Monday, February 15, 2010
Nebraska willing to listen if Big Ten calls
By Adam Rittenberg
Lost amid the rumors about Texas talking with the Big Ten -- rumors that commissioner Jim Delany dismissed Friday -- were some interesting comments from Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne about the potential of Nebraska joining the league.
Osborne told the Lincoln Journal Star that while he hasn't heard from Delany or entered into any formal talks with another league, he'd listen if the phone rings in the coming weeks. Delany told WSCR radio that the Big Ten is still conducting an internal study that he hopes to complete by late spring or early summer.
"We haven't entered into any formal talks with anybody right now," Osborne said. "We're focusing on the Big 12. But I don’t think that means if somebody wanted to pick up the phone and call us, that we'd hang up on them. You listen."
When a league offers $17 to $20 million per year in television revenue, listening is the smart thing to do.
Nebraska isn't a home-run addition like Texas or Notre Dame, but it would add another traditional power in football to the league. Although the Huskers aren't what they were when Osborne coached, the program clearly is on the rise under Bo Pelini. Nebraska also fits geographically better than Texas, as Lincoln is less than 300 miles from Iowa City. The big drawback would be a small TV market and a state that doesn't produce a ton of FBS players.
Many folks have brought up good points about why Texas wouldn't leave the Big 12 for the Big Ten: rivalries, geography, success in the league, etc. Would the same reasons keep Nebraska in the conference? I'm not so sure. Nebraska hasn't benefited from the Big 12 nearly as much as Texas. Its rivalry with Oklahoma isn't the same as it used to be, and the Big 12's power clearly rests in the South division.
Here's what Osborne had to say:
“I would have to say the center of gravity has moved south. You’d have to say that trend to the south still continues to this day, which is a little concerning sometimes for people in the north part of the Big 12."
Nebraska likely would be much more interested in the Big Ten than Texas. But would the Big Ten want the Huskers? Time will tell.