Big 12: Tom Osborne

This has been in the works for a while, but it's finally official: Nebraska and Oklahoma will play a home-and-home series in the distant future.

The longtime Big Eight/Big 12 rivals will meet Sept. 18, 2021 in Norman, Okla., and Sept. 17, 2022, in Lincoln, Neb. The Huskers and Sooners last played in the 2010 Big 12 championship game, which marked Nebraska's final contest in the conference before its move to the Big Ten.

The 2021 game will recognize the 50th anniversary of the "Game of the Century" between Nebraska and Oklahoma in 1971, when the top-ranked Huskers beat the second-ranked Sooners 35-31 en route to a national title.
"Our rivalry with Oklahoma has been one of the great traditional matchups in the history of college football," Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne said in a prepared statement. "The games between the two schools were generally to decide a conference championship, and many times helped determine the national champion. Those matchups were always played with great intensity on the field, but with a great deal of respect from both sides and among the fan bases. I know our fans look forward to non-conference games against high-profile opponents like Oklahoma. I'm pleased we were able to finalize this series."

It's great to see the series finalized, and I'm sure Nebraska fans will be thrilled. How good is this rivalry? Both teams were ranked in the top 11 of the AP poll in 17 of the 19 games played between 1971-1988. Insane.

The concern is how continued conference realignment impacts future non-conference scheduling.

If leagues like the Big Ten go back to schedules with nine conference games, teams will be less inclined/able to schedule marquee non-league series like this one.

While Nebraska and Oklahoma likely will make the series a priority, there's no telling what the scheduling landscape will look like nearly a decade from now.

Nebraska has no other non-league games scheduled for 2021 and 2022, but expects to announce more schedule updates in the coming weeks.

NU's Tom Osborne talks Big 12 vs. Big Ten

June, 12, 2012
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It's been over two years since Nebraska announced its intentions to leave the Big 12 for the Big Ten, and nearly a year since it became official.

After a full school year in the Huskers' new league, athletic director Tom Osborne sat down with the Lincoln Journal-Star to look back on Year 1 in the Big Ten, and of course, the Big 12 came up.
LJS: Now that you’ve been in both Big 12 and Big Ten meeting rooms, how would you compare how each conference goes about making decisions?

TO: "I think in the Big Ten there’s more collegiality. There’s probably a little bit greater concern for the overall welfare of the conference, whereas in the Big 12 there’s probably a little bit more emphasis on self-interest. And part of that stems from the way revenues are divided. In the Big 12, revenues were split unequally, depending on how many times you were on television and how well your teams did on the national stage, you got a bigger slice of the pie. From the Big Ten, it’s actually a little bit the reverse.

“I think the four or five teams that have the best attendance record in football actually contribute a pool of money to the teams that are less well off. It’s not a huge amount, but it’s kind of a reverse perspective to what the Big 12 has been doing for many years.”

That's what we've heard for a long time and, considering the motivations of all involved, it makes sense.

You can certainly defend equal and unequal revenue sharing, but one of the products of equal revenue sharing would certainly be a higher level of collegiality. If it's going to be good for the group, it's easy to see why a school like Baylor or Iowa State would be more apt to cede to Oklahoma or Texas when it comes to exposure, a factor that could influence each team's take from the conference pie.

To be fair, there's a much higher level of collegiality now in the Big 12 than there was when Osborne and the Huskers left, but I highly doubt it's on the level of the Big Ten.

Is that good or bad? Should Texas get the same amount of money from conference revenue as Iowa State?

It's just a different model, and Osborne (whose school long supported unequal revenue sharing in the Big 12, by the way) has taken notice.

Big 12 icons weigh in on Joe Paterno

January, 23, 2012
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Penn State's legendary coach and college football's all-time wins leader, Joe Paterno, died on Sunday, just 73 days after being dismissed as the Nittany Lions' coach.

He influenced a lot of people, including those in the Big 12. Several issued statements in the wake of Paterno's death.

Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville:
"When you think of college football and its tradition, you can't help but picture those dark glasses, black shoes and plain uniforms that were his style and mark on Penn State University.

I have had the great fortune to coach against Coach Paterno four times during my career and each time I came away from those contests with a greater understanding of the game of football. A true highlight of my career, has been a 30-year relationship with Coach and his wife Sue.

Like many coaches, I grew up watching and learning from one of the greatest tutors and mentors of the game. I am deeply saddened to learn of his passing and wish to extend my condolences to Sue and the rest of the Paterno family."

You may have seen Mack Brown's thoughts, too.
"I've known Coach Paterno since I started coaching. Sally and I built a great relationship with him and Sue over the last 10 to 15 years, and we shared many great times. I know our lives are better because we had the opportunity to spend time with them. He was a gift to us, and when we heard the sad news today, we both openly wept, not only because college football lost a great man, but we lost a great friend. I appreciate all of the advice, the attention and the time he's given us over the years. We will miss him dearly and will always cherish the wonderful memories. College football will be left with a major void because he has done so much for our game and for Penn State. It's a very sad day, and with his passing, we have lost one of the greatest coaches our game, and all sports, will ever have. He leaves us with great stories, memories and records that may never be broken. There will never be another Joe Paterno. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sue and the family."

Nebraska AD Tom Osborne's athletic program is not in the Big 12 anymore, but his roots run in that league and the Big 8 far more than they do in the Huskers' current league, the Big Ten, where Paterno coached. Osborne's last national title, back in 1997, was the first in Big 12 history.
“I am saddened to hear the news of Joe Paterno’s passing. Joe was a genuinely good person. Whenever you recruited or played against Joe you knew how he operated and that he always stood for the right things. Of course, his longevity over time and his impact on college football is remarkable. Anybody who knew Joe feels badly about the circumstances. I suspect the emotional turmoil of the last few weeks might have played into it. We offer our condolences to his family and wish them the very best.”

Former Texas coach Darrell Royal lost to Paterno in the pair's only meeting back in the 1972 Cotton Bowl, but Royal opened up about what Paterno meant to him.
"What I remember about our days when we were both coaching is that Joe was very honest, he was a heckuva a coach, and he was one of the outstanding coaches of all time. You can't say that about every coach, but you darn sure can say that about Joe Paterno. He meant a lot to the game, and he meant a lot to me. He was a solid person, and a solid friend."

New Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin released a statement as well.
"Our deepest sympathies, as well as our thoughts and prayers go out to Coach Paterno's family and the entire Penn State community. I was coaching wide receivers at Minnesota and we were Penn State's first Big Ten Conference game and out of respect for Coach Paterno, our head coach Glen Mason wore a coat and tie coaching in that game. Coach Paterno will be missed."

I never met Joe Paterno. I never covered one of his teams or even spoke with him. The effect he had on others' lives, though, was obvious from afar.

Did he make questionable decisions late in his life? By Paterno's own admission in the final interview of his life, he regrets some of those decisions.

Like any of us, he made mistakes. Unlike most of us, however, he also had a profound positive impact on thousands of lives over his 85 years.

Yards to Glory: Famed Flea Kicker

August, 8, 2011
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Last Monday, we began a week-long project looking at the most famous touchdowns from 100-plus yards down to 1 yard, and we'll be taking a look at each of the Big 12 entrants on the blog throughout the week.

You can see the full project here.

Missouri and Nebraska fans alike have very different memories of this play. For the Huskers, it was a stroke of fortune that signaled the 1997 team was truly one of destiny. For the Tigers, it fed the perception that the program was resigned to ultimate disappointment.

Nov. 8, 1997: On third down from the Missouri 12-yard line with seven seconds left, Nebraska quarterback Scott Frost threw to Shevin Wiggins at the goal line. Wiggins couldn't make the play, but he kicked the ball into the air, and a diving Matt Davison made the alert grab in the end zone, which tied the score at 38 and capped a 67-yard drive in the final minute. The Cornhuskers, playing in their first overtime game, won 45-38, then went on to finish 13-0 and win the national championship, their third in four years. It was Tom Osborne's final season.

-- Ted Miller

Talking noncon skeds, Huskers-Beebe, UT

June, 15, 2011
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A little late on this, but here's a look at yesterday's chat if you missed it.

If your question didn't get answered, we'll have a Mailbag later on, so let's hear your thoughts for this week.

And a few highlights:

Kevin in Texas asked: After dropping TCU from the schedule, playing New Mexico, Texas State, and Nevada (without Kaepernick), Texas Tech has one of the worst Non-conference schedules in recent memories. I was curious;, if you could control the Red Raiders non conference schedule, what teams would you choose for them to play? Could they actually form a rivalry with someone?

David Ubben: Yeah, I think people get too riled up about nonconference schedules. Unless you're playing for national titles, it's a bit overrated. I don't think I'm offending anyone by suggesting a national title is not in Tech's future this year. Tech has a rep for not playing BCS teams, but it hasn't had just terrible nonconference schedules. Houston and SMU are pretty good teams. Those are the ones it should look to develop a rivalry with. All the Texas teams have an advantage of not having to go far to find good nonconference games. Those C-USA teams in Texas are good nonconference games to schedule. I know some fans would love to go all alpha male and have their teams play Alabama, Ohio State and USC/Oregon every year, but unless you're jockeying for national titles, what do you gain? Not a whole lot, in my opinion. Call it a problem with college football, but the cost outweighs the benefit.

Dillon in Los Angeles asked: Lovely article about Nebraska's upgrade to the B10, and Babee's jilted jabs toward the venerable TO. Could you please clarify for all of your readers the difference between "revenue distribution" and "assigning rights". They are, I'm sure you know, two entirely different things. Specifically, Perlman asked Texas to assign all their media rights to the Big 12, which they wouldn't do. That has nothing to do with revenue distribution. Also, Husker Nation is honored to be covered in two ESPN blogs! Thanks Ubbie!

DU: Yeah, you pretty much covered it. The Big 12 is the only league where teams retain their third-tier media rights not bought by TV networks. The league takes control of those in the Big Ten and SEC, and now, the Pac-12. Revenue distribution doesn't have anything to do with that, but in the Big 12's case, specifically Texas vs. everyone else, it can cause further inequality between who is making the most money. When you stand to gain $15 million every year like Texas could, why in the world would you want to allow the Big 12 to keep your rights?

Jim in Grand Junction, Colo. asked: David: You actually take anything Beebe says about Nebraska seriously? Come on. His remarks about the Huskers just continue to make him look more petty and weaker. Nebraska's departure had nothing to do with revenue sharing - it did have to do with Nebraska staying in a league in which all major members were threatening to depart yet put the burden of comittment to them. Dan Beebe needs to grow up and take a job where immaturity doesn't hurt.

DU: Here's the fact of the matter: Beebe, the Big 12 and everyone from Nebraska can act like they've moved on all they want. Fact is, both still care about what happens to the other very much. It's why whenever Nebraska remarks about him, or he remarks about them, it becomes a big deal. And its why they say anything in the first place. It's going to be this way for at least a few years. Get used to it.

(An additional note: Why do you think no one ever talks about Colorado?)

Shane in Boston asked: I'm making the trip to Arlington for the A&M-Arkansas game, any recommendations for some quality BBQ while I'm in Texas?

DU: Sorry, nope. This is my No. 1 complaint about Dallas. I've tried about 7-8 BBQ places, and none of them are even close to my top 10. It's unbelievable.

Sterling Archer in Texas asked: What are your thoughts on the Longhorn network? Do you anticipate success? And are any other big 12 schools likely to try the same thing?

DU: I think it'll be a success, yes. Oklahoma may try, but they keep hedging a bit on making it happen. My guess is the other nine teams in the Big 12 eventually make a network.

Charles in South Texas asked: David,Since you can predict the future. I think Mendenhall is a pretty good coach. What's your thoughts on UT vs BYU outcome ?

DU: Yeah, he really impressed me. Watching them knock off Oklahoma in 2009, Bradford or otherwise, was a real eye-opener. Right now, I'd probably pick BYU in that one.
Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe took some time out last week to indulge the media blitz surrounding the one-year anniversary of his conference's near death and answer questions about its recent cash-fueled revival from a number of media entities.

[+] EnlargeTom Osborne
Bruce Thorson/US PresswireNebraska athletic director Tom Osborne and Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe had differing views on some issues facing the conference.
One of those interviews was with ESPN Radio in Austin, Texas. He offered some candid thoughts on Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne when asked about the three programs (Colorado, Nebraska, Missouri) that looked like they had wandering eyes last summer.

"On the Nebraska point, they never really liked, or at least Tom Osborne never really liked the Big 12, I don't think." he said.

After doing that interview, I asked him to expound on the comments, which were more frank than anything I'd heard him say about Nebraska since I took over this blog back in 1981.

"That probably was a little stronger than I should have said it," Beebe said. "I think Tom has a high, high level of respect for the Big 12 and its institutions."

Even still, Beebe said Osborne wasn't a fan of several Big 12 decisions from the moment he took over as athletic director in 2007.

"From the day that I sat down with him when he became the athletic director, he expressed strong concern about a lot of the things that happened when the Big 12 was formed, even though it was 13 or 14 or 15 years previous," Beebe said.

Among those concerns, the gravitational pull of the state of Texas for the Big 12, which moved its offices to Dallas when it merged with four members of the Southwest Conference. He also cited the prohibition of players categorized as partial qualifiers being admitted to Big 12 programs, which Osborne commonly signed to his program, as did others.

Just before Nebraska and Colorado announced their exits, the Big 12 Championship announced plans to remain in Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas for three additional years.

During the realignment fracas of last summer, Osborne repeatedly stated that league offices and championship game locations weren't enough to warrant a change of conference, but instead, the uncertainty surrounding the Big 12 and stability in the Big Ten, along with a bigger paycheck, pushed the Huskers to make the decision.

However, one of the big differences from the Big Ten and Big 12 is the way it shares conference revenue. In the Big 12, teams that are on television more earn more than those that aren't. In the Big Ten, revenue is shared equally.

"What’s interesting though, and maybe even a little bit curious to me is that Texas and Nebraska were aligned almost exactly on every issue, including the revenue distribution piece and putting all the rights into the conference. So it’s kind of interesting when I read about comments about Nebraska now being pleased about being in a conference where they put all their rights in and divide money equally," Beebe said.

"That’s the exact opposite position that they took for years in this conference."
Nebraska was set to clinch the Big 12 North in its season finale against Colorado in Lincoln last season, but the Big 12 didn't have a representative on-hand to give the Huskers their trophy.

"They didn’t think it would be safe to send somebody up," Osborne told the Lincoln Journal Star after the game. "That’s the word I got. You can call [Big 12 commissioner Dan] Beebe and ask him."

So reporters did. And Beebe enlightened them with an explanation that he had received death threats following a controversial Nebraska loss to Texas A&M the previous week.

Since then, Osborne had been quiet on the issue, but sat down for an interview in Lincoln with the Chicago Tribune earlier this week, and the subject of the threats came up once again.

Osborne wasn't on board with Beebe and the Big 12's response. He admitted he was disappointed with the sect of Nebraska's fan base who felt the need to send Beebe messages, saying it was usually a person who "lost a bet or was mad at the world."

But Osborne's chief complaint? That the death threats were made public at all.

"[I was] a little bit disappointed that it was a matter of public information because most anybody who has been in coaching for any length of time or a political figure has had some pretty serious threats," Osborne told the Tribune. "I've had a great number of death threats during my time as a coach, and most of them just got thrown in the waste basket, unless someone had a particular method that they mentioned or a time and place sometimes we'd turn in over to campus police."

I've said it before, but Beebe was no doubt in a difficult position and left with few options other than traveling to a place he felt uncomfortable going. It was a little bit odd that Beebe was so apt to answer his phone late on a Friday night as he did after the Huskers win over Colorado, but even if he didn't speak with the press, the problems would have been there regardless. Osborne's comments were the first time anyone knew about any hateful messages, but Beebe's options were either A) say nothing and look like he was snubbing Nebraska or B) Make it look like he was trashing a fan base, which, by the way, he went out of his way to prevent. In his comments to the media, he emphasized that he understood it was a small, small minority of fans and that the fan base had an otherwise pristine reputation.

The mess is mostly behind the Big 12 and Nebraska, but by the end, it's safe to say neither side came out looking great.

Osborne also insinuated that rather than have Nebraska play future Big Ten mate Iowa, the Big 12 contributed to sending the Huskers to the Holiday Bowl for the second consecutive year, where they faced Washington, who Nebraska beat in Seattle by 35 earlier in the season.

"I don't know how much the Big 12 had to do with that. It appeared that the logical step was to go to Phoenix and play in the Insight Bowl against Iowa, which would have been a Big Ten preview," he said. "Whether that was something Big 12 officials had something to do with, I don't know. It would have been a logical game, and the Big 12 is tied into the Fiesta Bowl and the Insight Bowl, so I'm sure they had some influence."

The Huskers lost the Holiday Bowl, 19-7.

"It was tough because we'd already played that team and beaten them badly and had been there the year before," he said. "So that might have contributed a little bit to our being flat and [not] playing like we could have."

Lunch links: Gabbert talks NFL decision

January, 6, 2011
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Or you could just be nice and pay it forward. They don't make movies out of bad ideas.

Bo Pelini quashes Miami rumors

December, 10, 2010
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Nebraska coach Bo Pelini issued a release on Friday denying he had any plans of leaving Lincoln for Miami.

"The reports that I am preparing to interview at the University of Miami are false," Pelini said in a joint statement with athletic director Tom Osborne. "I will not have any additional comment on this matter or any other rumors."

Osborne continued: "Bo has done an excellent job of leading our football program at Nebraska over the past three years. We’re looking forward to having Bo and our coaching staff lead our team in the Holiday Bowl and as we transition into the Big Ten next year."

Pelini also canceled his team's scheduled media availability on Friday following a practice for the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl against Washington on Dec. 30, presumably to give the story time to blow over (which it will, as soon as the next candidate's name surfaces). His team will be available again for questions on Monday.

I suppose if you wanted, you could read pretty deep into Pelini's statement and come up with all kinds of questions. (Maybe he already interviewed? Maybe he's preparing to interview for a different job. Florida? Hey, talking to schools isn't the same as "interviewing!") That mostly seems like a waste of time. If Pelini had any doubts about his future in Lincoln, Nebraska never would have issued its release.

Overanalyze syntax and diction all you'd like, but this was as effective a statement as any to make it clear he wasn't going to Miami, and Osborne's follow-up makes him sound pretty confident that Pelini will be Nebraska's coach in 2011 and beyond.

I mentioned on Twitter that if Nebraska really wanted to get one last jab in at the Big 12, it could have had Pelini issue an "unequivocal commitment" to Nebraska. Though I doubt that crossed their mind, the entertainment value would have certainly been high.

It stops short of being what I'd consider an "unequivocal commitment" anyway, but Nebraska fans can breathe quite a bit easier over the weekend, knowing its coach is spending his time preparing for Round 2 against Jake Locker and not considering taking his talents to South Beach.

Bo Pelini and Miami talks persist

December, 9, 2010
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Nebraska coach Bo Pelini didn't have much to say on Wednesday about rumors of his talks with Miami, which the Miami Herald reported this week.

The report stated that Pelini had been granted permission to speak with Miami about its coaching vacancy, but Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne said he wasn't the one who gave it.

Thursday afternoon, a new report in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel surfaced, offering further information after Pelini's non-denial.
Nebraska coach Bo Pelini has spoken to University of Miami athletic director Kirby Hocutt about the Hurricanes' coaching job but has not been offered it, two people with knowledge of the search told the Sun Sentinel on Thursday.

"He is in the mix," one of the sources said.

Looking back at Pelini's history, there is a lot of evidence to support the idea that Pelini could leave or not leave. He's never held a job for longer than three seasons, but Nebraska is also his first head-coaching job, and as such, he's much more in control of his job status.

He just finished his third season at Nebraska, but before the season, he had this to say: "I don’t think Nebraska is a steppingstone job," he told the Associated Press. "It’s a great job. You have all the things necessary to win. We have a great athletic director, we have great support. I love my staff. I’m happy."

Buuuuuut...there's also this.

"Am I going to say you would never ever look or talk to somebody? That’s crazy to make an ultimatum like that. But we’re not looking," he said.

Once again, I'll stress that those comments were made in August, but it's certainly a look into Pelini's mind-set.

The rebuilding project at Nebraska has gone well in Pelini's three seasons, particularly on defense. The Huskers have won the Big 12 North twice in those three years, and are now preparing for a move to the Big Ten.

It seems like there's plenty of smoke emanating from Miami, but we'll probably have to wait to find out if there's fire.

Lunch links: Dan Beebe's Big 12 mistake

December, 9, 2010
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People aren't food. People aren't food. Your friends will run away if they're scared of being chewed.

Bo Pelini debunks rumors of Miami move

December, 9, 2010
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Wednesday afternoon, a report in the Miami Herald said Nebraska coach Bo Pelini had been granted permission by the school to "pursue the job."
"According to another source, Pelini has shown mixed signals, at some points expressing interest and at other points conveying reservations," the report read.

But Pelini spoke to the Lincoln Journal Star on Wednesday evening to address the report, or, perhaps more accurately, not address the report.

"I don't address rumor and innuendo," Pelini told the paper.

He also added that his Thursday plans were recruiting for Nebraska.

Athletic director Tom Osborne addressed the report more directly, adding that he was surprised when notified of Pelini's supposed intentions.

"Bo's never talked to me about anything like that," Osborne said. "If he got permission (to talk to Miami), he didn't get it from me."

Nebraska is set to face Washington in the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 30.

Pelini might not be the only Big 12 coach being targeted by the Hurricanes. The Herald also had a report earlier this week that Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville was in contention to replace fired coach Randy Shannon.

I'd be very, very surprised if he seriously entertained the Miami job after just one season in Lubbock, but for Big 12 fans, the Miami coaching search, relegated to second fiddle with the Florida job being vacated by Urban Meyer on Wednesday, is definitely one to keep an eye on.

Nostalgia plentiful as old Big 12's end nears

November, 30, 2010
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Bob Stoops remembers it well. The Oklahoma coach grew up in Youngstown, Ohio, alongside the Pelini family, far outside the proverbial footprint of the Big Eight.

It didn't matter. This time of year brought one of college football's premier rivalries, and Stoops was watching. He wasn't alone.

[+] EnlargeOklahoma coach Bob Stoops
AP Photo/Sue OgrockiGrowing up as a kid Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops was a fan of the Nebraska-Oklahoma rivalry. "Couldn't wait for this game," Stoops said.
"Couldn’t wait for this game," Stoops said of the Oklahoma-Nebraska rivalry. "Just watching the two teams in red and white go at it was really special, because it was always a great game, great players, great coaches.

"You have to admit, everybody was watching it around the country."

They saw the "Game of the Century" in 1971, when No. 1 Nebraska beat No. 2 Oklahoma, 35-31. From 1971-82, neither team entered the game ranked lower than No. 11. In the 1980s, the two teams met four consecutive times with both carrying top 5 rankings. That stretch birthed Oklahoma's "Sooner Magic."

Heisman winners like Johnny Rogers and Mike Rozier, among other legends like Turner Gill, Tommie Frazier and Roger Craig all helped build the rivalry across from Sooner legends like Steve Owens, Billy Sims, and Greg Pruitt, all Heisman-winning running backs.

The coaches littered throughout the series, including Nebraska's Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne and Oklahoma's Barry Switzer and Bud Wilkinson, are some of the best ever.

"I was always kind of an OU fan, their style of play, coach Switzer. And look at all the backs they had," Stoops said. "As a young kid, of course everybody’s watching those flashy guys, how fast they were. Couldn’t wait to watch the game."

The annual series died with the Big Eight and birth of divisions in the Big 12, but with Nebraska prepared to leave for the Big Ten in 2011, there's plenty of nostalgia for everyone building up to the last game ever in a 12-team Big 12.

Fittingly, Stoops said, between the Sooners and Huskers one more time.

"I feel fortunate to be a part of it. It’s exciting and it’s earned," he said. "Both of us have earned it through tough division fights."

Nebraska forced to wait for North trophy

November, 26, 2010
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Nebraska clinched its second consecutive Big 12 North title on Friday with a decisive 45-17 win over Colorado, but there was no Big 12 North trophy to collect after the game.

From the Lincoln Journal Star:
“They didn’t think it would be safe to send somebody up,” Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne said, referencing some “nasty” e-mails the Big 12 said it had received from Nebraska fans. “That’s the word I got.”

Osborne added: “You can call [Big 12 commissioner Dan] Beebe and ask him.”

Obviously, this is pretty poor form from the Big 12, but if they legitimately feared for their safety, you can't be too hard on them. Some will suggest that's up for debate. What's certain is this latest move will do nothing but fan the already red-hot fires emanating from Nebraska in the direction of the Big 12 offices after last week's officiating fiasco.

That said, rest assured, Nebraska will get its trophy eventually. In 2008, with the division still in flux on the season's penultimate week, Big 12 officials surprised Missouri with the trophy during a practice the following week.

I'd expect a similar move from the Big 12 this time around.

Things not getting easier for the Huskers

November, 24, 2010
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Three weeks ago, the idea of Nebraska losing to Colorado was almost unthinkable.

Suddenly, it's a very real possibility with a probability that only rose with the team's announcement that leading receiver Niles Paul will miss the Huskers final Big 12 regular season game with a foot injury, and his status for the rest of the season is within doubt.

Only two Nebraska receivers have more than 13 catches this season, and Paul leads the team with 39 grabs for 516 yards and a touchdown. He's also one of the team's fastest players and an explosive kick returner who returned a kickoff for a touchdown against Oklahoma State. For the offense, that means Brandon Kinnie will need to play well, but outside of tight end Kyler Reed and converted tight end Mike McNeill, the Huskers are short on reliable receivers. Curenski Gilleylen will likely replace Paul at the "Z" receiver position.

Taylor Martinez has been limited in Nebraska's last two games with a sprained ankle, and the Huskers running game, one of the nation's best earlier in the season, has suffered as a result. He's expected to be available on Friday, but it's doubtful he'll be anywhere near his usual self after re-injuring the ankle last week in a loss to Texas A&M when lineman Mike Caputo stepped on his foot as a tried to make a move.

So as much as other receivers will have to fill Paul's void, the real onus for beating Colorado will fall on the shoulders of the offensive line and running backs Roy Helu Jr. and Rex Burkhead. Nebraska didn't use much of its Wildcat formation with Burkhead taking the snap against Texas A&M, but with Martinez gimpy and Paul out, it'd be surprising if the formation that was so effective when Martinez sat against Iowa State isn't a big part of Nebraska's game plan.

It's not ideal, but thanks to those injuries, a Colorado upset is a real possibility. Questions about Pelini's sideline behavior and an incident with a cameraman involving defensive coordinator Carl Pelini have provided distractions that may or may not have an effect on what we see from Nebraska this week. At the very least, after conversations with athletic director Tom Osborne and chancellor Harvey Perlman, I'd expect to see a more docile Bo Pelini roaming the sidelines.

The penalty discrepancy (16-2 in favor of Texas A&M) last week has provided more talking points and motivation for Nebraska, but against a surging Colorado team that's found new life under interim coach Brian Cabral and is one win away from bowl eligibility, getting the win won't be easy.

Few thought that would be the case only a few weeks ago.

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