Big Ten title game to receive major television coverage

Big Ten Network crew members Dashel Ridgley (left) and Kevin Miller (right) hang a Big Ten Network banner prior to the I
Big Ten Network crew members Dashel Ridgley (left) and Kevin Miller (right) hang a Big Ten Network banner prior to the Iowa men's basketball game against Michigan on Feb. 16, 2010 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — The inaugural Big Ten football championship is going to get some extra-special treatment from the league's television partners on Dec. 3.

Fox will air the debut event at Indianapolis' Lucas Oil Stadium in primetime with Gus Johnson and Charles Davis calling the game. Both Fox and the BTN plan to blanket coverage of the event for several hours, both in the pre-game build-up and post-game breakdown.

"We’ll be there," BTN  President Mark Silverman said. "We’ll be on the field and do a pre-game show. Really it will be like a pre-pre-game. We’ll do a lead-in, a pre-game to their pre-game and a post-game to their post-game. They’re going to make it a major event, but we’re going to be very involved with the championship game."

Fox owns 49 percent of the BTN, and the league owns 51 percent. The title game will pit division champions from the Legends Division (Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern) and the Leaders Division (Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin).

The game will have a different feel from other sports companies, Silverman said. College football games that appear on ABC are produced by ESPN. Fox Sports will produce the Big Ten championship game.

"The BTN will not be producing the championship game on behalf of Fox," Silverman said. "The Fox Sports team will be on full force with all their bells and whistles making the championship game a significant event."

Silverman envisions the Big Ten championship game taking root with league football fans very quickly.

"It doesn’t exist so it’s hard to visualize and imagine what it’s going to be like," he said. "I really believe the Big Ten fans are going to really gravitate to having this championship game, having this major event down in Indianapolis, having an on-field determined champion of the conference. I think it’s really going to become a major, major event here, and we’re really just happy to be a part of it."

Johnson and Davis will work two regular-season football games on BTN before calling the championship on Fox."I’m excited about it," Johnson said. "I don’t know who it’s going to be between, but there’s some great teams in the conference obviously. With Nebraska coming in, Michigan — hopefully they’ll better. Wisconsin's coming off a great year. Ohio State is going through some problems, so it’ll be interesting to see who gets in that game. I’ll be happy to be a part of it."

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