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, it was human error. There was an internal communications issue. We regret not having shown that press conference.
What went into the decision behind today’s coverage?
We need to cover the story as well as any other news entity. We knew this was going to happen, and it allowed us to get ahead of the game.
I like we have such experts on the Big Ten. You have Howard, who was a former player; Gerry was a former coach; and Dave brings the journalistic integrity. You bring it all together and try to provide as thorough coverage as possible.
When you didn’t cover the Freeh press conference, there was a perception that the BTN, which is owned by the conference and member schools, doesn’t want to handle negative news. How do you address that perception?
That couldn’t be further from the truth. The conference wants us to be credible. We’re going to be honest and candid in our coverage. It’s not in our best interest to sugarcoat things.
I wanted to bring in reporters from other entities today. I didn’t want it to be only our announcers. I wanted to have a cross section of people to have the debate and discussion. These are difficult topics, and we want to handle them carefully. But we have to be candid.
Since November, we haven’t shied away from this topic. We had a big miss which we regret, but other than that we’ve covered the story well and have been a service to our viewers.
DiNardo was a friend of Paterno and has spoke of his admiration of the coach. Yet he has been critical about what transpired. What’s been your reaction to how DiNardo has handled this situation?
Gerry is a professional. He brings a candid view. But if you look closely, you could see the emotion he’s experiencing over someone he considered a close friend.
Going forward, if the Penn State football team falls from the weight of the sanctions as expected, what will be the implications for their games from a ratings standpoint?
That’s a difficult question to address. What kind of impact will it have on ratings remains to be seen. I just don’t know the answer.