The Big 10 Media Days opened in Chicago Monday with Nebraska Head Coach Bo Pelini addressing issues ranging from Husker fans to his pet.
'First of all, my cat is, he's enjoying a nap up in the room. So he is here in Chicago and enjoying the Windy City,” Pelini said. “The fans, I think the fans around Nebraska, they kind of see that side of me probably more often than maybe the national people do. But I was just having some fun. You gotta keep things light. And I thought as much as anything else, the football team, the players enjoy that.''
Pelini is very optimistic about this season especially with All Big Ten players, I-Back Ameer Abdullah and defensive end Randy Gregory.
Pelini said, "I think it's going to be an exciting year in the Big Ten. An exciting year for us at Nebraska. I think it's going to be a great challenge for us, but one where we're looking forward to the opportunity to be the best football team we can be. We have some returning, key returners coming back. I think we have depth in areas that is really going to help us be a good football team, and also we saw a lot of young guys last year kind of come of age as the season went on, and I'm looking forward to seeing those young men continue to develop into the type of players we feel can win championships at our school. That's what we're after."
Even though Tommy Armstrong had a 7-1 record as a starting quarterback, Pelini says there will be open competition at that position.
"I would say because of his starting experience, I would say Tommy has a little bit of a leg up going in. But Johnny Stanton and Ryker Fyfe are tremendous talents, the kids who did very well in the spring.
I think it's going to be an open competition. I think the competition is, gosh, very good. I think it's going to make all three of those guys better. And like I tell our guys at every single position, nobody has a guaranteed spot ever, and you gotta put it on film every day. You've got to go out there, compete on a daily basis.''
One of the big honors at the Big Ten conference is being the keynote speaker at the Big Ten luncheon which is Tuesday and this year's speaker is Ameer Abdullah. He talked about how he learned he would be the keynote speaker.
"I was kinda of skeptical at first, kinda of nervous. I get nervous in front of big crowds. It is truly an honor to be considered an ambassador for the Big Ten to represent all the players in the conference. I am taken back by the whole thing. It’s a blessing.”
Abdullah comes from a large family where education is a high priority and he wanted to come back to Nebraska for his senior year and graduate.
He said, "I am the youngest out of nine kids. All of my siblings, they have their Bachelors or Masters degrees. I just want to be next one in line. I am just excited to get it in December."
Abdullah rushed 1,690 yards last season, the most by a player since 1997 and this fall he could become the first Husker to rush for three 1,000-yard seasons but Abdullah is not concerned setting
records this season.
He said, "I feel it’s overlooked at this time. The true student athlete, it’s not emphasized as much in college football. That's pretty much what I am going to hit on tomorrow.
Pelini said, “Well obviously he is a big piece of the puzzle. We were excited to get Ameer back. He could have entered the draft. I think he made the right choice. Not only is he a tremendous football player but a tremendous human being and a great leader and we are thrilled to have him back. I think he is getting pre-season hype because he earned it. I don't know how it is going to play out. Ameer is more concerned about our team than what trophies he gets."
If Abdullah has a big season in 2014, look for an invitation to the Downtown Athletic Club in New York City this December for the Heisman Trophy.