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.
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.
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.
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?