The WIAC reached an agreement with Madison-based When We Were Young Productions to produce and distribute as many as 50 regular-season contests, along with every WIAC championship and postseason event during the 2006-‘07 season. Fox Sports Net North, which is seen on cable throughout Wisconsin, turns around the games and gives them airtime, just days after the live event.
"It’s a phenomenal development, and one that I can assure you the entire country has stood up and taken notice," WIAC commissioner Gary Karner said. "It’s not something that happens overnight, a lot of things have to fall into place.
Weekly football coverage kicks off at 9 tonight (Thursday, Sept. 7) when the UW-Stout vs. William Penn game hits the air. Stout won the game 25-18, and Blue Devils coach Todd Strop was downright thrilled to be a part of the inaugural broadcast.
"This is a great opportunity for our university and football team to get some quality regional exposure," Strop told The Wisconsin State Journal before the game. "What really excites me is the fact that I think our conference is a hidden gem in Wisconsin. And for people who don't necessarily get the chance to attend games each week, it's an excellent outlet for them to see the size, speed and talent we put out on the field week in and week out."
The deal doesn’t just single out the so-called big sports like football and basketball. Soccer, wrestling, hockey, swimming, baseball, track ... they’ll all get some tube time. Karner said the deal got done because all nine schools, as well as men’s and women’s sports, would be represented.
"That was one of the real saleable points of the whole agreement," said Karner. "I think without those elements, I think this would have been a tough sell at our level. It’s not like Division I where the almighty dollar often times dictates decisions that are made. In our particular case, we’re looking at what’s best for our student athletes and our institutions."
Karner has done plenty of congratulatory hand-shaking lately. This is a deal that is unprecedented at the Division III level. The conference gets to show off its hidden treasures from Superior to Whitewater, Platteville to Oshkosh and every stop in between. It’s also a chance for fans from the Badger state to see home grown talent in action.
"We have about 5000 student athletes per year, and over 80 percent of them are from the state of Wisconsin," explained Karner. "Events of the WIAC are going to garner a lot of attention across the entire state, because so many of our athletes are from the state ... they’re from every small town and every crook and cranny from the state of Wisconsin."
Here is the schedule of WIAC football games, with broadcast dates and times, on FSN North. All games start at 6:30 p.m. unless otherwise noted:
William Penn (IA) at UW-Stout, Sept. 7 at 9 p.m.
UW-La Crosse at UW-Stevens Point, Sept. 20 at 10:15 p.m.
UW-Whitewater at UW-Oshkosh, Sept. 27 at 10:15 p.m.
UW-Stout at UW-Platteville, Oct. 4
UW-River Falls at UW-Eau Claire, Oct. 12
UW-La Crosse at UW-Whitewater, Oct. 18
UW-Oshkosh at UW-Stevens Point, Oct. 24
UW-River Falls at UW-Platteville, Oct. 31
UW-Oshkosh at UW-Eau Claire, Nov. 7
UW-Whitewater at UW-River Falls, Nov. 16
Bob currently does play-by-play at Time Warner Cable Sports 32, calling Wisconsin Timber Rattlers games in Appleton as well as the area high school football and basketball scene. During an earlier association with FS Wisconsin, his list of teams and duties have included the Packers, Bucks, Brewers and the WIAA State Championships.
During his life before cable, Bob spent seven seasons as a reporter and producer of "Preps Plus: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel High School Sports Show."
And the joke is, Bob has a golf shirt from all four Milwaukee television stations. Sad, but true: Bob has had sports and news anchor/reporter/producer stints at WTMJ, WISN, WDJT and WITI.
His first duty out of college (UW-Oshkosh) was radio and TV work in Eau Claire. Bob spent nearly a decade at WEAU-TV as a sports director and reporter.
You may have heard Bob's pipes around town as well. He has done play-by-play for the Milwaukee Mustangs, Milwaukee Iron, and UW-Milwaukee men's and women's basketball. Bob was the public address announcer for five seasons for both the Marquette men and women's basketball squads. This season, you can catch the starting lineups of the UW-Milwaukee Panther men's games with Bob behind the mic.
A Brookfield Central graduate, Bob's love and passion for sports began at an early age, when paper football leagues, and Wiffle Ball All Star Games were all the rage in the neighborhood.