April 10, 2011
[ONE // are you ready for some football?]
The Big Ten office announced this past Wednesday the conference schedules for the 2013 and 2014 football seasons, as approved by the Big Ten Directors of Athletics in March, culminating with the Big Ten Football Championship Games on December 7, 2013, and December 6, 2014 at a site to be determined. The 2013 Big Ten season begins on Sept. 28, with a Legends Division matchup between Iowa and Minnesota and a Leaders Division contest between Ohio State and Wisconsin. The 2014 Big Ten campaign begins on Sept. 27, with a pair of cross-division games, including Michigan of the Legends Division playing at Indiana of the Leaders Division, and Minnesota of the Legends Division traveling to face Penn State of the Leaders Division. In both 2013 and 2014, the last nine weekends of Big Ten action will consist of four, five or six conference games, culminating with all 12 teams in action each of the final two weekends. The 2013 and 2014 football seasons are 14 weeks long, which means teams will play 12 games and each school will receive two bye dates during conference play.
[TWO // football spring games kick off]
Spring football is well underway in the Big Ten with all 12 conference teams continuing spring practice. This past week Purdue became the first Big Ten squad to play in its annual spring game, where the Gold team captured a 14-3 victory over the Black squad in the Boilermakers’ Black and Gold Game at Ross-Ade Stadium. The remaining 11 schools will take the field on April 16, 23 or 30. The Big Ten Network is the ultimate destination for Big Ten spring football coverage, with studio shows twice each week beginning April 13 and telecasts of nine Big Ten spring games. In all, the network will dedicate more than 26 hours to Big Ten spring football, with every team receiving live television or streaming coverage. The network will produce seven episodes of Spring Football Report on Wednesday and Saturday nights from April 13 through May 4. Dave Revsine will host the shows alongside analysts Gerry DiNardo and Howard Griffith. Click here to learn more about the spring football coverage and when each conference team will be competing in its annual spring game.
[THREE // let the transition begin]
Seems a little different to hear about the conference football outlook featuring 12 teams, right? Well, we are just months away from formally inducting Nebraska into the Big Ten Conference. In an article from the Omaha World-Herald this past week, columnist Tom Shatel penned a nice article talking about how smooth the transition has been for the Cornhuskers. Recently national media members, including members of the Big Ten Network crew, visited Lincoln to get a feel for the Huskers’ upcoming football season. If you are a Big Ten fan, it’s definitely worth a read.
[FOUR // never gave up]
While it was great to read up on the transition Nebraska is making so far, it was truly inspiring this past week to ready about the transition Arthur Ray Jr. is making with his Michigan State football team. Originally a 2007 recruit for the Spartans, Ray was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in his right leg just months after he signed his national letter of intent. Fourteen surgeries later, a cancer-free Ray is back with the Spartans and ready to start his collegiate career. For more on this inspiring story, click here.
[FIVE // michigan state’s izzo a legend]
Michigan State men's basketball coach Tom Izzo received the Legends of Coaching Award Friday at the John R. Wooden Award Presentation Gala at the Los Angeles Athletic Club. Presented since 1999, the award recognizes the lifetime achievement of coaches who exemplify Coach Wooden's high standards of coaching success and personal achievement. Izzo recently completed his 16th season as head coach of the Spartan program, directing MSU to its 14th straight NCAA Tournament, good for the nation's third-longest active streak. When selecting the individual, the Wooden Award Committee considers a coach's character, success rate on the court, graduating rate of student-athletes, his coaching philosophy and his identification with the goals of the John R. Wooden Award.
[SIX // we’ve got the power]
At the conclusion of the men’s basketball season, ESPN released its final power rankings and the Big Ten was tabbed as the nation’s No. 1 conference. According to the final ESPN Stats & Information conference power rankings, which was released on Friday, the Big Ten earned a final rating of 40.4, followed by the Big East (44.0), Big 12 (59.4), ACC (63.7), Pac-10 (73.1) and SEC (80.3).
[SEVEN // a perfect six for the big ten]
All six Big Ten teams will compete in the NCAA Men's Gymnastics National Qualifier on April 14 as announced this past Tuesday. The qualifier will be hosted by Ohio State and will consist of two sessions featuring the top 12 teams in the country based on regional qualifying score (RQS). Three teams from each session will advance to the NCAA Championships on April 15-16, also hosted by Ohio State. Big Ten Champion Illinois enters the qualifier with the highest RQS of any conference team and is currently ranked fourth in the country at 354.600. Four Big Ten teams immediately follow the Illini, as Penn State ranks fifth at 351.283, Michigan holds sixth at 350.708, Ohio State sits in seventh at 345.800 and Minnesota ranks eighth at 345.367. Iowa rounds out the Big Ten contingent at No. 11 with an RQS of 341.025. Three teams and the top three all-around competitors not on one of the qualifying teams, plus the top three individuals on each event not already qualified on a team or as an all-around competitor, will advance from each session of the qualifier to the NCAA Championships.
[EIGHT // gymnasts doing flips for national award]
Three Big Ten men's gymnasts were named finalists on Monday for the 2011 Nissen-Emery Award, given to the nation's top senior gymnast. Illinois' Daniel Ribeiro, Michigan's Chris Cameron and Ohio State's Brandon Wynn are among the seven finalists for the honor, which will be awarded on April 13 at the NCAA Championships Banquet. Ribeiro, a three-time Big Ten Champion, took first place on the pommel horse at the Big Ten Championships two weeks ago. Cameron picked up Big Ten Gymnast of the Year honors and was crowned the NCAA all-around champion in 2010, helping the Wolverines to the national title. Wynn won his second-straight Big Ten title on the still rings after winning the national title in the event last season. A Big Ten gymnast has been honored with the Nissen-Emery Award in five of the last six seasons, with Illinois' Luke Stannard taking home the accolade last season.
[NINE // nittany lion wrestler tabbed as nation’s top freshman]
This past Tuesday, InterMat tabbed Penn State 157-pounder David Taylor its National Freshman of the Year. Taylor finished the 2010-11 season with a 38-1 record, winning his first 38 collegiate bouts before falling in the 157-pound title bout at the NCAA Championships. The Nittany Lion newcomer earned Big Ten Wrestler and Freshman of the Year honors after leading Penn State to its first Big Ten title. The Nittany Lions closed out the season with their second NCAA Championship and first since 1953.
[TEN // big ten past and present represented in a tradition unlike any other]
The Big Ten Conference was well represented this past week at the Masters, golf’s first major tournament of the year. Held at historic Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga., five Big Ten representatives competed in the 75th annual battle for the green jacket. Leading the conference’s contingent was former Northwestern star Luke Donald, who tied for fourth at 10-under-par 278 (72-68-69-69). Illinois graduate Steve Stricker placed tied for 11th at 5-under 283 (72-70-71-70), while Indiana standout Jeff Overton finished tied for 44th at 3-over 291 (72-72-72-74). Current Michigan star Lion Kim missed the cut after shooting a 36-hole score of 4-over 148 (76-72). D.A. Points, a former All-American at Illinois, also missed the cut at 148 (76-72).
[ELEVEN // a-maize-ing hockey season]
Finally this week, we tip our caps to the Michigan men’s ice hockey team, which battled this past Saturday for the NCAA Championship, before falling to the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs in overtime, 3-2. The Wolverines were going for their 10th NCAA Championship in the Frozen Four, after advancing following a 2-0 shutout of top-ranked North Dakota in the semifinals. Congratulations as well to Michigan’s Ben Winnett, Jon Merrill and Shawn Hunwick on making the All-Tournament Team.