Fickell isn’t Jim Tressel, and that’s just the way he wants it

The Sports Bank’s, Jeff Beck, reporting from day two of Big Ten Football Media Day in Chicago. 

It was late, 11 p.m. on a Friday night a week and a half after Jim Tressel had been dismissed as head coach of the Ohio State program, when an undoubtedly drained Luke Fickell worked alone in his office.  Much had transpired in that week and a half.  In the blink of an eye, the coach of the past decade was gone, the star quarterback had jumped ship for the NFL, Ohio State was plastered on the cover of Sports Illustrated for all of the wrong reasons, and questions swirled about the future of the very program that had been a pillar of stability in the Big Ten for years.  But one thing hadn’t happened.  Fickell hadn’t moved into Tressel’s old office.

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Ohio State Buckeyes Football Schedule: Primetime Games Announced

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The Big Ten recently completed its primetime college football selection process that decides which of its teams will play on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2  in an 8 p.m. slot.  Ohio State got the nod to compete under the lights for three games in the upcoming season, according to a press release from the university.

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Illinois, Northwestern Announce Scheduling Updates

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The Big Ten announced today game times for 2010 conference Homecoming games. The Fighting Illini will play at Penn State on Oct. 9 at 11 am CT, at Michigan State on Oct. 16 at 11 am CT and home on Oct. 23 against Indiana, also at 11 am CT. The Illinois Homecoming on Oct. 23 will be the 100th Homecoming celebration on the UI Campus.

In addition, Illinois and Wisconsin have agreed to move the 2011 and 2012 football games to the first Saturday in December. In 2011, the teams will play on Dec. 3 at Memorial Stadium, while the 2012 game will take place on Dec. 1 at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.

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College Football National Signing Day: Your Team’s Future, Now

By Paul Schmidt and thesportsbank.net staff

This is almost like a holiday for many people, and doubles as the day that some people work the hardest.

I’m speaking, of course, of National Signing Day, when those football players who waffle all season long finally make a decision (or, as in the case of Terelle Pryor a couple of seasons ago, delay the inevitable for several days after signing day). Many schools will be disappointed after their teams lose commitments from players that they thought were in the bag, but hey, unlike basketball, this just happens in football.  You go steal someone else’s recruit and move on.

All day, I will be updating news and signings from ALL of the Big Ten’s teams, so check back here throughout the day for any new news.

Also, I should have some quotes from Ron Zook’s press conference later this afternoon, plus whatever goodies might come our way!

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The 2010 Wisconsin Badger Recruiting Class

By Jake McCormick

Indiana is the only team ranked lower than Wisconsin in the 2010 Big 10 football recruiting rankings. Despite what Bret Bielema might say about the current class, it should not be expected to be anything other than decent for a team that will start the season ranked (around) 10th in the nation.

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Northwestern-Wisconsin Live Blog

By Paul M. Banks

How will the Sconnies respond to Life without Leuer? Will Alex Marcotullio finally hit a three and end his slump? Will I hear and share an even better soundbite than Mike Brey’s “We knew about Marcello. We knew what he could do to us” (in response to Marcotullio’s perimeter display against the Irish earlier this season) Because after all if the Irish head man knew so much much about “Marcello” he should probably at least have known his name.

Anyways, tune in here to find out the answers to these questions and more.

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The Death of the Media Guide: 3008 to Your 2000 & Late

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By Melissa S. Wollering

Statistics crunched in 8,469+ ways—sometimes over more than a century—always encompassing a team’s entire existence.  Can you live without it?  As of the 2009-2010 season, you’ll see the beginning of the end of this desktop reference guide. You’ll be driven to the Web. The University of Wisconsin’s Athletic Department is part of the trend; will your team follow?

On Thursday, three Big 10 schools announced they will stop printing their beloved media guides. Michigan and Ohio State have already stopped production of the guides for all of their sports and say the information will be available on the Web. Michigan and Ohio State estimate they will save a combined $250,000 per year as a result of the decision. That’s enough to purchase approximately 416 Fergie-inspired Hewlett-Packard notebooks to make their athletes smarter.

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University of Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez says his department will stop printing media guides for all UW sports.  He says the move will save the school $200,000 and the trend doesn’t stop at the collegiate level. In February, Major League Baseball ceased printing its green and red guides to the National and American leagues.  PDF versions of the information were made available to all media.

At a PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) luncheon that I attended at the Hilton in downtown Madison last week, featured speaker and UW Associate Athletic Director for Communications Justin Doherty addressed the death of the media guide.  He says UW will cease production of the books no later than the 2010-2011 season, possibly sooner.

Doherty says more fans and reporters are turning to his department’s website, uwbadgers.com, for the same information printed in media guides. It sounds simple.  But if you think sports organizations won’t make the leap to marketing themselves as AP-like wire services, you haven’t fully assessed the impact of the media guide’s passing.

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Badger fans can now access live streaming press conferences, player and coach post-game interviews, live game blogs, articles, analysis, pictures and even virtual tours of UW athletic facilities.  Barry Alvarez himself ‘walks’ onto your screen and greets you as enter the UW’s new multimedia experience. Doherty says it all started with an intern and one camera.

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“I asked one of our interns to capture the gameday experience one Saturday,” says UW Assistant AD for Communications Justin Doherty.  “All I gave him was a camera and he came back with this great visual story from his photographs. He took pictures of fans tailgating before the game, players on the field and students jumping around in the 3rd quarter.  We had a huge response.”

Doherty himself began to live-blog from the stands at Camp Randall. Soon he had fans and alumni from around the world following along during the game, responding with questions and checking out other parts of the website. UW’s Athletic Department now has pages on both Twitter and Facebook. It sends fans and friends updates on everything from season tickets to travel packages to breaking news.

“We have the advantage,” says Doherty. “We have full access to our own locker rooms and our coaching staff.  We are the best-equipped to provide fans with information.”

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Could the end of your favorite media guide signal the end of your traditional sports reporter? Will athletic departments eliminate the need for a ‘middleman’ if consumers trust their websites as primary sources? Will consumers fully understand that athletic departments still control the message and will proactively and strategically release information for their benefit? Have communications and public relations professionals found a way to put traditional press releases to bed along with media guides? What if WE create the news before it becomes news with our own podcasts, streaming news conferences and online articles?

Remember when your friends left journalism and reporting for the PR world?  Remember when they came back and urged you to join the ‘dark side’?  This TSB contributor is pretty glad she’s done both. My new job may become my old job faster than you can look that stat up in the ‘08 media guide on your desk. Boom, boom, boom. Let me hear that…

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