Go All-Access With Illinois Football

CHICAGO - On the heels of a magical run to the Rose Bowl last year, head coach Ron Zook and the University of Illinois football team will aim for a second straight trip to Pasadena. The Big Ten Network will be there every step of the way with the original series, Illinois Football: The Journey.

The season-long, all-access series debuts at 9:30 PM ET on Sept. 2. New episodes will air Tuesdays at 9:30 PM ET and the previous week's show will precede the new episode.

Illinois Football: The Journey will go deep inside the Fighting Illini program all year, capturing the team's activities on the field and beyond. The series will introduce fans to the Illini players, coaches and support staff while traveling on road trips, and will capture practices, team meetings, film sessions, pre-game walkthroughs and many of Zook's pre-game, halftime and post-game locker room speeches.

"Illinois' amazing ride to the Rose Bowl last year was a tremendous accomplishment," said Big Ten Network Executive Producer Leon Schweir. "Everyone is wondering, 'can they do it again?' We will be there to find out. It's a story we look forward to telling and Big Ten fans will enjoy watching."

"We are very excited about the opportunity to work with the Big Ten Network on this project," Zook said. "I spoke at length with (Minnesota men's basketball coach) Tubby Smith about his experience last year and he had very positive things to say. The show has been done very professionally and gives the Illini Nation a chance to look closer into our program. I'm looking forward to the public being able to get to know our players better through some of the great stories that will be told."

Illinois Football: The Journey will give an insider's look at the Illini's attempt to repeat its 2007 success. Some of the major preseason storylines include overcoming the departures of running back Rashard Mendenhall and linebacker J. Leman to the NFL, the development of quarterback Juice Williams and emerging superstars wide receiver Arrelious Benn and cornerback Vontae Davis.

This is the second season of the popular series. Last winter, Minnesota Basketball: The Journey followed the Golden Gophers on their way to a postseason appearance during its first season under coach Tubby Smith.

About the Big Ten Network:

The Big Ten Network is the first national network dedicated to covering one of the premier collegiate conferences in the country. With more than 400 live events, and nearly all of them in HD, the network is the destination for Big Ten fans across the country and will allow fans to see their favorite home teams, regardless of where they live. Operating 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, the Big Ten Network showcases a wide array of classic-to-current sports, more Olympic sporting events and exposure for women's sports than has ever been aired on any other network and original programming showcasing activities and accomplishments of some of the nation's finest universities. Each year, the network offers approximately 40 football games, 140 regular season men's basketball games, 55 women's basketball games, dozens of Big Ten Championship events, a nightly studio show, coaches' shows and classic games. Available to all cable and satellite providers nationwide, the network currently has agreements with 230 cable/satellite companies including Comcast, DirecTV, DISH Network and AT&T U-Verse and could reach up to 55 million homes as of August 15, 2008. For updated information on the Big Ten Network, go to


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