Believe it or not, BTN will celebrate its fifth anniversary later this month. The big day is Aug. 30, to be exact. As a way to celebrate – not to mention kill time before the 2012 season kicks off – I’m spotlighting some of the great football careers during our time on the air. I’ll do it in the mold of “Big Ten’s Best,” our popular countdown show that returns this fall for another season of ranking the best in Big Ten history. My first list ranks the top five wide receivers of the last five seasons, aka the BTN era.
As it was announced last week, Penn State is adding nameplates to the back of its jerseys for the first time in program history. The Nittany Lions also will wear a blue ribbon on their uniform to support all victims of child abuse. @PennStateFball tweeted a picture of the road jersey nameplates Tuesday afternoon. See the photo in this post, plus a video of the home nameplates being prepared.
Coaches go to great measures trying to build team camaraderie. Second-year Minnesota football coach Jerry Kill recently approved a fun and enjoyable team building activity that could only make the team grow closer. The Gophers went paintballing Sunday. And goldengophergridiron’s YouTube page has a video from the event. See the full feature in this post.
The BTN tour bus just became an even bigger fan attraction. On Monday, the tour hit Madison, meaning it was time for 2011 Heisman Trophy finalist Montee Ball to sign his likeness on our bus. If you haven’t seen the bus, either in pictures or on the road, it features one Big Ten player from every team. Ball, of course, represents Wisconsin, the two-time defending Big Ten champs.
Suffering from a case of the Mondays? You’re in luck, because former Penn State defensive linemen and current NFL free agent Anthony Adams is here to entertain. In a recently uploaded YouTube video, Adams takes his mammoth figure to the basketball court, where he delights with his self-deprecating humor. The video is part of a series called “Stuff NFL Free Agents Say,” and it’s pretty memorable. Watch the entire video in this post.
It’s the middle of August, the college football season hasn’t started, and ESPN.com’s Joe Lunardi has released his first Bracketology. All kidding aside, Big Ten fans will like Lunardi’s prognostications, as he has seven Big Ten teams dancing, which ties the Big East for the most in the field.
Ever since 1940s, Nebraska has released Big Red balloons into the sky following the Huskers’ first touchdown at Memorial Stadium. The tradition will live to see one more day, in the 2012 opener against Southern Miss, but it will be put on indefinite hiatus until a global helium shortage is solved. According to Huskers.com, the team will release 2,000 to 2,500 balloons – compared to the usual 4,000 to 5,000 – if and when the Huskers score their first touchdown Sept. 1 to give fans one last photo op.
Make it two-time gold medal winner Deron Williams. The former Illinois and current Brooklyn Net point guard helped Team USA capture the gold medal with a 107-100 victory over Spain on the final day of the 2012 London Olympics. The gold medal marks Team USA and Williams’ second consecutive Olympic championship, and it makes Williams the first Big Ten men’s basketball player ever to win multiple gold medals. See a photo of Williams and his two gold medals in this post.
It was a hard days work for Illinois football coach Tim Beckman on Friday. Or perhaps, he really felt like bonding with standout linebacker Jonathan Brown. Either way, the first-year head coach capped Friday’s practice with a plunge in the ice bath. No joke. And from the picture @IllinoisFootball tweeted, it sure seemed as though Beckman enjoyed the cold temperatures. See the photo in this post.
Iowa’s Nico Law owns 11 career tackles. Eleven! But with a name like Nico Law and the ability to obliterate opponents, statistics aren’t needed to garner attention. Especially during preseason camp. The sophomore safety has impressed so much this summer, some in the Iowa football program are comparing him to Iowa legend Bob Sanders. Yes, that Bob Sanders, the three-time All-Big Ten first-team honoree. The comparisons may be a bit premature, but there’s no denying he’s a hard-hitting safety.
Not a great photo, by any means, but this is the only look I’ve seen of the much-debated new Purdue train logo on the football jersey. Back in April, the logo change was a hugely popular topic. And let’s just say, not many Boiler fans were happy with the tweaks Nike made. Well, they’re going to have to get used to it, because it’s displayed at the bottom of the collar, just like the old logo, sandwiched in between the new “B1G” patch and the Nike swoosh.
SI.com released its 2012 Preseason All-America Team on Thursday, and a half-dozen Big Ten players made the original cut (Update: Michigan State CB Johnny Adams was added due to the dismissal of LSU’s Tyrann Mathieu). Wisconsin running back Montee Ball, Wisconsin left tackle Ricky Wagner and Purdue defensive tackle Kawann Short earned first-team honors to headline the Big Ten representatives.
The changes keep coming at Penn State. The latest example is a new sign on the team’s sideline, with the Twitter hash tag #OneTeam. Penn State opens the season Sept. 1 vs. Ohio, and this sign is hardly the only thing that will be different from last season. Earlier this week, Penn State also announced it will have new uniforms for the 2012 season. @KevinOnCFB tweeted a picture of the new sign Thursday morning, and you can see it and other Penn State media day coverage in this post.
A few days ago, the shorts (short-pants?) Auburn wore at practice, forced me to look at some of the new fashion trends across Big Ten football practices. At the time, I didn’t see anything as old-school as Auburn’s look. Then, on Thursday, MGoVideo posted a YouTube video that featured Michigan linebacker in a pair of shorts that would make John Stockton very proud. See a picture of the shorts and watch the entertaining feature, as well, in this post.
In town playing Detroit, injured New York Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez toured Michigan’s new basketball Player Development Center on Wednesday. Not exactly sure of the connection, but here’s something we’re pretty confident about: Yankee teammate and Ohio State product Nick Swisher was nowhere near Ann Arbor and will have some choice words for the three-time AL MVP. See Michigan Basketball’s Facebook page’s picture of Rodriguez with the basketball staff in this post.
When Tom Dienhart wrote that Penn State should put blue ribbon stickers on both sides of its helmet, it got my attention. No helmet, it seems, is as sacred as Penn State’s – not even Michigan’s. After all, the Wolverines are coming off a season in which they added numbers to their lids and put gray facemasks in the rotation, both nods to the past. It’s back to the usual look in 2012. The last time Penn State made a significant change to its helmet: 1987, when it went from gray to blue facemasks.
Jared Sullinger and William Buford are gone, but Thad Matta still has plenty of talent coming back for the 2012-13 season. In Aaron Craft and Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State figures to boast one of the Big Ten’s elite duos. Throw in role player Lenzelle Smith and youngsters LaQuinton Ross and Sam Thompson, and the Buckeyes should be just fine. Athlon Sports believes in the Buckeyes, and that’s why the publication was in Columbus recently for a photo shoot. See a picture in this post.
When this photo surfaced earlier this summer, I couldn’t help but take a look around Big Ten football camps to see if there was anything similar. I did find this in Iowa City and later this in Ann Arbor, but they’re not nearly as old-school. So, unfortunately, there’s nothing as epic as Auburn’s new practice bottoms. I did notice a few changes from last season, though, and you can see all of them in this post.
Kirk Ferentz is a happy man. Yes, he has a revamped staff around him entering the 2012 season, but he also has all three of his sons in the same city for the first time since 2005. Another first: every Ferentz boy is an official member of the Iowa program. The oldest son, Brian, returned to Iowa City this past offseason as the offensive line coach; the middle son, James, is back for his senior season; and the youngest, Steven, is a freshman tight end. See a picture of the Ferentz family in this post.
With the first Big Ten football game still three-plus weeks away, I’m looking for any excuse to talk football. Uniform updates help me pass the time. Today is no different, especially with the release of Wisconsin’s new adidas alternate uniform. On a smaller note, the conference has a new rule that requires every team to wear a “B1G” patch on its jerseys. It’s been reported quite a bit and it’s something I tried to spotlight in my media days Clothes Call recap, but here is photo evidence.
After building up plenty of anticipation during its four-day slow reveal, Wisconsin unveiled its new adidas TECHFIT alternate uniform Monday. The Badgers will wear the new duds in their Big Ten opener Sept. 29 at Nebraska, which also will wear a new adidas alternate uniform. See pictures and videos of the uniform in this post, plus tell us if you like Wisconsin or Nebraska’s uni better.
Here’s a great question CBSSports.com asked a pool of 100 coaches: If you could add any one player to your team for next season, who would it be? Great stuff, right? It’s even better when you study the results, which yield three Big Ten stars in the top 7. Topping the list, of course, is Indiana’s Cody Zeller, who received 35 percent of the votes, 23 percent more than the No. 2 guy, UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad. Ohio State’s Aaron Craft came in third (9 percent) and Michigan’s Trey Burke finished seventh (5 percent).
Football season is slowly approaching. Less than four weeks from now, in fact, the games will be underway. To help kill the time between now and then, I’ve provided what I think is a bold prediction for every Big Ten team. See all the predictions in this post. Have a bold prediction of your own? Tell me in the comment box at the bottom of the post. Or you can tweet it to me, @BTNBrentYarina.
If you missed it Thursday, the highly anticipated and always criticized USA Today preseason top 25 poll was released. Four Big Ten teams made the cut, led by No. 8 Michigan. Also ranked: No. 12 Wisconsin, No. 13 Michigan State and No. 16 Nebraska. While the coaches think Michigan is the Big Ten’s top team entering the 2012 season, BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart writes Michigan State should be ranked the highest. And I think it should be back-to-back Big Ten champ Wisconsin.
The next time the Purdue baseball team is picked to host an NCAA regional, it will do so in its own backyard. This past season, of course, Big Ten champ Purdue was forced to go to Gary, Ind., where it hosted a regional at U.S. Steel Yard, because Lambert Field didn’t meet NCAA requirements. If and when it happens again, the nearly completed Alexander Field will be more than capable to host such action. See an updated picture, courtesy of the Purdue baseball Facebook page, of the stadium.