BTN is halfway through the Bus Tour of 2013. So far, Dave, Gerry, Howard, Tom and team have been to Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan and Michigan State, and wrap up their visit to Purdue today. Then, the bus returns to Chicago, where the guys get a chance to see their families, do a load of laundry and get ready for Part II. The first BTN Football Preview Show, on the prospects for the Indiana Hoosiers, airs tonight at 8 PM ET.
Throughout the tour’s two weeks, they’ll put over 5,000 miles on a custom-wrapped coach bus with BTN logos and photos of the team leaders, who get to sign the bus after practice.
We caught up with BTN Assignment Manager Kyle Coughlin, who plans the tour for us.
Extra Points: When do you start planning the tour each year? Twelve stops and 5,000 miles requires a lot of planning.
Kyle: Planning really never stops for the tour because you learn something every year. To really get down to the details, I start making plans in early June asking schools when their official start of practice will be this season.
Extra Points: How many people are usually on the trip?
KC: Usually about 12-13 (Between talent, producers, staff). This year, for the first three stops, we had (Big Ten Commissioner ) Jim Delany and (Chief Communications Officer) Diane Dietz with us, and that will likely be our high. This year, we also welcomed two new guys to the tour, studio producer Bill Koplos and new researcher, Harold Shelton. You may want to ask them if they’re going to come back to work or if the tour did them in.
Extra Points: What has been your favorite restaurant stop?
KC: We do eat on the bus a lot so we can save time and get to the next city. But we do have good meals everywhere we go. A couple of my favorites were Cap City Diner in Columbus, Gratzi in Ann Arbor, and of course, Zingerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor. We enjoyed Coach Dinardo’s restaurant and he is a gracious host. He works as hard hosting us as he does at practice. We also appreciate Penn State for taking us out to dinner when we were there.
Extra Points: Anything you can add that would surprise fans?
KC: An impromptu football game broke out at a rest stop between Columbus and State College which included the Commissioner. He still has a pretty good arm, but the most important thing was no one was hurt!