Big Ten(anything but a) Network

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By: Akiem Balium- Host of 10 Minutes on the Clock on The Real Sports Talk Network, and Blogger for TRST’s the Sports Realist. Follow Akiem on Twitter @Li495Akiem

I understand that the primary focus of this Penn State saga should be on the victims that became so thanks to the gross negligence at the top by top officials at PSU. But, for a moment, I’m focusing on how the story is being covered—and it points me to one TV outlet in particular.

I’ve always said that since this story is more news than sports that it should be followed more closely via CNN than ESPN. After all, the emails concerning Tim Curley’sconversations with Joe Paterno concerning how Jerry Sandusky should (or shouldn’t)be punished were first reported on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360.

But, don’t expect anything like that on The Big Ten Network. This week, the PSU story had a new layer to it when Louis Freeh’s report became public. It was a damning report for Penn State University. It showed that all of the head honchos at theuniversity—JoePa, Graham Spanier, Tim Curley, & Gary Schultz all failed to exact any worthy punishment on Sandusky even though they knew about what he was doing as far back as 1998.

The Big Ten Network really dropped the ball not airing the Freeh Report, which uncovered a cover up, of one of the biggest schools in The Big Ten.

When Freeh’s press conference aired, The Big Ten Network decided to air an old footballgame between Ohio State & Purdue. Penn State University didn’t seemto get it either. As some students gathered in the student center to watch the press conference, the TV was abruptly switched from it and to another channel discussing the Keystone State’s budget.

That should’ve been saved for a political science class.

It was later reported to the Sports Business Journal that the Big Ten Network doesn’t fancy themselves as a news organization and is more dedicated to purely airing athletic coverage from around the Big Ten.

Is that so? Then why was Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany once interviewed by the network about the redesigned Big Ten logo?

Doesn’t that qualify as news?

Why, when conference realignment-mania seemed to run wild over the past few years, did the Big Ten Network do a report on the Nebraska Cornhuskers defecting the Big 12 for the Big Ten?

Doesn’t that qualify as news?

Why did they do a news update on when the NCAA handed down sanctions against the Ohio State University for the violations related to former head coach Jim Tressel and several players on the football team (including QB Terrelle Pryor) for receiving improper benefits from a tattoo parlor owner in Columbus?

Didn’t that qualify as news?

Why did they have a reporter on location for the Penn State board of trustees meeting last November–the first BoT meeting since the initial allegations of sexual abuse of children by Sandusky?

News or not news?

This is also coming from the same network that aired wall-to-wall coverage of the Paterno funeral. But there were only crickets throughout Chicago when it comes to one of the biggest stories in the history of collegiate athletics.

This is the only problem with league-owned channels. Yes, they provide an alternative toESPN, but the issue is whether these networks are credible news networks or if they’re nothing more than echo chambers on behalf of their respective leagues.

The NFL Network, NBA TV, and MLB Network thankfully are not simply water-carriers fortheir leagues. Both the NFL and NBA channels allowed their hosts to interview players during their respective lockouts last year. One of the MLB Network’s signature hires before their 2009 launch was Bob Costas whom, to this day, is oneof Commissioner Bud Selig’s biggest critics.

They later did air a special on the Freeh Report at 9PM eastern time that day, but not goingto live team coverage of the Freeh Report on a Thursday (normally a hot day for sports news) was an embarrassment for that network. The special was anchored byDave Revsine—a former college football reporter for ESPN and alum of Northwestern University.

That day, the Chicago-based sports network seemed to solely exist as a selling point for other schools to align themselves with the Big Ten & its revenues. No offense to anyone who works at BTN, but it’s not exactly something I’d put in bold printon a sports journalism resume if this is the mindset of those at the top of the food chain there. And it’s a shame because their reporting and coverage of stories has a chance to be superb and a model for other networks–but not when they drop the ball so badly for something as big as this.

By the way,the Big Ten Network is a joint venture between the conference and Fox. And we thought Fox was primarily in bed with the Pac 12…

Posted on July 16, 2012, in College Football, NCAA. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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