This past Wednesday, BTN premiered Scarlet and Gray Days: Inside Ohio State Training Camp, a show, as the subtitle would suggest, about Ohio State's training camp and preparation for the upcoming 2015 season. To say that all eyes are on Ohio State this year is not an understatement. Ohio State is the first-ever College Football Playoff national champion. They are the first ever unanimous No. 1 team in the preseason AP Top 25 Poll. Many people think they can do it again; a lot of people want to watch them fail. No pressure, guys.
To give this behind-the-scenes look at training camp a bit more weight (as if it needed any help), the folks at BTN have employed Academy Award winner J.K. Simmons, star of film, television, Broadway, video games, and those M&M commercials, as their narrator. Simmons makes no secret of the fact that he's a big Ohio State fan; his family lived in Worthington for a while when he was growing up, and he briefly attended Ohio State before going on to win Oscars and whatnot. For a documentary about Ohio State, he was about as solid of a get as BTN could hope for. The show airs Wednesday nights at 7 p.m. ET on BTN and BTN2Go.
This got us thinking, though. What about the rest of the Big Ten? No one's making documentaries about them right now, but if they were, who would be their narrators? Let's take a look.
Big Ten East
Don't lie; you'd love to watch a documentary about the Spartans. And why wouldn't you? They finished second in the Big Ten East last season behind the Buckeyes. They have a great coach, a Top 15 incoming class, and are ranked No. 6 in the preseason Coaches' Poll. For This Is Sparta: Inside Michigan State Training Camp, I'm going to go with Marshall Mathers, aka Eminem, as the narrator. You're going to want some raw energy and pain to reflect the Spartan spirit, and no one's going to do it better than him.
The Terps did pretty okay for their first year in the Big Ten, finishing third in the Big Ten East. They even received a vote in the preseason rankings. When picking a narrator, you have to remember that you need to appeal to more than just sports nerds. You want to bring in as many viewers as possible. That's why BTN went with Simmons for OSU instead of Archie or Troy Smith. You need a recognizable voice, one that can immediately hook people, which is why Turtle On Its Back: Inside Maryland Training Camp will be narrated by none other than Kermit the Frog, the creation of notable Maryland alumnus Jim Henson.
The Scarlet Knights didn't do quite as well in their Big Ten premiere, tying for 4th in the division and ending with a losing record in conference play. A lot of people pointed at the addition of Rutgers to the Big Ten as proof that the conference was just looking for TV money (hello, NYC market), and their performance last year didn't really do much to convince anyone otherwise. To sell this sort of program, you're going to need someone who loves New Jersey, and someone who isn't afraid to tell it like it is, which is why More Than A TV Market: Inside Rutgers Training Camp has to be narrated by actor/writer/director Kevin Smith. You know he'll tell it like it is. (Also, Jon Stewart's way too famous for this gig.)
A traditional powerhouse in the conference and the national scene, the Wolverines have spent most of the last few seasons on the struggle bus. They're looking to change that this year, though, with the hiring of
Michigan's savior new head coach Jim Harbaugh. While it will hopefully be many, many years before Michigan manages to win The Game again, they do, unfortunately, win the narrator battle, as Khak-Attack: Inside Michigan Training Camp will be narrated by Michigan alumnus James Earl Jones, as in the voice of Darth Vader. Damn it, Michigan, why do you have to have cool alumni?
Another Big Ten power currently down on their luck, Penn State and 2nd-year coach James Franklin are looking to do significantly better than their 2-6 conference record of last year. The 20 Coaches' Poll votes they got would suggest that some people (at least 20 of them) think they can do it. The team's going to need to get fired up to pull it off, though, which is why We Ain't Nittany Lyin': Inside Penn State Training Camp will be narrated by Keegan-Michael Key, of the comedy duo Key & Peele, as Luther, President Obama's anger translator.
Let's be real, folks. Indiana is not good at football, nor will they be anytime soon. They won one conference game last season and only managed four wins total. This isn't going to be an inspiring documentary. It's going to be kind of depressing, really, which is why we'll keep things light and get Indianapolis native David Letterman to be the voice of Three Months Until Basketball Starts: Inside Indiana Training Camp.
Big Ten West
Losing in the Big Ten championship game has to hurt. Getting shut out is a pain that only Wisconsin knows. Sure, beating Auburn in the Outback Bowl probably helped a bit, but you know that Bucky is still looking for revenge. The third Big Ten team to make the preseason Coaches' Top 25 at No. 18, the Badgers should be a force to be reckoned with. Beer and Cheese: Inside Wisconsin Training Camp will be narrated by actor Mark Ruffalo of Kenosha, because Wisconsin is angry, and we're not going to like them when they're angry.
The Cornhuskers want to win so badly that they fired their head coach after last year, because coming in second in the division just isn't good enough for the people of Lincoln. With 27 votes in the Coaches' Poll, it's safe to assume that Nebraska will make some noise this season. The question is, how loud will they be? Unfortunately for them (and the world), noted Nebraksa alum Johnny Carson is no longer around to voice their documentary. Luckily, star Gabrielle Union is a Nebraskan, so Everyday I'm Huskin': Inside Nebraska Training Camp can benefit from her lovely voice. Otherwise, it'd be Nick Nolte or Larry the Cable Guy, and no one wants that.
If you want to know the definition of pressure, look no further than Minnesota football. 2014 Big Ten Coach of the Year Jerry Kill has got his work cut out for him. After being named CotY after an impressive T-2nd place finish in the Big Ten West, many people are wondering, "How will he top that? Where do you go from here?" All eyes are on you, Golden Gophers. For How Many Licks Does It Take To Get to the Center of a Dilly Bar: Inside Minnesota Training Camp, we're busting out the big guns with Minnesota's favorite son, Garrison Keillor of A Prairie Home Companion. His Wikipedia page calls him a "storyteller," and there's no story quite like this one.
The Hawkeyes were pretty meh last season. They finished the year 4-4 in the conference and 7-6 overall. Could they be a B1G sleeper this year? Or will they seem themselves falling behind? Only the voice of beloved Iowan Elijah Wood and Hawkeye's More Than an Avenger, You Guys: Inside Iowa Training Camp will tell.
It's a bit unfair that a team as bad as Illinois gets a narrator so good, but maybe this'll be the thing that inspires the Illini to greatness. Nick Offerman of Ron Swanson fan is both an Illinois native and a University of Illinois alumnus, which means Extinguishing the Tire Fire: Inside Illinois Training Camp will be the manliest documentary you've ever seen.
Northwestern is a pretty cool school just outside of Chicago, which is a pretty cool city, which means that their alumni list includes some pretty cool people. None of them are as cool, though, as Stephen Colbert, the new host of the Late Show on CBS. (Sorry, Seth Meyers. Maybe the basketball team will need you for something.) I'm not saying that The Ivy League of the Big Ten: Inside Northwestern Training Camp will be good, just that it'll be entertaining to listen to.
Let's be real, people. No one is making a documentary about Purdue football.