Big Ten Media Days Football

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said Friday he does not think the Big Ten divisions need tweaking for competitive balance. "I think there is strength in each division," he said.

CHICAGO — Nate Stanley found motivation in the chance to be around some of the best quarterbacks in the country.

At the Big Ten kickoff, the Iowa senior called his experience at the Manning Passing Academy a great opportunity to learn and grow.

Stanley was one of three Big Ten quarterbacks who served as counselors at the camp which attracts some of the top youth players in the nation and gives the country’s top collegiate quarterbacks a chance to be around Archie Manning and his two sons, Peyton and Eli.

“You come back from something like that, you’re ready to get to work,’’ Stanley said. “Some of the drills that they taught, some of the ways they did things, there were some things to take from the experience.’’

Stanley joined Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez and Northwestern’s Hunter Johnson, a transfer from Clemson, at the camp.

“It was good to be around other guys from the country and have the chance to get to know them and talk about what we do,’’ Stanley said. “It was a tremendous opportunity.’’

Some professional instructors at the academy provided tips for the college quarterbacks as well.

Stanley said he was encouraged to relax his upper body a bit when he throws the ball, relying on the skills he used as a baseball pitcher to make his hips and upper legs work for him as he passed.

“A lot of what I heard made sense,’’ said Stanley, who enters his senior season having thrown for 5,351 yards and 52 touchdowns in his first two seasons as Iowa’s starter.

About 90 minutes each day were set aside for the collegiate quarterbacks to be around the Mannings and each other, but Iowa’s third-year starter said the biggest things he took away from the experience came from watching how the Mannings taught and interacted with camp participants.

“There were things that they taught that I could bring back and work on or share that can be beneficial,’’ Stanley said.

Perception vs. reality: Kirk Ferentz is not among Big Ten coaches pushing for a revision in the league’s current divisional alignments.

The Iowa coach just doesn’t see the need, disagreeing that the current East-West geographic alignment puts too much strength in one division.

“If you go back the last six years, five years, four years, whatever, the team with the most wins is Ohio State. The second most? Wisconsin, and it’s not even close,’’ Ferentz said. “The rest of us are chasing those two. I think there is strength in each division.’’

No suds soon: The NCAA has approved the sale of beer at its championship events and a growing number of Big Ten schools are doing the same at sporting events, but Iowa will not join them during the upcoming school year.

Director of athletics Gary Barta said Friday he expects Iowa to eventually include beer among its concessions offerings at Kinnick Stadium and Carver-Hawkeye Arena, but he anticipates that decision will come as part of a campus-wide discussion.

“It won’t be just an athletics discussion,’’ Barta said.

Barta said the Kinnick Stadium north end zone construction project will be completed before Iowa’s Aug. 31 home opener against Miami (Ohio) as scheduled. He said the project will likely come in under its $89 million budget.

Summer progress: Ferentz said he likes the progress he has seen during the Hawkeyes’ summer workouts.

“This group has improved with each phase and it’s important that we continue to do so, but going back to January, we’ve come along,’’ Ferentz said.

Preparing for his 21st season, Ferentz compared the Hawkeyes’ focus to the bells and whistles on a new exercise bike he uses at the Iowa training complex.

“There are all sorts of gadgets, but all I have to do is pedal the bike,’’ Ferentz said. “Things have changed over the last couple of decades, but the fundamentals, they’re the same and that’s where we always begin.’’

Bring it on: Michigan hasn’t won a Big Ten football title since sharing the 2004 crown with Iowa, so coach Jim Harbaugh doesn’t mind the title talk surrounding this year’s team.

“Everything we do starts with goals and beating Ohio State, winning the Big Ten, those are among our goals,’’ Harbaugh said. “It’s about doing more. … It’s tight. It always is. It’s kind of like an anaconda, you have to keep squeezing and see what you get.’’

Harbaugh said he likes the mindset of his team at the onset of the season.

“We’ve got young guys, enthusiastic guys, yet we’re a team with a lot of experience,’’ he said.

Annual snub: Northwestern isn’t getting a lot of preseason love from the prognosticators, nothing new despite the Wildcats’ 15-1 record in their most recent games against Big Ten competition.

It’s a familiar situation for coach Pat Fitzgerald’s team, which isn’t getting any mention to repeat the West Division title it won a year ago.

“We’re not great clickbait, I get that, so we’ll just have to go out and earn it,’’ Fitzgerald said. “It’s always fun this time of year to read that we stink.’’

Returning soon: Iowa running back Henry Geil did not finish spring workouts with the team.

But, the redshirt freshman is expected to rejoin the team at practices next month, Ferentz said.

Limited leaders: Purdue has only eight seniors on its roster, but that is only a minimal concern to coach Jeff Brohm.

“You would like to have veterans and you would like to have veteran leadership, but we will have a good mix of seniors who will lead well,’’ said Brohm, whose team will be challenged with a season-opening trip to Nevada followed by home games against Vanderbilt and TCU before opening Big Ten play.

“We’ll continue to play 11 power-five opponents. It gets us ready for the Big Ten and our fans like it.’’

Celebrating: An autograph session preceded the Big Ten’s 48th annual kickoff luncheon at the Chicago Hilton and Towers.

The event included recognition of Hall of Fame coaches Barry Alvarez of Wisconsin and Tom Osborne of Nebraska and of the Big Ten’s newest College Football Hall of Fame selection, Michigan State back Lorenzo White.

Casey O’Brien, a four-time cancer survivor who is a walk-on holder at Minnesota, spoke on behalf of the student-athletes at the event.

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