For today's Final Four Friday, I wanted to take a look at what we consider to be the biggest innovations in media coverage of Michigan State athletics over the past year.
And the nominees are...
ESPN.com launches its Big Ten blog
About a year ago, ESPN.com, the nation's premier sports website, plucked a young sports reporter from the Arlington Heights Daily Herald in Illinois and gave him a blog. Now, Adam Rittenberg's Big Ten blog is an absolute must-read on MSU and Big Ten athletics. You might accuse me of hyperbole here, but it's probably the biggest thing for Big Ten coverage to happen since the launch of the Big Ten Network. Simply put, this amount of Big Ten news coverage had never before been available all in one place - now it is.
Facebook redesigns its status feed
Sure, we could talk about other microblogging websites - Twitter comes to mind - but the much-despised recent Facebook layout change has most changed how Spartan fans watch sports. I watched the national title game against North Carolina at home, laptop in front of me, putting out status updates on my reaction to the game as several friends did the same. It's like watching a game in one giant online living room.
Live blogging of MSU games
The Detroit Free Press is at the forefront of this, with Shawn Windsor tackling MSU games and Scott Bell taking on U of M. The two live blogged football and basketball, as well as the odd Lions, Pistons, Tigers and Red Wings games. Their analysis is on point and, best of all, they're knowledgeable enough about the teams to know, for example, if the third string tight end is primarily a run or pass blocker. It may be a bit too detailed for some, but I'd rather have Shawn and Scott doing in-game commentary than Brent Musberger. But that's just me, moving on...
Comcast caves on Big Ten Network
The nation's largest cable provider and the Big Ten Network announced last June that the two had come to an agreement for Comcast to carry BTN nationwide - and on expanded basic in most of the Big Ten footprint markets. And while the 2007-08 season saw fans grumbling about not being able to see games, 2008-09 saw every football game and all-but one basketball game live on television.
And the winner is...
I'm a big Rittenberg fan, but the whole point of the Big Ten Network was that more people would see Big Ten games. Now in Baltimore, I've been able to keep up with not just football and men's basketball, but women's basketball, wrestling and hockey too. Games that would never have been televised have been, and that exposure is great for the league.