'Hamilton,' Harbaugh and hijinks: Here's what we saw and heard at Big Ten media days

Eighty-five media members swarmed Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh at Big Ten media days Friday in Chicago.

CHICAGO — After Nebraska coach Scott Frost and his players spent a busy Thursday morning switching planes and driving up to Big Ten media days from Gary, Indiana, they arrived just a few minutes late for Frost’s scheduled time at the league podium.

So Illinois coach Lovie Smith agreed to switch spots with Frost. The Big Ten called it an “audible.”

As Frost walked into the basement ballroom that held the event, he saw Smith outside, tapped him on the shoulder and said “Thank you.”

It was a small moment among many at the league’s annual media event. Between the sound bites , there were lots of small moments worth capturing, even if they don’t make a full story. Here are some sights and sounds from two days in Chicago:

Heard: “I have no idea. You might want to ask Adrian (Martinez). They tell him stuff before they tell us. He’s Scott Frost’s right-hand man. They talk about that stuff with him before they talk to us.” — Nebraska defensive end Khalil Davis on NU’s alternate uniforms.

Heard: “I told my mom and dad and they made me drive back to Kansas City and pick out an outfit with them. My dad, he’s all about dressing up in suits and socks, and they pretty much picked out all my stuff. I had to wear it here. I let them do all that. They picked all the colors. I look good.” — Davis, on his suit.

Seen: Frost giving hugs to the wife and daughters of Penn State coach James Franklin. Frost was a graduate assistant on Kansas State’s coaching staff when Franklin was there in 2006.

Seen: Michigan reporters getting frowny faces after coach Jim Harbaugh was asked why he’d pick his team atop the Big Ten. The UM press corps seemingly asked very little of Harbaugh on Friday, perhaps knowing, to some degree, he wouldn’t give up much.

Heard: “We embrace the negative — the suck.” — Harbaugh, explaining how the team examines its weaknesses as well as its strengths.

Heard:  “Who’s going to tell your story when you’re gone — your kids, your grandkids, your great-grandkids? What are people going to say about our 2019 team at Minnesota? You can come from nothing and be something. You’re not perfect — never gonna be perfect.” — Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck.

Heard: “I think the diversity of the cast is really powerful for our student-athletes, and they put on an amazing show. That was the best of the five that I’ve seen.” — Fleck on taking a few of his players to see “Hamilton.”

Seen: Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley’s presser stuck right next to Harbaugh’s press conference. It was wholly unnecessary since there were empty podiums in another room that easily could have held Stanley’s chat.

Heard: “Sitting back and realizing there aren’t too many 5-foot-8 guys in the NBA, I had to take my talents and realize where I could utilize them.” — Purdue receiver Rondale Moore on why he quit basketball to focus on football.

Seen: Whole suitcases full of memorabilia for coaches to sign just before the Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon. The Fan Fest, which precedes the luncheon, is billed as an opportunity for fans to meet their favorite coaches. But what it seemed to be in reality was a moneymaking opportunity as fans unpacked miniature helmets and footballs.

Seen: Purdue linebacker Markus Bailey in a tailored suit to remember. It had a paisley design and Boilermaker hammers for an accent on the pockets. He also wore a black and gold bow tie. He had a lapel pin and chain with Purdue’s logo as well.

Heard: Nebraska linebacker Mohamed Barry leaving the BTN stage, seeing Illinois’ Smith, and sticking out a hand: “Sir, Mohamed, just wanted to say I loved watching your Chicago Bears.” The two spoke for about 30 more seconds before Barry left for his individual podium session.

Seen: Penn State’s Franklin at the FedEx store in the hotel sending a package.

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Seen: Johnny Rodgers and Eric Crouch on the Big Ten’s video before the Kickoff Luncheon. Nebraska’s other Heisman Trophy winner, Mike Rozier, was left out.

Seen: 85 media members around Harbaugh for his individual podium session.

Heard: “I had to try and act macho in front of Coach Frost.” — Barry talking about trying to keep it together during a bumpy plane ride.

Seen: Adrian Martinez between Barry and Davis at the photo with all the student-athletes. Barry and Davis scooted to the middle as far as they could, squeezing Martinez in his chair. The quarterback looked over at local media and shrugged.

Seen: A Jordan Westerkamp jersey worn by a small child during the fan fest.

Heard: “You’ve got a lot of energy.” — Frost to a particularly loud member of the media asking a question.

Heard: “I’ll race him right now. Let’s go.” Martinez hearing that Frost believes he’s faster — a joke Martinez wanted to take him up on.

Reporter - Nebraska athletics

Sam covers Nebraska football, recruiting, women's basketball and more for The World-Herald. Follow him on Twitter @swmckewonOWH. Email: SMcKewon@owh.com

Chris Heady covers Husker football and is the Nebraska men's basketball beat writer. He started at The World-Herald in 2017. Follow him on Twitter @heady_chris. Email: chris.heady@owh.com.

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