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Big Ten Icons: John Cappelletti

Penn State being Penn State, it was inevitable that some of the records John Cappelletti set in his two remarkably productive seasons as the Nittany Lions’ starting tailback would fall as the assembly line kept churning out newer models. But the proud Italian kid from suburban Philadelphia remains the only Heisman Trophy winner in Penn State history.

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Big Ten Icons: Steve Alford

Steve Alford may well have been the quintessential Indiana basketball player. He grew up in New Castle, a town that reveres the game, and learned it from his father, Sam Alford, a Hall of Fame high school coach at New Castle Chrysler. Under his father’s tutelage, Alford developed the fundamental skills, the shooting touch, the court sense and the toughness that constitute the preferred style of play in the land where basketball is king. A two-time all-state selection, Alford was the state’s leading scorer as a senior with 37.7 points per game and won the coveted title of Indiana’s Mr. Basketball in 1983.

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Big Ten Icons: Jack Nicklaus

He played only two years of varsity golf at Ohio State, but during that time, Jack Nicklaus offered enticing hints of what he eventually would become: the greatest player in the history of his game. During one stretch of his storied amateur career, Nicklaus entered 30 tournaments and won 29 of them, including the 1961 Big Ten (by 16 shots) and NCAA championships for the Buckeyes. He was the first player to win the NCAA individual championship and the U.S. Amateur in the same year, a feat later matched by Phil Mickelson (1990), Tiger Woods (1996) and Ryan Moore (2004).

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The Next Level: Joe Girardi and Nick Swisher

Life is good when you are the defending World Series champion. BTN spent some time with current Yankees skipper Joe Girardi and Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher to find out how competing in the Big Ten helped shape their careers as competitors. Watch now as Girardi talks about his time as a Northwestern Wildcat and Swisher recalls his days in Columbus as a Buckeye.

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Big Ten Icons: Suzy Favor-Hamilton

“With the exception of the loss of some loved ones, I wouldn’t change a thing about my life—running got where I am today,” Favor-Hamilton said. “But winning titles seems so insignificant in comparison to the other gifts I’ve been given.” Motivation was never an issue for Suzy Favor. She enjoyed the buzz she felt and the adulation she received for “beating all the boys in school” in a quarter-mile race as a fifth-grader in Stevens Point, Wis. With her parents’ blessing, she joined the Stevens Point Area Running Club and began competing in AAU-sponsored age-group races throughout the Midwest. By the time she entered high school she was a serious, committed runner, talented enough to win the Wisconsin state cross country title as a freshman. The achievement was the starting point for a remarkable career, but it came with a price.

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Big Ten Icons: Charles Woodson

The look of bemused surprise on Peyton Manning’s face is one of the enduring images of that December evening in 1997. Manning was an All-America quarterback at Tennessee, the fresh-faced, well-spoken son of an All-America quarterback at Mississippi, the older brother of a fresh-faced, well-spoken future All-America Ole Miss quarterback. Given that pedigree, and an undeniably impressive four-year body of work that attracted reams of national publicity, Manning’s coronation as the Heisman Trophy winner was almost a foregone conclusion as the finalists waited out the vote on that Saturday evening at New York’s posh Downtown Athletic Club.

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Hall: Field Hockey Tutorial

BTN host Mike Hall loves to try his hand at new sports. A collegiate athlete he was not, Hall will try just about anything — and do so in front of cameras. Last spring, he went to East Lansing, Mich., in pursuit of trying to learn how to play field hockey. “The sport’s an anomaly to me,” Hall said before his tutorial. Obviously, Hall found out field hockey is anything but an easy sport. Watch Hall practice with the Spartans in this video.

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