Big Ten media days arrive in just less than two weeks, on July 28. But we can hardly wait for the event and the season to arrive, so we’ll get you ready in the coming days by identifying three pressing questions that each league squad will face at media days, along with their possible answers.
Next stop: Ohio State, which will bring quarterback Braxton Miller, defensive tackle Michael Bennett and tight end Jeff Heuerman along with coach Urban Meyer to talk about the chances of breaking through for a conference crown.
1. Are the Buckeyes a playoff contender?
As long as Meyer is around and recruiting at his typically high level, his team is likely to be on the short list of candidates for a playoff appearance during the preseason. In two seasons with the program, he's already posted an undefeated record and was one win away last fall from having Ohio State play for the national title. But there are some question marks about his third team in Columbus, and Meyer doesn't usually pull many punches when evaluating his roster. Will the Buckeyes be able to successfully replace four starters on the offensive line? Is there a tailback capable of filling the void left behind by the graduation of Carlos Hyde? What was the deal with the defensive woes at the end of last season? Those answers from Meyer could reveal plenty about the title chances for the Buckeyes.
2. What is Miller's legacy?
The two-time defending player of the year in the league rarely talks about his own accomplishments or his place in school history, so chances are he might get worn out by the line of questions that will come his way in Chicago. His legacy is going to be a topic of conversation whether Miller wants it to be or not, and going into his senior season, it remains a complicated issue. His skills and athleticism aren't up for debate, and those individual awards he's earned were definitely deserved. But thanks to one season ending prematurely because of a bowl ban and Ohio State coming up short in the conference title game last season, Miller has yet to lead his team to any truly meaningful hardware. Miller is already aware of that hole on his résumé, but he's going to receive plenty of reminders of it anyway as one of the main attractions of the media circus.
3. What about that defense?
Meyer's expertise is the other side of the ball, but he's taken on a much more active role in fixing the defense after the problems that popped up last season contributed so mightily to Ohio State coming up short against Michigan State and Clemson in the Orange Bowl. The Buckeyes hired two new coaches as part of the rebuilding job, and there will be no shortage of questions about what co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash and defensive line coach Larry Johnson can do to fix the issues that plagued the unit a year ago. Bennett is one of the more respected veterans on the roster and a critical anchor for what could be one of the best defensive lines in the nation. And as the lone defender on the trip to Chicago, he'll be facing just as many questions about restoring the proud tradition of the Silver Bullets as Meyer.