July 29, 2012
[ONE // let the games begin!]
As the 2012 Olympic Games commenced this past week, the Big Ten Conference is represented by over 100 participants and coaches in London from July 25–August 12. The group of Big Ten competitors, which includes 27 former Olympians and nine returning medalists, are representing 33 different countries in 24 different sports. Each school is represented at the games, with Michigan leading the way with 20 Olympic participants this year. The Wolverines are followed by Penn State (19), Nebraska (14), Ohio State (11) and Wisconsin (9). The Big Ten contingent of current or former student-athletes, coaches or alumni includes 57 members of the United States Olympic Team, along with participants and coaches from Australia, Bangladesh, Barbados, Bulgaria, Burundi, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, France, Great Britain, Honduras, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Mauritius, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Puerto Rico, Serbia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Sweden and Turkey. Among the notables so far, Minnesota’s Kelci Bryant claimed the silver medal in 3-meter synchro diving Sunday morning, while Michigan’s Peter Vanderkaay became the first Big Ten athlete to medal with a bronze in the finals of the 400-meter freestyle on Saturday.
[TWO // kickoff wrap-up]
The 41st annual Big Ten Football Kickoff Luncheon is in the books and what an experience it was for the conference’s coaches, student-athletes and fans this past week. Using the social media platform Storify, BigTen.org provided recaps of the actual Kickoff Luncheon, Big Ten Football Media Day, which occurred the day before, along with a feature on the players’ Media Day experience. Photo galleries and transcripts from each coach’s press conference were also made available. Those can be found by clicking here. Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson was the student-athlete selected to speak to the Luncheon crowd on behalf of the players. His speech, centered on choices, can be viewed by clicking here.
[THREE // watch these guys]
The Big Ten Conference announced Friday its second 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 offensive tackle Taylor Lewan and quarterback Denard Robinson, Michigan State cornerback Johnny Adams and defensive end William Gholston and Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead. The Leaders Division honorees are Ohio State defensive lineman John Simon and quarterback Braxton Miller, Purdue defensive tackle Kawann Short and Wisconsin running back Montee Ball and linebacker Chris Borland. The list of honorees includes the last two Big Ten Offensive Players of the Year in Robinson (2010) and Ball (2011), two Big Ten Freshman of the Year honorees in Borland (2009) and Miller (2011), five All-Americans and nine All-Conference selections.
[FOUR // the road to indy]
Tickets for the 2012 Big Ten Football Championship Game went on sale to the general public on Saturday, July 28 at 10 a.m. ET. The second annual Big Ten Football Championship Game will be played on Saturday, Dec. 1, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis and will begin at 8:17 p.m. ET on FOX. Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster at www.ticketmaster.com or by calling (800) 745-3000. Tickets range from $50 to $125 depending on seat location and orders will be limited to eight tickets. In addition, every Big Ten Football Championship Game ticket will allow complimentary admission to Big Ten Fan Fest presented by Dr. Pepper, to be held at the Indiana Convention Center from 10 a.m. ET on game day until kickoff. New for the 2012 game, tickets can also be reserved at BTN.com/TeamTix, a new ticket reservation system launched by the Big Ten in partnership with Forward Market Media (FMM) and BTN. For more information on TeamTix, click here.
[FIVE // talking talent]
BTN revealed Wednesday its game broadcast teams and studio talent for the 2012 football season. The network’s football schedule will feature more than 40 games, extensive pre-game, halftime and post-game coverage on Saturdays and football-themed studio shows every weeknight. For the sixth straight year, Dave Revsine, Gerry DiNardo and Howard Griffith will anchor the network’s game-day studio coverage on Big Ten Football Saturday, and will contribute to additional studio shows during the week. BTN’s broadcast teams for football telecasts include Eric Collins (play-by-play) and Derek Rackley (analyst); Kevin Kugler (play-by-play) and Chris Martin (analyst) and Matt Devlin (play-by-play) and Glen Mason (analyst). Several new faces are also joining BTN’s coverage of Big Ten football. For a complete list of the BTN’s talent for this upcoming fall, click here.
[SIX // three men for the manning]
Three Big Ten quarterbacks were selected to the Manning Award watch list, it was announced on Wednesday. The Manning Award, sponsored by the Allstate Sugar Bowl, has recognized the nation's top quarterback since 2005. The list of Big Ten players on the Manning Award watch list include Iowa’s James Vandenberg, Michigan’s Denard Robinson, and Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez.
[SEVEN // carrying on the tradition]
The Ohio State men's and women's basketball teams headline the 2012 Carrier Classic®, presented by the Morale Entertainment Foundation, a Georgia not-for-profit corporation, Nov. 9, 2012 in Charleston, S.C. The event is a doubleheader pitting the Ohio State women's team against NCAA runner-up Notre Dame and the men's teams of Marquette, who advanced to the Sweet 16 last season, and Final Four participant Ohio State. It will be played on the USS Yorktown, a museum ship at the Patriots Point historical complex in Mt. Pleasant, S.C., in Charleston Harbor. The Carrier Classic received rave reviews, and even an in-person visit from President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, when Michigan State and North Carolina battled on the U.S.S. Carl Vinson last year.
[EIGHT // made for maui]
And while the Carrier Classic will feature a Big Ten representative on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, another conference team will be opening the year in the Pacific as Illinois will compete in the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational, the nation's premier early season college basketball tournament. For the 29th year, Maui's oceanfront Lahaina Civic Center will be home to Basketball in Paradise during Thanksgiving week, as the eight Island Teams compete in the Championship Round for the (former Big Ten Commissioner) Wayne Duke Championship Trophy. Illinois will play the final first round game on Monday, Nov. 19, taking on USC at 11 p.m. CT. That game will be televised on ESPN2. Other first round match-ups include Texas vs. Chaminade (8:30 p.m. CT, ESPNU), Marquette vs. Butler (2:30 p.m. CT, ESPN2) and North Carolina vs. Mississippi State (5 p.m. CT, ESPN2).
[NINE // golfers great with the grades…]
Eleven Big Ten golfers were named Cleveland Golf/Srixon All-America Scholars by the GCAA on Wednesday. A total of 147 players in Division I, 52 in Division II and 14 in NAIA earned the honor. 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 70-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. Congratulations to Illinois’ Luke Guthrie, Indiana’s David Erdy, Iowa’s Christopher Brant and Bradley George, Michigan’s Miguel Echavarria, Michigan State’s Dan Ellis, David Ellis and Chris Mory, Northwestern’s Nicholas Losole III, Ohio State’s Daniel Charen, and Purdue’s Tyler Duncan.
[TEN // …same with the track teams]
In addition to the golfers, eleven Big Ten track and field teams were also honored this past week for their efforts in the classroom. The Illinois and Nebraska men’s programs were recognized as Division I All-Academic Track & Field Teams by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA), as we nine women’s teams, including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin.
[ELEVEN // a new gopher in town]
Minnesota Director of Athletics Norwood Teague announced this past Friday that Chuck Merzbacher has been selected as the next head coach of the Gophers’ women’s tennis program. His first day on the job in Gold Country will be Aug. 8. Merzbacher replaces Tyler Thomson, who after coaching the Gophers for 11 seasons, moved to the same post at William and Mary. Merzbacher returns to Minnesota, his alma mater, from fellow Big Ten member Ohio State to continue the tradition of the Maroon and Gold.
[TWELVE // a loss for michigan golf]
Finally this week, Tom Simon, the University of Michigan's first women's varsity golf coach, passed away Saturday at the age of 83. Not only was Simon the first head coach for the women's team, he took over as the Wolverines men's head coach in 1978 and coached both teams until the end of the 1981-82 season. Simon's time with the women's program saw the Wolverines qualify for three national MAIAW Tournaments in his six years, finishing among the top 10 schools in the nation in each of those events. As head coach of the men's program, Simon led the 1980 squad to second place in the Big Ten Tournament -- the best finish of any Wolverine team since 1968.