The 2013 version of Big Ten Media Days is set to get underway inside the Hilton Chicago hotel Wednesday morning.
Several storylines should unfold over the two-day event that features press conferences from all 12 conference coaches and media availability with a trio of players from each program. Some conference officials including Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany will also address the assembled media. All press conferences should be carried on Big Ten Network and ESPNU beginning at 11 a.m.
Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien is scheduled to talk at 2:15 p.m. Accompanying O’Brien on the trip are three seniors expected to play big roles on the 2013 team in right guard John Urschel, linebacker Glenn Carson, and safety Malcolm Willis. Urschel, the 4.0 mathematics student, will also speak on behalf of the players at a luncheon on Thursday.
Below are a few plot lines to keep an eye on as things unfold:
• Bill O’Brien’s encore – The spotlight shined bright on Penn State’s head man last year as he participated in his first Big Ten Media Days just a few days after the NCAA dropped a package of sanctions on the football program. While things will be calmer this time around, the second-year head coach will still be one of the focal points. From a quarterback competition between true freshman Christian Hackenberg and JUCO transfer Tyler Ferguson to replacing several senior leaders, there are a lot of questions reporters will want to ask the Big Ten Coach of the Year. Expect possible reductions to the sanctions to be a topic as well.
• Quarterback competitions – While it will be the talk in Happy Valley throughout training camp, the Nittany Lions are not the only Big Ten program with an unsettled situation when it comes to the signal-caller. Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Indiana, just to name a few, will also have competitions to see who takes the first snap in Week 1. On the contrary, unquestioned starters in Ohio State's Braxton Miller, Michigan's Devin Gardner, Nebraska's Taylor Martinez, Illinois' Nathan Scheelhaase, and Northwestern's Kain Colter are all in Chicago for Media Days.
• Urban Meyer and Ohio State – Coming off a 12-0 season, the Buckeyes are bowl eligible and Meyer has a history of success in his second year with a program. He went 9-3 in his second year at Bowling Green, 12-0 at Utah, and won a national title at Florida going 13-1 back in 2006. Ohio State had a rough start to the week though. Running back Carlos Hyde was suspended indefinitely after being named a person of interest in an assault investigation, and star cornerback Bradley Roby is no longer making the trip to Chicago after being arrested and charged with battery.
• New Coaches – O’Brien, Meyer, and Illinois’ Tim Beckman were newcomers last season. This time, Wisconsin’s Gary Andersen and Purdue’s Darrell Hazell are the new kids on the block. It will be interesting to see how they handle their first Media Days.
• The Future of the Big Ten – Much has changed in the conference landscape over the past year. Maryland and Rutgers are set to join in 2014, and eight-game conference schedules will move to nine beginning in 2016. Delany will be there to talk about it all and is scheduled to go on at 3:15 p.m.
Check back for some updates after O’Brien has his turn at the podium. More live updates and information can be found here.