B1G Media Days Notebook: Coaches, mostly, back playoffs

BY JACOB SHEYKO | JULY 30, 2014 5:00 AM

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CHICAGO — The landscape of college football has changed a lot in recent years. But perhaps the most anticipated change is the implementation of a playoff among the nation’s four best teams, which will be in effect for the first time this season.

With the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl serving as semifinal games, the new college football playoff was a big point of discussion during the 2014 Big Ten media days, which wrapped up on Tuesday.

Coaches gave their feedback to the decision, and even though the playoffs has yet to be seen in action, several gave further suggestions to improve the format.

 “The only thing I don’t like is that not everybody plays 13 games,” said Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson, who suggested college basketball’s Elite Eight as a blueprint. “I know, having been in the Big 12 and played in three national-title games, I’d like to see everybody play a 13th game.

“I’d like to see the first week in December be basically a top eight, and let those teams play, and those four winners would be your four.”

Despite the early suggestions for change, most coaches seem in favor of a playoff in some capacity. They said it promises to provide a more unpredictable — and, in some eyes, fair — end to the college-football season.

Changes might be made in the future, but the general consensus is that the four-team playoff is a step in the right direction.

Ohio State’s Miller set for senior year

Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller is one of the most decorated players in conference history.

He’s earned seven Big Ten individual awards, owns nine school records, and has pioneered two-straight undefeated regular seasons. Miller has seemingly won everything a player could in the conference.

Except, of course, a Big Ten title.

Entering his senior season, that’s priority No. 1.

“It’s been up and down,” he said. “We’re going to be remembered as a champion this year, though we got to make that long run this year to make sure everyone is on the same page and everybody is confident what they’re doing.”

The competition in the Big Ten’s East Division won’t be the only obstacle for Miller; he is recovering from off-season shoulder surgery.

But, he said, that shouldn’t slow him. In fact, he feels as good as ever.

 “When I had surgery, they had me on the bike, treadmill, all that stuff,” he said, adding that he lost body fat and gained muscle in the off-season. “I was doing extra cardio.”

Jerry Kill’s health

If Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill is worried about his health, he certainly isn’t acting like it.

The only thing Kill is struggling with, health-wise, is soreness in the lower backside of his leg after he participated in up-downs with his team.

“I was doing up-downs and instead of quitting like I should have, it popped again,” he said.

Kill spent most of last season coaching the Gophers from the press box after epileptic seizures forced him off the sidelines. The problem wasn’t limited to just last season; it’s one that Kill has faced throughout his career.

“I trained hard in the off-season, too,” he said. “I’ve done a lot walking, and I’ve dropped 12 or 13 pounds, quit drinking Coke, Diet Coke, started drinking water. All the things that can help bring up situations, I’ve been sure to address.

“I’ve done everything you can, and that’s all you can do.”

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