LINCOLN, Neb. – Big Ten football players received a message straight from the top about how they carry themselves as college athletes.
Commissioner Jim Delany wrapped up a tour of all 12 of the conference's preseason football camps, making stops Thursday at Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska, all in less than 12 hours.
Before the Cornhuskers hit the practice field, Delany delivered the same message to players that he did during other campus visits the past three weeks.
"It's a big stage, and it carries with it a lot of responsibilities. Be smart. Look out for yourself, look out for your teammates. Think before you act," Delany said, summarizing his talk.
Delany's meetings with players came during a summer in which 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M has had his eligibility jeopardized in the wake of allegations that he received payment for autographs.
Delany said he made his first conference-wide tour in 1989, the year he took over as commissioner, and he made another swing through the league in 2003. He said he had enough free time this month to tour each of the football camps.
He said the players are the same today as they were 25 years ago.
"They're bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, excited for the season to start," he said. "I've got a couple sons myself that are that age, so I look at them as young people who are growing up."
Nebraska defensive coordinator John Papuchis said Delany also reminded the players about how it's an honor to be part of the Big Ten, and he discussed the conference's bowl structure and other goings-on.
Papuchis said the players seemed happy to meet with Delany.
"Any time there's a guy you always see on TV that you have an opportunity to see in person, it's good for our guys," Papuchis said, "and I think they appreciated him being here."