Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, July 29, 2015

The Big Ten will hold its annual media days this Thursday and Friday. Writers, broadcasters, pundits and fans will descend on Chicago.

[ MORE: Get all of our 2015 preseason Big Ten football coverage ]

And here is a look at 10 storylines, in no particular order, that figure to emerge.

1. Harbaugh mania!
You might have heard the news: Michigan hired Jim Harbaugh. The hype, anticipation and build-up of Harbaughpalooza even dwarfs the run-up to Christmas. Jimmy Boy and his khakis, ball cap and whistle seemingly have been in the news every day, whether fawning over Judge Judy, stirring emotions with his patriotic defense of "American Sniper," going shirtless in a camp and showing his hipness by Tweeting to rapper Big Sean. Harbaugh is an indomitable force who America can't ignore. So, don't even try. Now, let?s see if he can win some games. I shudder to think what will happen if Harbaugh actually one day leads Michigan to its first Big Ten title since 2004. Harbaugh for President!

2. Can anyone unseat THE Ohio State University?
Ever since the confetti cannons boomed in Jerry?s World to celebrate Ohio State?s improbable national championship, the hubbub and speculation about the 2015 Buckeyes have grown ? and grown ? and grown. Is this Urban Meyer?s best team yet? Is Meyer a coaching cyborg? How can OSU NOT repeat? Who will win, arguably, the most-talked-about quarterback battle ever? The prohibitive national title favorites are loaded and on a roll, going 38-3 overall and 24-0 in the Big Ten the last three seasons. How will this talented squad deal with great expectations? And can anyone stop this Scarlet and Gray freight train? Meyer has been working on his glare all offseason. He'll be ready.

3. Hey, remember me?
Let me introduce you to Michigan State. Remember the Spartans? You know, the team that has won double-digit games four of the last five seasons and generally has been the best Big Ten program over the last half decade? It seems Michigan State?s greatness under Mark Dantonio has gotten swallowed up by Ohio State?s looming greatness and the arrival of Jimmy Ballgame in Ann Arbor. You just KNOW this aggravates Mark ?Chip on the Shoulder? Dantonio to no end. Look at him scowl. Admire his grimace. Notice his sneer. Of course, Dantonio will use all of these slights-while also dreaming up a few–to his advantage like he always does.

4. Let?s go camping
Count on the subject of satellite camps to be brought up in Chicago. Is it right for the Big Ten to conduct them? Doesn?t it give the Big Ten an unfair advantage? And, expect every coach asked about the subject to say: Hey, it?s not against the NCAA rules. Case closed. Now, let?s move on to something really important … who has the best alternate uniform in the Big Ten?

5. Big Ten vs. SEC
You can?t mention one without the other. It?s Coke vs. Pepsi ? Apple vs. Microsoft ? bacon vs. sausage. More to the point: Has the Big Ten passed the SEC? Not yet. But, as we heard 1,234,845 times last January, the ?Big Ten changed the narrative? with Ohio State winning the league?s first national title since 2002. Meanwhile, the SEC has gone–gasp!–two years in a row without being king of college football after ripping off seven championship in succession. The Big Ten has a ways to go to match that. But, hey, it?s a start.

6. Welcome aboard
The Big Ten will roll out the welcome mat for Nebraska?s Mike Riley, Wisconsin?s Paul Chryst and What?s-His-Name at Michigan, the league?s three new coaches. With Jim Harbaugh getting the TMZ treatment, don?t forget about Riley and Chryst, who walk into the top two jobs in the Big Ten West. The scrutiny on Riley will be more intense than Chryst will experience. Riley is the third Cornhusker hire since Frank Solich took the program to the BCS title game in the 2001 season. Bill Callahan and Bo Pelini couldn?t even deliver a league title, as Nebraska has sunk from elite status. How will Riley-a curious hire-fair?

7. Heisman for Zeke?
The Big Ten hasn?t produced a Heisman winner since Ohio State?s Troy Smith took home the hardware in 2006. That streak may be ended by another Buckeye: Running back Ezekiel Elliott. Can he rush for 3,000 yards?

8. When Delany speaks, we listen
?Year of readiness? ? ?20-hour rule? ? ?cost of attendance? ? expect to hear those buzz words roll off the lips of the most powerful man in college sports-Big Ten commish Jim Delany. He?ll surely discuss his proposed freshman ineligibility (year of readiness), limiting the time commitment of ?student-athletes? (20-hour rule) and stipends (cost of attendance).

9. What's the latest on future TV deal?
You can count on Delany, and plenty of other Big Ten personalities, being asked about the Big Ten?s looming new TV deal, which is supposed to break the bank and set a new standard with reports indicating schools will make $44.5 mil per season. The current deal expires in 2016-17.

10. Wild, wild West
Ohio State is the overwhelming favorite to win the East Division-and the Big Ten. As much drama as a Road Runner-Wile E. Coyote cartoon, right? You want a cliffhanger? Check out the West. Whose gonna win it? Wisconsin figures to be the pick of most. But a good case can be made for Nebraska. Minnesota, too. Iowa? No, I?m not gonna go there. Bottom line: This is gonna be fun.


About Tom Dienhart senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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