CHICAGO — The Big Ten Conference got a little bigger over the summer, with the addition of Rutgers and Maryland. But it wasn’t just the Big Ten that had to do some rearranging. Maryland coach Randy Edsall and Rutgers coach Kyle Flood each have to do some housekeeping of their own when it comes to making the move to a new conference.
“When you go from one conference to another, there’s different rules within the conferences,” Edsall said Tuesday at the Hilton Chicago. “Getting to learn all the rules for the Big Ten as opposed to the ACC, and just getting a firm handle on the people you’re going to be playing against, just those things are the things I think you have to spend the most time on, making that transition.”
In particular, Edsall pointed out the Big Ten’s player eligibility rules, academic standards, and the limits that are set on travel squads.
“I just see it as a logistical part of the job,” Rutgers’ Flood said. “We did not have a limit in the conference we played in. Not that we traveled with many more, but that’s something we’ll deal with as we get a little closer to game day. Those are the little things you get used to.”
The Terrapins made their first conference change in 61 years, leaving the ACC for the Big Ten.
Rutgers, meanwhile, made its third conference change in as many years.
The Scarlet Knights played in the Big East until the end of the 2012-13 school year, then played in the American Athletic Conference last season before officially joining the Big Ten on July 1.
“For the football program, our challenge is in preparation, and to get ready for 12 new opponents this season,” Flood said. “Not just in our conference but out of conference. That has been a time-consuming task this season and part of our job.”
Upon arriving in Chicago, Edsall noticed an immediate difference in the culture of the Big Ten, as compared to the ACC.
“Just being here today at the Big Ten media days,” Edsall said. “Just the number of media that is here and the presentation of how they do it. This is incredible here this morning, and then you get up on the podium [Monday] in front of all the media, as well, and all the different things you do. It’s quite an event.”
FALCON PRIDE: Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said he was proud to see Bowling Green State University win last year’s MAC title.
“I love Bowling Green,” he said Tuesday. “I always will.”
Meyer said he continues to closely follow the Falcons, whom he coached in 2001 and ’02.
“[Former] coach Dave Clawson was a good friend,” he said. “I've talked to coach [Dino] Babers. I actually drove up there this summer. My daughter [Gigi] was competing in a wakeboard event up that way. I took a tour of the new facility. Every time it rained up there in our staff room, we used to have garbage cans around because the rain would fall.”
NEW RIVALS?: Ohio State’s anticipated November showdown with reigning Big Ten champion Michigan State begged the question: If Buckeyes players could circle only one team to play this season, would it be Michigan or Michigan State?
The Spartans’ win over OSU in last year’s league title game denied the Buckeyes a shot at the national championship.
“It will always be The Team Up North, no matter what happens,” Ohio State defensive tackle Michael Bennett said, referring to Michigan. “Now if you said circle another game, it would most definitely be Michigan State. ... The whole state of Michigan is starting to really get on our nerves.
“It used to be Michigan State was just a fun little rivalry and they were a good team to play. But they’re starting to push their luck.”
Meyer agreed. There is no debate.
“When I was at Ohio State back in , Michigan State beat us at Ohio Stadium, so there’s a great rivalry already there,” said Meyer, who spent two years as a graduate assistant at Ohio State.
“You’ve got to be clear, though, there’s one rival and that will never change. However, Wisconsin became a very big game and then obviously [MSU] is a huge game, and it’s a credit to both schools that they’re good programs. But there’s one rival.”
CLARK’S RETURN: At the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl in December in Arizona, Michigan defensive end Frank Clark said that he would return to Michigan for his final season of eligibility instead of leaving for the NFL.
Looking back, he admits he was seduced by the NFL lifestyle.
“My family was all for me getting my education, no matter how bad they were struggling or are struggling,” Clark said. “But I was thinking about going to the NFL, making a couple million dollars and not really thinking about my future as much as I should have. I was thinking about the life I could be living at this point, right now, and not really thinking about the bigger picture.”
The paperwork he received from the NFL Draft Advisory Board told him he was ready for professional football.
“I really was considering leaving,” Clark said. “I was sold on going to the NFL. But then, just having a conversation with a host of people, I found out that really wasn’t where I needed to go at that point. I figured that I’d come back and I’d help my team. Not for me. I came back to get a degree and I also came back for my team and for my coaches.”
CFP VERSUS BCS: Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald shared his thoughts on the new College Football Playoff, which pits the top four teams — decided by a selection committee as opposed to computer rankings in the now-obsolete BCS Championship — to play for the national title.
Fitzgerald believes the new process is far more cut-and-dried.
“When I played, nobody thought we’d have a winning season and we got to No. 3 in the country and playing in the Rose Bowl,” Fitzgerald said.
“You’ve got to play a competitive schedule. You’ve got to win games in-conference and you’ve got to win your conference championship. If you do those three things, you’re in the conversation. Period. End of discussion.
“I know what I can control. The schedule we set and how we play.”
Northwestern went 5-7 and 1-7 in the Big Ten in 2013, its only win coming against in-state rival Illinois.
“We’re not sexy,” Fitzgerald said. “But all that nonsense is gone. I’m not saying the BCS was bad. It just says, you’ve got to win. And I like it.”