Kirk Ferentz will make his 17th appearance at the annual Big Ten football meetings on Thursday in Chicago.
He will say that he’s excited about his team’s potential because that’s what every coach says at this feel-good event.
He will praise his players for having the right attitude and work ethic during the offseason.
He will say that he’s disappointed with how last season ended, but that 2015 is a new season and a new opportunity for a different Iowa team.
And he’ll say in the wake of growing criticism that he doesn’t think Iowa is that far from being a Big Ten contender again, and that the foundation still is sturdy.
The main reason for having the Big Ten football meetings is to preview the upcoming season and to get everybody excited for it.
Jim Harbaugh’s presence as the new Michigan head coach will certainly add some spice to the gumbo, especially if he addresses the media shirtless or says something weird or controversial.
I’m also curious to hear what new Nebraska coach Mike Riley will have to say, although, it could be difficult because unlike like his volatile predecessor, Riley rarely speaks above a whisper.
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer will be his usual arrogant self. But who could blame him under the circumstances? With a record of 38-3, Meyer has the Buckeyes on the verge of turning the Big Ten football race into the Big One and Little 13.
Paul Chryst as the new Wisconsin coach will promise to build on the proud and rich tradition that already exists within the program because of the greatness of Barry Alvarez, who is now Chryst’s boss and still the main attraction in Madison.
Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany also will give sort of a state of the union address in which he undoubtedly will rave about the league’s success with money rolling in and with Ohio State as the defending national champion.
In addition to Ferentz, Iowa will be represented in Chicago by senior offensive lineman Austin Blythe, senior defensive end Drew Ott and senior free safety Jordan Lomax. It’s hard to remember a time when trying to predict who Ferentz would pick to join him in Chicago was as easy as this summer.
Blythe, Ott and Lomax were all obvious choices because they fit the criteria as solid citizens, good students and talented football players.
A closer look at the 2015 Big Ten football race:
It’s not easy trying to rank the top 10 Big Ten football players because it’s so subjective and because there are so many candidates. But I did it anyway and here’s my top-10.
1. Joey Bosa, DE, Jr., Ohio State – This quarterback’s worst nightmare led the Big Ten in tackles for loss (21) and quarterback sacks (13.5) last season; tied an Ohio State record with a least one tackle for loss in 14 consecutive games.
2. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Jr. Ohio State – One of the key pieces to Ohio State’s national title drive last season; rushed for 1,878 yards last season, including 220 yards against Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game and 230 yards against Alabama in the national semifinal game.
3. Shalique Calhoun, DE, Sr., Michigan State – Led the Spartans with eight sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss last season.
4. Cardale Jones, QB, Jr., Ohio State – The legend of Cardale Jones began to grow late last season when he replaced an injured J.T. Barrett early in the fourth quarter against Michigan; Jones guided the Buckeyes on a 80-yard touchdown drive on his first series and then went on to lead Ohio State to its first national title since 2002.
5. J.T. Barrett, QB, Soph., Ohio State – He was having a spectacular redshirt freshman campaign a year ago before suffering an ankle injury against Michigan in the final regular-season game; the Texas native is equally adept at running and passing and should team with Jones to give Ohio State a potent one-two punch at quarterback.
6. Braxton Miller, QB/WR, Sr., Ohio State – He was on the verge of becoming one of the best quarterbacks in school history before suffering a shoulder injury that caused him to miss all of last season; expected to switch to receiver this season in order to take advantage of his dynamic play-making ability.
7. Corey Clement, RB, Jr., Wisconsin – The New Jersey native rushed for 949 yards and averaged 6.5 yards per carry as Melvin Gordon’s backup last season.
8. Maliek Collins, DT, Jr., Nebraska – The 6-2, 300-pounder is the ultimate run stopper.
9. Vince Biegel, LB, Jr., Wisconsin – A tackling machine who plays all over the field and with a mean streak.
10. Brad Craddock, K, Sr., Maryland – He was close to being automatic last season, converting on 18-of-19 field-goal attempts and all 44 of his PAT kicks.
RICH GET RICHER: Eight of the top 10 incoming freshmen who are ranked by Athlon Sports are headed to Ohio State. All but five of Athlon’s top 30 incoming freshmen have signed with either Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan or Michigan State.
Linebacker Justin Hilliard is ranked by Athlon as the Big Ten’s top incoming recruit. The Cincinnati native is the younger brother of Iowa redshirt freshman running back C.J. Hilliard.
Coaching records and longevity
Name, school, record at school, seasons completed at school
Kirk Ferentz, Iowa, 115-85 (16 seasons)
Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern, 60-53, (9 seasons)
Mark Dantonio, Michigan State, 75-31 (8 seasons)
Randy Edsell, Maryland, 20-30, (4 seasons)
Jerry Kill, Minnesota, 25-26, (4 seasons)
Kevin Wilson, Indiana, 14-34, (4 seasons)
Urban Meyer, Ohio State, 38-3, (3 seasons)
Kyle Flood, Rutgers, 23-16, (3 seasons)
Tim Beckman, Illinois, 12-25, (3 seasons)
Darrell Hazel, Purdue, 4-20, (2 seasons)
James Franklin, Penn State, 7-6, (1 season)
Mike Riley, Nebraska, entering first season
Jim Harbaugh, Michigan, entering first season
Paul Chryst, Wisconsin, entering first season
Records over the past five seasons (2010-14)
1. Ohio State 56-11
2. Michigan State 53-14
3. Wisconsin 50-18
4. Nebraska 47-20
5. Penn State 38-25
6. Michigan 38-26
7. Rutgers 36-28
8. Iowa 34-30
9. Northwestern 33-30
10. Maryland 29-34
11. Minnesota 28-35
12. Illinois 26-37
13. Purdue 21-41
14. Indiana 20-39
Name, school, salary
1. Jim Harbaugh, Michigan, $7,000,000 (includes a $2 million signing bonus)
2. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State, $5,636,145
3. Urban Meyer, Ohio State, $4,536,640
4. James Franklin, Penn State, $4,300,000
5. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa, $4,075,000
6. Mike Riley, Nebraska, $2,700,000
7. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern, $2,480,967
8. Paul Chryst, Wisconsin, $2,300,000
9. Jerry Kill, Minnesota, $2,100,000
10. Darrell Hazel, Purdue, $2,090,000
11. Randy Edsell, Maryland, $2,033,680
12. Tim Beckman, Illinois, $1,950,000
13. Kevin Wilson, Indiana, $1,301,644
14. Kyle Flood, Rutgers, $975,000
Big Ten Returning Leaders
Name, completions-attempts, interceptions, percentage, yards, touchdowns, per-game average
1. Connor Cook, Michigan State, 212-365 8 58.1 3,214 24 247.2
2. J.T. Barrett, Ohio State, 203-314 10 64.6 2,834 34 236.2
3. Christian Hackenberg, Penn State, 270-484 15 55.8 2,977 12 229.0
Attempts, yards, yards-per-carry average, touchdowns, long, per-game average
1. Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State, 273 1,878, 6.9 18 85 125.2
2. Justin Jackson, Northwestern, 245 1,187 4.8 10 68 98.9
3. J.T. Barrett, Ohio State, 171 938 5.5 11 86 78.2
Receptions, yards, yards-per-catch, touchdowns, long, per-game average
1. Leonte Carroo, Rutgers, 55 1,086 19.7 10 78 83.5
2. Mike Dudek, Illinois, 76 1,038 13.7 6 56 79.8
3. DaeSean Hamilton, Penn State, 82 899 11.0 2 51 69.2
2014 Big Ten Bowl results
Heart of Dallas Bowl: Louisiana Tech 35, Illinois 18
Quick Lane Bowl: Rutgers 40, North Carolina 21
Pinstripe Bowl: Penn State 31, Boston College 30 (OT)
Holiday Bowl: USC 45, Nebraska 42
Foster Farms Bowl: Stanford 45, Maryland 21
TaxSlayer Bowl: Tennessee 45, Iowa 28
Citrus Bowl: Missouri 33, Minnesota 17
Outback Bowl: Wisconsin 34, Auburn 31 (OT)
Cotton Bowl: Michigan State 42, Baylor 41
Sugar Bowl (CFP semifinal): Ohio State 42, Alabama 35
National Championship Game: Ohio State 42, Oregon 20