This Week in the Big Ten

Aug. 8, 2010

[ONE // football kickoff luncheon a huge success]
We open… or close this week with a special thank you to all of the passionate Big Ten football fans that flocked to Chicago and the internet this past week to catch the 2010 Big Ten Football Media Day and Kickoff Luncheon.  This year’s events took place in the McCormick Place Convention Center and was well-received by Big Ten administrators, coaches, student-athletes and fans.  If you missed any of the coverage, don’t you worry!  Track down the latest of what your favorite conference football coach had to say at the podium by clicking here for his transcript. blogger Brent Yarina was also in the building, capturing all the interesting quotes, pictures and tidbits over the two-day event.  We saw a candid picture of Penn State head coach Joe Paterno smiling along with Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany and Nebraska AD Tom Osborne and then treated to a great sit-down interview with Osborne and the Big Ten Network’s Dave Revsine talking about the attention the Cornhuskers have received since announcing its intentions to join the conference.

[TWO // buckeyes back on top]
The Big Ten released its top-three football preseason rankings on Monday and Ohio State was tabbed first in the poll, followed by Iowa and Wisconsin. Ohio State enters the 2010 campaign having won at least a share of the last five Big Ten titles, looking to match the Big Ten record of six consecutive, set by the Buckeyes from 1972-77. Ohio State went 7-1 in Big Ten play and 11-2 overall last season, including a 26-17 victory over Oregon in the Rose Bowl Game. Iowa tied for second in the Big Ten with a 6-2 mark in conference play and an 11-2 overall record, including a 24-14 victory against Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl. Wisconsin posted a 5-3 Big Ten record in 2009, tying for fourth in the conference standings. The Badgers went 10-3 overall, winning the Champs Sports Bowl with a 20-14 victory against Miami (Fla.).

[THREE // pryor and jones prepped with preseason honors]
For the second straight year, Michigan State's Greg Jones and Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor were selected as the Big Ten's Preseason Defensive and Offensive Players of the Year, respectively, the conference announced on Monday. This year marks the first since 1998 that the Big Ten's Preseason Defensive and Offensive Players of the Year have been repeat selections from the previous season. Ohio State's Andy Katzenmoyer (defense) and Wisconsin's Ron Dayne (offense) are the only other pair to accomplish the feat since at least 1996. Jones is the first back-to-back Preseason Defensive Player of the Year since Ohio State's James Laurinaitis in 2007 and 2008, and Pryor is the first player to repeat as Preseason Offensive Player of the Year since Dayne earned the honor in 1997, 1998 and 1999.  Jones was named the Big Ten's Defensive Player of the Year last season and was a first-team All-Conference pick after leading the Big Ten and ranking third in the nation with 11.8 tackles per game. Pryor has guided Ohio State to two Big Ten Championships and two Bowl Championship Series games in his first two seasons and was named the Offensive Most Valuable Player of the 2010 Rose Bowl Game. Last year, he completed 167 of 295 passes for 2,094 yards and 18 touchdowns and led the Buckeyes with 779 yards rushing.

[FOUR // the votes have been tallied]
This past week several national preseason football rankings were released and the Big Ten is well-represented in all of them. On Thursday, the USA Today preseason coaches' poll highlighted Ohio State in the No. 2 position, followed by 2011 Big Ten member Nebraska at No. 9, No. 10 Iowa, No. 12 Wisconsin and No. 14 Penn State.  In many of the preseason publications, the Big Ten and Big 12 lead all conferences with three teams appearing among the top 10 in at least two of the five preseason polls produced by Athlon,, Lindy's, Phil Steele and Sporting News. Iowa, Ohio State and Wisconsin are considered top-10 teams in at least two of those polls, while Penn State is rated among the top 25 in multiple rankings. The Big Ten and Big 12 are followed by the ACC, Pac-10 and SEC with two top-10 programs each. The Buckeyes are a consensus top-five selection, ranked as high as No. 2 by Athlon, Phil Steele and Sporting News. The Badgers were named a top-10 team by three outlets, appearing at No. 6 by Lindy's, No. 8 by Sporting News  and No. 10 by The Hawkeyes are ranked in the top 10 in two polls, including No. 8 by and No. 10 by Lindy's. The Nittany Lions appear among the top 25 in four preseason polls, including as high as No. 18 by Phil Steele.

[FIVE // bringing big ten football to the circle city]
The Big Ten Conference announced Thursday that Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis has been chosen as the proposed site for the inaugural Big Ten Football Championship Game to be played in December of 2011. The conference office will begin a 30-day period to negotiate a one-year agreement with Indiana Sports Corp and Lucas Oil Stadium to host the game. Once the 2011 agreement is in place, the conference office will conduct a thorough process over the next year to determine the location of the Big Ten Football Championship Game in 2012 and beyond. For the full release, click on this link.

[SIX // nod… or bobble your head to penn state]
Congratulations to the Penn State Alumni Association on being named Monday as the winner of the Big Ten Network “Bobblethon,” a contest to generate excitement for the network's upcoming "Big Ten Icons" series. The Nittany Lions defeated the University of Michigan's Alumni Association by fewer than 3,000 votes as the Wolverines came on strong during the last week of the contest.  Fans of all Big Ten schools tapped their favorite virtual bobblehead nearly a million times during the 5-month promotion that kicked off during the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament. As the winner the Penn State Alumni Association claims $10,000 for its scholarship fund. Big Ten Icons is the network's most ambitious project to date. The 20-episode series debuts Saturday, Sept. 18, and then airs Tuesdays at 9 PM ET.

[SEVEN // red, white and blue]
The Big Ten is tied for the lead among all conferences with three players named to the USA Men's Select Team. Illinois' Mike Tisdale, Purdue's JaJuan Johnson and Wisconsin's Jon Leuer have accepted invitations from USA Basketball to participate on another USA Men's Select Team that will train against 2010 USA Men's World Championship Team finalists during training in New York City.

[EIGHT // tourney time]
While we are talking basketball, several Big Ten schools learned of their opponents this week for several destination tournaments that will open the 2010-11 men’s basketball season.  Illinois will face Texas in the second semifinal game of the 16th annual 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer on Nov. 18 at 9 p.m. ET.  With a win, the Fighting Illini will face the victor of the first semifinal matchup between Pittsburgh and Maryland. Michigan will play Syracuse in its opening game of the 2010 Legends Classic championship round on Friday, Nov. 26, at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J., it was announced Wednesday.  Tipoff against the Orange is scheduled for 8 p.m. The following night, U-M will face either Georgia Tech or UTEP.  Michigan State will open the EA Sports Maui Invitational against Chaminade on Nov. 22 at 9:30 p.m. ET. The winner will advance to the semifinals to face the winner of the Wichita State-Connecticut contest. Matchups between Oklahoma and Kentucky and Virginia and Washington make up the bottom half of the bracket. Wisconsin learned its road to the 2010 Old Spice Classic championship Thursday with the release of the tournament’s bracket on ESPNEWS.  That journey starts with Manhattan, as the Badgers will open first-round play with a nationally-televised matchup against the Jaspers on Nov. 25. The opener is set for 2 p.m. ET on ESPN2.  From there, the Badgers could face any of the other four 2010 NCAA Tournament teams in the eight-team field over the next three days.

[NINE // watch these women]
Three Big Ten women's basketball players were selected to the 2010-11 preseason Wade Watch list for the State Farm Wade Trophy Division I Player of the Year, the Women's Basketball Coaches Association announced Wednesday morning.  Iowa's Kachine Alexander and Ohio State's Jantel Lavender and Samantha Prahalis were selected to the 25-member preseason watch list for the Wade Trophy, which is given annually to the Division I student-athlete who best embodies the spirit of Lily Margaret Wade according to the following criteria: game and season statistics, leadership, character, effort on their team and overall playing ability.  Last season, all three were named first-team All-Big Ten and guided their respective teams to the Big Ten Tournament final and the NCAA Tournament. Lavender is the reigning three-time Big Ten Player of the Year.  The Big Ten is tied for third among all conferences with three selections on the list, behind the Big East and SEC, who have four each, and tied with the ACC and the Big 12. Lavender is one of three players making the cut for the third time, while Prahalis is among six standouts receiving the honor for the second time. The winner of this year's award will be announced at the 2011 NCAA Women's Final Four in Indianapolis.

[TEN // ready to hit the pitch]
This past week College Soccer News released its preseason national top-30 rankings and preseason All-America teams and five conference squads and two standouts were recognized.  In the team rankings, Ohio State leads the Big Ten contingent at No. 10, followed by No. 16 Penn State, No. 18 Northwestern, No. 19 Michigan State and No. 21 Indiana.  Northwestern senior forward Matt Eliason was tabbed as a second-team preseason All-American, while Indiana junior forward Will Bruin was selected to the third team.

[ELEVEN // right on track]
Finally this week, congratulations to both the Indiana men’s indoor and Penn State women’s outdoor track and field teams on being named as Scholar Teams of the Year in Division I for the 2010 seasons by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). The squads earned the distinction as a result of being the highest-placing teams with at least a 3.00-cumulative GPA at the most recent NCAA indoor and outdoor championship, respectively. Indiana placed sixth at the 2010 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships and ended the 2010 winter term with a 3.02 cumulative team GPA. Penn State claimed fourth place at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in scoring 34 team points and had a cumulative team GPA of 3.00.