Big Ten Network has made some new hires, and their names will be familiar to any fan of the conference.
BTN announced at Media Days on Monday that former Michigan wide receiver Braylon Edwards, former Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitis and former Northwestern defensive end Corey Wootton will join the network as analysts. All three starred in the Big Ten before carving out solid NFL careers.
Mark Silverman announced that James Laurinaitis, Braylon Edwards and Corey Wootton are joining @BigTenNetwork
— Dr. Saturday (@YahooDrSaturday) July 24, 2017
Via the Detroit Free Press, here’s what Big Ten Network president Mark Silverman said about Edwards:
“We were at Ann Arbor last year for a BTN tailgate show and … we had Braylon come on as a guest,” Silverman said. “After the show, we all said ‘Wow.’ Very polished, very presentable, very smart.”
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“We haven’t had much on our talent side from Michigan,” Silverman said. “Over the years we’ve had some Michigan people on our show, but today there really aren’t many so we were looking for somebody.
“Braylon was actually on air and we saw him, and we all thought he would be great to add to our team and we’re excited to have him on this year.”
And via Bucknuts, here’s what Silverman offered up on Laurinaitis:
“James Lauainitis had perhaps the best screen test I’ve ever seen,” BTN president Mark Silverman said Monday afternoon. “James came in and the intelligence and how thoughtful, well-spoken for somebody who literally just retired months ago really blew us all away. Having somebody who played some of his career actually on BTN, and brining him back on, it’s a great add for us.”
Edwards, Laurinaitis and Wootton join a BTN roster that was previously heavy on former coaches and light on big-name former players. Edwards and Laurinaitis are particularly valuable as beloved players from opposite sides of the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry. ESPN has demonstrated how Buckeyes-Wolverines tensions can add some drama (wanted or unwanted) to studio shows, with Ohio State fans despising Mark May for a decade and a half and Wolverines fans resenting former Buckeye Kirk Herbstreit nearly as much. We’ll see if BTN attempts to light-heartedly pit Edwards and Laurinaitis against each other in studio.
The three new BTN analysts all come with impressive on-field resumes, which never hurts on TV. Edwards caught 252 passes and scored 39 touchdowns over four seasons at Michigan before playing eight seasons in the NFL and reaching one Pro Bowl. Laurinaitis was a three-time All-American and two-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year at Ohio State, then played eight NFL seasons, mostly for the St. Louis Rams. Wootton was the less decorated than the other two in both college and the pros but did rack up 19.5 sacks in college and 12 in the NFL, in five seasons.
BTN has not announced what specific roles the three newcomers will serve on the network.