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Comcast drops Big Ten Network from some out-of-market areas

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Finding something to replace the Michigan spring game on the schedule is suddenly the least of the Big Ten Network’s worries this week. The same could be fans of the conference who live outside the league’s footprint too.

Reports started surfacing Thursday afternoon and evening that cable giant Comcast (who, full disclosure, is the parent company of NBC Universal) had dropped BTN from its lineup in a rather unexpected move given there was no word about any potential carriage battle between the two. As it turns out, this isn’t some wild rumor spreading on social media, the company is indeed dropping BTN from certain packages outside states within the Big Ten footprint.

Straight from the Comcast corporate account:

Markets in Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin will continue to receive the BTN feed like normal.

While some might worry first about whether or not they’re able to watch a certain game, there is a financial aspect to this news that should not go unnoticed. Comcast pays to carry the Big Ten Network and has a different price they pony up each month for the channel depending on what market it is. The out-of-market price is significantly lower than the in-market price but, when you add it all up over 12 months a year and millions of subscribers, this is still a potentially huge hit worth millions of dollars to the bottom line of BTN and, in turn, the schools themselves.

Needless to say this does not impact other providers such as Time Warner, DirecTV, Dish, Verizon and others but this remains an issue for those who have Comcast and want to watch BTN outside Big Ten territory. Based on the states listed above, even those near Big Ten areas like Maryland fans who live in Northern Virginia or Rutgers alumni in Connecticut could also be facing some changes.

You can still likely get the channel in your area on Comcast but it may now require a change to a different package so if you’re a Buckeye in Oregon or a Wolverine in California, you might want to double-check your channel lineup after today’s news.

His Bum Left Foot: Wisconsin’s Zack Baun down again with injury

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Unless it’s a bad one, Zack Baun simply can’t catch a break when it comes to his feet in general and one in particular.

Because of a left foot injury, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has noted, Baun (pictured, hoisting teammate) will be sidelined indefinitely because of an unspecified injury to his left foot.  Baun sustained this latest injury during a spring practice session this past Friday.

The linebacker missed the entire 2017 season because of a broken left foot; according to the Journal-Sentinel, the football program is optimistic that there is no break involved this time around.

That said, the team and the player are awaiting the results of an MRI to determine the severity of the injury and just how long Baun will be sidelined.

As a redshirt freshman in 2016, Baun played in 12 of the Badgers’ 14 games and was credited with 15 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and a sack.

Minnesota moves spring game up a day because of, you guessed it, forecast of bad weather

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I have no clue what college football did to Mother Nature, but she’s not a very happy camper at the moment.

Already this month, Iowa State (HERE), West Virginia (HERE) and Wisconsin (HERE) have been forced to cancel their respective spring games because of a weather forecast that’s not exactly optimal for football being played this time of the year.  Minnesota’s spring game had been scheduled for Saturday afternoon; below is the forecast for the Minneapolis area in the coming days:

Unlike the other Power Five programs, however, Minnesota has decided against canceling the game and will instead move it up two days.

In its first season under P.J. Fleck, Minnesota’s 5-7 record was the program’s worst since going 3-9 in 2011 in the first season under Jerry Kill.

Weather costs Wisconsin its spring game too

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As it turns out, the Big 12 isn’t the only Power Five conference with which Mother Nature has a problem.

Already this month, looming weather has forced both Iowa State (HERE) and West Virginia (HERE) to cancel their respective spring games. On Tuesday, Wisconsin announced that they too have canceled their annual spring game because of what the football program described as a weather forecast that is calling for a strong chance of heavy rain and thunderstorms on Friday during the late afternoon and evening.

The game had been scheduled to kickoff at 6 p.m. CT.

“The safety of our student-athletes and fans is our utmost priority,” a statement from UW athletic director Barry Alvarez said. “The weather forecast has been pretty consistent in calling for a good chance of rain and thunderstorms on Friday.

“We thought it was best to make the call early to give the numerous groups involved in the game, including our team, our fans, our media partners and staff, notice of the cancellation as soon as possible.”

“It’s certainly disappointing for our fans who wanted a chance to see our team and for our players who always look forward to playing in Camp Randall,” head football coach Paul Chryst said in his statement. “Unfortunately some things are beyond your control.”

Wisconsin, coming off its fourth-straight 10-win season, this time with a school-record 13 wins, will open the 2018 season against Western Kentucky on Friday, Aug. 31. The defending Big Ten West champions will open conference play Sept. 22 at division rival Iowa.

Big 12 is only conference with College Football Playoff and Final Four participant

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A basketball tournament that opened with 68 teams vying for a chance to win in all has come down to four final contenders. Over the weekend, Villanova, Kansas, Michigan, and Loyola-Chicago all captured their respective regions to advance to next weekend’s Final Four in San Antonio, Texas. With Big 12 champion Kansas reaching the final weekend, the Big 12 is the only conference this year to place a team in both the College Football Playoff and the Final Four of the men’s basketball tournament.

The Oklahoma Sooners won the Big 12’s football championship last fall and were sent to Pasadena, California to play SEC champion Georgia in the Rose Bowl semifinal of the College Football Playoff. The Oklahoma men’s basketball team also was selected to play in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, although they did not stick around for very long. The Sooners were bounced in the first round by Rhode Island. This marks the second time the Big 12 has had a final four team in both sports. The last time it happened was 2016 when Oklahoma played in their first College Football Playoff and the Sooners reached the basketball Final Four. Oklahoma is still the only school to reach the Final Four in both sports in the same season in the young College Football Playoff era.

This year marks the first season in which the ACC was not represented in each sport’s final four since the introduction of the College Football Playoff, thanks to Kansas knocking out Duke in a regional final on Sunday. The ACC was represented by Florida State and Duke in the College Football Playoff and Final Four, respectively, in the 2014-2015 season. Clemson football has appeared in the past three College Football Playoff brackets while the Final Four was represented by the ACC thanks to North Carolina and Syracuse in 2016, and UNC again in 2017 (The Tar Heels won it all last season).

The SEC has had a final four team in both sports twice in the CFB Playoff era. Alabama has been in every College Football Playoff to date and in 2015 (Kentucky) and 2017 (South Carolina), the SEC had a basketball team win a region to get to the Final Four.

The Big Ten has had a team in the final four of both sports in the same season just once. Ohio State played in the inaugural College Football Playoff in 2014-2015, and the basketball Final Four included both Wisconsin and Michigan State to represent the Big Ten a few months later. This year’s Michigan team is the first Final Four team out of the Big Ten since then. This is also the first year the Big Ten was not included in the College Football Playoff.

The Pac-12 has also had a team in the final four in both sports just once, and it occurred last year. Washington was selected to play in the College Football Playoff and Oregon reached the Final Four. This year the Pac-12 was left out of the College Football Playoff and the conference went 0-3 in the NCAA Tournament.

A non-power conference has never been represented in the College Football Playoff (although that hasn’t stopped UCF from claiming a national championship), but a mid-major in the Final Four has happened each of the past two seasons (which of course does not include the Big East, since the Big East is considered a major conference in basketball).

The ACC is the only conference to get a team to reach the championship game in both sports in the same season. Clemson’s back-to-=back College Football Playoff national championship appearances against Alabama in 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 was accompanied by North Carolina’s back-to-back national championship game appearances in the same seasons (against Villanova and Gonzaga, respectively). Of course, that means the ACC is the only conference to win it all in the same season in the brief College Football Playoff era with Clemson and UNC winning it all in 2016-2017.

Helmet sticker to Diehards.