Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Big Ten Football and Beyond

After three years of banging away at this blog -- three years this week, in fact -- I've developed a bias toward more or less anything with the word "beyond" in the title.

Still, I have to give props to my new favorite television show: "Big Ten Football and Beyond." It's on the Big Ten Network. What are the odds?

"BTF&B" is a weekly roundtable discussion of quaint handicrafts, with a particular emphasis on macramé and pottery.

No it's not, just seeing if you were paying attention. It is, of course, all about the pigskin, huge midwestern state school style.

As you may know, since Penn State joined up in 1990, there are actually eleven teams in the Big Ten. Next year, when Nebraska defects from the Big 12, there will be twelve teams in the Big Ten, and ten teams in the Big 12. Got that?

Helping us make sense of all this, not to mention the weekly games around the league and the nation, are the show's four panelists:
  • The moderator par excellence is Dave Revsine, a Chicago native and "SportsCenter" host whom the Big Ten Network hired away from ESPN to install as its marquee anchor. He's a rock-solid broadcaster who lends credibility to the entire network.
  • Then you've got Chicago Tribune college football expert Teddy Greenstein, a walking sound bite machine. With his authoritative analysis and wisecracking humor, he's in constant demand on Chicago sports TV and radio. (He's also a poker buddy of yours truly.)
  • Rounding out the panel are Chris Martin and Gerry DiNardo, two guys gradually burning off the remaining adrenaline from their college football playing days by constantly attacking each other.

Speaking of my biases, I like that three of these four guys went to Northwestern, my law school alma mater. Teddy was the prince of the Medill sportswriting program; "Revver" went there too, plus his dad was a longtime Kellogg accounting professor; and "C-Mart" played on the miraculous 1995 Wildcats football team that ran away with the Big Ten and went to the Rose Bowl. Coach DiNardo went to Notre Dame, but he seems like a decent guy.

Putting the show over the top is the national football writer who comes on every week to break down the country's biggest matchups. This gentleman probably weighs 130 pounds soaking wet and comes across as a wispy accountant for the Keebler corporation, but he knows his college football cold and talks like a sophisticated NFL scout. He just happens to look like the captain of the high school math team. It's the converse of casting Lyle Alzado as a sensitive florist.

The weird thing about how much I enjoy this show is, I'm not even that into college football. I just like listening to people who really know their stuff, particularly if they're funny. Plus it's a convenient way to keep up with the game's big stories, its enduring rivalries, the Heisman race, America's ongoing dissatisfaction with the Bowl Championship Series, and the unsolvable problem that is Boise State.

I'd actually rather watch this show than the biggest game of the week. I'm content just catching the Northwestern game and hearing the Big Ten and national reports from these guys.

If you get the Big Ten Network, check out "Big Ten Football and Beyond."


Rosario said...

I feel this way about PTI. Most days, I'd rather watch my Tivo'd PTI than any of the sports shows they are covering.

PuzzleGirl said...

Setting the DVR now. Thanks for the tip, Ben! (Is it wrestling season yet???)

Elaine said...

I was reading along, and hit the 'handicrafts...pottery' line and brightened up at once. What a let-down to find out you were just messing with me, you rascal.

The DH lines up which college games to watch each week (in consultation with his football-fiend buddy, our daughter Laura.) Then they phone back and forth (she lives in another state) numerous times during each contests. The Two Great Sillies, I call them. I stand by during very tense games with the smelling salts.