Former Big Ten Players and Coaches Set To Compete In Super Bowl XLIII

Jan. 27, 2009

Park Ridge, Ill. – The Big Ten Conference will be well-represented on Sunday, Feb. 1, in Super Bowl XLIII with 22 former student-athletes and seven coaches with previous conference connections on the rosters of the Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers. The Big Ten and ACC are tied for the lead among all conferences with 22 players on the two Super Bowl squads, followed by SEC (14 players), Pac-10 (11) and Big 12 (10).

Nine of the 11 Big Ten schools will be represented either on the field or on the sidelines on Super Bowl Sunday. Michigan leads the way with seven former players and three coaches with Wolverines ties. Illinois ranks second with four players, followed by three standouts each from Minnesota and Penn State and two players from Iowa. Purdue rates second to the Wolverines with two assistant coaches boasting Boilermaker backgrounds.

The Steelers feature 12 former Big Ten student-athletes, including 10 on the active roster. Minnesota leads the way with three standouts taking the field, including strong safety Tyrone Carter, running back Gary Russell and tight end Matt Spaeth. Three conference institutions boast a pair of former student-athletes including fullback Carey Davis and running back Rashard Mendenhall of Illinois, linebackers Larry Foote and LaMarr Woodley of Michigan and tight end Sean McHugh and defensive tackle Scott Paxson of Penn State. Other conference players on the roster include Iowa linebacker Mike Humpal, Northwestern offensive tackle Trai Essex and Ohio State wide receiver Santonio Holmes. Mendanhall and Humpal are currently on the team’s injured reserve list.

The Cardinals could highlight as many as 10 former Big Ten standouts, all on the active roster. The Wolverines boast five former players on the Arizona roster, including defensive tackle Alan Branch, wideout Steve Breaston, linebacker Victor Hobson, tight end Jerame Tuman and nose tackle Gabe Watson. The Fighting Illini will have two Cardinals on the field in long snapper Nathan Hodel and kicker Neil Rackers. Other conference players on the roster are Hawkeyes’ defensive end Kenny Iwebema, Nittany Lions’ offensive tackle Levi Brown and Boilermakers’ linebacker Chike Okeafor.



Seven assistant coaches with Big Ten connections will be prowling the sidelines at Super Bowl XLIII. Pittsburgh features four former conference players among the coaching ranks, including defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau (played at Ohio State), wide receivers coach Randy Fichtner (played at Purdue and also served as an assistant at Michigan and Purdue), running backs coach Kirby Wilson (played at Illinois) and offensive quality control assistant Harold Goodwin (played and served as an assistant at Michigan). Arizona boasts three former Big Ten assistants on its sideline in defensive line coach Ron Aiken (assistant at Iowa), defensive backs coach Teryl Austin (assistant at Penn State and Michigan) and linebackers coach Billy Davis (assistant at Michigan State).

The complete list of Big Ten players and coaches set to participate in Super Bowl XLIII appears below:

2009 Super Bowl Participants from Big Ten Schools

Arizona Cardinals (10)

Name                                       Position           School
Nathan Hodel                             LS                    Illinois
Neil Rackers                               K                     Illinois
Kenny Iwebema                         DE                    Iowa
Alan Branch                               DT                    Michigan
Steve Breaston                          WR                   Michigan
Victor Hobson                            LB                    Michigan
Jerame Tuman                          TE                    Michigan
Gabe Watson                            NT                    Michigan
Levi Brown                                OT                    Penn State
Chike Okeafor                          OLB                   Purdue

Ron Aiken, Defensive Line (Iowa assistant from 1999-2006)
Teryl Austin, Defensive Backs (Penn State assistant from 1991-92; Michigan assistant from 1999-2002)
Billy Davis, Linebackers (Michigan State graduate assistant from 1990-91)

Pittsburgh Steelers (12)

Name                                       Position           School
Carey Davis                               FB                   Illinois
Rashard Mendenhall*                 RB                   Illinois
Mike Humpal*                           LB                    Iowa
Larry Foote                                LB                    Michigan
LaMarr Woodley                         LB                    Michigan
Tyrone Carter                            SS                    Minnesota
Gary Russell                              RB                    Minnesota
Matt Spaeth                              TE                    Minnesota
Trai Essex                                 T                     Northwestern
Santonio Holmes                       WR                  Ohio State
Sean McHugh                            TE                    Penn State
Scott Paxson                             DT                   Penn State

Randy Fichtner, Wide Receivers (Played at Purdue from 1982-85; Assistant at Michigan from 1986-87 and Purdue from 1994-96)
Harold Goodwin, Offensive Quality Control (Played at Michigan from 1992-96; Graduate assistant at Michigan from 1996-97)
Dick LeBeau, Defensive Coordinator (Played at Ohio State from 1955-58)
Kirby Wilson, Running Backs (Played at Illinois from 1981-82)

* Injured Reserve