August 7, 2006
S Re Sidtigrotm O
Walker left lasting
impact on coaches
fuzzy image flashed onto the
two giant screens in the ban-
quet room. Those
seated at the 190-odd
tables turned their atten-
tion to the man projected
on the screens. There
stood a smiling Randy
Walker at a press confer-
ence, excited about the
opportunity to coach at
Northwestern in 1999.
Not only did the trib- KEV
ute to the coach, husband WRIt
and father who died ear-
lier this summer affect The S
those in the audience, Ma
but also the 11 men sitting
at the head table. Those chosen 11
annually make the trip to Chicago for
Big Ten Media Day in early August
for two days filled with questions and
This year was no different.
Penn State coach Joe Paterno had to
remind the media he can't put a number
on the years he will continue to coach.
But he did confess the doctor gave him
a clean bill of health to coach at least
10 more years, much to the chagrin
of his coaching staff. Michigan coach
Lloyd Carr had to entertain inquires
into the unheard of five-loss season
at Michigan. Indiana coach Terry
Hoeppner and Illinois coach Ron Zook
donned the suits of used-car salesmen
in an attempt to sell their teams as pos-
sible Big Ten title contenders.
But for one coach, Big Ten Media Day
took on an entirely different meaning.
Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald
became the youngest D1 coach at
the age of 31 when Randy Walker
died suddenly of a heart attack in
early July. Fitzgerald finds
himself in the tough spot
of replacing the man who
brought a Big Ten Cham-
pionship back to Evanston.
Still, he stood tall, embrac-
ing questions concerning
Walker and the current state
of Wildcat football.
"Coach Walker played
IN such a key role in our lives,"
,HT Fitzgerald said. "We're trying
to deal with it as a team. As
xth one family we are coming
7z together to get through this."
Even though Fitzgerald
gets his chance under inopportune
circumstances, he has his fellow
members in the coaching fraternity
and Walker's example to help him.
He talked to Paterno, a coach who
won his first game before Fitzgerald
was even born. The Penn State coach
told him to write "you're the boss"
on the mirror. Having served under
the optimistic Walker, Fitzgerald
can take the field with the reassur-
ance that through the tough and good
times he has to take the forward-
thinking attitude of his former tutor.
Walker's death made me think of the
term "coaching fraternity". I've often
heard it used when new coaches join
the ranks, but the phrase didn't come
alive to me until the Big Ten Kickoff
Luncheon on the last day of Big Ten
During the season, the 11 Big Ten ,.
See WALKER, Page 16
Antonio Bass is making progress after injuring his knee in the spring, but the injury may be career threatening.
at Michi gan rests on test
By Scott Boll
Daily Sports Editor
CHICAGO - When someone says
there's good news and there's bad
news, chances are that the bad news
trumps the good.
Last Tuesday was no different.
Lloyd Carr casually
met with reporters 0
before his press con-
ference at Big Ten
Media Day in Chi-
cago. The topic of Antonio Bass came
up, and the 12-year coach responded
"He's doing extremely well," Carr
said of the sophomore wide receiver.
"The knee is coming along really well.
Rehab's gone extremely well."
But the upbeat tone of his previ-
ous response was trumped by what
"There is a test that they're going
to take in the next couple of weeks
involving another issue," Carr said.
The "other issue" Carr referred to is
believed to still be knee-related.
"It's an important test in terms of his
future as an athlete," Carr said. "The
test is going to clarify that issue."
Carr went on to say that regard-
less of the results of the pending test,
Bass has no intention on playing this
season. Last spring, Carr said that he
could not rule out the possibility of
The Jackson native originally injured
his knee in a conditioning drill prior to
spring practice. He had showed signs
of explosiveness as a true freshman
last season, displaying great open-field
speed and awareness. Carr had said
that he hoped to give Bass some snaps
at quarterback in an attempt toopen up
the Michigan offense.
But instead of "when will he return,"
the new question Carr keeps hearing has
become, "will he return?"
Eye am innocent: Carr broke
his silence on the pending lawsuit
between a former Big Ten official and
The complaint filed by the former
official claimed that a member of the
media alerted Carr that there was
an official in the Big Ten who was
legally blind in one eye and was still
Even though Carr did admit that
he made a call to commissioner Jim
Delaney, he said that was basically the
only truthful part of the complaint.
"Somewhere, following the 2004
season, I received a call from a Big
Ten official who asked me if I was
aware, or if the coaches were aware,
of that issue," Carr said, saying it
was another official that alerted him
of the situation, not a member of the
media. "He proceeded to tell me that
there were some major issues regard-
ing this. His comment to me was to
the effect that if the media got a hold
of it, it was going to become a major
embarrassment to the conference, if it
occurred where a call was made that
might impact a game.
"So following that conversation,
I called the commissioner. I called
him because I felt I had an obliga-
tion as a member of this conference
to call him."
Carr went on to say that when he
talked to Delaney, he did so in a man-
ner that was intended only to alert him
of the situation, and that he did not tell
him what he thought of the issue at all.
Carr said the perception that he cost
the official his job couldn't be further
from the truth.
Delaney declined to comment at
the press conference Tuesday, citing
pending legal proceedings as the rea-
son for his silence. He did go on to
say that the fired official was offered
different jobs on the same pay scale
after he was let go as an official, but
declined those jobs.
Freshmen surprises: Carr shed
some light on a few position battles,
too. When it came to the backup quar-
terback position, Carr discussed David
Cone's arrival this summer and work-
ing out with the team.
See BASS, Page 14
Doys I Nuse