July 15, 2012
[ONE // the best of the best]
The Big Ten announced on Wednesday that 587 student-athletes have been selected recipients of the Big Ten Distinguished Scholar Award. The list includes student-athletes from every institution and 36 different sports who have earned a minimum grade-point average (GPA) of 3.7 or higher for the previous academic year. In February of 2008, Big Ten Faculty Representatives established a conference academic recognition to supplement the Academic All-Big Ten program, which honors those who reached a 3.0 GPA in the past academic year. The 2011-12 class of Distinguished Scholar Award recipients includes 85 student-athletes who maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA during the previous academic term. A complete list of the 2011-12 Big Ten Distinguished Scholar Award winners can be found by clicking here.
[TWO // look who’s coming…]
The Big Ten announced this past Wednesday the 36 student-athletes scheduled to attend the 2012 Big Ten Media Days and Kickoff Luncheon, held Thursday and Friday, July 26 and 27, at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place and McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago. The 41st annual luncheon is one of the most exciting and unique preseason events in college football. The event features all 12 conference head coaches and begins at 10 a.m. CT with the players and coaches autograph and photo session for fans attending the luncheon. The luncheon is scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m., with comments from all 12 coaches and returning All-Big Ten quarterback Denard Robinson of Michigan, who will speak on behalf of the players in attendance. The list of student-athletes scheduled to attend includes 21 returning All-Big Ten selections, including last year’s Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, Wisconsin's Montee Ball.
[THREE // four for thorpe]
Four Big Ten standouts – Michigan State’s Johnny Adams and Isaiah Lewis, Ohio State’s C.J. Barnett, and Purdue’s Ricardo Allen – were named to the Jim Thorpe Award watch list, it was announced on Friday. The Jim Thorpe Award is presented to the best defensive back in college football, given annually since 1986. Big Ten players have claimed five Thorpe Awards--Michigan's Charles Woodson in 1997, Antoine Winfield in 1998, Minnesota's Tyrone Carter in 1999, Wisconsin's Jamar Fletcher in 2000 and Ohio State's Malcolm Jenkins in 2008.
[FOUR // two dozen standouts named to nagurski, outland watch lists]
Twenty-four Big Ten standouts were named to the Bronko Nagurski and Outland Trophy watch lists, it was announced this past Thursday. Ohio State's Johnathan Hankins and Purdue's Kawann Short represent the conference on both lists. The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is presented annually to the National Defensive Player of the Year. Big Ten institutions have earned five Nagurski Trophies - Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald in 1995 and 1996, Michigan's Charles Woodson in 1997, Ohio State's James Laurinaitis in 2006 and Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh in 2009. Presented annually since 1946, the Outland Trophy is the third-oldest award in major college football, given to the nation's best interior lineman. Big Ten institutions have claimed 23 Outland Trophies, the most of any conference, including two of the last three recipients, Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh in 2009 and Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi in 2010. The list of Big Ten players on the Nagurski and Outland watch lists can be found by clicking here.
[FIVE // seven named to groza, guy watch lists]
Seven Big Ten players were named to the Lou Groza and Ray Guy preseason watch lists, it was announced last Wednesday. Nebraska's Brett Maher, the 2011 Big Ten Bakken-Anderson Kicker of the Year and Eddleman-Fields Punter of the Year, is one of two players to appear on both lists. The Big Ten leads all conferences with seven players on the Lou Groza Award watch list, given annually to the nation's top place-kicker. Two conference standouts have earned the Lou Groza Award, Ohio State's Mike Nugent in 2004 and Iowa's Nate Kaeding in 2002. Since 2000, the Ray Guy Award has been presented annually to the nation's top punter. The Big Ten has claimed three Ray Guy Awards, including Ohio State's B.J. Sander in 2003, Purdue's Travis Dorsch in 2001 and Wisconsin's Kevin Stemke in 2000. The conference’s seven players to watch for this year are Indiana’s Mitch Ewald, Iowa’s Mike Meyer, Michigan’s Brendan Gibbons, Michigan State’s Dan Conroy, Nebraska’s Brett Maher, Ohio State’s Drew Basil, and Penn State Anthony Fera.
[SIX // a dozen named to mackey, rimington watch lists]
Twelve Big Ten players have been named to the John Mackey Award and Rimington Trophy watch lists, it was announced this past Wednesday. Since 2000, the John Mackey Award has been given annually to the most outstanding tight end. Three Big Ten players, Purdue's Tim Stratton (2000), Iowa's Dallas Clark (2002) and Minnesota's Matt Spaeth (2006), have claimed the Mackey Award. The Rimington Trophy, named after Nebraska's Dave Rimington, is presented annually to the most outstanding center in college football. Big Ten institutions have claimed six Rimington Trophies, the most of any conference, most recently with 2011 honoree David Molk of Michigan. Past winners include Nebraska's Dominic Raiola (2000), Ohio State's LeCharles Bentley (2001), Michigan's David Baas (2004), Minnesota's Greg Eslinger (2005) and Penn State's A.Q. Shipley (2008). The complete list of Big Ten players up for this year’s awards can be found by clicking here.
[SEVEN // twenty-two named to maxwell, bednarik watch lists]
Twenty-two Big Ten standouts have been named to the Maxwell Award and Bednarik Award watch lists, the Maxwell Football Club announced last Monday. The Maxwell Award, named in honor of sportswriter Robert W. "Tiny" Maxwell, has been given to America's most outstanding collegiate football player since 1937. Twenty student-athletes from Big Ten institutions have earned the Maxwell Award, most recently when the Big Ten was honored three out of four years in 1999 (Wisconsin's Ron Dayne), 2000 (Purdue's Drew Brees) and 2002 (Penn State's Larry Johnson). The Bednarik Award, named after Chuck Bednarik, has been presented to the nation's top defensive player since 1995. Eight players from Big Ten institutions have earned Bednarik Awards, including two-time honorees Pat Fitzgerald of Northwestern (1995 and 1996) and Paul Posluszny of Penn State (2005 and 2006). Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh is the most recent honoree in 2009. The complete list of Big Ten players can be found by clicking here.
[EIGHT // “wat for the win”]
Indiana forward Christian Watford's buzzer-beating 3-pointer against then-No. 1 Kentucky was selected as the 2012 ESPYS “Best Play” this past Wednesday at the Nokia Theater in downtown Los Angeles. “Best Play,” which was voted on by fans, was a bracket-style vote, with the top 16 seeds cut down to the final 8 on Tuesday, July 3. The final 4 were revealed on Monday, July 9. Voting continued through the ESPYS Countdown Show. Earlier this year, Watford's shot was named the National College Basketball Play of the Year by GEICO. To relive that memorable shot, click here and enjoy!
[NINE // six “honored” by nabc]
Michigan's Josh Bartelstein, Zack Novak and Matt Vogrich, Purdue's Dru Anthrop and Wisconsin's Jared Berggren and Dan Fahey have been named to the NABC Honors Court, the National Association of Basketball Coaches announced last Tuesday. The Honors Court recognizes collegiate basketball student-athletes who excelled in academics during the 2011-12 season.
[TEN // williams called on for team usa]
Congratulations to former Illinois basketball standout Deron Williams, who has once again been named to Team USA. Williams was part of the U.S. team that went undefeated in Beijing in 2008, becoming the first Illini basketball player ever to win an Olympic gold medal. He is one of five players from the 2008 squad to also make this year's roster, joined by LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul. Rounding out the Team USA squad are Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Tyson Chandler and Andre Iguodala. The seven-year NBA veteran and current Brooklyn Net averaged 21.0 points (11th in NBA) and 8.7 assists (fifth in NBA) last season and has participated in the last three NBA All-Star Games. Also of note, UI’s Robert Archibald earned a spot on Great Britain's roster for the upcoming Olympics in London. For more on both Illini players, click here.
[ELEVEN // windy city becomes hockey city]
As the Big Ten continues to prepare for the conference’s first official season of men’s hockey in 2013-14, two of the league’s squads will be storming into Windy City next year for the inaugural Hockey City Classic at Chicago’s Soldier Field. Minnesota will face Wisconsin on Feb. 17, 2013, in a doubleheader that also features Notre Dame and Miami of Ohio. The four teams playing at the home of the Chicago Bears will mark the first-ever outdoor college ice hockey event at the historic NFL stadium. Tickets for the Hockey City Classic go on sale to the general public on Monday, Oct. 1 through ticketmaster.com. BTN.com caught up with Minnesota’s Zach Budish and Wisconsin’s Frankie Simonelli to talk about the event. To watch these interviews and learn more about this exciting event, click here.
[TWELVE // illini fighting for the win on pga tour]
Finally this week, a quick tip of the cap to a pair of former Fighting Illini golfers who tied for fifth on Sunday at the PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic in Silvis, Ill. Three-time defending champion Steve Stricker was poised to become just the fifth player in PGA Tour history to win the same tournament four straight times. A pair of bogeys on the back nine, however, placed him four strokes back at 16-under, tying for fifth with Luke Guthrie – the 2012 Big Ten Medal of Honor winner and Big Ten Player of the Year. Guthrie stole headlines Sunday as he finished with a 7-under 64 in just his second tournament as a professional. He and Stricker own a piece of conference history as well, as they are just two of four players to win back-to-back conference championships over the last 50 years. Stricker captured the league’s medalist honors in 1988 and 1989, while Guthrie claimed the 2011 and 2012 titles. Northwestern’s Luke Donald, currently the No. 1 golfer in the world and one of the favorites to win the upcoming British Open, clinched Big Ten glory in 2000 and 2001, while Ohio State’s John Cook was the other notable back-to-back winner in 1978-79.