Big Ten Media days begin today in Chicago, and one thing you won't see are preseason polls and media predictions. At least officially. That's because per Adam Rittenberg of E!SPN.com, the B1G head coaches voted to eliminate the pre-season media voting for top three finishers that had been conducted for years.
The Big Ten will not announce a preseason favorite during next week's annual media days event. The league confirmed to ESPN.com that the head coaches voted at the conference meetings in May to eliminate the media voting for top three finishers that had been conducted for years. Forget about preseason offensive and defensive players of the year, too. Instead, the Big Ten will announce on Thursday a 10-person "Player to Watch" list, with five players from the Legends Division and five from the Leaders Division.
No word yet on whether every team and player will also get a preseason participation trophy.
The coaches did this because they didn't want the added pressure that comes with preseason favorites. Um, really? That'd be fine if this were Pop Warner or even high school ball. But in the words of former Colorado Buffs coach Dan Hawkins:
"It's Division I football! It's the Big
12 Ten! It ain't intramurals!"
Last I checked each and every Big Ten coach is getting paid pretty well. Like close to a million dollars each a year or more. And who pays those salaries? The school. And who pays the school to pay the coaches? The fans, boosters and alumni. And most fans love polls, predictions, and prognostications, no matter how meaningless or irrelevant they are. It drives interest for the sport and the league and their team by giving us something to talk about during a long offseason. How many preseason magazines would sell if they didn't have preseason polls, All-Americans, All-conference players, and guesses at conference winners, national champs, and the most overrated award in college football, the Heisman trophy winner? Not many.
Further in Rittenberg's post he mentions how inaccurate these usually are, but again, that's not the point. These are done because fans want to see them and read them and talk about them and argue them. Is there really going to be less pressure if the media isn't allowed to release "official" preseason conference and award favorites? Are fans suddenly going to not care and not be able to form their OWN opinion on what the expectations are for their school and their coach?
Of course not. And it's also not going to stop the media from releasing their own predictions anyway. Doug Lesmerises from the (Cleveland) Plain Dealer put his own poll together, asking 24 B1G beatwriters for their thoughts on the things the Big Ten no longer wants them voting on. Then he published it. Then every newspaper and blog who knows or cares about the B1G linked to it. It's officially unofficial, but it's still out there, with Nebraska and Wisconsin the favorites to meet in the inaugural B1G championship game this December.
Gosh, Bo Pellini and Bret Bielma might as well call off their seasons, or resign right now, because they're now going to be unfairly saddled with immense pressure from fans and the media to succeed. How can they EVER be forced to live with this? Oh that's right, they're getting paid millions to do exactly that. The pressure to succeed isn't going to disappear because the coaches have asked the media not to publish an official preseason favorites poll, and they look petty and foolish for doing so. I hope every reporter at the B1G media days asks them about Lesmerises' poll and the expectations and pressure that comes with it.
Come on B1G coaches, you're better than this. As Hawkins said, if you can't take the heat- "Go play intramurals, brother!"