Big Ten Media Days 2021

Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 10:37 PM EDT
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(WILX) - It has been two years since the Big Ten Media Days event has been held. Now, on what is hopefully the back end of a pandemic, the event is returning. The annual meeting of coaches, players, and media before the start of fall camp is a signal that a more normal season may be on the way, though some of the changes to the landscape go beyond COVID-19.

The announcements made will give fans a good idea of what the upcoming season will look like, though what will be announced is possibly less predictable than in any previous year. Major changes have affected college sports, including a new transfer portal, a source of revenue for players and a global pandemic.

COVID plans

The big question is how the conference will handle the virus if it makes a return in the Big Ten. Commissioner Kevin Warren said Thursday they voted on June 6 to have decentralized procedures, but they’ll still be able to help plan for the worst.

“We have allowed our institutions to handle those issues. Those schools are finalizing their proposals and procedures for the fall,” Warren said. “We’ll get those in early August, we’ll combine it, and then we’ll get together with our chancellors and presidents and make the determination of how we handle the fall. One of the things that we learned last year was to be methodical and thoughtful, and that we bring people together. We’re right where we want to be.”

A word from Harbaugh

That was welcome news to coach Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan players who addressed the media as well on Thursday. In the state of Michigan, it is all clear to have full capacity. That means the Big House should be jam packed for the opener on Sept. 4 against Western Michigan.

Linebacker Aidan Hutchinson said, “I can’t wait. I can’t wait. Just give me an opportunity with 110,000 at the Big House. You’ll see what I can do with it.”

“There’s something about running out of the tunnel. At any stadium,” Harbaugh said. “But the Big House-maybe I’m just partial that way-but you come out of there and you touch that banner, you feel the roar.”

New lineup at MSU

The 2020 fall roster for the Spartans is wildly different from the roster they will have in the fall of 2021. Mel Tucker has been busy in the offseason, with lots of players from last year’s team entering the transfer portal with the intention of leaving the program, while nearly as many additions are coming into the program from other schools.

He’s scheduled to speak Friday at 3:30 p.m.

Players getting paid

As big an effect as COVID-19 had on athletics, a recent decision by the National College Athletic Association will likely have a larger one. This is the first year where student athletes will be able to profit off their name and likeness, meaning that you could start seeing commercials featuring college athletes as you watch the games they play in.

This is also the first major media event where those changes could color some of the coverage. It was only a few months into his tenure as Big Ten commissioner that Kevin Warren found himself dealing with COVID-19, now his first Media Day as commissioner will likely feature many questions relating to this newest curveball.

Mel Tucker feeling the ‘momentum’

Mel Tucker is entering his second season as head coach for the Spartans. He began Big Ten Media Day coverage speaking about the momentum in the program.

Tucker has been forceful with recruiting players in the transfer portal, as he has added 34 new players on the roster from a year ago.

“I feel the momentum. It’s coming together. Our players can feel it, our coaches can feel it, our donors can feel it. They’re excited. We can’t wait to get along,” said Mel Tucker.

He also mentioned how coaching at Michigan State is something he has dreamt about since 1997.

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