With no live sports available to broadcast this summer, the BTN (Big Ten Network) often has to dig deep into its vault to fill its 24-hour programming cycle.
Among the more intelligent decisions the successful college sports network has made over the years is to devote an entire summer day to a school. That includes game replays and re-airing unique content. Many fans eagerly anticipate "School Days" and set their DVRs (or use the timer on the old-school VCR) to keep those events for posterity.
On Iowa's first "School Day" earlier this month, the BTN aired the iconic 2005 Capital One Bowl victory, the basketball squad's recent upset win at Wisconsin and a 2003 football win against Michigan. All were good choices. The network also floated in Olympic sports programming, which might not have led to increased viewership but those sports deserve some play, too.
Iowa's second "School Day" is Thursday, and the network will air a mix of newer and dated games featuring multiple sports. Here's a look at each event (in Central time) with an analysis:
5 a.m. -- 2009 Big Ten Wrestling Championships
- Analysis: Iowa wrestling fans will devour anything that conjures memories of domination, and that season's Big Ten tournament title does so. Iowa scored 141 points, 27.5 more than runner-up Illinois. It was the Hawkeyes' 33rd Big Ten title.
8 a.m. -- Big Ten Icons: Dan Gable
- Analysis: He's one of the greatest coaches in the history of sports. No complaints from Iowa fans on this one.
8:30 a.m. -- Big Ten's Greatest Games: Iowa 84, Indiana 82 2-OT (Feb. 7, 2004)
- Analysis: It was a thrilling, double-overtime victory at Assembly Hall for Iowa. But Iowa finished 16-13 and Indiana was 14-15 overall. It's maybe a stretch to call it a great game and there are plenty more worthy (from Iowa's point of view) to air in this slot.
10:30 a.m. -- Big Ten Icons: Nile Kinnick
- Analysis: Great show, great American.
11 a.m -- Big Ten's Greatest Games: Iowa 39, San Diego State 38 (1986 Holiday Bowl)
- Analysis: One of Iowa's all-time great finishes under Hayden Fry. Terrific choice.
1 p.m. -- 2009 Big Ten Wrestling Championships
- Analysis: Well, maybe somebody missed the memo on the first airing.
4 p.m. -- Big Ten's Greatest Games: Iowa 31, Purdue 28 (Oct. 5, 2002)
- Analysis: One of the iconic games in Kirk Ferentz's first Big Ten championship season. Considering the edge-of-your-seat flow, from Dallas Clark's 95-yard touchdown catch to Brad Banks' late-game heroics, this easily qualifies under the "Greatest Games" label.
6 p.m. -- Big Ten Icons: Nile Kinnick
- Analysis: The BTN could re-air this show six times and nobody would complain.
6:30 pm. -- Big Ten's Greatest Games: Iowa 34, Michigan State 27 2-OT (Oct. 27, 2007)
- Analysis: Although it was a double-overtime finish, this hardly qualifies as a great game. I doubt it would rank in the top 50 under Ferentz. It was the only season since 2000 Iowa did not earn a bowl berth. Iowa finished 6-6 and Michigan State was 7-6. I can name a handful of Iowa games in 2008 or 2009 (let alone any other years) that would make a more worthy choice.
8:30 p.m. -- Big Ten Classic: Iowa 67, Purdue 65 (March 5, 2011)
- Analysis: I think when we look back at Fran McCaffery's basketball tenure in 15-20 years, this is the game we'll remember that kick-started the era. The Hawkeyes finished 2010-11 with an 11-20 record, but there was a positive feeling about the program once again. This win was like Iowa football earning a 26-23 double-overtime victory at Penn State under second-year coach Kirk Ferentz in the 3-9 2000 season.
10:30 p.m. -- Big Ten Game of the Week: Iowa 31, Pittsburgh 27 (Sept. 17, 2011)
- Analysis: The greatest comeback in Iowa football history (in terms of points) certainly qualifies as a worthy entry on Iowa's "School Day."
12:30 a.m. -- 2009 Big Ten Wrestling Championships
- Analysis: Just in case you missed it the first two times, there's always a third.
3:30 a.m. -- Big Ten's Greatest Games: Iowa 84, Indiana 82 2-OT (Feb. 7, 2004)
- Analysis: See above
Overall, the BTN does a solid job with its "School Days" programming. But I'd like to see a few different games enter the mix in the future. I know the TV situation in the 1980s and earlier was sketchy at best, but here are a few Iowa games rarely shown the BTN should consider airing in the future (if they are available):
Nov. 21, 1981 -- Iowa 36, Michigan State 7. The win clinched Iowa's first Rose Bowl berth in 23 years. Former Iowa SID Phil Haddy described it as the best moment in his 40-year career with the school.
Oct. 5, 1985 -- Iowa 35, Michigan State 31. Chuck Long's bootleg touchdown run with 27 seconds left preserved Iowa's No. 1 ranking and kept the Hawkeyes unbeaten for their titanic clash against No. 2 Michigan two weeks later (which has aired on ESPN Classic).
Nov. 14, 1987 -- Iowa 29, Ohio State 27. Iowa tight end Marv Cook hauled a 28-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-23 with just seconds remaining. It was tabbed as the 1980s' top finish in an original BTN program.
Nov. 3, 1990 -- Iowa 54, Illinois 28. The epic collision in the Iowa-Illinois football rivalry turned into a rout in the first quarter. It wasn't a close game, but to a fan base, blowouts are just as much fun to relive than the last-second victories.
Nov. 2, 1991 -- Iowa 16, Ohio State 9. It was Iowa's most recent win at Columbus on a somber afternoon. The Hawkeyes stripped all their decals after a deadly shooting on the UI campus killed six people (including the shooter) one day earlier.
Dec. 29, 1995 -- Iowa 38, Washington 18. Hayden Fry and the Hawkeyes earned revenge over their bowl tormentors and allowed long-time defensive coordinator Bill Brashier to retire on a high note. It was perhaps the final signature win in Fry's storied Iowa career.
Oct. 26, 2002 -- Iowa 34, Michigan 9. The victory vaulted the Hawkeyes as a legitimate national power and handed the Wolverines their worst home defeat in 35 years.
Jan. 1, 2004 -- Iowa 37, Florida 17. The Outback Bowl victory marked Iowa's first Jan. 1 bowl win since the 1959 Rose Bowl.
Nov. 20, 2004 -- Iowa 30, Wisconsin 7. The regular-season finale between the border rivals determined who earned a share of the Big Ten title.
Oct. 23, 2004 -- Iowa 6, Penn State 4. A highly emotional win for Iowa and Kirk Ferentz, who lost his father earlier that week. Like two pitchers allowing a combined three hits, the game boasted top-shelf defense from start-to-finish.
March 14, 1970 -- Iowa 121, Notre Dame 106. This result mattered little as a Sweet 16 consolation game, but Iowa led 75-42 at halftime. Iowa averaged 102.9 points per game in Big Ten play that year, still a league record.
March 16, 1980 -- Iowa 81, Georgetown 80. The Hawkeyes stormed from a 10-point halftime deficit to lock up their first Final Four appearance since 1956.
Jan. 14, 1987 -- Iowa 91, Illinois 88, OT. The Hawkeyes capped a furious comeback at their blood basketball rival in perhaps the best season in school history.
Jan. 31, 1993 -- Iowa 88, Michigan 80. In perhaps the most emotional basketball game in Iowa history, the Hawkeyes beat the Fab Five in Iowa's first home game since Chris Street's death.
Dec 8, 1998 -- Iowa 85, Kansas 81. The Hawkeyes rallied from an 18-point deficit and ended the Jayhawks' 62-game home winning streak.I didn't include recent games from the BTN era or there'd be five or six from the 2009 football season alone. But what other Iowa games should the BTN consider airing in the summer?