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Recapping Day 1 of Big Ten Media Days: Warren fails to answer the B1G questions

INDIANAPOLIS — As all 14 teams descend on Indianapolis this week to officially kick off the 2021 Big Ten football season, day one of Big Ten Media Days brought in more questions than answers — most of which came right from the commissioner, Kevin Warren.

Warren fails to address key issues

Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren speaks to the media during 2021’s Big Ten Media Days.

With Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL), COVID-19 concerns, CFP expansion and conference shifts all looming, the biggest question on everyone’s mind this Thursday was, “Where is the Big Ten in all of this?” However, Commissioner Warren had no interest in talking realignment Thursday. No interest in talking about a new era in college football. No, second-year commissioner Kevin Warren wanted to focus on the past success of one of the countries most prestigious athletic conferences.

Don’t get me wrong. The Big Ten’s history of success is big enough for just about anyone to recognize but can we really sit here and ignore the monstrosity of change that is coming? Warren spent so much time speaking on the past that he nearly forgot to address the future.

In fact, throughout his prepared speech, Warren mentioned the word “future” just twice.

The collegiate sports world as we know it is changing right in front of our eyes and you are either moving with the change or falling off it and quickly becoming forgotten.

The Big Ten had an opportunity Thursday to put itself ahead of every other conference and set waves as the conference that was going to grow with the change and be an ambassador for it. Instead, the conference that says it cares for its student-athletes more than anything is choosing to sit back in Chicago and let the changes come to them.

Are Big Ten schools using NIL to their advantage yet?

Name, Image and Likeness. It will soon change everything we know about collegiate athletics, but are schools using that to their advantage or not?

With the opportunity to make money in college based on their athletic skills, the new question is which schools will give collegiate athletes the most of these opportunities. Throughout press conferences Thursday, many coaches wouldn’t talk about how they are going to use NIL. Many just said they are excited it is finally here.

Nebraska’s Scott Frost said he has to wait and see before he can implement it in his pitch to recruits.

“Obviously, we’re going to be attentive to the rules and make sure we’re doing things the right way,” Frost said.

Penn State head coach James Franklin says he doesn’t even see the Nittany Lions using it in their pitch.

“Yeah, for me I don’t really look at it as something to use in recruiting,” Franklin said. “I don’t really look at it as something for Penn State in the coming years.”

Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald was the only one who really gave an interesting bite about the whole thing saying he was envious of players.

“I think NIL for all student-athletes is outstanding. I’m not going to lie to you, I’m a little jealous,” Fitzgerald said. “I mean, think about the mid-90s, the dough I would have made.”

My question for schools is this: If it is going to be made available to you and your student-athletes, why not use that as an additional edge in recruiting?

Now, I get it, some coaches are stubborn and not going to change their way of doing things. But then the additional question needs to be asked: If the recruiting realm turns into a NIL battleground and you are late to the game, will you be able to catch up?

George & Viola Taliaferro Fellowship

Although Indiana football representatives don’t arrive until Friday, that doesn’t mean it was a quiet day for the Hoosiers. Commissioner Kevin Warren announced the creation of the George & Viola Taliaferro Fellowship.

According to a statement released by the conference, “The George and Viola Taliaferro Fellowship will provide individuals who have not historically had access to collegiate conference office leadership positions with an opportunity to work in the Office of the Commissioner and gain valuable experience in both the sports and business sectors.”

George Taliaferro was a legend to Indiana University as a star half-back for the Hoosiers. But his biggest impact was felt off the field. He continually provided support to the African-American community as early as his days as a student. He worked for hand and hand with former University President Herman B. Wells and he and his wife were treasured members of the Bloomington community.

“The reason why this is so special is that what George and Viola Taliaferro have meant to Indiana University,” said Warren.

Warren added how Taliaferro was one of his heroes.

“One of my proudest moments was when I attended Indiana University last year is when I had an opportunity to go touch that statue,” Warren said. “And whether it’s rain, snow, sleet, or sun, he has always stood proud.”

 

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