guy got hit in the face (but he was ok), and the Minnesota QB whiffed 3 times in a row ... the ball just fell out of his hands ... then he overthrew his table. The biggest door prize was two tickets to Rose Bowl with round-trip airfare and a stay at the Ritz.
For those that want all the details, we had salad, and a filet and chicken cutlet lunch with a slice of cheesecake to top it off.
There were 17 Michigantables and we all were given UofM Adidas visors and a block M lapel pin. The Iowafan base was the most vocal.
All in all, it was a great event. I would recommend others to attend if you have the opportunity in future years.
You can see Troy and Moundros close up in middle row at the end (see M pin)
See Rece there ... he one to left of the Red Jacket Rose Bowl guy. RichRod was third from left.
After conference, that is Tressel waiting for his ride I suppose (tan suit with back turned) ... he was just reading his Blackberry for a few minutes all by himself ... no handlers even. Seemed lonely.
It's in the top story. No Florida offer yet either BTW.
Another poster featuring Mandel's article calling out Ole Miss' coach Houston Nutt as a "dirty" coach got me thinking about which programs have a permanent stench
To me, you can divide them into two groups, the perennial successful programs like Alabama that constantly cheat and get caught but continue to prosper, and the flash-in-the-pan that have temporary success (Arizona St) or usually suck (Illinois) despite the cheating.
My nominations for the all-time "powers" that cheat:
Alabama, Oklahoma, FSU, Miami, Auburn....all been at it a long time.
Questons are given to one player of each team, and their answers can't be for their own team. Pretty intetesting.
Iowa Football Blog, Black Heart Gold Pants, has posted their preseason preview of Michigan:
Having grown up in Iowa, and knowing plenty of people attending the U of I, I hear all too much about how Iowa is going to smoke us at home. Looking at some of the comments, and listening to some of my friends, they seem far to willing to write us off.
I cant wait to see Woolfolk snag a pick-6, and watch Denard shred their defense all day long as Iowas bid for national relevance goes up in smoke. I think our 'underdog' status plays a big role in pulling an upset over a well disciplined but not great team. Anyone else think this game is surprisingly winnable?
Does anyone know when MGoBlue.com's Countdown to Kickoff begins? I love watching that segment, and I look forward to it every day they have it. If my calculations are correct, it would start this Friday (if it's 30 days, I can't really remember). I haven't looked very thoroughly on their site, but maybe it says somewhere when it's starting.
At any rate, I'm pumped, and I can't wait to see some video evidence that we're improving (rather than all the text reassurances, which aren't quenching my thirst for this season quite enough as it approaches)