Chicago (July 18, 2007) - The Big Ten Network today named veteran play-by-play announcer Thom Brennaman (pictured left) and renowned college football television analyst Charles Davis, who in January called FOX Sports' coverage of the 2007 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl and BCS National Championship game, its lead football broadcast team. The announcement was made today by Big Ten Network President Mark Silverman and Executive Producer Leon Schweir.
Brennaman and Davis will be joined by five other professionals who will complete the BTN studio team and comprise the network's game-day announce teams. The deep, talented roster includes former Indiana University football coach and ESPN analyst Gerry DiNardo; retired Denver Bronco and former University of Illinois fullback Howard Griffith; former University of Minnesota football coach Glen Mason; award-winning play-by-play announcer Wayne Larrivee; and former Northwestern University and Chicago Bear defensive back Chris Martin. DiNardo and Griffith, serving as analysts, will join Dave Revsine, the network's lead studio host for coverage from BTN headquarters in downtown Chicago, while Larrivee and Martin will comprise a second on-air team. Mason will serve as the analyst on a third game broadcast team, one whose play-by-play position is to be determined.
"I can't express how excited we are to pull together studio talent and game broadcasters with as much passion for and knowledge of college football as the individuals we named today," said Silverman. "This is exactly what we had envisioned, and fans can now look forward to entertaining studio and game coverage from the engaging and insightful personalities we've brought on-board."
"These individuals' backgrounds make up the perfect mix for the Big Ten Network," Schweir said. "With their deep-rooted knowledge of Big Ten football and their backgrounds in coaching and on-the-field play, our coverage of Big Ten football games and programs will be solid from Day 1."
One of the industry's top play-by-play broadcasters, Brennaman, Davis and University of Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez teamed up for one of college football's most memorable games, the 2007 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl between underdog Boise State and the University of Oklahoma. The epic game, won by Boise State 43-42 in overtime, featured last-second heroics and head-spinning trick plays, and concluded with the star running back proposing to his cheerleader girlfriend on national television. The following week the same trio also called the action for FOX Sports as the University of Florida defeated Ohio State University in the BCS National Championship Game, 41-14. Brennaman also led FOX's broadcast coverage of the Cotton Bowl from 2000 to 2006.
Since joining FOX Sports at its inception in 1994, the Ohio-raised Brennaman has served as a National Football League (NFL) and Major League Baseball (MLB) play-by-play announcer. His MLB experience includes regular-season Division and League Championship Series games for FOX Sports. Brennaman's professional credits also include serving as the first television voice for the Arizona Diamondbacks (1998-2006), the Chicago Cubs (1990-1995) and he is in his first year calling Cincinnati Reds games with his father, Marty, a 2000 Baseball Hall of Fame inductee.
Davis, one of the most respected and knowledgeable college football analysts on television, will serve as the lead game analyst on the Big Ten Network. Davis most recently worked as lead analyst for TBS' football coverage of the Big 12 and Pac-10 conferences. He is also a sideline reporter for the NBA on TNT, a college football analyst for the NFL Network and an analyst of CBS' coverage of the NCAA basketball tournament.
DiNardo joins BTN after spending the last year two years as a college football analyst with ESPN and ESPN Radio's College GameDay alongside Revsine. DiNardo's coaching career includes head football coaching stints at Vanderbilt and Louisiana State University. An All-American at Notre Dame, he was a member of the school's 1973 national championship team.
Griffith joins Revsine and DiNardo in the Big Ten Network studios. Griffith set an NCAA record with eight rushing touchdowns in a single game during his playing days at the University of Illinois. A retired NFL fullback, he played for two seasons each with the St. Louis Rams and the Carolina Panthers before joining the Denver Broncos in 1997. Griffith was part of two Super Bowl Championship teams and was a major contributor during the Broncos' Super Bowl XXXII win.
A 35-year coaching veteran, Mason joins the network after serving as head football coach for the University of Minnesota for the last 10 seasons. Under Mason, the Gophers won three consecutive bowl games and made bowl appearances in seven of the past eight seasons, a school record. Mason previously held head coaching positions at Kansas and Kent State and was an assistant at Illinois, Ohio State, Ball State, Iowa State and Allegheny College. Mason has also been named coach of the year in three different conferences: the Big Ten, Big Eight and MAC. He was a linebacker at Ohio State, where he was a letter-winner on the Buckeyes' 1970 Big Ten championship team.
Mason's play-by-play partner has yet to be determined.
An award-winning play-by-play announcer, Larrivee will partner with analyst Martin. Larrivee is currently the play-by-play announcer for the Chicago Bulls on WGN-TV and the radio play-by-play announcer for the Green Pay Packers. Previously, he called games for the Chicago Bears for 14 seasons and has called games for the Chicago Cubs and Kansas City Chiefs. Larrivee also has announced Big Ten football and basketball for ESPN. He has won several awards, including a Midwest Emmy in 1997 for Bulls play-by-play announcing, the Illinois Sportscaster of the Year award by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters in 1998, and is a four-time winner of the Silver Dome Award for Best Radio Football Play-by-Play from the Illinois Broadcasters Association.
Martin will team with Larrivee to provide game-day analysis, as well as some studio analysis during the week. A member of Northwestern's 1995 Rose Bowl, Martin played one season with the Chicago Bears. He spent the last two years as a college football analyst for ESPN Regional covering Big Ten, Big East and Mid-American Conference games.
The official launch of the Big Ten Network comes August 30, two days before the kick-off of the 2007 Big Ten college football season. Big Ten Tonight, a nightly studio show hosted by Revsine, will preview the upcoming season and closely examine all of the weekend's conference teams in action. The network will air more live events in HD than any other new network in television history. The network recently announced a commitment to gender equality by 2010, when all Big Ten Network-controlled television, Internet and mobile media will provide equal men's and women's athletic coverage.