The calendar may still say July, but the 2009 Big Ten football season officially gets underway today. You can't quite smell the brats in the air, but Big Ten Media Days kicks off at 10 a.m. this morning, when Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald takes the podium the Hyatt Regency Chicago.
Media Days, a two-day event in which thousands of media members descend on Chicago to grill the head coach and three top players from each of the conference's 11 teams, signals that college football is just around the corner.
Northwestern players, for example, report to Evanston on Aug. 8 and begin Camp Kenosha on Aug. 10. From there, it's less than four weeks until the Wildcats kick off the 2009 campaign against Towson at Ryan Field on Sept. 5.
There will be plenty of storylines to follow at Media Days for the throng of television, print and internet media, which will include college football writer Tom Dienhart of Rivals.com, and publishers and reporters from just about all of Rivals' Big Ten sites. You're sure to see, hear and read about how hot the seat is for Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez in the wake of a 3-9 season and how Penn State's ageless Joe Paterno got the magic back in 2008 just a year after the media said he lost it.
WildcatReport will attend Day 2 of the event on Tuesday and will get a chance to sit down and interview Fitzgerald and three of his star seniors: quarterback Mike Kafka, safety Brad Phillips and defensive end Corey Wootton.
Some of the stories WildcatReport will be tracking down include:
How Wootton's knee rehab is going and how healthy the irreplaceable All-Big Ten pass rusher feels going into 2009.
A profile of Phillips -- "The Hit Stick" -- the guy that Fitzgerald calls his best football player and leader of one of the best secondaries NU has ever fielded.
How different Northwestern's spread attack will be with the nimble-footed Kafka under center than it was with C.J. Bacher.
Stay logged on to WildcatReport for the purple angle of this year's Media Days event.