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Enhance Your Experience: The Big Ten Network

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Okay, I think we can all agree that last week was a disaster. When Samsung approached us with this offer we had little guidance and few limitations. We were told to talk about how technology had enhanced our experience as college football fans and the only limitation was that we couldn't talk about other TV's. Since my phone is my first smartphone I thought I would profile it, but it was not a good idea to call it a Profile in Badassery.

So let's take a mulligan. This is the final of the three entries for the Samsung promotion, and a real Profile in Badassery will return later this afternoon after a three week hiatus.

The truth is, technology has done a lot to enhance my fan experience. When I first started coming to games with parents in the fall of 1987, get this, not every game was on television.

Yes, I know this will come as a shock in this day and age of the Big Ten Network and ESPN Ocho. I remember when channel four in Indianapolis would do almost every Purdue basketball game, while Purdue football games would be shown on tape delay on Saturday nights. Since Purdue was not a good team for the first 10 years of my fandom, seeing road games on TV were a rare treat. NBC wasn't airing Notre Dame yet. I had to listen to the Bucket games that were played in Bloomington on the radio. I remember watching our 1995 upset of West Virginia on TV thanks to channel four picking up some big East affiliate and broadcasting about half the game.

That means the best development over the last 10 years is probably the Big Ten network. As you know, Mrs. T-Mill and I long to move to Florida. Thanks to ESPN3 and the Big Ten Network, I know that if we move there will be only one football game every two years that TV will be an issue. That is when we have our non-Big Ten, non-Notre Dame road trip like next year at Rice. Northwestern fans had to experience the pain we likely will in that their game with the Owls this season was not televised. Even BTN didn't have highlights.

The last time I anguished over a Purdue game was the Baby Boilers' upset of Wisconsin in Madison three years ago. Brighthouse did not have the Big Ten Network yet, so I spent all of that game constantly refreshing Gametracker and watching our lead dwindle. Now I don't have to worry about that. If Purdue is on TV my hand is trained to type in channel 762 (in HD!) and my urge to watch basketball is sated.

This is all from someone that lives an hour from campus. I still go to every home football game and several basketball games every year. I can't imagine how valuable BTN is to someone who has to pay extra for it because they live on the other side of the country. This summer I had lunch with a friend from Purdue who now lives in Los Angeles. She talked about how BTN was her Saturday morning destination. She also liked it for women's basketball since she is a bigger fan of the women's program than the men's program.

There is no doubt the Big Ten network has been a success. It allowed the conference to virtually hold the college sports world hostage all summer by "exploring expansion". All the Ro-Tel and Barabsol money the network generates comes back to the schools and helps all sports programs, not just football and men's basketball. Purdue's new baseball stadium was made possible from Barbasol and Ro-Tel money, and the increased exposure of having some of their games on TV should also help the program improve.

When I had a chance to tour the BTN studios in August I was surprised at how compact everything was. In just eight years since my last TV production class the technology had changed so much that I would have a hard time keeping up with everything, and that is technically the field that my degree is in. They can film several shows in one small studio that isn't much bigger than the one in the basement of Stewart Center where I honed my craft.

So we can all agree that life hasn't been the same since BTN launched. I'll now blow the dust and cobwebs off of my radio so I can follow next fall's game at Rice. Thank God for the Big Ten Network.