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Dienhart: Four thoughts from NU spring practice

Northwestern is the lone Big Ten team that doesn’t play a spring game. Instead, the Wildcats just conduct a final practice. Hanging over the on-field goings-on on this day was the specter of NU players forming a union. The players will vote on April 25. [ MORE: Watch all of our Northwestern spring practice video ] Is all of this a distraction for Pat Fitzgerald and his staff? I think it has to be. Mental energy is being exerted on the topic of unionization. And that’s time that Fitzgerald and his staff aren’t spending on trying to build a better

Video: NU spring practice highlights, interviews

BTN/BTN2Go aired Northwestern’s spring practice Saturday morning, and we clipped all the top moments and interviews from the 90-minute session. If you’re a Northwestern fan, you’ll want to see Kyle Prater’s highlight-reel catch and hear Venric Mark’s bold prediction about the team’s 1-2 backfield punch. Watch all of the videos in this post. VIDEO: Did you see Kyle Prater's one-handed catch at @NUFBFamily spring practice today? It was nice! WATCH – http://t.co/Fm7kzRwqRw — Northwestern on BTN (@BTN_NU) April 5, 2014 VIDEO: @NUFBFamily star RB Venric Mark has a bold prediction about the team's backfield this year. WATCH – http://t.co/ebjcayrRoG —

Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald talks unionization efforts

Northwestern had anything but a typical offseason. The unionization efforts, spearheaded by former star QB Kain Colter, was something few people saw coming, especially at a place like Northwestern. The efforts not only happened, the National Labor Relations Board recently ruled in favor of the players, stating that student-athletes are employees. [ MORE: AP: Fitzgerald urges ‘no’ vote on union ] Northwestern said it plans to appeal the ruling and has until April 9 to do so. Another important date: April 25, the day Northwestern players vote on whether to continue to pursue unionization. BTN caught up with Pat Fitzgerald

How to watch Northwestern's spring practice

BTN/BTN2Go will air Northwestern’s spring practice at 11 a.m. ET Saturday, with re-airs at 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.. The Wildcats, fresh off a disappointing 5-7 season that saw them miss a bowl game for the first time in six years, welcome back plenty of talent from a team that started 4-0 in 2013. BTN.com will clip all of Saturday’s top highlights and moments and tweet them out from @BTN_NU. After Northwestern’s practice, get Gerry DiNardo and Howard Griffith’s analysis on “BTN Football Report: Spring Football Edition” at 4 p.m. ET. [ HOW TO WATCH: This practice airs live on

Dienhart: NLRB's ruling is 'a bit surprising'

It was a bit surprising to see that the National Labor Relations Board ruled Wednesday that football players who receive scholarships are employees. NLRB directed that a secret ballot election be held to determine whether the football players should be represented by the College Athletes Players Association for purposes of collective bargaining with Northwestern. Northwestern’s vice president for university relations Alan Cubbage issued a statement today stressing the school’s disappointment with the decision. “While we respect the NLRB process and the regional director’s opinion, we disagree with it. Northwestern believes strongly that our student-athletes are not employees, but students. Unionization

NU responds to ruling players are employees

Northwestern University is disappointed by today’s ruling by the regional director of the National Labor Relations Board finding that Northwestern University’s football players who receive grant-in-aid scholarships are employees and directing that a secret ballot election be held to determine whether the football players should be represented by the College Athletes Players Association for purposes of collective bargaining with Northwestern University. [ MORE: Dienhart: NLRB’s ruling is ‘a bit surprising’ ] While we respect the NLRB process and the regional director’s opinion, we disagree with it. Northwestern believes strongly that our student-athletes are not employees, but students. Unionization and collective

BTN LiveBIG: CFL champ, 4th grader share bond

“It was if Derrick Rose or Brandon Marshall walked through the door to a group of school children. That’s the type of hero’s welcome Brian received,” Joanna Marshall said. The hero? It was Brian Peters, a linebacker on the CFL’s Grey Cup champion Saskatchewan Roughriders whose entrance in to Lake Forest, Illinois’ Sheridan Elementary School sent a fourth grade class in to a frenzy. BTN LiveBIG covers quite a few stories involving Big Ten-related people that have global, world-changing impact.  Sometimes, the power of impact on one person can have a ripple effect that is equally inspiring. Such is the

BTN experts discuss early signing day idea

On Tuesday’s #BTNLive show Mike Hall, Gerry DiNardo and Stanley Jackson had a length discussion examining the positives and negatives of an early signing period in college football. Right now, prospects can’t sign a letter of intent with any school until the first Wednesday in February, a day when football offices are busy and fans track every announcement. If an early signing period were to be established, high school players wouldn’t have to wait until February and could make their verbal commitments official at an earlier date. Watch DiNardo, a former coach, and Jackson, a former player, discuss the ramifications

Sorry, Coach Saban: 10-second rule is tabled

Thank goodness the 10-second rule proposal was tabled. You see: Alabama’s Nick Saban doesn’t always get his way. The proposed change—made in the name of player safety and trumpeted by Saban–would have put the brakes on those fun, fast-paced offenses that have become the rage in college football. Instead, the NCAA Football Rules Committee has tabled the directive one day before the NCAA’s 11-member playing rules oversight panel was slated to vote to make the proposal a rule for 2014. The Big Ten school that would have been impacted the most by this change would have been Indiana, where Kevin

#BTNLive crew debates Friday night football games

Earlier this week, BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart wrote a piece about Big Ten football games being played on Friday nights. The idea generated plenty of feedback from Big Ten fans across the country. Some fans were in favor of the idea, but the majority were against it, which can be seen by reading Dienhart’s weekly mailbag. [ MORE: Friday night football? There are ‘lots of possibilities ] On Thursday’s edition of #BTNLive, Rick Pizzo, Glen Mason and Gerry DiNardo sounded off on the idea in a roundtable discussion. “I think if you’re going to play a Friday night game,