Aug. 2, 2010
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CHICAGO — Individually they hail from Missouri, Minnesota and Ohio. Collectively they represent the dreams of fans from the state of Iowa. The Hawkeye State.
University of Iowa seniors Adrian Clayborn (St. Louis), Karl Klug (Caledonia, Minn.) and Ricky Stanzi (Mentor, Ohio) are the designated mouthpieces for the Hawkeye football program Aug. 2-3 at the Big Ten Media Days and Kickoff Luncheon at McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago.
“It’s an honor to be here, but this isn’t my cup of tea,” says Klug, who would rather tackle than talk.
Wherever University of Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz or his three Hawkeye player representatives went Monday, they drew large crowds of reporters. Stanzi and Clayborn echoed Klug’s comments that they would rather be back in Iowa City on the practice field, rather than in a hotel in Chicago in dress shirts and ties.
“I know all the guys here would rather do their talking on the field,” Stanzi said. “These are good events and it’s an honor. When Coach Ferentz asks you to do something, you jump. That’s the way the whole team feels and I’m honored to be among all these great athletes in the Big Ten and especially my own teammates — Karl and AC. Those are two guys I highly respect and the whole team respects.”
Clayborn said the first day of the two-day event “wasn’t that painful” even though he said he fielded a couple “nerve-wracking questions.”
“I’m excited to actually get back in pads and stop with the interviews,” says Clayborn. “I’m ready for my last go-around. It’s going to be a fun season.”
Ferentz reminded the group that few things came easy for the Hawkeyes last season and he doesn’t expect that to change in 2010.
“Before we went on our run (in 2009) it was extremely tough. It was a challenge,” Ferentz said. “I expect all games to be that way this year. We’re playing in a conference that’s extremely competitive. Before we get too far down the road or ahead of ourselves, we need to keep an eye on what’s right in front of us. And really the most important right now is what we do the next couple weeks just to give ourselves a chance to compete the way we need to and have some success. But it’s going to be tough for us.”
Defensive line, quarterback well represented
“I’m excited to actually get back in pads and stop with the interviews. I’m ready for my last go-around. It’s going to be a fun season.”
UI senior defensive end
Each of the 11 current Big Ten Conference institutions makes three student-athletes available to speak and sign autographs at the Big Ten Football Media Day. The most popular position present was defensive line and quarterback — both with seven representatives. The defensive linemen in attendance are Clay Nurse (Illinois), Clayborn, Klug, Brandon Kirksey (Minnesota), Corbin Bryant (Northwestern), Cameron Heyward (Ohio State) and Ryan Kerrigan (Purdue). The quarterbacks are Ben Chappell (Indiana), Stanzi, Kirk Cousins (Michigan State), Adam Weber (Minnesota), Dan Persa (Northwestern), Robert Marve (Purdue) and Scott Tolzien (Wisconsin). Ohio State signal-caller Terrelle Pryor, who for the second straight season was named preseason offensive player of the year, is not in attendance.
How have the ‘Cats done it?
One of the first questions for Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald was describing the secret to the Wildcats’ recent success against the University of Iowa. Here is the exchange:
Reporter: Three in a row at Kinnick Stadium. I think four out of five against the Hawkeyes. Given how strong that program has been lately, what’s been the key for you guys beating them consistently?
Fitzgerald: An oblong football that bounces a lot of different ways. We’ve been very fortunate. I can’t put my finger on why we’ve had a little bit of a good run. But at the end of the day I think we’ve played pretty well. We’ve executed. We’ve won the turnover battle, I think, if you look back over those games. That’s typically an indicator of success in the field, and we’ve just been very fortunate. I think there are two programs in Northwestern and Iowa that have a lot of respect for each other, and I think they’ve just been really hard fought games and a lot of fun to be on both sides of the sidelines. We just have been fortunate to be on the winning edge.
Bret is thinking about roses
University of Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema toyed with the media during his 15-minute session, saying he was trying to be more friendly with the press corps.
“I was going to walk in with a Rose Bowl hat but I thought it would be a little over the top to give you a story to write,” Bielema joked.
See you tomorrow
The Big Ten Media Days and Kickoff Luncheon concludes Tuesday, Aug. 3, with an autograph signing (10-11 a.m.), coaches and players group photos (11 a.m.) and the 39th Annual Kickoff Luncheon (11:30 a.m.).