OU vs NU - what it should be, what it is

I don't know what to make out of all this. I guess this game should be epic. It is, but for some reasons which aren't exactly ideal. To put it better perhaps, they don't fuel the fire of traditionalists, idealists or some who just love the game. This might be the game for some that has to be played, and maybe that's about it.

I won't put this game in perspective as saying that it's a contest someone has to win.

It's more than that.

Now, I am not going to sit here and wax nostalgic, trying to attach as many melodramatic descriptions as possible to make the Big 12 Championship game seem like more than it is.

But I grew up watching Nebraska and Oklahoma. So yeah, it means something to me.

But I'm not one of those who will sit here and regale you about how great this rivalry has been over its history, that fateful battle of titans between the Sooners and the Huskers.

Some give its longevity merit as to why this game meant so much. Some attach the importance of it to the storied traditions of either program, which is laden with national titles, Heismans and numerous other honors.

But national titles you won before this game mean nothing.

All the individual honors don't mean much either, even those won this season.

What matters, and you know this to be true – is what is on the line at the time the game is played.

Nebraska and Kansas ended this year the longest active continuing series in all of the FBS. After this year it's gone, kaput, seeya, thanks for watching.

Let me see a show of hands as to who actually cares.

If you raised your hand, you probably refer to the "baby boomers" as the younger generation.

The longest continuing series in all of the country, and you can count the number of times this game had national title implications for both teams on one hand.

Maybe one finger

Actually, you wouldn't even need that.

Kansas and Nebraska have both been ranked in the top 10 when they played each other just twice. The first time in 1968 when Nebraska and Kansas were ranked 9th and 6th, respectively. The other was in 1995 when the Huskers were No. 1 while KU was 10th.

That same scenario happened 17 times between NU and OU.

During Nebraska's run in the mid-to-late-90s, in a three game stretch Nebraska scored 37, 73 and 69 points against Oklahoma. All wins, as you might assume. I don't seem to recall a lot of nostalgia in those games. They were the bad times for Oklahoma. The Sooners returned the favor in 2008 when they put up over 60 points on the Huskers, 21 of them coming in the first two minutes of the game.

This game meant something, because most of the time these two teams faced off, often the last regular season game of the year, a national title game appearance or at the very least a conference title trophy was on the line.

That's one of the reasons this game this year means as much as it does.

But then we get to the other reason or reasons.

It has to be hard for some of the fans in the conference that is still called the Big 12, but will perhaps change its name come next year. It's hard, because depending on their allegiance, they are dealing with the national perception that this future 10-team league is actually nine teams with umbilical cords attached, all leading straight back to Austin.

And Dan Beebe, here's a guy who is a Commissioner seemingly only by title as his actions have painted a picture that seems to show threads attached to him and stretching upward to "Bevo", the real figure pulling all the strings.

A conspiracy theory?

Perhaps

But it doesn't change the fact that the only player in the entire conference for the entire 2010 season that hit anyone maliciously enough to get suspended, was Husker linebacker Eric Martin.

Yep, he's the only one.

Wow, what a clean league. That's amazing, isn't it? Not one single hit outside of Martin's that was labeled "targeting" serious enough to prompt not just a suspension, but a headline on the front page of the official Big 12 site.

Nope, not one.

The NCAA should give the Big 12 an award for that.

Out of the hundreds of hours of football, the thousands of snaps, there was only one hit suspension worthy this year.

I thought to myself that when Martin was suspended, that it was simply a reaction to all the publicity from an NFL weekend where some particularly violent hits got a lot of attention, prompted a load of fines, but resulted in nobody missing a game.

When the suspension was handed down, I was sure that the Big 12 power structure wouldn't be so obviously biased that they would go the rest of the season without suspending another player for a similar hit.

They did. Martin remains the only one.

Now, depending on your own allegiances, you can either delude yourself into thinking that there was indeed no hit out of the thousands recorded since that time, which was as bad as Martin's. Or you can simply acknowledge something that at this point, I think is pretty obvious.

Nobody cares.

You think Dan Beebe cares what Husker fans think about what he is doing and why? You think he will pay attention to any complaints about the apparent lack of objectivity he has when making decisions which involve the Huskers?

Just recently, when an unnecessary amount of stink was raised over Beebe not traveling to Lincoln to present a division trophy which I honestly didn't even know existed – Beebe said he didn't go because he apparently felt it was dangerous.

He was threatened, I guess – himself and his family.

That's not a joking matter. Any so-called fan who would ever threaten another person and their family over something we call sport, should find themselves some therapy or a life.

But those threats, some seemingly serious, have not found themselves important enough to be addressed outside of Beebe's statements to the media.

No charges of any kind.

Christopher Burbach of the Omaha World Herald recently did a story about those threats and the alleged investigation, reporting that there wasn't an official investigation of any kind. Initial suspicion that some of those alleged threats were made at the Beebe residence, were in fact not true. And when a request was issued for the official complaint from the Beebe family, there wasn't one of those either.

Gosh, if I am getting death threats, which Beebe said he was, I'd probably follow that up a bit.

Wouldn't you?

Now, all of this comes down to perception.

And if you, the reader, are a fan of any of those teams which will be in this conference next year, perhaps you are of the mind that this is all Nebraska's fault, Beebe was just doing his best at damage control and anything bad that happened or happens to the Huskers is what they deserve.

Oh, and thank God Texas was there to pull us out of the abyss and back into the light.

The program I feel the worst for is the program that will be facing Nebraska this weekend.

I mean, how would you like your program to be considered the little sister to the big bad burnt orange, especially when it comes to football? Because when you look at most of the numbers that matter, that's certainly not the case:

Oklahoma has more national titles than Texas
Oklahoma has more Heisman winners than Texas
Oklahoma has more winners of individual awards in football than Texas
Oklahoma has more Big 12 titles than Texas.

The list goes on.

Oklahoma shouldn't have to bow to anyone, much less them.

Now, you Sooner fans reading this will say that you don't bow to anyone, especially them. Unlike Nebraska, your team has beaten the Longhorns in the last 10 years.

Fair enough and absolutely true.

For all of the excuses Nebraska fans might offer as to why they lost, whether it's a turnover here, three dropped balls there or another second added to a clock – As Bo Pelini is fond of saying, they didn't do enough to win…

…period

But when the dust settles, Nebraska will be in the Big Ten, and Oklahoma will still be stuck in the new-look Big 12, which will still have Dan Beebe, the conference representative and Texas, the apparent face of the new league.

Now, don't take that to mean that I think the Big Ten suddenly becomes a super conference with the addition of Nebraska. They will be better in football and volleyball, for sure. And I don't think they will be complaining with the addition of the women's basketball team which came off an undefeated record last year in a conference which has been for some time, top to bottom, the best league for women's basketball in the country.

What I mean is that they will heading to a conference led by a man who seems to have this motto of ‘what's in it for us.' Heck, even the Pac Ten, which flirted with the idea of adding six teams from this conference, also had the idea of a conference which revolved around the notion of doing things that benefitted the entire league.

One of the most prominent beliefs as to why that major merger didn't take place was that there was one school that just didn't like that idea. They didn't like the concept that they, the power above all powers, had to share equally with schools of lesser merit. I believe it was one particular representative of that program that said when everyone else spends the same kind of money they spend every year, they will share equally.

But not until then.

That's the foundation of this new conference? That's the kind of groundwork people want to see laid when trying to configure this group as a collection of institutions, each with allegedly equal say?

It didn't remain intact because of that, so I'm not sure how people will expect it to thrive based on that.

But at least Nebraska won't have to deal with it anymore.

I am obviously hoping Nebraska wins this game, but it won't be for hatred of the team they are playing.

It won't even be toward Beebe, who might be reaping a little bit of what he sewed.

It will be because Nebraska has yet to win one of these under this new coaching staff. They have came close, but we know how that old saying goes. I don't necessarily believe a springboard in December carries much momentum going into the Fall of next year. But they need the reality of a win more than they need the symbolism of what most feel a win will represent.

Pelini's teams have taken steps each year, improving a bit here and there, and now they are just one step closer to taking yet another big step forward.

That's actually what this game should be about.

But that is kind of boring when you think about it. This drama-stuff is great copy, even if it ultimately means nothing in the end.


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