The unofficial end to summer, Big Ten Football Media Days and Kickoff Luncheon, began Wednesday at the Hilton Chicago. Over 500 media were credentialed for the two-day event, where the college football world gathered to get an early read on one of the nation's top conferences.
Wednesday was filled mostly with interviews with TV, radio and digital media, as well as Coach Beckman's appearance on the main dais in front of the assembled group of media members. While Beckman started his day meeting with Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, Illini players Nathan Scheelhaase, Corey Lewis and Tim Kynard geared up for the day with a healthy breakfast. They moved into a rotation of interviews with television partners ESPN, CBS, Fox and the Big Ten Network, while Beckman spent 10 minutes each with USA Football, Teamworks Media and the BTN's marketing group.
From there, Beckman moved into the Hilton's grand ballroom to address the main group of media. He talked about the honor that it is to coach in the Big Ten and the strides that he has seen the team make since the end of the 2012 season.
The players listened to Beckman's remarks before all four of them began a 30-minute session of interviews with TV and digital media. Each of the four sat at a separate podium and media members rotated around the room to gather the interviews they needed.
Beckman and Scheelhaase spoke with Sirius XM satellite radio, then all four did some one-on-one interviews with local and regional TV networks. Then they headed to "radio row" and did a number of interviews with radio stations across Big Ten country from Kearney, Neb., to Lansing, Mich.
That finished most of the players' media obligations, as they grabbed lunch and had some downtime during the latter part of the afternoon. But Beckman kept rolling, going through the rotation of TV partners before talking with the folks from the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award.
Then Beckman did a live interview during Steve Kelly's special edition of Sports Talk on WDWS to wrap up his day. Then Kynard and Lewis joined Kelly and Brian Barnhart at 5 to finish their media obligations for the day, while Scheelhaase's final scheduled duty was an ESPN College Football photo shoot, which turned out some great images.
The group wraps up media interviews Thursday morning with two hours of roundtable interviews, before signing autographs for fans and attending the 42nd annual Kickoff Luncheon, which the Big Ten announced is sold out on Wednesday.