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Rodriguez, Pryor, hot topics at media day

July 24, 2008

Chicago — The following was seen and heard at Big Ten Media Day:

Back to back?

With 20 starting players returning to a team that played in the BCS National Championship game last year, it is no surprise that the Buckeyes are the preseason favorites to win the Big Ten.

However, head coach Jim Tressel doesn’t put too much stock into the preseason rankings.

“It’s really kind of irrelevant,” Tressel said. “You get to line-up against eight folks in your league to see who the champion can be, and outside of this next week or two there’s not much discussion on the preseason poll.”

Tressel admits that returning 20 starters is a good thing, but he doesn’t want those players to get into the mentality that they don’t have to work as hard because they have already established themselves.

“One of the things we’ve discussed a lot is making sure that you continue to challenge guys and not have them come into preseason camp thinking it’s the same old, same old,” Tressel said. “I think an assumption that you make with 20 returning starters is that you’re already at a certain level. I think that would be a false assumption.”

Tressel anticipates freshman Terrelle Pryor, the No. 1 incoming freshman in the nation by Rivals.com, to have an impact on the team immediately.

“He has a lot of things he has to build as a foundation,” Tressel said. “He loves to train and loves to compete and he has great ability. So I would think that from day one he will be a guy that you will take notice of.”

Early-going blues?

First-year Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez is the first to admit that his team is very young and inexperienced.

After losing Jake Long, Michael Hart, Chad Henne, Adrian Arrington, and Mario Manningham, watching the “Maize and Blue” might be more like watching the “Maize and Who?”

“We are going to be very young on offense,” Rodriguez said. “We lost some of the best players that have probably ever played for the University of Michigan offense.”

But he expects his young players to step up and work hard to earn their spots on the roster.

“When you are young and you haven’t played a lot, you are a little bit hungrier,” he said. “If you are a young, hungry player you are going to do whatever it takes.”

Rodriguez addressed the rumors that he was up against when he was announced as coach of the Wolverines.

“If I paid a whole lot of attention to the stuff that was written it would have been tougher,” he said. “But after a while it was just like stand in and get some darts thrown your way.”

Last hurrah

Thursday was the last Big Ten Media Day for Purdue head coach Joe Tiller.

The Boilermakers’ head coach will leave West Lafayette, Ind. at the conclusion of this season. He has been Purdue’s head coach for the past 11 years and has lead the team to a 83-54 record in his tenure.

“I’m as excited for this season as I was for (year) number one,” Tiller said. “I think we have a chance to have a good football team.”

When Tiller came to Purdue, he brought with him the spread style of offense. Now, eight of the Big Ten schools use some form of the spread offense.

“The things he’s done with Purdue speaks for itself,” Illinois head coach Ron Zook said.

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