Aug. 1, 2010
[ONE // time for kickoff]
The wait is almost over! Big Ten football officially gets underway on Monday and Tuesday with Big Ten Football Media Day and the 39th Annual Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon. The conference's annual media day will take place Monday at the McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago. On Tuesday, Kickoff Luncheon festivities are set to begin at 10 a.m. CT with the annual players and coaches autograph session for fans attending the luncheon. The luncheon will begin at 11:30 a.m. CT. Each of the 11 Big Ten head football coaches and 33 of the conference's top returning players will be featured at the Kickoff Luncheon. The complete list of player attendees has been announced and is available at www.bigten.org. This season's Kickoff Luncheon is definitely one of interest for college sports fans throughout the country! Stay tuned to BigTen.org and BigTenNetwork.com for all updates throughout the next two days.
[TWO // from espn to emcee]
Speaking of the Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon, the Big Ten announced this past Monday that ESPN's Rece Davis will serve as emcee for the 39th annual event on Tuesday. Davis serves as the primary studio host for ESPN's and ESPN2's coverage of college football and college basketball as well as Saturday college football pregame, halftime and postgame studio coverage. He hosts College Football Final alongside analysts Lou Holtz and Mark May and will call play-by-play for ESPN's Thursday night series with analysts Jesse Palmer and Craig James and reporter Jenn Brown. Davis is a regular contributor to SportsCenter and ESPN Radio, calls select college basketball games and is the host of ESPN's College GameDay basketball road show. A native of Muscle Shoals, Ala., Davis graduated cum laude from the University of Alabama in 1988 with dual Bachelor of Arts degrees in broadcast news and public affairs. Davis joined ESPN in 1995 after working at WJRT-TV in Flint, Mich., as a sports anchor and reporter from 1993-95.
[THREE // three conference quarterbacks named to watch list... so far]
Several national award watch lists have already been announced in football, but the Manning Award is taking a unique and rather "social" way of naming its contenders for the upcoming season. The Manning Award, sponsored by the Allstate Sugar Bowl, is releasing the Watch List one player per day through its official Facebook and Twitter pages. The award has honored the top quarterback in the nation for the past six years. As of August 1, three Big Ten quarterbacks have been named to the list. Congratulations to Iowa's Ricky Stanzi, Michigan State's Kirk Cousins and Wisconsin's Scott Tolzien, and stayed tuned to see if more Big Ten QBs are named to the list, which will be officially released on August 16th at 2 p.m. ET.
[FOUR // btn announces new fall lineup]
On the heels of its most successful ratings year, the Big Ten Network announced this past week it will debut several programs in September, enhancing its fall lineup to include new shows about the conference's iconic student-athletes, the current lives of former Big Ten stars in sports and society, and rare footage from the Big Ten of yesteryear. The new shows, which roll out almost daily beginning Sept. 3, are Big Ten Icons, The Next Level, Big Ten Film Vault, Big Ten Pulse, Big Ten Football Report, and Big Ten Football Saturday: Kickoff. The Big Ten Network saw significant year-over-year ratings increases during the 2009-10 academic year. For more information on the new shows, click here to see the BTN's official release.
[FIVE // michigan's king wins tennis doubles title]
Great news for Michigan tennis this week as sophomore Evan King, the reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year, earned his first professional tennis title as an amateur on Saturday, teaming with Jordan Cox to win the doubles championship at the USTA Futures Tournament at Lewis & Clark Community College. King and Cox defeated Jean Anderson and Josh Zavala, 4-6, 6-3, (12-10) in the final. King is spending the summer training as part of the USTA Summer Collegiate team, an elite training program designed for the nation's top collegiate players. To go along with his success in the doubles draw, King also reached the quarterfinals of the singles main draw after winning four straight qualifying matches as a wildcard. He was eventually ousted by Rhyne Williams, 6-3, 6-2.
[SIX // overton falls just shy of first career pga tour victory, points ties for fourth]
And while one current Big Ten student-athlete earned his first professional title this past week in tennis, two former conference golfers were teamed together in the final pairing Sunday in search of their first PGA Tour title. Unfortunately for Illinois' D.A. Points and Indiana's Jeff Overton, golf's "magic number" left them just shy of reaching that goal at the Greenbrier Classic. Stuart Appleby recorded the fifth round of 59 in PGA Tour history to defeat Overton by one stroke. Ironically, Applyby played with Points on Saturday, who flirted with a 59 of his own before settling for a 61. Overton, who began the final round with a three-stroke lead, barley missed a 52-foot birdie putt on the final hole to force a playoff. His 72-hole, 21-under-par score of 259 (64-62-66-67) earned him sole second place, marking his fifth top-five finish of the year. Points finished tied for fourth at 265 (68-66-61-70).
[SEVEN // the new face of gopher golf]
Staying on the golf course, Minnesota announced Friday that John Harris has been named director of golf for the Golden Gopher men's and women's golf programs. Harris takes over for Brad James, who was left in July to become the high performance director for Golf Australia and the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS). James had been with the program since the 1993-94 season. Harris was a four-year letterwinner on the golf team and played in three NCAA Championships, finishing 17th at the 1973 event. The Gopher graduate was named an All-American following the 1973 and 1974 seasons and also garnered first team All-Big Ten honors both years. He went on to finish his career by winning the 1974 Big Ten individual title as well as the Les Bolstad award, given annually to the conference player with the lowest season scoring average.
[EIGHT // ustfccca honors men's student-athletes]
This past week the USTFCCCA announced the men's 2010 Division I All-Academic Track & Field team with a record total of 357 student-athletes represented. Of those 357 student-athletes, 37 were from Big Ten institutions, a total second only to the Pac-10's 45 representatives. Stanford led all squads with 12 honors, followed by Minnesota and BYU with 10. Future Big Ten member Nebraska had eight student-athletes honors. To qualify for the USTFCCCA All-Academic Track and Field Team, the student-athlete must have compiled a cumulative grade point average of 3.25 and have met either the NCAA Division I Indoor automatic or provisional qualifying standard or participated in the NCAA Division I Outdoor Championships (including preliminary rounds) in their respective event. Congratulations to Illinois' Matthew McHugh, Hunter Mickow, Greg Shroka and Joshua Zinzer; Indiana's Andy Bayer, Zach Mayhew, Derek Messmer, Olumide Olamigoke, Andrew Poore and Chris Vaughn; Iowa's Kevfn Dibbern and Erik Sowinski; Michigan's Kurt Williams; Michigan State's Anthony Agrusa and Isaiah VanDoorne; Minnesota's Raymond Blackledge, Oladipo Fagbemi, Micah Hegerle, Paul Hoplin, Tyler Kleinhuizen, R.J. McGinnis, David Pachuta, Joseph Schwecke, Aaron Studt and Michael Torchia; Penn State's Cory Eck, Ryan Foster and Tyler McCandless; Purdue's William Hardcastle, Lance Moe, Simon Rogers and Eric Sparks; and Wisconsin's Jack Bolas, Jake Fritz, Elliot Krause, Luke Rucks and Drew Shields.
[NINE // ustfccca honors top females as well]
In addition to men's honorees, the USTFCCCA also announced the women's 2010 Division I All-Academic Track & Field team. A record total of 557 student-athletes representing 152 institutions composed the group. The Big Ten notched the conference lead with 65 All-Academic nods while the Big 12 was edged out with 64. Nebraska, which will join the Big Ten in July 2011, led all schools for the second-straight year with 18 honorees. Congratulations to Illinois' Madeline Aufmann, Angela Bizzarri, Elizabeth Boyle, Marissa Golliday, Chantelle Groenewoud, Kendall McCaugherty, Shannon Phelan, Kayla Smith and Alecia Stewart; Indiana's Molly Beckwith, Chelsea Blanchard, Kristen Crawford, Breanne Ehrman, Caitlin Engel, Jordan Gray, Sarah Pease, Wendi Robinson and Faith Sherrill; Iowa's Amanda Hardesty, Tiffany Medenwaldt, McKenzie Melander and Bethany Praska; Michigan's Rebecca Addison, Jillian Smith, Danielle Tauro and Alexandria Williams; Michigan State's Rebecca Buchholtz, Leah Elenbaas, Carlie Green, Emily MacLeod and Ashley Smith; Minnesota's Gabriele Anderson, Jamie Dittmar, Megan Duwell, Amy Laskowske, Felicitias Mensing, Chimerem Okoroji, Becca Pilkerton, Kathryn Ritter, Alicia Rue, Kelly Stalpes, Mallory Van Ness, Todea-Kay Willis and Elizabeth Yetzer; Ohio State's Sarah Lowe, Kelcey McKinney and Katie Williams; Penn State's
Aleesha Barber, Natalie Bower, Megan Duncan, Bridget Franek and Cheryl Spring; Purdue's Emily Breslin, Leah Eber, Alice Feslier-Holmes, Nancy Hammel, Sarah Klazynski, Brianna Neumann and Elizabeth Stover; and Wisconsin's Caitlin Comfort, Chavon Robinson, Megan Seidl, Jenna Severson, Jenny Soceka and Egle Staisiunaite.
[TEN // putting the focus on health and his degree]
This past men's basketball season, Northwestern nearly earned its first-ever NCAA Tournament bid without the services of leading scorer Kevin Coble, who suffered a season-ending foot injury in a preseason practice. This past week, the Wildcats learned that they will once again be without the services of Coble. Putting the focus on rehabbing his foot and earning his political science degree in December, Coble has elected not to play during his senior season. Coble concludes his time at Northwestern ranked 14th in school history with 1,203 career points. He led the Wildcats in both scoring and rebounding in each of his three seasons, including becoming the first player in program history to do so his freshman season. A member of the 2006-07 Big Ten All-Freshman Team, he was an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection as a sophomore before being named to the All-Big Ten second team his junior year. While the announcement is a setback for Northwestern, head coach Bill Carmody told ESPN's Andy Katz this week that Coble's decision will not deflect the focus of the team as they prepare for a team-building trip in Italy and the upcoming season.
[ELEVEN // buckeyes suffer hard hit with the loss of tatum]
Finally this week, as we put all of our attention on the upcoming football season, we pause to mourn the loss of Ohio State great Jack Tatum, who died Tuesday in an Oakland hospital. He was 61. From 1968-70, Jack Tatum was one of the dominant defensive players and most intimidating forces in college football during his career at Ohio State. A three-year starter, a two-time All-American and the National Defensive Player of the Year as a senior, he was known for his tenacity and fierce style of play. During Tatum's career, OSU rolled up a 27-2 record and won the 1968 national championship, two Big Ten titles and played in two Rose Bowls. The Oakland Raiders selected him in the first round of the 1971 NFL Draft. In his nine-year career, he was named to the Pro Bowl three times and was a member of the 1976 Super Bowl champion Raiders. He was inducted into the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame in 1981 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 2004. "We have lost one of our greatest Buckeyes," said Ohio State head football coach Jim Tressel. "When you think of Ohio State defense, the first name that comes to mind is Jack Tatum. His loss touches every era of Ohio State players and fans."