What. A. Night! The Big Ten knows how to throw an event...a B1G event.
The Awards Gala was a night to honor the Big Ten and its student-athlete achievements. Awards were given out and we were all reminded why being apart of the Big Ten is something special. We should take great pride in this conference, its schools, its students, and its student-athletes of the past, present and future.
The Big Ten stars were out on this special night. Appearances included Bob Griese, Archie Griffin, Eddie George, Dick Butkus, Ron Dayne, Dallas Clark and many more.
I caught up with a few of the stars in attendance to see what they thought of the B1G Ten and the Championship Game.
Former Athlete: Ron Dayne
Achievements: Holds the NCAA record for most rushing yards, Big Ten Player of the Year 1999, All-American in 1996, '98, '99, 1999 Heisman Trophy Winner. (Between Ron Dayne and the endzone is not a place I want to be)
His thoughts on Montee Ball and prediction on the game:
"He's just out there having fun. They're winning and he's breaking records - that's great. Hopefully Wisconsin can win and it doesn't come down to a Hail Mary again. As long as Wisconsin wins, I'll be very happy. Maybe we'll win on a Hail Mary this time."
Former Athlete: Dallas Clark
Achievements: 2002 All-Big Ten, Consensus First Team All-American, John Mackey Award Winner
His thoughts on what it means to be a part of the Big Ten:
"It's just one big family especially in the first year for an event like this. With the whole transition of two divisions, I think it's something new and something fresh. Everybody seems to be taking it in stride. Everyone and everything has been so positive and everyone is enjoying themselves."
Former Athlete: Bob Griese
Achievements: Two-time All-American, Second in Heisman voting in 1966, led Purdue to their first Rose Bowl Appearance
His thoughts on the big game "experience":
"Back in '67 when we took Purdue to the Rose Bowl, it was all about the game. Now, there's a celebration all week. The Super Bowl has turned in to a two-week festival. The games are much bigger. The game is what everything is built around but they want to get the fans more involved. The fans want to come and celebrate and do what they do best - celebrate.
His thoughts on the Griese-Brees winner Russell Wilson:
"I saw Russell when he played for NC State and I was working with ESPN. I knew before he went to Wisconsin how good a player he was. I knew what type of player Wisconsin was getting. I thought Wisconsin would and should be favored to win the Big Ten. He's an outstanding player and I think he's going to be a pretty good NFL player as well."
I am just one of approximately 470,000 students that attend Big Ten universities but I take great pride in that and I was reminded why last night. Two teams will battle tonight to see who is "top dog" in the conference but in the end, I hope everyone realizes how great the conference as a whole is. It's big time, it's the Big Ten.