While not surprised, I'm a little disappointed that Dan McCarney is out at Iowa State. Yes, they've struggled this season, and choked the last couple of years when they've been in a position to win the Big XII North. But on the other hand, just the fact that Iowa State has even been in contention for a division championship should be worth keeping the guy around. But that's the state of college football today, where patience is seldom practiced.
On the other hand, the idea of Iowa State competing for the Big XII North title the last couple of years is a solid indication that the North division isn't what it used to be. I've read some Husker fans that seem to think that winning the North in 2006 is an accomplishment that makes them better than any other Husker team this century. They claim the trophy, and don't realize the trophy doesn't mean as much as it used to.
What do I mean? Let's look at the Sagarin ratings of the Big XII North over the last few years:
1998: Champion: #4 Kansas State, Nebraska #9, Rest of B12N: 12, 29, 62, 68
1999: Champion: #2 Nebraska, Rest of B12N: 4, 32, 68, 71, 78
2000: Champion: #9 Kansas State, Nebraska #4, Rest of B12N: 30, 54, 77, 83
2001: Champion: #8 Colorado, Nebraska #5, Rest of B12N: 21, 40, 72, 93
2002: Champion: #19 Colorado, Nebraska #41, Rest of B12N: 5, 35, 51, 132
2003: Champion: #13 Kansas State, Nebraska #23, Rest of B12N: 41, 57, 72, 106
2004: Champion: #32 Colorado, Nebraska #68, Rest of B12N: 52, 57, 60, 61
2005: Champion: #36 Colorado, Nebraska #24, Rest of B12N: 30, 32, 39, 56
What about 2006? Nebraska is #27, and the rest of the B12N: 33, 54, 80, 100, 110.
Up until 2004, the Big XII North champion has been a top 20 team and usually there were multiple teams in the top 25. Since then, the North has been a shadow of it's former self. This year, while Nebraska and Missouri are looking better, the bottom part (Kansas, Iowa State, and Colorado) has fallen to new lows for the conference.
People who think that winning the Big XII North in 2006 is somehow better than finishing 2nd a few years earlier are simply deluding themselves. In many respects, this is like grading on a curve. Don't get me wrong, the title isn't something to not be happy about. It just doesn't mean that Nebraska in 2006 is somehow better than they were a few years before (2000, 2001, 2003).