This Week in the Big Ten

Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany visited the University of Minnesota this past week, and made stops at Iowa, Nebraska and Purdue as well.

Aug 25, 2013

[ONE // party on the pitch]
We are underway in the 2013-14 season as Big Ten women’s soccer took to the field this past weekend.  All 12 conference teams were in action with eight league squads finishing the weekend a perfect 2-0.  Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio State and Wisconsin all head into the second week of action with unblemished records, while Penn State opened 1-0-1, Illinois and Purdue went 1-1, and Northwestern dropped both its contests to start the year. 

[TWO // women’s soccer trio honored in preseason rankings]
Top Drawer Soccer released its women's soccer preseason top 25 poll, with three Big Ten teams among the top 25. Penn State led the way at No. 5, followed by 17th-ranked Illinois and No. 23 Michigan.  Penn State won its 15th consecutive Big Ten Championship last season, while Illinois finished as the runner-up in the 2012 Big Ten Tournament. Michigan advanced to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16. 

[THREE // three teams recognized on the men’s side as well]
Top Drawer Soccer unveiled its men's soccer preseason top 25 poll, with three Big Ten squads garnering recognition. Defending national champion Indiana was slotted as the nation's No. 1 team, followed by No. 15 Michigan and No. 19 Northwestern. Indiana, which was also ranked No. 1 in the NSCAA/Continental Tire preseason top 25 poll, won its eighth national title in 2012. Michigan advanced to the Big Ten Tournament Championship game last season, while Northwestern won a share of the Big Ten title. The Wildcats were also slotted No. 19 in the preseason NSCAA top 25 poll.  The Big Ten men's soccer season officially kicks off on Friday, Aug. 30. Conference play is set to begin on Oct. 1, with the Big Ten Tournament being hosted by Ohio State from Nov. 13-17.

[FOUR // hoosiers hold down top spot in men’s soccer poll]
The Big Ten announced on Wednesday its 2013 men's soccer preseason coaches' poll and players to watch list, with defending national champion Indiana earning top honors among the seven conference teams. The Hoosiers, who are ranked No. 1 in the NCAA preseason top 25 poll, became the first-ever No. 16 seed to win the national title last season.  Reigning Big Ten Tournament Champion Michigan State checked in at No. 2 in the preseason poll, followed by No. 3 Northwestern, No. 4 Michigan and No. 5 Penn State. The Wildcats and Nittany Lions shared the Big Ten title in 2012.  Ten players that earned postseason awards or were named All-Big Ten in 2012 were members of the 2013 players to watch list, which can be found here along with the preseason poll.

[FIVE // four to watch for the hermann]
The 2013 Missouri Athletic Club (MAC) Hermann Trophy Watch Lists were announced by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) last Tuesday, and a combined four Big Ten student-athletes were recognized.  Illinois' Vanessa DiBernardo and Penn State's Whitney Church and Maya Hayes were the Big Ten's women's soccer representatives, while Northwestern goalkeeper Tyler Miller was named to the men's watch list. The MAC Hermann Trophy is annually awarded to the nation's top Division I soccer player. At the end of the regular season, the respective men's and women's watch lists will be narrowed down to 15 student-athletes. Fans will be able to vote for the semifinalists beginning in November on the MAC Hermann Trophy website. From that pool of 30, six finalists (three men, three women) will be chosen for the award. The winners will be announced in January. 

[SIX // six soccer standouts with class]
The men's and women's soccer 2013 Senior CLASS Award nominees were announced Wednesday, and the Big Ten had six total student-athletes garner recognition.  Big Ten men's soccer nominees included Michigan State's Kevin Cope, Indiana's A.J. Corrado and Northwestern's Chris Ritter. On the women's side, Illinois' Vanessa DiBernardo, Penn State's Maya Hayes and Michigan's Holly Hein were all named Senior CLASS Award nominees.  An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.  The candidate classes will be narrowed to 10 finalists midway through the regular season.

[SEVEN // field hockey’s women to watch]
The Big Ten announced its 2013 Field Hockey Players to Watch List on Thursday, highlighted by 12 All-Big Ten selections from last season and the 2012 Defensive Player of the Year in Penn State’s Brittany Grzywacz.  The returning All-Big Ten selections from last season include six first-team honorees—Michigan’s Rachel Mack, Michigan State’s Abby Barker, Northwestern’s Nikki Parsley and Tara Puffenburger and Penn State’s Laura Gebhart and Grzywacz. Players to watch who were earned second-team All-Big Ten recognition last year include Indiana’s Hannah Boyer and Audra Heilman, Iowa’s Marike Stribos, Michigan’s Lauren Thomas, Michigan State’s Becky Stiles and Ohio State’s Arielle Cowie.  Eight standouts were named to the Preseason Players to Watch List for the second consecutive season, including Boyer, Michigan State’s Molly Cassidy, Gebhart, Heilman, Iowa’s Karli Johansen, Mack, Parsley and Puffenburger.  A complete breakdown can be found by clicking here.

[EIGHT // wrapping up the road tour]
Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany wrapped up his preseason promotional journey through Big Ten Country this past week, which celebrated his 25th year as conference commissioner.  Commissioner Delany made his final stops at Purdue, Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska, speaking with school administrators and head football coaches, while addressing each football squad as well.  At Purdue, he met with new head coach Darrell Hazell, and then met with athletic director Gary Barta and head coach Kirk Ferentz at Iowa.  While at Minnesota, Delany took a little time talking football and hockey, before taking part in the ribbon cutting ceremony at the East Stadium complex at Nebraska.  For more on the Commissioner’s journey, click here.

[NINE // four football stars named to watch list]
Four Big Ten football players were named to the inaugural Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award Watch List on Wednesday. The award honors the top offensive player in Division I who also exhibits the enduring characteristics that define Earl Campbell: integrity, performance, teamwork, sportsmanship, drive, community and tenacity in overcoming adversity and injury in pursuit of reaching goals. Iowa's Damon Bullock, Minnesota's Rodrick Williams, Jr., Northwestern's Venric Mark and Purdue's Cody Davis are among the preseason list, which will be trimmed to 16 semifinalists in November. Four finalists will be revealed in December, with the winner announced on Jan. 10.

[TEN // a partnership to keep their heads up]
The Big Ten announced this past Monday a partnership with USA Football to advance player safety through USA Football's Heads Up Football program.  Nearly 2,800 youth and high school football programs across the United States representing 600,000 players and 90,000 coaches have committed to the health and safety of their players by adopting Heads Up Football, a new program dedicated to making the game better and safer. Heads Up Football provides coaching education and teaching resources that benefit players, parents and coaches while teaching tackling techniques that take the head out of the game.  The Big Ten and USA Football will produce public service announcements featuring each of the conference's head football coaches to voice the importance of Heads Up Football participation. Video messages will appear throughout the 2013 football season on BTN, stadium video boards, conference and member institutions' athletic web sites and

[ELEVEN // super tuesday schedule announced]
This past Monday, ESPN announced its Super Tuesday schedule for the 2014 men's college basketball season - showcasing a game from the Big Ten and the SEC each Tuesday beginning Jan. 7. The ESPN doubleheader will tip-off at 7 p.m. ET, followed by a 9 p.m. game. The Big Ten and the SEC will play conference matchups, switching timeslots on varying weeks, through the nine-week series that wraps up March 4.

[TWELVE // northwestern newcomer named world’s top amateur]
Finally this week, Northwestern freshman golfer Matt Fitzpatrick has won the Mark H McCormack Medal as the leading men's amateur player in the 2013 World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR). Fitzpatrick has enjoyed an outstanding season, winning the Silver Medal as the leading amateur at The Open Championship, becoming the first Englishman to win the U.S. Amateur Championship since 1911 and reaching the final of the English Amateur Championship. He secured his place in the field for next year's Open Championship at Royal Liverpool, the U.S. Open at Pinehurst and will receive an invitation to play in The Masters.