July 31, 2011
[ONE // kicked off]
The 2011 Big Ten Football Media Days wrapped up on Friday afternoon with the 40th Annual Big Ten Football Kickoff Luncheon at McCormick Place in Chicago. In front of a full house, master of ceremonies and Big Ten Network host Dave Revsine discussed the upcoming season with all 12 head coaches. On Thursday, all 12 coaches along with Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany and Big Ten Network President Mark Silverman spoke to members of the media. To see what they had to say, click here for Delany, Silverman, Illinois’ Ron Zook, Indiana’s Kevin Wilson, Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz, Michigan’s Brady Hoke, Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio, Minnestoa’s Jerry Kill, Nebraska’s Bo Pelini, Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald, Ohio State’s Luke Fickell, Penn State’s Joe Paterno, Purdue’s Danny Hope, and Wisconsin’s Bret Bielema.
[TWO // all sold out]
General public tickets for the inaugural Big Ten Football Championship Game went on sale at 10 a.m. ET Saturday morning and were completely sold out within two hours. An additional 15,000 tickets will be made available to each institution once participating teams are determined. The 2011 Big Ten Football Championship Game will begin at 8:17 p.m. ET on Saturday, Dec. 3 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis and will be televised by FOX Sports. Those individuals who purchased tickets through Ticketmaster or the Lucas Oil Stadium ticket office for the 2011 Big Ten Football Championship Game will have the opportunity at a later date to purchase tickets in a comparable location for the 2012 game. In addition, every Big Ten Football Championship Game ticket includes a ticket to Big Ten Fan Fest, to be held at the Indiana Convention Center from 10 a.m. ET until kickoff.
[THREE // heads or tails]
In other news at the 2011 Football Kickoff Luncheon, a coin toss was held to determine the home team for the inaugural Big Ten Football Championship game. The Legends division won the toss, and its champion will be the designated home team for the 2011 game.
[FOUR // watch these guys]
The Big Ten announced this past Friday its inaugural football Players to Watch list, with 12 players earning preseason recognition. Big Ten coaches voted to institute a preseason Players to Watch list beginning this season, honoring five student-athletes each from the Legends Division and Leaders Division. The 2011 list was selected by a media panel and features additional honorees due to a tie. Representing the Legends Division are Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson, Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins, Nebraska defensive tackle Jared Crick and linebacker Lavonte David and Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa. The Leaders Division honorees are Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase, Indiana wide receiver Damarlo Belcher, Ohio State center Mike Brewster and defensive tackle John Simon, Penn State linebacker Michael Mauti and Wisconsin running backs Montee Ball and James White.
[FIVE // get it to go]
BTN2Go, a live 24/7 multi-platform extension of the Big Ten Network, is scheduled to kick off at the start of the 2011 college football season, BTN President Mark Silverman announced this past Thursday. BTN2Go features a live feed of all BTN linear network programming, including more than 40 football games, over 100 men’s basketball games and hundreds of other live events, as well as Extra Football Game Channels, on-demand programming and archived content. BTN2Go will be offered exclusively through BTN’s participating cable, satellite and telco distribution partners as an authenticated digital service to subscribers who already receive BTN as part of their video subscription. Once their provider agrees to carry the service, fans will be able to access BTN2Go on three platforms: the Internet; iPad and iPhone. Specific launch dates for each platform will be forthcoming.
[SIX // brandon on the btn]
Among those who have been applauding the efforts and mobile strategies of the Big Ten Network is Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon. This past week in his blog on Mgoblue.com, Brandon noted that the “BTN is more than just a TV network. It is a business partner that is developing ideas to adapt to the ever-changing world of technology and information.” He added: “Information and content are at our fingertips, and individuals want their information instantaneously -- not necessarily on their desktops and televisions. They want it across different platforms. They want it mobile. They want it now. That's why the Big Ten Network's latest move into mobile technology is a smart business model not only for the BTN but for each school in the conference.” Read more about Brandon’s thoughts by clicking here.
[SEVEN // coverage contracts]
Three significant coverage agreements between the Big Ten Network and cable and satellite providers were made this past week prior to the Football Kickoff Luncheon. On Monday, DISH Network L.L.C. and the Big Ten Network announced that television coverage of Nebraska Cornhusker football games and other sports will soon be available to DISH Network customers. Starting Sept. 1, DISH Network customers in Nebraska who subscribe to the America’s Top 120 Plus programming package or greater can watch Husker regular season home football games during the team’s inaugural season in the Big Ten. On the same day, Time Warner Cable and BTN announced that the network will be available on the company’s standard service tier for customers in Nebraska beginning Aug. 23. Also in time for Nebraska’s inaugural Big Ten season, Charter is adding the Big Ten Network to Expanded Basic Digital, significantly expanding the number of customers enjoying BTN. BTN will remain on channel 425 and be seen by both Expanded Basic Digital and SportsView customers. BTN is also available at no additional cost for high-definition customers on channel 768.
[EIGHT // here’s to the heroes]
Representatives from both Iowa and Nebraska have acknowledged that the Hawkeyes and Cornhuskers will likely become new Big Ten rivals. However, the neighboring states also noted that rivalries can not be created overnight. But that’s not to say the two schools aren’t making strides to make their annual matchup on the gridiron a memorable one. On the last Friday of November in Lincoln, Neb., the football teams from the both schools will square off in the first of what is expected to be a long, competitive and entertaining rivalry between one of the Big Ten’s original member institutions and the league's most recent addition. Both schools unveiled their plan for "The Heroes Game" this past Friday morning, hours before the Big Ten celebrated the start of its 116th season of football. The institutions plan to honor one citizen of Iowa and one citizen of Nebraska prior to each Heroes Game for their extraordinary act. These heroes will be nominated by friends, neighbors or co-workers and will be guests of the two teams at the game where they will be honored on-field during game day. Each will also have their name and hometown etched on the to-be-created Heroes Game trophy.
[NINE // coach speak]
Typically when you get 12 conference football coaches in the same room talking to members of the media, you’ll get some pretty good quotes to print. Two of the best ones that came from the Football Kickoff Luncheon came from Penn State’s Joe Paterno and Wisconsin’s Bret Bielema. The Badger mentor spoke about how important the inclusion of Nebraska is, but warned his following not to sell their tickets for the matchup in Madison, which will be the Cornhuskers’ first Big Ten contest. Bielema said in jest, “To have Nebraska in our league is worth its weight in gold. To be able to open up Big Ten play and have maybe 30,000 to 40,000 Nebraska people coming to Madison, hopefully our guys don't sell tickets to them. I think we're putting in a policy that if anybody sells a ticket to a Nebraska fan, they lose their ticket privileges for three years.” Paterno on the other hand, had issues about technology. The 84-year-old coach does not own a cell phone or a computer, so forgive him if he is not all up to speed on Twitter. “People tell me about Twitter,” Paterno said. “I don't know what the hell Twitter is. When I was a kid, a twitter was when a good-lookin' girl walked by with a short skirt. Everybody twittered.”
[TEN // what it is all about]
Finally this week, as much as the conference football coaches spoke this week, nothing was more impressive, more poignant, than what Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins had to say before the sold out crowd at the Kickoff Luncheon. Cousins discussed the privilege and the responsibilities of a student-athlete and received a standing ovation from the crowd. If you have not yet seen the speech, take eight minutes of your day and click here. You will not be disappointed!