This Week in the Big Ten

Penn State's Nicole Fawcett was one of three former Big Ten standouts to be named by the Women's Sports Foundation as a finalist for Sportswoman of the Year.

Penn State's Nicole Fawcett was one of three former Big Ten standouts to be named by the Women's Sports Foundation as a finalist for Sportswoman of the Year.

Aug. 2, 2009

[ONE // college football season has officially begun]
Eleven coaches, 33 student-athletes, school representatives ranging from athletic directors to marketing directors to mascots, a bunch of national and regional media and close to 1,600 fans.  That’s what we saw at this past week’s 38th Annual Big Ten Football Kickoff Luncheon in Chicago.  Simply put, the college football season has officially begun.  Thanks to all of the fans for attending the event, following along on BigTen.org, BigTenNetwork.com, and on Twitter.  Or is that Tweedle-dum?  We’ll check with JoePa on that one!

[TWO // buckeyes tabbed as conference favorite]
The Big Ten announced Monday that Ohio State was selected as the preseason favorite for the 2009 season by media members attending the conference’s football media day. Penn State was tabbed to finish second, and Michigan State was third. Ohio State enters the 2009 campaign in search of its fifth straight Big Ten title. OSU finished last season with a 10-3 overall mark and tied with Penn State for the conference title with a 7-1 mark during Big Ten play.  Last year’s Big Ten Co-Champion, Penn State was selected to finish second this year after ending last season with a 7-1 mark in conference and an 11-2 overall record. Michigan State was tabbed to finish third in 2009 following a 2008 campaign in which the Spartans finished 9-4 overall with a 6-2 mark in conference play.

[THREE // buckeyes’ pryor and spartans’ jones honored]
In addition to predicting the order of the top three teams, the conference’s football media panel also named Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor the Preseason Offensive Player of the Year and Michigan State linebacker Greg Jones the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. Pryor is set to lead the Buckeyes following a season in which he was named the conference’s Freshman of the Year. The quarterback led the Big Ten with a pass efficiency rating of 151.3 in conference games, making him the first freshman to top the conference in the category since the stat was introduced in 1980. Pryor produced an 8-1 record as a starter and became the first Ohio State true freshman since 1978 to start at quarterback. Jones takes home preseason defensive honors after leading his team and finishing third in the Big Ten with 127 tackles in 2008. Jones was a first-team All-Big Ten selection a year ago and ranked among the conference’s top 10 with 14 tackles for loss while posting two sacks and a pass breakup. He has been named to the preseason watch lists for the Rotary Lombardi Award and the Lott Trophy.

[FOUR // big ten network going on the road]
The Big Ten Network's Dave Revsine, Gerry DiNardo and Howard Griffith are hitting the road to bring you the fan an up-close preview of the 2009 Big Ten football season.  The BTN’s Big Ten Football Tour will be a series of eleven 90-minute shows devoted to a preseason football practice at every conference university. The Big Ten Network broadcast team will cross eight states in a customized, chartered bus, and on each day that Revsine, DiNardo and Howard visit a campus, the Big Ten Network will air a nightly show featuring that school's football team that night at 10 p.m. ET.  Following the Tour, the BTN will air 30-minute preview shows for each team from August 26-30.

[FIVE // mackey award watch list announced]
Six Big Ten tight ends are being considered for the 2009 John Mackey Award, it was announced by the Nassau County Sports Commission this past week.  Given annually to the best collegiate tight end, the award recipient is selected by vote of the John Mackey Award Selection Committee and the 2009 John Mackey winner will be announced on December 10, 2009.  Best of luck to Illinois senior Mike Hoomanawanui, Iowa junior Tony Moeaki, Michigan State junior Charlie Gantt, Ohio State senior Jake Ballard, Penn State senior Andrew Quarless and Wisconsin senior Garrett Graham.  NFL Hall of Fame member John Mackey is considered to be the best to have played the tight end position.

[SIX // football back at the friendly confines?]
One of the top stories covered at this past week’s Football Kickoff Luncheon was the fact that Illinois and Northwestern are talking about moving their annual football game to Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs.  Discussions are still in the early stages, but talks are that that game could be moved to the Friendly Confines in 2010.  Football would not be new to Wrigley as the Chicago Bears called the ballpark home through the 1970 season.  Stay tuned!

[SEVEN // big ten greats among the greatest coaches]
Another story that created a buzz this past week was Sporting News Magazine’s list of the 50 greatest coaches of all time.  The magazine selected a panel of 118 Hall of Famers, championship coaches and other experts, to compile the list made up of coaches from all different sports.  Former Purdue standout John Wooden was hailed as the “greatest” coach for his record 10 Division I men's basketball championships in 12 years while at UCLA.  Other Big Ten notables included Penn State football coach Joe Paterno (No. 13), former Illinois football legend George Halas (14), former Indiana basketball coach Bob Knight (16), Ohio State football legend Woody Hayes (27), his counterpart at Michigan, Bo Schembechler (36), Amos Alonzo Stagg (40) of the former Big Ten school Chicago, former Northwestern mentor Ara Parseghian (44) and Minnesota hockey legend Herb Brooks (50).

[EIGHT // big ten duo helps usa u-19 ballclub win gold]
Two Big Ten women’s basketball players helped the 2009 USA U19 World Championship Team to the gold medal with an 87-71 victory over Spain on Sunday in Bangkok, Thailand.  Illinois’ Destiny Williams and Ohio State’s Samantha Prahalis played pivotal roles in guiding Team USA to an 8-1 record. Prahalis, who had 21 points in Sunday’s gold-medal game, ranked fourth on the team with 10.7 points per game.  Williams played in six of the nine games and averaged both 4.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per outing.  The U.S. now owns a record four gold medals and one bronze at the FIBA U19 Worlds and has posted a 49-11 all-time record in U19 World Championship play.

[NINE // women’s basketball standouts named to wade trophy watch list]
The Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA), on behalf of the Wade Coalition, announced this past week the 2009-2010 preseason "Wade Watch" list for The State Farm Wade Trophy Division I Player of the Year. Four Big Ten standouts were among the 25-member list made up of top NCAA Division I student-athletes who best embody the spirit of Lily Margaret Wade according to the following criteria: game and season statistics, leadership, character, effect on their team and overall playing ability.  Congratulations and best of luck to Illinois senior center Jenna Smith, Michigan State senior center Allyssa DeHaan and Ohio State sophomore guard Samantha Prahalis and junior center Jantel Lavender.  The 2010 State Farm Wade Trophy winner will be announced at the WBCA National Convention, held in conjunction with the NCAA Women's Final Four, in San Antonio, Texas, April 2-6.

[TEN // nittany lion up for sportswoman of the year]
Three former Big Ten standouts earned the distinguished honor this past week of being named among 10 finalists for the Women's Sports Foundation's Sportswoman of the Year award.   Congratulations to Northwestern lacrosse standout Hannah Nielsen, Penn State volleyball star Nicole Fawcett and Wisconsin hockey player Jessie Vetter on their distinctions.  The Women's Sports Foundation honors an individual and team each year based on their exceptional performance during a 12-month time span. Past winners include Nastia Liukin (2008), Natalie Coughlin (2003) and Michelle Kwan (1998) among numerous others.  Fans can vote until midnight on Aug. 9 and the winner will be notified on Aug. 14. The award will be presented at the Annual Salute to Women's in Sports Awards Dinner in October in New York City. To vote, visit the WomensSportsFoundation.org.

[ELEVEN // getting ready for the fall]
Finally this week, the Big Ten Network announced the television broadcast schedule for all Big Ten fall sports.  This will be the third season of unmatched national coverage for men’s and women’s soccer, women’s volleyball, cross country and field hockey.  To view the complete television schedule on the Big Ten Network, click here.