Big Ten Elite focuses on the 02 Buckeyes

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This season marks the 10-year anniversary of the 2002 National Champion Buckeye football team and plans have been in place to honor the team this year on campus. The Big Ten Network will be putting the 2002 team in focus in a new show, Big Ten Elite, that will debut on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. (EDT).

In the past decade there have been plenty of documentaries that have chronicled the run to 14-0 that led to the Fiesta Bowl and a double overtime win against the Miami (Fla.) Hurricanes but the new series on BTN features interviews from former head coach Jim Tressel along with star players Craig Krenzel, Chris Gamble, Dustin Fox, and Donnie Nickey, just to name a few.

The inclusion of the 2002 Buckeyes was an easy decision in this series, a series that was just the natural progression after BTN focused on the top icons in Big Ten history and then moved on to coaches.

Coordinating Producer of BTN Original Productions Bill Friedman told in advance of the debut of the piece that the series had been in the works for some time and that the goal was to do more than just tell a story that most Buckeye fans already knew.

"Anyone that is a big enough sports fan is going to have an emotional moment," Friedman said. "For Ohio State fans it may have been when they knocked down the pass to beat Miami in 2002 and every time you see that, it should trigger a great memory because you will remember where you were, you will remember who you were with, you will remember what you did the rest of the night and that is why sports are great. We want these shows to remind people of those great moments."

The Big Ten Network has made a huge niche for itself in the arena of original sports programming and in addition to the Icons series has received a lot of critical acclaim with The Journey, both on the football and basketball side of things. The Journey is a piece that gets turned around on a tight deadline but the Elite series is much more time and labor intensive and takes months rather than days from drawing board to deliver to the viewers.

"It probably took four full months to really track everybody down, to find the footage, to identify what the really good stories were and find the photos," Friedman said. "Then to edit it and feel it out to make sure it was a good watch."

Buckeye fans will be able to relive some of the great moments during the season from game action but may take more notice of some of the stories that they either didn't know or may have forgotten in the decade that has passed.

"One of the things that I learned from the show, I am sure for the Ohio State diehards already knew this, I didn't realize that Maurice Clarett was afraid of flying and a lot of people think that his shaky game against Northwestern was partly because that was the first time he had ever been on an airplane," Friedman said. "It is little things like that are what will distinguish this show from just a chronological highlight of the season, we don't want it to be that. We want to have some characters develop within the hour long show."

No show dealing with the 2002 Ohio State team would be complete without the "Holy Buckeye" play from Krenzel to Michael Jenkins and while everyone has seen the footage not everyone has heard what was going through the minds of several of the players not named Krenzel or Jenkins.

"To me just hearing the guys recount some of the moments in the season, certainly the Purdue game is one that stands out for Ohio State fans and just some of the guy's perspectives on that and what people were thinking about while the ball was in the air from Krenzel to Jenkins at the end of that game, that was one that really struck me," Friedman added.
BTN is celebrating its 5-year anniversary and feels this was the right time to roll out this series.

"We want to put the best content we can on the air that makes our viewers happy and satisfies their desire to watch Big Ten focused programming," Friedman said. "I think we have all learned through every program that we have put on their air over the past five years what works and what doesn't and we're trying to listen to our audience and fans and to always take that into consideration."

Big Ten Elite: 2002 Ohio State Football will air on Tuesday night at 7pm (EDT) and will replay at 10pm (EDT)

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