March 12, 2010
MADISON, Wis. -- The Big Ten Network tabbed eight Wisconsin icons to the preliminary Big Ten Icons Watch List at a reception last night, hosted by the Big Ten Network in Indianapolis.
Representing Wisconsin on the prestigious list are five former football standouts in Alan Ameche, Ron Dayne, Elroy “Crazylegs” Hirsch, Pat Richter and Mike Webster. The men’s hockey program boasts Chris Chelios and Mark Johnson while Suzy Favor Hamilton represents the women’s track and field team.
The list of 100 Big Ten stars was selected by credentialed members of the media. The list will be shortened to 50 and will be determined by a panel of on-air talent, network executives, conference officials and long-time Big Ten observers, based on each individual’s Big Ten playing career.
Big Ten Icons, the network’s new 20-episode series hosted by legendary college sports broadcaster Keith Jackson, will debut Sept. 18. New episodes every Tuesday night will continue the countdown throughout football season and into the spring. The No. 1 Big Ten Icon will be revealed around the 2011 Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament.
Ameche, Wisconsin’s first Heisman Trophy winner in 1954 ended his college career as the NCAA all-time rushing leader. The All-American scored 25 touchdowns, ran for more than 100 yards sixteen times, and rushed for 3,212 yards in 673 carries. Ameche went on to play six years with the Baltimore Colts which included two championships, 4,045 yards and 40 touchdowns.
Wisconsin’s second Heisman Trophy winner came in 1999 after Dayne became the NCAA Division I career rushing leader (6,397 yards), a record that he still holds. The two-time Rose Bowl MVP was also the recipient of the 1999 Maxwell and Doak Walker Awards. Dayne was a three-time first-team All-Big Ten selection and 1999 consensus All-American. Following his college career, Dayne was an NFL first-round draft pick.
Hirsch played only one season (1942) at UW, but he was one of the most beloved sports figures in school history. He rushed for 786 yards, passed for 226 yards and had 390 yards receiving on the way to third-team All-America honors from Look magazine. Wisconsin went 8-1-1 with Hirsch in 1942. He starred for nine years with the L.A. Rams and set an NFL season record with 1,495 receiving yards (66 catches and 17 TDs) in 1951 as the Rams won the league championship. He later served as UW’s Director of Athletics.
Prior to Richter’s 14-year tenure as the University of Wisconsin’s director of athletics, he lettered three times each in football, basketball and baseball - thus becoming the last nine-time letterwinner in school history - and earned All-America distinction twice as a tight end and All-Big Ten honors as a first baseman. Richter led the NCAA in receiving as a junior and set a Rose Bowl record with 11 catches for 163 yards in the 1963 game vs. No. 1-rated USC.
Webster was regarded as the best center in the Big Ten during most of his career at Wisconsin. A three-year starter from 1971-73 he was a first-team All-Big Ten selection in his final season. Webster went on to play 16 years in the NFL where he won four Super Bowls with the Pittsburgh Steelers and was a nine-time Pro Bowl selection.
Chelios, currently the oldest active player in the NHL at 48, played two seasons for the Badgers. In 1983, he was part of Wisconsin's NCAA championship team and was named to the all-tournament team and second-team All-WCHA. The 11-time all-star has 948 points in his 25-year NHL career with Detroit, the Chicago Blackhawks and Montreal. He has appeared in an NHL-record 266 NHL playoff games
Johnson made ice hockey history during his collegiate career from 1976-79, becoming the first Badger to ever win the WCHA Rookie of the Year award. During his freshman year, Johnson helped the Badgers win the 1977 NCAA National Championship. Johnson, who was a two-time All-American, remains the school's second all-time leading scorer (256 points) and holds the record for most goals scored in a career and in a season. Johnson ended his amateur career with a gold medal as the star player on the 1980 U.S. "Miracle on Ice" Olympic Team. Johnson later enjoyed an 11-year NHL career before returning to Madison as an assistant to the men’s hockey team and currently the head coach of the women’s program.
Favor Hamilton won nine NCAA individual titles which, while now tied by Sally Kipyego, still stands as the most in NCAA history. She won four Big Ten Athlete of the Year awards, which is now called the "Suzy Favor Award." She was recognized as the NCAA Woman of the Year and is a NCAA Championships record holder in the 800 m and 1500 m.
Icons 50 through 21 will be revealed online daily prior to the show’s on-air launch at www.BigTenIcons.com and www.facebook.com/BigTenIcons. The websites will include a text and video feature on each Icon.