It's that time of year, where networks are announcing their lineups of on-air talent. Big Ten Network released their list yesterday.
The core studio group for Big Ten Football Saturday remains the same with Dave Revsine anchoring the coverage, joined by analysts Gerry DiNardo and Howard Griffith. The trio is fantastic at their jobs, providing some of the best gameday coverage around. The announce teams for live games have been changed up a bit, however. Eric Collins replaces Tom Hart in pairing with Derek Rackley and Kevin Kugler takes Collins' spot with Chris Martin. The third string duo of Matt Devlin and Glen Mason remains intact. Wayne Larrivee also remains as a play by play voice with the network. BTN basketball announcer Brian Anderson will be seeing some football action, as will a very welcome new addition to the crew: Josh Lewin, currently of the Mets and Chargers, and formerly of the Texas Rangers.
There seems to be a lack of sideline reporters with this year's crop of talent, however. Lisa Byington and Dionne Miller, paired with the top two teams last year, are nowhere to be found, though both are still listed on the BTN website.
The most interesting elements may be the new analyst additions. BTN is touting the additions of former NFL star Antwaan Randle El as a studio analyst and sideline reporter, Chicago area radio host Tom Waddle as a studio analyst, College Football Hall of Famer Chuck Long as a studio and game analyst, and former Illinois LB J Leman as a game analyst and sideline reporter.
The network has also added some lesser known names to their talent roster, including local Milwaukee sports anchor Evan Fitzgerald, former Nebraska running back Damon Benning, and former Minnesota defensive back Justin Cozemius.
What I like about the BTN (aside from their constant coverage of my "home" conference) is that there really isn't a bad commentator among the bunch. There is no Pam Ward or Matt Millen hiding in the ranks here. The network seems to have a solid grip on what fans look for in commentators and analysts, and they don't load the roster up with filler. Also, judging from the amount of new faces this year, they're also not afraid to mix things up and give some new faces a shot.