Not really sure how to describe today's announcement of Nebraska's switch from the Big XII to the Big Ten. It's a bittersweet day for Nebraska. Bitter in that a lot of dirt was thrown on old traditions, but sweet in that a lot of exciting new opportunities just opened up for Dear 'Ol Nebraska U. This is simply one of those historic days that will take time to digest and figure out exactly what it means.
Perlman Runs Up The Score
Harvey Perlman opened up the public presentation at the Board of Regents meeting and went straight for the jugular. Like a lawyer, he went after the rest of the Big XII, portraying the rest of the Big XII as hypocrites who tried to penalize Nebraska for doing what they themselves were doing. The problem wasn't with schools looking out for their own best interests; that's what every school official needs to do. The problem was with the college Presidents calling out Nebraska, and Nebraska only. Missouri, where all of the speculation about conference realignment began, acknowledged today they never received an ultimatum. It was all about Nebraska being singled out.
Perlman hit the rest of the Big XII, and hit them hard. When word of the Texas power-play to drag the Big XII South west to the Pac-10, Perlman demanded that Texas show their commitment to the Big XII. And Texas folded, unwilling to put their television plans on the table to save the Big XII. Thing spiraled out of control from there. Texas was only willing to commit through the end of the current ABC contract, meaning that this game would be played again in five more years.
After pleading that case, any doubt that the Board of Regents might have was completely vanquished. He not only leveled a damning case, he ran up the score worse than Tom Osborne ever did.
Tom Osborne Makes The Case
Osborne came up next and calmly made the case why the Big Ten was a good move for Nebraska. Concerns about travel and recruiting were quickly dismissed. Then he leveled the final blow against Texas. One school leaving the Big XII doesn't kill the conference. Two schools leaving doesn't kill the conference. But six schools conspiring to leave the conference? That'll kill the conference, and that forced Nebraska's hand. That in turn, forced the Big Ten to make the move that was consummated today.
What Does This Mean
This upcoming season will be the final season for Nebraska in the Big XII; it's a farewell tour for the Huskers. It wasn't a surprise to me; "Frank the Tank" mentioned it last week. Smart move for everyone; it limits the awkward transition period and allows the Big Ten to launch a championship game next year. Only problem is the extra termination fee, and I don't put it beyond Harvey Perlman to get that eliminated.
In fact, the transition has already begun. The Big Ten Network will start televising Nebraska games this fall. (I assume that excludes football and basketball games under contract with FSN and ESPN/ABC. In any event, I think I need to call my cable company tomorrow. Dish Network may be in my future...) Schedules are going to be adjusted, though if the Big Ten retains 8 conference games a year, the transition could be seamless.
But the biggest change is going to be a mental one and that's something that'll take time to digest. No more games against Kansas and Iowa State. For the last few months, the assumption was that Missouri was tagging along, but they may be left by the side as well. But don't think that Texas is in the rear view mirror; it's not terribly likely, but I still think there's a chance Texas could tag along eventually. Let's face it; they just can't quit us.
In recent years, Big XII football passed up the Big Ten. After Bo Pelini's LSU squad manhandled Ohio State, I argued that the Big Ten wasn't worthy of an automatic BCS bowl bid anymore. Even called them the "Big MAC". Mostly for shock value, I admit. But football is cyclical, and the Big Ten is improving. But they still trailed the SEC and Big XII last year. I'm not going to predict that Nebraska is going to dominate the Big Ten either; Nebraska hasn't done anything on the field yet to remotely justify any trash-talking.
From the conference's perspective, realignment is all about football. From Nebraska's perspective, it was about just about everything except football. It was about television contracts and trust. It was about stability and academics. Heck, thanks to the need to "buy our way in", Nebraska won't see any of that extra Big Ten money for a few years. Financially, Nebraska might have been better to stay in the Big XII, if it somehow were to survive the wandering eyes of Texas and the others in the South. But in the end, it's all those other benefits that make this decision a winner for Nebraska.
So a historic day comes to an end, and I was reminded this morning of an old song from my college days by KOZN's "Schick & Nick Show". Today truly was the end of College Football as I know it.
And you know what? I feel just fine, and looking forward to the future.