The circus is coming to Chicago. Big Ten Media Days are here, bringing in each of the conference’s head coaches and three players from each program who are least likely to say something stupid.
For new Purdue head coach Darrell Hazell, the first Media Days will be a totally new experience as hundreds of reporters pack a tiny ballroom. As someone who has been to a million (two) Big Ten Media Days, I offer my best advice to the new guy.
1.) Don’t be nervous
First and foremost, don’t feel nervous. You’re the new guy and people love you. Just go up to that microphone and speak confidently. Be sure to make eye contact, too. People seem to like that.
Avoid pulling a Luke Fickell where you’re sweating bullets at the podium. That was the start of a rough season for him anyway. If it helps, remember the old adage—picture everyone in the room naked. Although, in a room full of college football reporters, I wouldn’t advise that.
2.) Bust out the clichés
When in doubt, just use a cliché. Press conferences at Media Days offer some of the worst, most useless quotes. Nobody says a single sentence of substance. Neither should you, Coach Hazell.
Who’s going to be the starting quarterback, coach? Well, the best man will win, of course. How will you compete with the Big Ten’s best this year? You’ll just take it one game at a time. Go out of your way to ruin every single column idea and don’t budge a bit. Bust out every cliché in the book.
3.) Do whatever Jim Delany says
So, Jim Delany is one of the most people in college football. As the new guy, it would certainly be best to stay on his good side. I was a kiss-up who once brought an apple to my new first-grade teacher (she still hated me, for some reason). For you, Coach, I’d suggest a simple compliment. “I like your tie, Jim.” But, above all, just listen to whatever Delany says.
The Maryland and Rutgers thing still seems silly, but he’s going to be right. He’s always right. Keep that in mind when you’re spending some time with him.
4.) Say something nice to Tim Beckman
He could use it.
5.) End your speech with a catchy phrase
People seem to love a funky catch phrase. Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald ends every press conference and even phone calls with a “Go Cats!” before he walks away from the podium. I recommend one of these for you, Coach.
At Purdue, the “Boiler up!” is very popular. “Hammer down!” is pretty catchy, too. I suggest something that tops it all—a loud “Choo Choo!” at the end of every press conference. That would be a pretty awesome way to wrap up your first Media Days.