Aug. 17, 2008
by Jeff Smith
[ONE // the games continue…]
Another week of Olympic competition is in the books and the Big Ten continues to impress. This past week we saw several headline-making performances by conference representatives, including Michigan volunteer swim coach Michael Phelps’ historic run at eight gold medals, which bested the previous Olympic all-time mark of seven by Indiana’s Mark Spitz. In addition to Phelps, we saw Illinois’ Chris Robinson produce three hits in Canada's 5-4 loss to the United States baseball team, Indiana’s Christina Loukas and Iowa’s Nancilea Foster both qualify for the 3-meter springboard finals, and Minnesota’s Lindsey Berg and Nicole Branagh help advance the U.S. in indoor and beach volleyball, respectively. Northwestern’s Matt Grevers brought home the silver medal in the 100-meter backstroke and Ohio State’s Michael Redd and Katie Smith each contributed to Team USA’s undefeated record in men’s and women’s basketball. For a complete breakdown of Big Ten Daily Olympic Recaps, click on the following dates: August 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17.
[TWO // four conference football squads rank in preseason ap poll]
The Associated Press Preseason Top 25 football poll was released on Saturday and four conference squads are among the nation’s best. Ohio State garnered 21 first-place votes and enters the season second behind Georgia. Wisconsin is 13th, followed by Illinois and Penn State in 20th and 22nd, respectively. Michigan and Michigan State each received votes outside the top 25. For a complete look at the preseason poll, click here. Also be sure to follow BigTen.org over the next two weeks as we continue to preview each conference team for the 2008 season. This past week we began by taking a look at Ohio State, Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota.
[THREE // five guys who love to hit]
Five Big Ten hard-hitting linebackers were named this past Thursday to the 2008 Butkus Award Watch List, which annually honors the nation’s top linebacker. Among the award’s 66 candidates were Illinois’ Martez Wilson, Ohio State’s Marcus Freeman and James Laurinaitis, Purdue’s Anthony Heygood and Wisconsin’s Jonathan Casillas. Laurinaitis was honored as the 2007 Butkus Award winner, which is named after former Illinois standout and All-Pro linebacker Dick Butkus.
[FOUR // big ten volleyball announces preseason honors]
Five-time defending Big Ten Champion and defending NCAA Champion Penn State was tabbed Thursday by the conference coaches as the preseason favorite for the 2008 volleyball season. The distinction marks the fourth consecutive time the Nittany Lions have topped the preseason chart. Minnesota and Wisconsin were picked to finish second and third, respectively, and joined Penn State to combine for nine of the 12 selections on the Preseason All-Big Ten team. The 2008 volleyball season begins on Friday, Aug. 29, with all 11 conference teams in action.
[FIVE // big ten volleyball to play before national audience]
And when that Big Ten volleyball season gets underway, it will do so before a nationally televised audience. The conference office announced on Tuesday that 23 matches will be played on national television, including 20 contests on the Big Ten Network and the remaining three on ESPN2. The broadcast schedule begins Sunday, Sept. 14, on the Big Ten Network with a non-conference match between Notre Dame and Minnesota at the Gophers’ Sports Pavilion, part of Minnesota’s Diet Coke Classic. For a complete look at the 23-game broadcast schedule, click here.
[SIX // not just your average joe]
Congratulations and best of luck this season to Michigan State head men’s soccer coach Joe Baum. This past week Baum announced he will be retiring after the 2008 season, his 32nd campaign in East Lansing. In addition, current associate head coach Damon Rensing was named head coach designate and will take over the Spartan program on Jan. 1, 2009. To complete the transition, Baum will stay on with the team and serve as the team’s second assistant coach in 2009. Baum, who was featured last year on BigTen.org, will enter this season 11th all-time among active coaches with 307 career wins.
[SEVEN // time to head to the pitch]
Speaking of soccer, the NSCAA/adidas preseason national rankings were released on Tuesday with a trio of Big Ten squads represented in both the men’s and women’s polls. On the men’s side, Indiana enters the 2008 campaign ranked seventh, followed by No. 9 Ohio State and No. 20 Northwestern. Last season the Buckeyes advanced all the way to the NCAA national championship final. The Penn State women’s team, which finished 18-4-2 last season, will open the 2008 schedule ranked ninth. Illinois is ranked 19th and Purdue is 24th.
[EIGHT // columbus and ohio state in contention for ncaa women’s final four]
Great news for Ohio State and Columbus came this past Wednesday as both the school and the city learned they were named a finalist to host the NCAA Women’s Final Four between 2012 and 2016. The Buckeyes, along with the Greater Columbus Sports Commission and Nationwide Arena, submitted the hosting bid back in June and learned from the NCAA this past week they are one of eight remaining bids. After on-site visits in September in October, a final decision by the NCAA is expected by late November.
[NINE // a celebration of wolverines football]
Yes, the month of August typically means a host of preseason magazines for football fanatics, but if you are a Michigan football follower, this is one magazine you want to get! Sports Illustrated announced Thursday the release of "Michigan: A Celebration of Wolverines Football," which is on newsstands now. The 80-page special edition tells the legendary Wolverine football story from 1879 to the present day. The magazine also includes special interviews with Michigan legends, including Bo Schembechler, a 2008 preview, and an in-depth look at the Michigan and Ohio State – the greatest rivalry in all of sports.
[TEN // pair of badgers head to hall of fame]
Congratulations to Wisconsin representatives Peter Tegen and Mark Guthrie, who learned this week of their induction into the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association’s Hall of Fame. Put quite eloquently by uwbadgers.com, “One built the Wisconsin women’s program from the ground up and the other helped the Badgers’ men’s program reach its highest point.” Tegen coached the UW women’s track and field and cross country programs for 30 years beginning in 1973. Under Tegen’s watch the Badgers claimed the 1984 and 1985 NCAA Cross Country titles, while he managed to mentor 43 individual national champions and lead his athletes to 249 All-America distinctions. Guthrie, who made his mark by winning 22 NCAA Division III national titles in 19 years as head coach at UW-La Crosse, recently helped the Badgers to the 2007 NCAA Men’s Indoor Track and Field Championship. See the complete release by clicking here.
[ELEVEN // big ten network unveiled to comcast subscribers]
This past Friday marked a key milestone in the inaugural year of the Big Ten Network. Comcast, the nation's largest cable television provider, launched the national network to its subscribers within the conference’s eight-state region. In that region, an estimated 70 percent of all households now have the Big Ten Network. How does the BTN/Comcast partnership affect you? Click here to view the BTN/Comcast Fast Facts and Frequently Asked Questions.