Thinking Out Loud: Yes, the Big Ten

Just some random musings about all this stuff going on: now, the past and, of course, the future.

I did a Google search for news about Nebraska to the Big Ten.

2,448 separate articles

Included on this page was a slew of stories, articles, columns, etc., on Missouri and the precarious position they now find themselves in.

There were 207 separate items under them

There were 136 additional articles which seemed to cover the macro point of view, looking at the national landscape in regard to the expansion of the Big Ten, Pac Ten and so on.

Oh, and 19 articles had Iowa State listed in there…somewhere.

Yeah, that sounds about right.

In a month where we find ourselves inching toward the doldrums of sports where we will soon only have Stephen Strasburger to keep our sports appetite somewhat satiated, the expansion talk has actually made other sports still going seem like afterthoughts.

Yes, no offense Chicago, but even if there was no conference news at all, the Blackhawks breaking the longest championship draught in the NHL would be interesting to most around these parts…for about a minute.

Maybe two

Big Ten Talk has even moved the NBA into the background.

We do have to tip our hat to the NBA a bit, however, because not only is this the playoffs, you know, that time of the year when professional basketball actually becomes interesting versus the 82-game regular season before it which is about as compelling as counting the holes in Swiss cheese. Not only is it the playoffs, but it's L.A. versus Boston, Kobe versus whomever and Laker Head Coach Phil Jackson going for his millionth NBA title.

But even that has found itself relegated to the next page, especially here in the Midwest.

It's Nebraska to the Big Ten. What seemed like more hopeful speculation by those in these parts who seem all but fed up with the Big 12, brought to you by the University of Texas – has now become the inferno, to some the domino which when toppled would issue a storm of moves from most of the major conferences, including the reigning super conference, The SEC.

Technically, it's Colorado that deserves the credit for being the first shot fired. But whereas Nebraska's move to the Big Ten was heard and felt everywhere, the move of CU to the Pac Ten seems to have created the kind of drama you see in reruns of the Brady Bunch.

And then there are the Texas schools which seemed all but headed to the Pac Ten. And now we hear that Texas and Texas A&M are trying for the Big Ten, while Baylor, the school which Texas tried to get into the Pac Ten in place of Colorado, seems bound to either stay in what will be a completely restructured and depleted Big 12 or to another one of those Ellis Island-type conferences which become an option when all of your ideal options don't pan out.

And Missouri?

With all of their blustering for who knows how long now in regard to wanting to be in the Big Ten, if they don't make it in, where do they go? What do they do? What sports do they have such a presence in to make them viable as legit competitors in a conference like that?

And how sour does this all taste for Kansas? This is a place where everyone knows basketball rules. Even when former football head coach Mark Mangino had his program riding high a few years ago as they were ranked in the top 10, had a Heisman candidate in Todd Reesing and were actually able to beat division rivals such as Nebraska – they still were considered the poor little sister to the boys who played in Allen Field House.

Not even Bill Self's perennial powerhouse Jayhawks seem to have the clout to find Kansas a better home.

Yet, here we stand at a crossroads of sorts where everyone's team worth anything is getting courted or speculated about in regard to what major conference they will eventually play. But for all the incredible success of that basketball team with its awesome tradition, perennial success and always positive future – the crickets are making more noise at the front door of the Jayhawks than the big conferences, who are instead considering teams like Rutgers, Pitt and Texas Tech.

Colorado, a team with a fickle following, a floundering football program with a flaky head coach as well as recent NCAA penalties for not meeting academic requirements in at least one of the major sports, is worth more than Kansas, which won a national title in one of those major sports in the last three years?

Ouch.

Times like this really let you know who is relevant and who isn't. And sometimes those answers surprise.

But not when it comes to Nebraska.

You don't exactly have to be college-football-crazy to understand what Nebraska has done on the college football landscape. They have the national titles. They have the long streaks, Outland Trophies, Heisman Trophies, etc.

They have the legendary coaches. But unlike schools like Miami and recently, USC, which find themselves in slumps following NCAA penalties, the Huskers find their slumps happen the good old fashioned way. They hire a crappy head coach who takes the program spiraling into an abyss, but wise up, find the right guy and make it back to where they belong.

So, is the Big Ten where they belong now?

For a lot of reasons, many which we have already talked about seemingly without taking a breath, Nebraska fits in with this new group of would-be brothers. Nebraska will get to join three other long standing traditions of football excellence, and the Big Ten will get the current reigning leader in Academic All-Americans. If they manage to pull in Notre Dame, they could have the top two.

Nebraska will now find themselves playing in "The Big House", "The Shoe" and I have no doubt Nebraska fans will regale everyone of the craziness that defines a home game in Madison, Wisconsin. The Big Ten will get a program which has a similar mind-set; a little conservative, sometimes a bit stuffy, but always with a blue-collar mentality.

As a former player for the Buckeyes, Bo Pelini should feel at home with the idea of going "back" to the Big Ten.

You won't be counting celebrities on the sidelines at Nebraska games. Which I am sure can be said of most if not all of the teams in the current Big Ten.

Ironically, Nebraskans, have already been saved by the Big Ten once, at least to a certain degree. Bo Pelini, a Youngstown, Ohio native, a former player for the Buckeyes, has helped engineer the revival of the only show in this 1.7 million person town. And now he'll have his chance to take on his old team, try and beat his old rivals and instead of trying to learn about the rivalries in the Big 12, he now gets to teach his own players all about what they are going to see, feel and experience in the Big Ten.

I don't imagine it will be a lot different. You can change addresses, but football really never changes. It's tackling, passing, blocking, fundamentals and execution. And honestly, will any Nebraska fan be sorry about getting away from a league which gravitated so heavily to the spread?

It's the Big Ten. No, it's not the most exciting brand of football to watch. But let's face it, when Nebraska was at its best during its entire run of success, they weren't exactly basketball on grass. Once Tom Osborne took over, he saw in the boring old option game out of the I-formation, a secret to success. It was boring as hell to watch for anyone who had gotten used to watching the Miamis, Florida States and the like, wow everyone with their athleticism and speed. Nebraska just "plodded" along and won 60 games in five years, three national titles in four years and Osborne left as a conservative, soft spoken legend.

The Big Ten has had a few of those. Still has one for sure.

I don't think they will mind adding one more, even if he's not the one pacing the sidelines during games.

As for more perspective on this, what it means and how it will affect this or that, there will be ample opportunity to discuss this even more than we have already done.

It's not like the Big Ten is going anywhere.

As for the Big 12, well, we might be able to say the same thing.


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