This Week in the Big Ten

Northwestern senior kicker Jeff Budzien managed to find his way into the Big Ten Football Media Day this past week and provide award-winning coverage for

July 29, 2013

[ONE // out to lunch]
Another successful Big Ten Football Media Day and Kickoff Luncheon is in the books, and this week we begin by taking a look back at the nation’s largest preseason college football event.  The two-day affair in downtown Chicago, which was also aired on both BTN and the ESPN networks, showcased the Big Ten and all of its football programs heading into the 2013 campaign.  To view photo galleries, get a social-media recap of the event, and view the transcripts of all the head coaches, including Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany, BTN President Mark Silverman, and Tournament of Roses President Scott Jenkins, click here.  Another fan favorite each year is the student-athlete speech at the end of the Kickoff Luncheon.  This year’s player representative was Penn State’s offensive lineman John Urschel.  Watch his impressive speech by clicking here.

[TWO // watch for these guys]
The Big Ten announced this past Wednesday its third annual football Players to Watch list, with 10 players earning preseason recognition. The preseason Players to Watch list is selected by a media panel and consists of five student-athletes each from the Legends Division and Leaders Division.  Representing the Legends Division are Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner and offensive tackle Taylor Lewan, Michigan State linebacker Max Bullough, Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez and Northwestern running back Venric Mark.  A unanimous selection, Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller is one of three Buckeyes named to the Leaders Division Players to Watch list. Buckeye cornerback Bradley Roby and linebacker Ryan Shazier, Penn State wide receiver Allen Robinson and Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland round out the division’s honorees.

[THREE // indy bound]
Tickets for the 2013 Big Ten Football Championship Game went on sale to the general public this past Saturday.  The third annual Big Ten Football Championship Game will be played on Saturday, Dec. 7 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, with kickoff set for 8:17 p.m. ET. The Championship Game will be broadcast nationally on FOX.  Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster at or by calling (800) 745-3000. Tickets will range from $50 to $90 depending on the seat location and each order will be limited to eight tickets. In addition, every Big Ten Football Championship Game ticket includes complimentary admission to the Big Ten Fan Fest presented by Dr Pepper, to be held at the Indiana Convention Center on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 6-7.

[FOUR // b1g bowl business]
The Big Ten extended its relationship with the Heart of Dallas Bowl presented by PlainsCapital Bank this past Tuesday and entered into an agreement with the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl to secure a commitment to have a conference school play in the postseason games, on a rotating basis, during a seven-year period following the 2013-2019 seasons.  Starting in 2013, the Big Ten will place seven teams over a seven-year period in the Metroplex. The 2013 Heart of Dallas Bowl presented by PlainsCapital Bank will host the Big Ten on an ESPNU televised game.  Their opponent will be a school from Conference USA and the game will kickoff at 11 a.m. (CT) on Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014 at the Cotton Bowl stadium in Dallas, Texas. 

[FIVE // camp visitors]
In addition to welcoming all 12 conference head coaches to their headquarters next week, ESPN will visit a pair of Big Ten campuses as part of their preseason college football coverage. Ohio State is one of 10 stops during the ESPN DIRECTV Mobile Studio Tour, where College Football Live will have a studio crew onsite to conduct player and coach interviews. The tour will visit Columbus on Aug. 13 and will air at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN2.   This year, Penn State will be the subject of this season's ESPN All-Access, which will introduce Nittany Lion players and coaches during pre-season training camp. The filming will conclude with a one-hour ESPN or ESPN2 special on Aug. 20 at 7 p.m. In addition, Penn State vignettes will be shown during College Football Live, SportsCenter and multiple ESPNU shows beginning Aug. 16. A five-part series consisting of 30-minute specials on ESPNU will begin Aug. 21 at 6 p.m. The remaining four airdates on ESPNU are to be announced.

[SIX // 12k for 10k]
More than 12,000 participants took part in the BTN Big 10K event in Chicago this past Saturday.  Participants dressed up in their favorite school colors and competed for their Big Ten team in the 10K race or 5K run/walk. Following the race, participants joined fellow Big Ten fans tailgating along the route at the Big Ten FanFest and Tailgate party.  For complete coverage on the race, check out the BTN Big 10K page here.

[SEVEN // focused on the head]
The Big Ten and the Ivy League, in conjunction with the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC), hosted the Big Ten-Ivy League Head Injury Summit on July 18-19 in Park Ridge, Ill. A total of 65 individuals from 23 institutions, representing each member institution from the Big Ten, Ivy League and CIC, participated in the two-day event in an effort to engage in collaborative discussions and to refine the strategic priorities of the historic, unprecedented research initiative that was announced by the conferences in June 2012. The summit provided an open forum for the subject-matter experts in attendance to review the current clinical and research efforts that exist on each campus, and allowed the group to define the short- and long-term areas of emphasis to address.     

[EIGHT // scholars on the links]
Eight Big Ten golfers were among the 152 Division I players named this past week as Cleveland Golf/Srixon All-America Scholars.  Congratulations to Indiana’s Michael McGee, David Mills, and Corey Ziedonis, Michigan State’s Dan Ellis, MIchigan State, Northwestern’s Nicholas Losole III and Jack Perry, Penn State’s Anthony DeGol, and Wisconsin’s Chris Meyer. To be eligible for Cleveland Golf/Srixon All-America Scholar status an individual must be a junior or senior academically, compete in at least three full years at the collegiate level, participate in 50-percent of his team’s competitive rounds or compete in the NCAA Championships, have a stroke-average under 76.0 in Division I, and maintain a minimum cumulative grade-point average of 3.2. A recipient must also be of high moral character and be in good standing at his college or university.

[NINE // on track for academic success]
This past Wednesday, the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) honored 70 Big Ten men’s and 76 women’s standouts as members of the 2013 USTFCCCA All-Academic team – totals that ranked as the nation’s best for both genders.  As the only conference with multiple teams with 10 or more honorees, the Big Ten led all conferences with 70 total selections — nearly doubling the runner-up ACC (36) and exactly doubling the SEC (35.)  On the men’s side, Nebraska led the way with 12 honorees, while Indiana and Minnesota followed closely behind with 11 each.  On the women’s side, the Big Ten topped the conference competition with 76 All-Academic individuals, narrowly edging out the SEC with 71 and the Pac-12 with 66. Within the conference, Minnesota paced the league with 12 honorees, followed by Nebraska with 11, and Indiana and Michigan with nine apiece.

[TEN // garner garners head coaching gig at illinois]
University of Illinois Director of Athletics Mike Thomas recently announced the hiring of Ron Garner as the Fighting Illini's women's track and field head coach. Garner returns to Illinois with over 25 years of collegiate experience, including serving as the assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for the Illini women's track and field team from 1991-1998. Garner has spent the past two seasons at the University of South Carolina as an assistant coach for the men's and women's track and field teams, specializing in sprints and relay events. He coached 20 All-Americans in 12 events during his time with the Gamecocks.

[ELEVEN // hockey hall calling msu’s mason]
As the Big Ten prepares to begin its inaugural men’s ice hockey season in 2013-14, we pause to salute a former Big Ten administrator and hockey coach who helped shape the Michigan State program.  Ron Mason, who spent 36 years behind the bench in college hockey, including 23 years at MSU, where he posted a 635-270-69 mark and guided the Spartans to the 1986 NCAA Championship, was selected for induction into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame, as announced by USA Hockey this past Thursday.  Following his illustrious coaching career, Mason took on a different role, serving as MSU's Athletics Director. During his tenure as AD, MSU teams captured 11 conference championships (regular season and postseason combined) and one national championship (hockey, 2007). In addition, MSU was represented at the NCAA Championships 76 times, including Final Four/Frozen Four appearances by men's basketball (2005), women's basketball (2005), field hockey (2002 and 2004) and ice hockey (2007).

[TWELVE // kickers…]
Finally this week, we have to tip our cap to Northwestern senior kicker Jeff Budzien, who wasn’t formally invited as a Wildcat player representative, but managed to “crash” this past week’s Big Ten Football Media Day and Kickoff Luncheon as a member of the media.  Told by head coach Pat Fitzgerald that kickers are not invited to the annual preseason event, Budzien found another way in by posing as a credentialed member of Northwestern’s athletics website,  It’s a pretty entertaining – and clever – video put together by the Wildcats, and just adds to the excitement of the ensuing kickoff next month.