The image above is of Le’Veon Bell hugging his mother moments after Michigan State’s heartbreaking loss to Wisconsin in last season’s inaugural Big Ten title game. It’s a moment Bell treasures, and it’s one he’ll certainly never forget. That’s because Bell had the image tattooed on his left arm, with the Bible verse Jeremiah 1:5 under it.
If you haven’t checked out ESPN.com’s 50 in 50 series, do yourself a favor and click that link. The feature ranks the nation’s 50 most successful men’s basketball programs of the last 50 years, and it includes half of the Big Ten teams. Indiana leads the Big Ten, at No. 7, while Michigan State (No. 11), Michigan (No. 13), Ohio State (No. 15), Purdue (No. 20) and Illinois (No. 33) round out the conference’s representatives.
The Big Ten is loaded with talent on the defensive line, something we highlighted at media days, so it’s no surprise the Big Ten is well-represented on Athlon’s list of the college football’s top defensive linemen for 2012. Three defensive ends, headlined by Ohio State’s John Simon, at No. 3, and four defensive tackles, led by Purdue’s Kawann Short, at No. 2, made Athlon’s cut. See where the publication ranks all the Big Ten representatives in this post.
There was some greatness on the sidelines of Indiana basketball practice Wednesday. Former star Calbert Cheaney, now Indiana’s Director of Operations, was there, per usual, but so too was ex-Duke standout Jay Williams. Williams, now an analyst for ESPN, was in Bloomington to observe the Hoosiers, who many experts think will be a top 5 team in 2012-13. And Indiana coach Tom Crean (@TomCrean) tweeted a picture of the two at practice.
There’s been a lot of talk about the new scoreboards at Spartan Stadium. The BTN team got a first-hand look at the new additions Wednesday as our annual summer football tour hit East Lansing, and the massive displays did not disappoint. Let’s just say Michigan State fans won’t have any trouble seeing the score, stats, replays, or anything of that kind in 2012.
Quick, which Big Ten practice is featured in the shot above? You may want to say Indiana – especially if you don’t look at the headline or photo credit – but it’s Wisconsin. On Wednesday, the Badgers practiced in the new red helmets they’ll wear in the Big Ten opener Sept. 29 at Nebraska, and the Wisconsin Football Facebook page snapped this photo.
Michigan State big man Derrick Nix tipped the scales at 270 pounds last season, according to his MSUSpartans.com profile. Nix wants to be in better shape for his senior season, and he’s doing something about it. Something major. He tweeted Tuesday that he will become a vegetarian for the next year. That’s Aug. 20, 2012 to Aug. 20, 2013. See Nix’s tweet in this post.
Athlon Sports released its Top 30 Running Backs for 2012, and a quartet of Big Ten backs made the list. Wisconsin’s Montee Ball, last year’s Heisman Trophy finalist, leads the Big Ten contingent, at No. 2., behind only South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore. Nebraska’s Rex Burkhead comes in at No. 3, while Michigan State’s Le’Veon Bell (No. 14) and Michigan’s Fitzgerald Toussaint (No. 26) round out the Big Ten representatives.
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 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 sixth and final list ranks the top five defensive careers of the BTN era.
Perhaps you heard the story of the 5-year-old Oklahoma boy whose school forced him to turn his Michigan shirt inside out last week? If not, evidently, the shirt was against the school district’s dress code, which states only Oklahoma college apparel is allowed. Clothes from all other schools are against the current policy. The reasoning? Gangs.
Already equipped with the largest locker room in all of football, Minnesota now has an equally cool team meeting room to house players and pitch to future recruits. And much like the state-of-the-art locker room, this meeting room will turn heads and drop jaws. The design is awesome, there’s no other way to put it. It’s a mini TCF Bank Stadium, in fact, with player chairs – leather, of course – in the middle. See @GopherSports‘ picture of the new room in this post.
It’s no secret President Barack Obama is a well-versed sports fan. He loves his Chicago White Sox, and he thoroughly enjoys the NCAA tournament, evidenced by his annual bracket special with Andy Katz. But an Ohio State fan? Nah, the President’s just a good sport and will play along when a photo op presents itself, especially during the campaign season.
Is there anyone having a better summer than Illinois product Deron Williams? Honestly, in the matter of two months, the guy made Team USA for the second consecutive Olympic games, agreed to a $99-million contract with Brooklyn, traveled to London for free and became the first Big Ten men’s basketball player to win multiple gold medals. To top it all off, he’ll play golf with 2012 Masters champion Bubba Watson at this week’s Barclay’s Pro Am at Bethpage.
Former Ohio State quarterback and current ESPN lead football analyst Kirk Herbstreit released his 12th annual Herbie Awards on Tuesday morning. The Big Ten, as expected, is well-represented in the popular piece. Herbstreit ranks the nation’s top 5 players/coaches/teams in 25 categories, and the Big Ten received four No. 1 selections. See all of Herbie’s Big Ten honorees in this post.
When sports fans see something new and odd on the shelves of their local grocery store, it’s almost become tradition to take a picture of it and tweet it to ESPN Sports Business Reporter & Business Correspondent Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell). Rovell tweeted a couple of the latest Big Ten-related items he’s had sent his way Monday. One was a bottle of Ohio State ketchup, which happened to be on sale, and the other was Michigan branded Pop-Tarts.