Last line in Rexrode’s piece covering Coach Dantonio’s comments at Big Ten Media Days, which are going on right now in my former home of Chicago:
Keith Nichol is not coming after all, replaced by Aaron Bates. So it’s Bates, Kirk Cousins, Greg Jones. Dantonio said he reconsidered because he wanted to reward Bates for prior achievement, and that he was “projecting” what Nichol would do in the next two seasons at receiver.
Bates, obviously, is not nearly as exciting a choice to bring to Media Days as Nichol. Nichol’s storyline is a lot more interesting, a lot more dramatic (although probably more for the media than for Nichol himself), and would get a lot more eyeballs on stories. But this is another example, albeit a small one, of how Dantonio does it the right way. He easily could have brought Nichol, who would no doubt get a lot of attention from the various media outlets. But Aaron Bates is a senior, and has earned the opportunity to go on this trip. He’s easily one of the best punters in the league, but was overshadowed for a long time by an elite punter down the road in Michigan’s Zoltan Mesko. By bringing Bates, Dantonio sends the message that for those who work hard and set an example of achievement, there are spoils to be reaped – a message that certainly wasn’t being sent with John L. or Bobby Williams.