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Blog Entry

Don't forget what's lost in Nebraska switch

Posted on: July 1, 2011 1:49 pm
 
Posted by Jerry Hinnen



There's no doubting that these are exciting times for Nebraska football. Today's the day they officially join the Big Ten, the day they officially (as our own Dennis Dodd writes) start new rivalries with the likes of Ohio State, Penn State and -- most substantially -- their Great Plains brethren at Iowa. Today's the day they start drawing checks from the Big Ten Network money machine. It's the day that will, in short, define the future of their football program.

But amidst all that excitement, it's also a day which ought to be an occasion to remember the Huskers' past. Because in making the move to the Big Ten, Nebraska is cutting ties with years, decades, even centuries of their gridiron tradition.

Start with the rivalries. Nebraska vs. Kansas was only the longest uninterrupted series in the nation, having been played every year since 1906. The Huskers' and Jayhawks' started their annual grudge match so long ago, Oklahoma didn't even exist--and we're not talking about the Sooners, we're talking about the state.

But even that's not the oldest Nebraska rivalry that will end this season. The Huskers and the Missouri Tigers first met all the way back in 1892 and went on to play each other 102 more times, making it the third-oldest football rivalry west of the Mississippi River.

Because of Nebraska's dominance over both foes -- the Huskers defeated Kansas 36 straight times between 1969 and 2004, and Mizzou 24 straight times from 1979 through 2002 -- neither rivalry ever quite ascended to "classic" status, despite each's longetivity. But that doesn't mean each didn't give us classic moments, like this one you knew was coming:



And even if those series didn't carry as much weight on the gridiron as some others, the same can't be said for the Huskers' showdowns with Oklahoma. The move from the old Big 8 into the Big 12 had already (shortsightedly) brought a halt to the teams' annual meeting after 70-plus years of uninterrupted battles, but the rivalry that gave us the "Game of the Century" still survived as part of the Big 12 scheduling rotation and in the occasional Big 12 championship game. Now? The two schools might meet again in 2020 and 2021, if we're lucky.

Go beyond just rivalries and scheduling, though, and the conference switch also represents a complete cultural realignment for Husker football. Since the very beginning, Nebraska football has associated itself first-and-foremost with other heartland schools; their first conference affiliation came in the Missouri Valley Conference with Iowa-based schools like Drake and Grinnell. When they moved to the Big 8, they did so alongside not just the Jayhawks, Tigers and Sooners but schools like Kansas State and Iowa State as well.

From their location to their "Cornhuskers" nickname to the undying, overwhelming support of the Big Red faithful to their regional and national dominance, Nebraska wasn't just an important part of Great Plains college football; in many ways, the Huskers were Great Plains football.

That's not going away entirely, of course. And the annual matchup with Iowa promises to be a particularly important game from a regional standpoint. But with a schedule dominated by trips to Midwestern-to-the-bone locations like Minneapolis and Chicago, in a conference long identified first-and-foremost with the Rust Belt pillars at Michigan and Ohio State, there's no way Nebraska's identification as the heartland football program won't erode. Those days are done.

That's not to say Nebraska should have turned the Big Ten down, of course. Money talks. Academics talks. The Big 12's Texas obsession most definitely talks. From the Nebraska perspective, there's no way to spin the jump to a more stable, more lucrative conference as anything other than progress.

But progress almost always comes with a price, whether it's Colorado ditching its decades of old Big 8 rivalries to head west, Boise State's leap to the Mountain West finally finishing off the WAC as a meaningful football conference for good, TCU and Utah going their separate ways just when things between them were getting good, or all that Nebraska is giving up in their move to the Big Ten.

Today deserves to be a celebration for the Huskers' future, and for the future of all the teams and conferences who have been officially realigned today. But this is college football, the sport where tradition and history and all those things that are not money matter more than any other. There should be time enough, even today, to mourn the things the great realignment of 2010 has lost us.

Comments

Since: Jun 25, 2010
Posted on: July 3, 2011 4:56 pm
 

Don't forget what's lost in Nebraska switch

One major change to the schedule, Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconson and Iowa every year! That is a big step up from Kansas, Iowa St, Kansas St and Colorado! If fortunate to get through that schedule they are likely to face OSU in the championship game. What a great lineup every year!

I will miss those games but honestly the ones missed most are the Texas, OU and A&M games. Those games were only played twice every four years!

I do think the big 12 is going to miss out not having the conference championship but they(especially Texas) are going to miss beating NU.





Since: Dec 5, 2006
Posted on: July 3, 2011 3:10 pm
 

Both sides of the Nebraska switch

Nebraska has, for years, complained about the Big XII revenue split with extra going to Texas. It apparently was a factor in the Nebraska desertion of the Big XII for the Big Ten. Ironically, with the switch, the remaining teams from the old Big XII North, Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State and Missouri will now get more conference money from the Big XII than Nebraska will receive from the Big Ten.

Another issue for Nebraska is a perceived arrogance about their rivals. Beating Missouri and Kansas in football came to be an entitlement for Nebraska. Then came 2004 and later when first Kansas (who scored 135 total points in three consecutive games) and then Missouri knocked them down and ran over them to conference success and Kansas went to the Orange Bowl in 2007 beating a good West Virginia team. Of course the inability to win even a single game against Kansas in men’s' basketball has to tweak that arrogance as well. Doc Sadler is a good coach and has improved the program greatly but not enough to win the Big XII.

Now Nebraska will venture into new territory. They will be competitive in the Big Ten but will have to improve their defense (the Black Shirts have gone light grey). Wisconsin, Purdue, Iowa, Michigan, Penn State, Ohio State and more will bring them into a new schedule that will be a fight to get the six wins needed for a bowl. Less money, fewer wins, greater challenge. My bet is Nebraska will improve and rise to the challenge.

I am sad to see the Big 8 XII be broken up with its rivalries. The Kansas rivalry actually was first played in 1892 (Wikipedia). Neighboring states deserve to play each other annually. The quest for money has now broken those ties. Farewell Nebraska. Best of luck in the Big Ten.



Since: Jul 31, 2008
Posted on: July 2, 2011 12:02 pm
 

Don't forget what's lost in Nebraska switch

keep in mind the aau board has two or three texass graduates on it.   kind of funny how things worked out isnt it beebe and the rest of the U of texas sleeping with each other.   watch out the rest of the little twelve.   they have destroyed two conferences now and they will do it again.
Paranoid much?  Nebraska's AAU membership was in jeopardy years before any of this conference expansion stuff was going on.  This is not some massive plot.  And if you look at the voting...the Big 12 AAU schools voted to keep NU while some of the Big 10 schools voted no. 



Since: Jul 2, 2011
Posted on: July 2, 2011 3:04 am
 

Don't forget what's lost in Nebraska switch

keep in mind the aau board has two or three texass graduates on it.   kind of funny how things worked out isnt it beebe and the rest of the U of texas sleeping with each other.   watch out the rest of the little twelve.   they have destroyed two conferences now and they will do it again. 



Since: Jul 26, 2007
Posted on: July 2, 2011 3:03 am
 

Don't forget what's lost in Nebraska switch

I'm sure that much of the Big-12-that-isn't-12-but-really-10 doesn't mind losing Nebraska football to the Big-10-that's-really-12-not-10.  Do you really think Iowa State, K-State, and Baylor want to get pummeled every year or every other year?  And do you think Nebraska really wanted to be little more than a contributor to Texas' unsatisfiable appetite for mo' money, mo' money, mo' money?
 



Since: Jan 21, 2010
Posted on: July 2, 2011 12:08 am
 

Arrivederci, Cornhuskers

For most of the past year I have had nothing but hateful things to say about Nebraska. But since the college sports season has wound down, I've had time to get over it. I'm done hating on Nebraska. I will maintain an attitude of benign indifference toward the NU football team, but I will be cheering for the Nebraska basketball team when Doc Sadler's boys take the court in their new conference. It would be nice to see Nebraska win a Big 10 title. They haven't won a league crown since sharing the Big 7 with Kansas and Kansas State in 1950, and they haven't won an outright league title since winning the MVIAA in 1916. So I hope this move to the Big 10 will be good for Nebraska's basketball fortunes. I'm sure Lincoln Haymarket Arena will be a gem. Best of luck to Nebraska in the Big 10. Even though I've been mad at NU for leaving, I'm also sad to see them go. I mean, Kansas and Nebraska co-founded the MVIAA - what became the Big 8 - way back in 1907. It's hard to say goodbye to a longtime family member. Frown



Since: Jan 24, 2009
Posted on: July 1, 2011 5:31 pm
 

Don't forget what's lost in Nebraska switch

I look forward to Minnesota replacing Missouri, Kansas or Iowa State as a team for Nebraska to annually pummell into the turf.  Go Gophs!



Since: Aug 30, 2007
Posted on: July 1, 2011 4:55 pm
 

Don't forget what's lost in Nebraska switch


Well...I don't see tsun winning the Big Ten let alone a BCS bert...hahaha...new coach...no D...they did good until they ran into some defensive orientated teams later on in the year and the running QB was a no show!! As a Buckeye I feel we will win it all...even with the new coach and the loss of players we have a strong recruiting class and a chip on our shoulder...look out Go Bucks!!



The suckeys win it all? HA HA HA HA HA HA!!! Too bad for you, because everybody with a pulse knows that the S uckeyes will get at least a 1 year post season ban not to mention some sort of scolly reduction and a few years of probation minimum.

It would be classic if the s uck s went undefeated only to have to sit at home and watch somebody else take home the crystal football!!!

Oh we'd never hear the end of it, just like those Auburn dopes that actually believe that they could have hung with USC of Oklahoma back in 04, get real!!



Since: Mar 29, 2008
Posted on: July 1, 2011 4:46 pm
 

Don't forget what's lost in Nebraska switch

You're right it had nothing to do with a major ankle sprain to that running QB. It was the defense. Man, you are ignorant!



Since: Jun 9, 2009
Posted on: July 1, 2011 4:33 pm
 

Don't forget what's lost in Nebraska switch

Well...I don't see tsun winning the Big Ten let alone a BCS bert...hahaha...new coach...no D...they did good until they ran into some defensive orientated teams later on in the year and the running QB was a no show!! As a Buckeye I feel we will win it all...even with the new coach and the loss of players we have a strong recruiting class and a chip on our shoulder...look out Go Bucks!!


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