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Hittinger column: The ‘new guy’ checks in

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Oh, hello there. I don’t think we’ve met.

Well, maybe that’s not true. I’m sure you’ve seen me around at various sporting events, at Bemidji State or otherwise. And my byline has appeared in this space many times since April, when I started working here.

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But my face has yet to appear in this sports section. Not that you’d be any better off seeing said face on a day-to-day basis (you’d probably be worse), but it seems like proper protocol. 

I’m Jack Hittinger, and I’m your “new” Bemidji State beat writer.

I put “new” in quotes because this is something I should have done months ago. But I don’t like talking about myself so I never did it. 

But you (the reader) should know who I am. Not in the sense of, “I’m kind of a big deal! How do you not know me already?”

In fact, it’s quite the opposite. You probably shouldn’t ever have heard of me, and if you have, you know more about Central Illinois high school sports than you should.

No, it’s more because I have yet to formally introduce myself in this space, and the college sports season is now in full swing again.

Here are a few more things about me that may prove useful to you when you see me on the street. I’ll do them in bullet-point format because paragraphs are stupid:

- I hail from the state of Michigan – specifically Metro Detroit.

-I graduated from Hillsdale College in southern Michigan (but still really love Michigan State basketball).

-I previously worked in Central Illinois, covering lots and lots of high school basketball. Before that I briefly worked in Missouri.

-I have an unhealthy obsession with baseball. My love for the Detroit Tigers borders on mania.

-I am a beer snob, a music snob and a comedy snob. Likewise, I love Bell’s beer, garage rock and Parks and Recreation. 

-I also read a lot of books, mostly about baseball, but also classics and weird sci-fi/surrealist novels.

-I am a self-aware nerd when it comes to these things.

That about covers me. I’d ask about you but that would be taking this faux-voice-when-I’m-actually-typing thing way further than I want it to go.

I’m going to try and make this column a regular thing. 

And now that you actually know who I am, you can bother me about it.

While I’m writing, here are a few BSU items of interest:

NBC shuts out new WCHA

Perhaps already fearing the NHL lockout, the newly-minted NBC Sports Network released its college hockey schedule for the 2012-13 season Tuesday.

Before you even ask: No, the Beavers will not be appearing on national TV this season. At least, not on NBC.

In fact, the Peacock Network (my new nickname for it, because it sounds cool) will not be coming anywhere near Bemidji this season, as it is totally avoiding the state of Minnesota in its hockey coverage.

That’s right: None of the colleges that hail from the “State Of Hockey” will be appearing on NBC.

Granted, there are some reasons for this: Minnesota has a contract with FSN for home games. They will be on national TV, one would assume, especially considering the Big Ten Network has started showing a lot of hockey. 

And you may see Duluth there too, depending on who they play this season.

But Bemidji, St. Cloud and Mankato? No such luck.

It gets worse for Bemidji State fans – or fans of jilted WCHA teams in general.

The 2013-14 edition of the WCHA won’t have any representatives on NBC this year.

And, to add insult to injury, the NCHC will be seen seven times. Five of those games will involve Nebraska-Omaha.

Apparently NBC doesn’t think America can get into the BSU/Lake Superior State rivalry. Or wouldn’t understand the intensity behind Mankato vs. Bowling Green in prime time.

I’m mostly kidding here. I understand why they’re showing the big name teams – if you look at the schedule, you’ll also see a lot of Notre Dame, Boston College and North Dakota. Notre Dame football pays a lot of bills at NBC, so the brand identity is there.

But the network is also scheduled to show a Yale at Quinnipiac game. I know Yale made it to the tournament last year, but is that really more interesting nationally than seeing Bemidji State take on Michigan Tech or Ferris State or anybody else? Hardly.

It wouldn’t hurt the new-look WCHA to get in on this action and find some sort of national distribution deal. Even if the league could air just one or two games a season, it would be huge for them and tell people, “Hey, even though we have smaller schools, we’re still here!”

BSU soccer ranked

The Beaver women’s soccer team’s 3-1 start is getting noticed.

After two overtime games – one a come-from-behind win against Michigan Tech and another a heartbreaking loss to Division I North Dakota State – and a win in its NSIC opener, coaches have taken notice of Bemidji State.

The Beavers were tied for eighth in the NSCAA/ Continental Tire NCAA Division II Women’s Central Region coaches poll. Fellow NSIC member Upper Iowa, also 3-1, is also ranked eighth.

Central Missouri is No. 1 in the regional rankings while BSU conference rivals Minnesota State Mankato is No. 3.

The NSIC is one of three conferences competing in the Central Region following a reshuffle by the NCAA. The MIAA – featuring a host of teams from Missouri, Kansas and the Lower Midwest – and the Great American Conference – teams from Oklahoma and Arkansas – are also included in the region. Of the 11 ranked squads, six are in the NSIC.

The Beavers haven’t cracked the national rankings yet, but this weekend’s road trip to Mankato could garner the Beavers notice outside the Central Region.

Mankato is 3-1 and No. 24 in the national poll. Their lone loss just happened to come to regional No. 1 Central Missouri (the Mules are No. 8 in the national poll).

A win in Mankato Sunday could vault the Beavers into the national consciousness.

It’s a tall order, but the young Beavers know they can hang around the big kids table. Their near-upset of D-I NDSU proved that. Now they just need to prove they can win.

Jack Hittinger is a sports reporter for the Pioneer, primarily covering Bemidji State sports. Read his BSU blog at http://thebeaverblog.areavoices.com/ and follow him on Twitter @JackHitts

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Jack Hittinger
Jack Hittinger is the sports editor of the Bemidji Pioneer. He is also the Bemidji State beat writer. He hails from the Great State of Michigan. Read his Bemidji State blog at http://thebeaverblog.areavoices.com/ and follow him on Twitter at @Jackhitts.
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