Friday, June 11, 2010
Big Ten and Nebraska make a great match
By Adam Rittenberg
It will take some time to get used to the Big Red in the Big Ten.
College football is built on tradition and long-term associations, and Nebraska always has been linked to Colorado, Oklahoma and others from the former Big 8. It'll feel odd to see the Huskers invade the Big House, The Horseshoe, State College and even Iowa City.
That's OK. Change isn't supposed to feel normal.
But give it time and you'll realize that these Huskers are a lot like you.
They love to run the football! They love walk-ons! They don't mind cold weather!
They boast loads of tradition in football -- Nebraska is the fourth winningest program of all time and owns five national titles -- complete with legendary coaches (Bob Devaney, Tom Osborne) and unforgettable players (Mike Rozier, Dave Rimington, Johnny Rodgers), just like your favorite teams. College football is everything to their fans, just like it is in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Iowa. Their fans live in the same area of the country and treasure the same values in both football and life as you do. Nebraska is an Association of American Universities member, just like the rest of the Big Ten.
I've never been to a game in Lincoln, but I can't wait to see one. You should be fired up, too.
Many folks went into this thinking only Notre Dame and Texas would add great value to the Big Ten. I'd like to direct you to Forbes' list of the most valuable college football teams. Texas and Notre Dame are Nos. 1 and 2, but Nebraska comes in at No. 4 with a team value of $93 million and a profit of $49 million. Nebraska is ahead of both Ohio State and Michigan in the rundown.
Need more evidence? Nebraska apparently was valuable enough to several Big 12 South schools to determine whether they stay in the league. Although Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman said Friday that one school leaving a conference doesn't break the conference (six schools leaving does), all eyes were on the Big Red.
"I [asked Big 12 presidents] 'What if Nebraska stayed and Missouri left?' Perlman said. "The response was that they would stay. I said, 'What happens if Nebraska stays and Colorado leaves,' and the response was they would stay. I said, "What happens if both Missouri and Colorado leave and Nebraska stays?' And they could make no commitment that they would then stay in the Big 12."
So Nebraska matters, people. And it will be a strong addition to the Big Ten.
Just think of the potential rivalries. Farmageddon between Iowa and Nebraska. The Barry Alvarez Invitational between Wisconsin and Nebraska. Put Nebraska against Penn State, Michigan or Ohio State, and TV execs will drool.
I don't like shaping divisions based on geography, but Nebraska certainly strengthens the western edge of the Big Ten. While I'd urge Jim Delany to break up the Ohio State/Michigan/Penn State bloc, a division with Nebraska, Wisconsin and Iowa looks pretty solid.
Notre Dame and Texas would be slam-dunk additions to the Big Ten, but both schools bring different types of baggage with them. Nebraska isn't a prima donna. And the Huskers really, really like the Big Ten.
You might shake your head in disbelief when Nebraska plays its first Big Ten Conference game in 2011. But before long, you'll nod and see that this makes too much sense.