Big Ten network prepares for football, fall schedule

By Daniel Johnson

On Wednesday afternoon, the Big Ten Network held a conference call with its football studio team to address issues that will be facing the network going into the season. Dave Revsine, Gerry DiNardo and Howard Griffith were on the line to field questions from the media and to update what the network is doing in preparation for the season.

One of the steps that the network members said they are excited about is the traveling to the campus of the Big Ten schools to evaluate what each team is doing in preparation for the season. Revsine said that starting Thursday the team of he, DiNardo and Griffith would be embarking on a trip throughout the 11 Big Ten campuses to talk with coaches and players. Although the order of travel was not discussed, Revsine assured that the team was in “serious preparation mode” for the trip.

Because of the limited amount of teams being cover by the network, the trio of analysts was optimistic that the network will bring unprecedented coverage to the Big Ten.

“You’re talking about 119 teams in theory, with probably 50 or 60 in play on any given weekend,” Revsine said. “It’s just impossible to know everything there is to know about those teams. I wouldn’t say that when you’re dealing with 11 teams. I think that it’s eminently possible to know what you need to know.”

Even with the limited scope of the network, there is still the problem of how to divide the coverage for all 11 teams in the conference. The flagship show on the network, Big Ten Tonight, will be only an hour long. And while the days leading to the game and the day of will have more coverage to be distributed among the teams, the question was raised whether or not there would be equal distribution to all teams. While the network is striving to get equal distribution it realized that it would be very hard to do so, especially when certain teams in the conference are playing exceptionally well.

“Will it be equal treatment, are we going to be sitting there with a stopwatch saying, ‘We’ve got to speak of each team equally’? Absolutely not,” Revsine said. “But will you get more coverage of your team here than anywhere else? Absolutely.”

Although the Illini are a team that may warrant more coverage down the road, the network was conscious of the fact that as the seasons progress for all the sports, that they will eventually be covering certain teams more at the end than they thought.

“If I’m at one of the schools that is trying to have a breakthrough season, I’m not going to get any coverage from the national media until I have that breakthrough season,” DiNardo said. “If you look at what’s going on in Bloomington, Champaign, Northwestern, there could be some great stories that unfold as the year develops.”

While football is the main focus for now, when basketball season comes around, the network will be more than ready to cover it and doesn’t foresee any problems transitioning from football to basketball.

“Obviously there will be some overlap,” Revsine said. “When there is overlap, I just think we’re going to have more content.”

Another aspect that may be in the works for network is tracking recruitment at schools. Although the network declined to speak about specifics, Revsine and DiNardo said that recruitment is something that they would definitely be dealing with.

“The thing about recruitment that I think the viewers would find fascinating is the process itself,” DiNardo said. “Not only where (recruits) wants to go, where he’s visited, but for instance, what are the coaches doing right now in recruitment. There’s no programming out there right now that is taking our fans through a monthly recruiting calendar, explaining how the process works.”

As of Wednesday, the only way to receive the network is through Direct TV. While there has been a lot of complication with the network being distributed to in-state cable networks such as Insight and Comcast, the network declined to comment on the issue directly.

“There’s always going to be battles especially in new adventures, I think you know that going in,” DiNardo said. “Our job (as analysts) is to make sure that what we’re doing is the best out there. Distribution issues are some one else’s domain.”