CHICAGO — During his press conference Tuesday morning at Big Ten Media Days, President, BTN and National Networks at FOX Sports Mark Silverman announced that 1997 Nebraska will be the next team featured on the network's "Big Ten Elite" program.
Silverman was asked how much the return of Scott Frost had to do with the selection of the 1997 team for the series. While it may not surprise you that it was a factor, his candor on the subject was surprising.
“If Scott Frost was not back to coach Nebraska, I don’t think we would have done the ‘Elites’ this year,” Silverman told Hail Varsity. “There were several other schools we were evaluating but with Scott coming back, it’s an incredible story.
"This is a Nebraska fan’s dream to have Scott Frost come back and coach the team that he led to a co-national championship. It made selecting them an easy decision for us this year for the ‘Elites’ series.”
It makes sense that the network should be excited to welcome Frost into the Big Ten’s coaching ranks. Having a 43-year-old coach who is already accomplished be the lone addition to the coaching landscape this season is a big win. Silverman says the network is certainly excited and ready.
“We are thrilled to have him here. He’s a fantastic person to work with. His success speaks for itself. We are looking forward to it. Maybe not as much as Nebraska fans, but pretty close, to having them return to being the kind of program I think we all expect Nebraska to be. It feels like it’s moving in that direction. We are ready to show Nebraska fans as much of their team as possible. We are very happy and we want to try to make Coach Frost as successful as possible in our own little way.”
Since Nebraska has been in the conference, there have been four very strong programs — Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State and Ohio State. In the West, Nebraska and Iowa have made the Big Ten Championship Game but Wisconsin has been more of a mainstay in Indianapolis. There are some added benefits for the network should Nebraska fan’s hopes come true and Frost leads them back to relevance.
“The more success a school or program has, the more casual fans may watch things that they won’t watch if their team is .500," Silverman said. "If they are .500 they will watch the games but that’s all. Now if Nebraska can compete for the West title, you’d want to see who you could be playing for the conference title. It heightens the awareness of the Big Ten race, all the stuff we are putting on the air and grows our connection with the viewer. It’s really important for us if we can have a really strong Nebraska team that can in time get up there and continually challenge for the West title."
The same team that produces "The Journey" for BTN also produces "Big Ten Elite." The group has a track record of producing quality work including the Brook Berringer documentary back in 2014. The network makes an investment in these projects and has a big picture goal in mind with the programming.
“Part of it is growing the Big Ten brand and having people say we have a quality network. That’s important. We need to produce shows like ‘The Journey’ and ‘Big Ten Elite’ to show people we are not just showing the games," Silverman said. "We are trying to deliver a comprehensive programming plan to all the fans in different Big Ten schools. The ‘Elites’ series we came up with to try to honor these great teams. We look for other programming to complement our great games.”
An official air date for the show featuring 1997 Nebraska will be announced later this fall.
Greg is the Recruiting Analyst for Hail Varsity and has covered Husker athletics since 2013. He has always had a passion for sports while growing up in the Chicago area. As he got older and had to hang up his cleats and sneakers, he realized his passion for sports went beyond just watching and attending games. He has covered many events from the Rose Bowl to championship boxing matches. If he’s not talking sports, he’s hovering over his grill. He is married to an amazing woman, Kim, and they have a dog that barks when Greg yells at the TV during games.