Ohio State-Michigan: New BTN film looks at controversial ’73 game; Conference didn’t allow attorney waiver on vote

The mystery remains 40 years later: What was the exact vote among the Big Ten athletic directors that sent Ohio State to the Rose Bowl over Michigan in 1973?

The BTN could have taken the easy route in solving the mystery, but it didn’t in its new documentary, Tiebreaker. (Saturday at 7 p.m. ET.)

The film examines the storied rivalry and the fallout from the ’73 game, arguably the biggest controversy in Big Ten history.

For now and probably forever, the essence of Ohio State-Michigan will be defined by the 10-year war between Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler. Among those games, the 10-10 tie in Ann Arbor in 1973.

Here are the facts: The tie left both teams at 7-0-1 in the Big Ten; Ohio State was 9-0-1 overall and Michigan was 10-0-1. Who goes to the Rose Bowl?… Continue Reading

Will they care about Iowa hoops in Brooklyn? Pressure on BTN president to sign deals with area cable operators

Let the record show I wrote the first Rutgers to the Big Ten story. It only took 23 years for it to come to fruition.

Back in Dec., 1989, when Skip Myslenski and I broke the news in the Chicago Tribune that the Big Ten was adding Penn State, I reported on a conference memo about identifying a possible 12th school. Rutgers and Pittsburgh were tops on the list.

However, there wasn’t much enthusiasm for Rutgers. “They`re too far East,“ said one conference source back then.

Not anymore.

The Big Ten finally made its move to the Atlantic by officially adding Maryland to the conference today, with Rutgers’ party imminent. And like the Penn State deal in 1989, Commissioner Jim Delany executed the moves under the radar, which I’m sure pleases him to no end.

As was the case back then, it’s mostly about television. … Continue Reading

Improbable tale: BTN show recalls Northwestern’s run for roses in ’95

I grew up going to Northwestern football games, which is to say I didn’t see many Wildcats victories. They were epic bad, bottoming out with a record 34-game losing streak from ’79-82.

So the notion of Northwestern going to the Rose Bowl was as preposterous as getting a sunburn in Chicago on Jan. 1.

Then a miracle happened. On Jan. 1, 1996, the purple rode into Pasadena.

The latest edition of Big Ten Elite (Tuesday, 8 p.m. ET, BTN) chronicles Northwestern’s incredible 1995 season. The Wildcats, under third-year head coach Gary Barnett, won the Big Ten with a 10-1 record and faced USC in the Rose Bowl.

The Wildcats, 7-2 going into Saturday’s game against Michigan, are decent now. But at the time, their rise from last to first had to rank among the most unlikely stories in college football history.

Big Ten Continue Reading

BTN analyst J Leman uses faith to heal people in Target

J Leman is a former Illinois linebacker who just was hired to work a couple non-conference games as an analyst and sideline reporter for the Big Ten Network. Nothing out of the ordinary there.

But then I saw the following video in which Leman (on the left) talks about practicing “Power Evangelism” and healing people in a Target. With him is former Illini quarterback Tim Brasic.

Let’s just say it is a bit out of the ordinary for a college football analyst.

Leman said on the video: “I love to see people freed from pain. We had a back pain healed. He went from a very high level of pain to zero.”

Leman, who simply uses J for his first name, also dealt with a situation in which he helped a person who “had multiple encounters with the supernatural in dreams.”

Leman’s personal site makes it very clear … Continue Reading

Q/A with BTN President: A regret and bouncing back with 4-plus hours of coverage today

The Big Ten Network did what it is supposed to do today. Cover the big news and cover it hard.

The BTN was on the air for 4-plus hours this morning covering the fallout from the NCAA handing down harsh sanctions to Penn State. The network had reporters in State College and Indianapolis, numerous phone interviews, and the studio team of Dave Revsine, Gerry DiNardo and Howard Griffith offered clear and measured analysis.

All in all, it was quite a contrast to what occurred nearly two weeks ago when the BTN was hammered from not airing live coverage of the explosive Freeh Commission press conference. Instead, the network ran a replay of an old football game.

What changed? I just did a Q/A with BTN President Mark Silverman.

Why didn’t the network cover the Freeh press conference?

We wanted to have covered it. Frankly, … Continue Reading