Deciphering ‘coach speak’ from preseason media

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I’m ready for some football!
Richard, our sports guy, feels the exact same way. Just ask him and he’ll tell you.
The only trouble is, we’re both going to have to be patient because all we have right now are words. Words from some of the coaches. Words from some of the players. Words from all the pre-season sports publications.
Man, so many words, but that all changes on Aug. 31. In Lincoln.
Be there.
Last month at Big Ten media days, all of the head coaches had their turn at the podium, giving opening statements, then taking a few questions from the media. It’s basically the unofficial kickoff to the football season in B1G territory, and yet once again all of those words, to me, just didn’t mean a heck of a lot.
Oh, it’s probably good P.R. for the league, and it’s a feel-good event for those involved, and yes, Adrian Martinez looked pretty snazzy in his new suit, but it doesn’t do much to get me pumped for the season, or even pumped for the first day of fall ball.
It is interesting, however, to hear some of the coaches and how much information they really don’t give out. It’s funny to hear them say the same old things, year after year. About the only two who didn’t were Scott Frost and Jim Harbaugh. Those two zeroed in on more details and actually presented some insight into their programs and upcoming seasons.
Other observations and quotes from some of the coaches:
Ryan Day, Ohio State: 
“It’s going to come down to proving it on the field. We’ve got to do it as a staff. We’ve got to do it as offense, defense and special teams.”
Yep, can’t argue with you there, coach.
Maryland first-year Coach Michael Locksley opened with the comment, “I’ll try to keep this brief,” then went on to give a longer, no much longer, opening statement than any other head coach.
 PJ Fleck, Minnesota: “We’re really excited for the season.”
Okay quit talking if you can’t get excited.
“There are no easy games. No matter what side of the division you’re playing, there are no easy games.” As if you were going to stand up and say, “Yep, our opening game of the season against Howard should be a cake walk.”
Fleck went on to say, “But again, what we’re going to be able to do is focus on being better today than we were yesterday.”
That’s why they call it practice. What a concept.
Tom Allen, Indiana: “I think there will be some changes. It will look a little different, but I wouldn’t say it’s wholesale changes for sure. But at the same time, it is a new system, new offense, new play caller.”
Okay are you making changes or not?
Mark Dantonio, Michigan State: “What do we have, three home games, then we go away to Northwestern, come back against Indiana, and then we go away to Ohio State and Wisconsin. So that stretch, three out of four road games, is a tough stretch in there, but we’ll deal with it. So we need to get ourselves ready to play in away games.”
This just in need to get ready to play home games, too.
Lovie Smith, Illinois: “Last year offensively, we did some good things. So offensively I felt like we did enough to win more football games. Defensively we did not. We were one of the worst defenses in college football. We’re embracing that.”
Embracing the fact that you had a crappy defense? No coach, you need to instead distance yourself from that.
Jim Harbaugh, Michigan, when bragging up his coaching staff:  “I would put my son Jay Harbaugh, who coaches the running backs, in that group of -- but humility prevents me from doing that. But the facts are he is one of the best young coaches I’ve seen in 35 years, so I’ll put him in that group.”
I guess you’re not so humble after all, Jim.
Scott Frost, on being late to the event due to their small plane being diverted twice on the way to Chicago:  “Sorry we’re a little bit late. Our plane got diverted. We’re here now. Spent a little time at a hotel in Gurnee selling shower curtain rings.”
Funny line coach, but you’re no John Candy!
DAVE BRADLEY can be reached at

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