Media guides the answer to Big Ten football title chase

 Who’s your pick to win the Big Ten this season?
While Ohio State and Urban Meyer will likely get the majority of pre-season votes, I’ve got Penn State and Nebraska in a dead heat. But that’s only because the Nittany Lions and Huskers are tied at the top when it comes to my unofficial poll of this year’s Big Ten media guides.
You may laugh now, but check back in late November. Wouldn’t it be cool if these two teams ended up playing each other in Indianapolis for all the marbles?
I took the time to go through all of the media guides except those which apparently aren’t yet released (Michigan, Purdue and Minnesota). In my mind and from a fan’s perspective, Nebraska and Penn State were far and away the leaders in graphics, photos, presentation and the overall “wow” factor.
Nebraska’s (232 pages) has a cool cover with a helmet eye guard reflecting the team running out onto the field. It does a great job of incorporating many photos -- current and former players, the stadium, the facilities and much more. It has an excellent NFL Husker section, features other Big Red sports, devotes four pages to Mike Riley plus one page to each assistant. Top players get their very own page, with Husker head shots throughout including the walk-ons. Aurora’s redshirt freshman Todd Honas is featured on page 134, while incoming freshman Austin Allen highlights the scholarship newcomers on page 162.
It’s top notch from start to finish.
Penn State’s (352 pages) is equally impressive. It features the East Division Big Ten football trophy as well as the Big Ten championship trophy. It has a nice opening with current and past photos including Joe Paterno on page 3 being carried off the field. Also, there’s a cool picture of the Rose Bowl locker room with Penn State jerseys hanging in a row.
It also contains great graphics, an NFL section as well as featured alumni including Ty Burrell (Phil Dunphy on Modern Family). There are numerous emotional photos that really hit home, and the history section is certainly well done featuring former running backs John Capelletti and Franco Harris. In fact, there’s so much going on that the season preview doesn’t start until page 66.
Ohio State does come in at No. 3, like it or not. All color photos except for a few, one of those an interesting old picture of people walking to the stadium when it wasn’t fully enclosed, possibly back in the 1940s or 50s. It does a great job of displaying their six Heisman Trophy winners including running backs Archie Griffin and Howard “Hopalong” Cassady. It has 32 pages on former Buckeye greats, but nothing that I saw on former quarterback Art Slichter, a four-year starter for Woody Hayes who was also a compulsive gambler.
At No. 4 would be Michigan State (260 pages). It features the Spartans’ six national championship team photos (1951, ‘52, ‘55, ‘57, ‘65 and ‘66). There’s also a great picture of Hugh Duffy Daughtery’s 1954 coaching staff that included one Bob Devaney. Overall, impressive.
Illinois and Indiana would come next. There’s not much difference between them. Both are 192 pages long. I learned that the Illini are going to break ground in 2018 on a new $79.2 million, 107,000 sq. ft. football performance center, and there’s a cool photo of Al Brosky, who netted an NCAA record 29 interceptions during his three-year career. There are also photos of Dick Butkus and Red Grange.
Indiana’s features new coach Tom Allen. Wait, who? There is lots and lots of space devoted to assistant coaches with full length photos of each.
Iowa would be next, even though color photos are hard to come by. It does a good job promoting the school’s new building projects including an $89 million renovation for complete replacement of the north end zone inside Kinnick Stadium. There are two pages for each assistant coach, and a great feature on former great Nile Kinnick, a Heisman Trophy winner in 1939. It includes his acceptance speech, one that finished with, “I thank God I was warring on the gridirons of the Midwest, and not on the battlefields of Europe. I can speak confidently and positively that the players of this country, would much more, much rather struggle and fight to win the Heisman award, than
the Croix de Guerre.”
Ironically, Kinnick died just four years later when his Navy fighter plane crashed at sea in the Caribbean on a training flight.
Bringing up the rear are Rutgers, Wisconsin and Maryland.
Rutgers (142 pages) is penalized because it actually opens with photos and writeups about the new practice fields. Really? Plus, who can get excited about Rutgers.
Wisconsin (336 pages) is near the bottom because it’s just plain boring. It leads off with A.D. Barry Alvarez (my former drivers-ed teacher in Lincoln), along with the coaches. There are no player profile photos and just short paragraphs about former greats.
Maryland brings up the rear and is penalized mightily because it’s only 50 pages long. There’s nothing on former players or past history, and not much color. It’s almost high schoolish.
So there you have it. While no one can predict how many wins Big Red will get this season, at least they’re off to a good start.

DAVE BRADLEY can be reached at

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