Bo Pelini had his 15 minutes of ballroom podium fame at Big Ten media days Thursday afternoon. Here are quick-hit highlights:
>> The offseason theme, as Husker fans already know, was developing leadership: “We tried to up the level of accountability, up the level to the attention of detail. I think that’s been good. I like what it’s done to kind of set us up for the fall.”
>> Pelini called senior linebacker Will Compton — here in Chicago — the “undisputed leader” of the Nebraska defense.
“He has a lot of personality,” Pelini said. “You see a lot of people talking about his personality. He’s a fun guy, but he’s a guy that last year I thought really started taking his game to another level.”
>> Nebraska is not “actively pursuing” Penn State players, who are free to transfer without penalty in the wake of NCAA sanctions.
“That doesn’t mean if there were a young man from Penn State who definitely wanted to transfer — is for sure going to leave — and Nebraska was someplace he was considering, that we wouldn’t take a look at him. There’s a lot that goes into decisions like that. You never say never, but that’s not something that’s really high on our radar.”
>> Pretty basic thoughts on first year in the Big Ten. Lots of praise. Lessons learned. More familiarity. The usual.
>> Pelini will not look forward to his Ohio State homecoming “any more than any other game” on the schedule.
“It makes no difference to me,” Pelini said. “… But I think these players will enjoy playing there. A lot of tradition. Great football environment.”
>> Pelini was lukewarm to any changes to the Legends and Leaders Division in the wake of NCAA sanctions for Penn State and Ohio State.
“I think they set it up well — who could have envisioned what’s gone on?” he said.
>> On Taylor Martinez: “My expectations are high for him. He’s only going on his junior year. He seems like he’s been around forever, but still, now, he’s just becoming an upperclassman. I think his best football’s ahead of him. He’s a had a tremendous offseason. I’m glad he’s our quarterback.”
>> On Rex Burkhead: “He can do it all on the field. He’s multi-talented. Has all the intangibles. He’s, to me, the definition of what a role model is, of what a student-athlete should be … I wouldn’t trade him for another player in the country. That’s what I think of Rex.
“You always say, when you recruit a kid, ‘this kid can do this for your program,’ and he’s lived up to everything we envisioned when we recruited Rex. It’s not real often you can say that.”
>> On replacing Lavonte David, Jared Crick, and Alfonzo Dennard: “If you’re running a good program, you’re going to lose good players year after year … we’ve lost good players in the past — (Ndamukong) Suh and defensive backs — and we’ve had other players step up and make their hay. I feel good about our defensive unit as a whole — front to back.