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Tag:Big Ten Championship Game
Posted on: January 2, 2012 11:04 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2012 11:06 pm
 

Heartbreak finds Wisconsin once again

Posted by Bryan Fischer

PASADENA, Calif. -- Been there, done that.

It's a saying as common as a Wisconsin fan jumping around before the 4th quarter. The Badgers ended their second consecutive trip to the Rose Bowl under head coach Bret Bielema much the same as they did their first - on the losing end.

For a team just two Hail Mary losses away from playing for the national title, this was supposed to be it. A hotshot transfer quarterback and a Heisman Trophy finalist running back playing behind him against a team that saw defense as outscoring their opponent. They held the lead early, held it late but ultimately didn't hold it when it mattered.

"This team never flinched, never wavered," said offensive lineman Peter Konz. "Against Michigan State we kept going, against Ohio State we kept going. It came down to winning all our last games, and we did that. We got here and we never gave up. In that reflection, it's unbelievable. As a man you can look back and go, 'I did all I could do.'"

"I'm kind of tired of tears of sadness," Bielema said. "I wanted to come out here and experience tears of joy at some point."

For a time, it looked as though Wisconsin was going to be great. Russell Wilson hit Jared Abbrederis for a 38-yard strike to cap off a 77-yard drive to open the game. Oregon answered.

Wilson responded with a 74-yard scoring drive. The Ducks took three plays to find the end zone. Back-and-forth they went on the perfectly cut grass of the Rose Bowl Stadium until Wisconsin was finally being tripped up. So close, once again, to a win but for one final time coming up just short.

"The game was basically 0-0 the whole game," Wilson said. "No matter if the score was 35-35 or 7-7, it's a 0-0 game. That's the way I look at it. There at the end it was 7-0, and we thought we could come back and score."

Success is a fleeting term for those who have tasted it because it is so easily lost. In the record books, this season will be looked at as a success. A win in the first ever Big Ten Championship Game, two candidates for the Heisman, scores of NCAA records to tell recruits about. Yet, the stinging feeling the players wearing red and white had walking off the field was not exactly the way they wanted to start the new year off.

"We'll rebound from this. I wouldn't trade in anything, anyplace in the world for that locker room that I have right now and the way that they continue to persevere," Bielema said. "I'm not going to apologize for a group that want to lead the division title, won a Big Ten title, and earned a chance to come out here and play a quality football team, and unfortunately came up a little bit short."

Bielema has built this program using size, strength and home-grown talent. He took a chance by luring Wilson to Madison and it paid off, not just with the titles but by the leadership he showed on and off the field. Ball ran himself into the record books, tying Barry Sanders' FBS-record.

But, in the final five minutes of the biggest game of the year, Abbrederis fumbled inches from going out of bounds and essentially gave away any chance the Badgers had of winning.

Heartbreak, it seemed, was the only thing that could stop Wisconsin this year.

"Well, it's never easy," the head coach said. "I'm not saying I'd rather lose by 40 points though. I mean, it just make it's that much more gut wrenching. But on the same account, you can hold your head high knowing the perseverance, and the challenge and response that our guys showed was truly amazing and a great credit to their character."

Abbrederis still finished with 346 all-purpose yards, good enough for a school bowl record. He caught a touchdown pass to give the team three players with at least eight on the season for the first time. Wilson edged out Heisman winner Robert Griffin III to set an NCAA pass efficiency record with 191.78 and extended his own record with a touchdown pass in his 38th-straight game.

"They're a great bunch of guys that have the determination," said Wilson. "We lost three games, basically, with a total of maybe within 40 seconds. It's pretty wild."

"What I brought from last year to this year is you have to capitalize on every play and every opportunity that is shown. Obviously, we fell short once again," said Ball. "We're going to approach this just like we did last year after the loss. Obviously, a little better, prepared a lot better, but the only way we can go with it is forward."

Wisconsin turned last year's heartbreak into another successful season. As the Badgers rebuild with Wilson and, likely, Ball moving on, perhaps they can do the same in 2012.

"That's neither here or there, what happens, happens," said Konz, reflecting about the game. "It's just too bad it had to end on another last-second drive.

"We left it all on the field, and to do that, there's very little to be sad about.”

Posted on: December 5, 2011 4:23 pm
 

Oh yeah, Russell Wilson is still very good



Posted by Adam Jacobi


I am back safely from Indianapolis, where I covered the Big Ten Championship Saturday night. Wisconsin beat Michigan State; I don't know if any of you heard. It was in the papers and everything. Anyway, here's my quick recap, and my game column is here. That was seriously one of the best games I've ever seen live, and to try to decide if it's THE BEST would basically force me to try to think negatively about it and the other great games I've witnessed, and I've got no desire to do that. So it's just one of the best and that's that.

Past that, one aspect of the game I didn't touch on nearly enough was Russell Wilson's second half. All year long, the knock on Wilson was that he was undoubtedly talented, but also the beneficiary of a light workload and a running game that preoccupied defenders. And sure enough, look at his usage over the course of the year and it's far lower than the other top-flight quarterbacks. There's a reason Wilson's not the primary Heisman candidate on that team, after all.  

So with MSU holding a 29-21 halftime lead and the Montee Ball Express derailing, Wilson had to step up in a big way in order to keep Wisconsin's Rose Bowl dreams alive. And that's exactly what he did. Wilson went 12-15 for 157 yards and two touchdowns in the second half, frequently keeping plays alive by moving his feet and buying time. That 4th down play on Wisconsin's winning drive shown in the picture above -- where Wilson was flushed from the pocket, stood tall with Max Bulloughs bearing down on him, and delivered a 36-yard strike across the field to the one spot only Jeff Duckworth could make the catch -- was a play that very, very few quarterbacks in college football can make.

Wilson won't be a Heisman finalist, and thanks to an unreal crop of quarterbacks he won't be winning any major national awards at the end of the year, but he was an absolutely phenomenal one-year acquisition* for Wisconsin and without him the Badgers would almost certainly not be Rose Bowl bound this season. So that's better than getting a trophy or three at the end of the year, in my mind.

Past that, man, what a game. I know I keep saying that, but what else is there to say? It's taken only two years and three games between them, but all of a sudden Michigan State-Wisconsin is the most must-watch matchup in the Big Ten. 



*Let's just call that what it is: Wisconsin acquired Wilson for a year. I realize that there are academic underpinnings to the graduate-year transfer and they're not irrelevant to the collegiate aspect of a student-athlete's time in the NCAA, but from the football perspective it's just a one-year acquisition. I don't find anything wrong with that, personally; from an academic standpoint, you don't want athletes transferring every year because it's usually detrimental to their chances of graduating on a normal schedule. But the one-year period of ineligibility after transfers isn't to protect academic progress, because if it were it would apply to transfers between different athletic divisions. It's so coaches have an easier job hanging onto their players, which is to say it reduces a athlete's agency in where he plays from year to year -- all while coaches have been free to switch jobs year to year without consequence and while athletes' scholarships are only just now about to move to multi-year agreements. So compared to all that, it's hard to muster one ounce of distaste for anybody doing what Wilson (or Jeremiah Masoli last year) did. End tangent.
Posted on: June 5, 2011 6:37 pm
Edited on: June 5, 2011 6:41 pm
 

Big Ten title game headed for indoors in Indy

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Big Ten teams hoping to play in the league's championship game don't have to worry about packing the cold weather gear.

The conference's Council of Presidents and Chancellors voted unanimously Sunday to hold the Big Ten football championship game inside at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis from 2012-2015. Soldier Field in Chicago was also considered to host the game but commissioner Jim Delany said Indianapolis just made more sense as the league looks to grow an event they'll be hosting for the first time at Lucas Oil in 2011.

"In order to establish ourselves and build a foundation, it's a good idea to be indoors and see what we have," said Delany. "The idea was that we could get consistency of planning for both teams if you knew the environment was going to be pretty consistent. I would say that it was a fan aspect as well as a players' aspect."

Big Ten football is known for being played outside in the elements and many fans - despite the possibility of braving cold weather for the game - also wanted the league's championship game to be played outside. Part of the reason the game was kept indoors, Delany only half-joked about, was that the game would allow teams to get a jump start on planning for bowl games in warmer climates.

"We play in tough weather in November but we play in great weather in September, October and then, as you know, we always play in great weather for bowl games in Florida, Texas and California," Delany said. "Maybe we’re just getting ready to play bowl games."

Indianapolis put in a strong big to host the game, including having Gov. Mitch Daniels and other prominent Indiana figures give their two cents as to why the city was best equipped to host the game. Delany did say Chicago was one of the country's best sports towns but the layout of Indianapolis and the city's reputation for hosting amateur athletics was too much for Chicago to overcome.

"On the Indianapolis side, they have developed a very integrated delivery system that benefited them in their presentation," Delany said. "I don’t think anybody who has ever worked with the Indianapolis community could come away anything other than exceptionally impressed."

Soldier Field's playing surface, a key concern for some after the field's performance in NFL games during cold weather, was not cited as a factor in the decision. The deal is for four years, with the championship game being played in primetime on Fox.

Delany added that the selection of Lucas Oil Stadium and Indianapolis for further Big Ten events (such as the men's and women's basketball tournament) just made sense for the Big Ten brand as much as it did for the game itself. While fans may not agree with the game being played indoors, they will be much warmer when the game rolls around in December.
Posted on: November 18, 2010 4:12 pm
Edited on: November 18, 2010 4:13 pm
 

Big Ten considering rotating title game site

Posted by Tom Fornelli

It was announced late on Wednesday that the Big Ten had struck a deal with Fox Sports to broadcast the conference's title game starting in 2011 when the conference adds Nebraska and moves up to 12 teams.  The television deal is for six years and will be worth between $20 to $25 million a season. Of course, while we know who will be providing the hundreds of band shots with football displayed in between, we don't know where those bands will be sitting.

The inaugural game will take place at Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis, but the Big Ten is yet to decide on a permanent site for the game.  According to a report in the Chicago Tribune, they may never find one.  Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany told the paper that the conference would strongly consider rotating the site of the game, though one source told the paper that Chicago's Soldier Field is a good bet to host a game.

Still, Delany doesn't want to settle on one place just yet.

"I think there's lot of interest in different cities around the Big Ten," Delany said. "Chicago is fabulous, Indy's fabulous, Detroit, Minneapolis (and) Cleveland all have world-class facilities. We would not be smart not to look."

The Big Ten's logic is that while the SEC hosts its game in Atlanta every season, it's because Atlanta is the "crossroads" of the league, where as the Big Ten stretches throughout the midwest, so to limit it to one area might be foolish.  Though, i should point out that while the Big Ten will cover the midwest from Lincoln, Nebraska to State College, Pennsylvania, Chicago is basically in the middle.  Which might make it an ideal site.

Still, it's uncertain that the conference will want to play it's marquee game in a cold weather city every December, and odds are if they did go with a permanent site, they'd select an indoor stadium like Lucas Oil Field.

Posted on: November 18, 2010 5:23 am
 

Fox to televise Big Ten Championship through 2016

Posted by Adam Jacobi

With the Big Ten expanding to 12 teams next season and adding a championship game to its football schedule, the logistical challenges facing the conference as it plans its first football championship game ever have come into focus. Back in August, the conference announced that Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis would house the very first championship game, but made no plans past the first year. On Wednesday, the Big Ten made some considerably more stable plans for the television side of the title game, tabbing Fox Sports to carry the game for its first six iterations:

The Big Ten Conference has reached a media agreement with FOX Sports to serve as the official broadcast partner of the 2011-16 Big Ten Football Championship Games. The inaugural Big Ten Football Championship Game will be played in prime time on December 3, 2011, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, with the winner earning the Big Ten Championship and a chance to play in the Rose Bowl Game or Bowl Championship Series National Championship Game.

This news isn't a total surprise, since Fox has been a 49% partner with the conference in the Big Ten Network, the hugely profitable television venture that has helped the conference earn more television revenue per school than any other conference, even the SEC; moreover, the disparity in revenue leaves conferences like the Big XII and Big East not only in the dust but in structural peril for that exact reason; the BXI successfully stole Nebraska from the Big XII and by all accounts could have had its choice of Big East teams if it had advanced any offers that way.

And yet, the last time a college football game has been televised on Fox itself*, it was January 5, 2010, and here's what the lingering vestige of that coverage ended up being:

That's Chris Myers asking an absolutely dippy question and getting an equally silly answer. Myers, like all Fox Sports personalities who covered BCS games that January, hadn't spent the entire season covering the teams or conferences in play (and neither did the rest of the announcers or producers, who instead spent the entire time staring at fans or trying to compare the games to other sports), so it's natural that he would ask Ricky Stanzi a for-the-sake-of-politeness "evergreen" question like that, but here's the thing: the vast majority of viewers still tuned in at that point had, in fact, spent the entire season watching Big Ten (or at the very least ACC) football. Myers' line of questioning was a dog whistle to a group of viewers (namely, those completely unfamiliar to Big Ten football) that had already tuned out of the game, basically, and that makes for bad television.

That's why it would be enormously smart of Fox and the Big Ten to appoint Big Ten Network staff to call the championship game rather than Joe Buck or whatever random announcer that's on the Fox payroll and hasn't been calling BXI games all season long. Familiarity's important, especially when the announcer's has to at least approximate the average viewer's, and one of the main complaints about Fox's coverage of BCS bowls over the years has been the fact that the announcers have basically a passing familiarity with the men on the field. The Big Ten can't really subject its tens of millions of fans to that grating superficiality for the next six years, can it?

*Fox's network of regional stations televises a LOT of college football games per week, of course, and is a prominent source of television revenue for the Big 12. Ask the Big 12 how well that's gone for them.


Posted on: November 18, 2010 5:23 am
 

Fox to televise Big Ten Championship through 2016

Posted by Adam Jacobi

With the Big Ten expanding to 12 teams next season and adding a championship game to its football schedule, the logistical challenges facing the conference as it plans its first football championship game ever have come into focus. Back in August, the conference announced that Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis would house the very first championship game, but made no plans past the first year. On Wednesday, the Big Ten made some considerably more stable plans for the television side of the title game, tabbing Fox Sports to carry the game for its first six iterations:

The Big Ten Conference has reached a media agreement with FOX Sports to serve as the official broadcast partner of the 2011-16 Big Ten Football Championship Games. The inaugural Big Ten Football Championship Game will be played in prime time on December 3, 2011, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, with the winner earning the Big Ten Championship and a chance to play in the Rose Bowl Game or Bowl Championship Series National Championship Game.

This news isn't a total surprise, since Fox has been a 49% partner with the conference in the Big Ten Network, the hugely profitable television venture that has helped the conference earn more television revenue per school than any other conference, even the SEC; moreover, the disparity in revenue leaves conferences like the Big XII and Big East not only in the dust but in structural peril for that exact reason; the BXI successfully stole Nebraska from the Big XII and by all accounts could have had its choice of Big East teams if it had advanced any offers that way.

And yet, the last time a college football game has been televised on Fox itself*, it was January 5, 2010, and here's what the lingering vestige of that coverage ended up being:

That's Chris Myers asking an absolutely dippy question and getting an equally silly answer. Myers, like all Fox Sports personalities who covered BCS games that January, hadn't spent the entire season covering the teams or conferences in play (and neither did the rest of the announcers or producers, who instead spent the entire time staring at fans or trying to compare the games to other sports), so it's natural that he would ask Ricky Stanzi a for-the-sake-of-politeness "evergreen" question like that, but here's the thing: the vast majority of viewers still tuned in at that point had, in fact, spent the entire season watching Big Ten (or at the very least ACC) football. Myers' line of questioning was a dog whistle to a group of viewers (namely, those completely unfamiliar to Big Ten football) that had already tuned out of the game, basically, and that makes for bad television.

That's why it would be enormously smart of Fox and the Big Ten to appoint Big Ten Network staff to call the championship game rather than Joe Buck or whatever random announcer that's on the Fox payroll and hasn't been calling BXI games all season long. Familiarity's important, especially when the announcer's has to at least approximate the average viewer's, and one of the main complaints about Fox's coverage of BCS bowls over the years has been the fact that the announcers have basically a passing familiarity with the men on the field. The Big Ten can't really subject its tens of millions of fans to that grating superficiality for the next six years, can it?

*Fox's network of regional stations televises a LOT of college football games per week, of course, and is a prominent source of television revenue for the Big 12. Ask the Big 12 how well that's gone for them.


Posted on: November 18, 2010 5:23 am
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