Monday, June 07, 2010

Nebraska's Conference Alignment Drives the Future of College Sports

So much has been written and tweeted this weekend about the impending dissolution of the Big XII depending on how Nebraska responds to the ultimatum launched by the University of Texas last week. I know, I know...officially it's being delivered by the Big XII conference, but really at it's core, this one is coming from Austin. It's rather ironic because I think when this story began earlier this winter, I felt this was a defensive move by Nebraska in reaction to moves being made by others in the conference.

So how the heck did Lincoln become the epicenter of this battle? Certainly Texas has been playing both sides of this battle by using their position to drive the debate in their favor. It's interesting to read the reports of Chip Brown, who now writes for the Texas web site. While his initial report of the Pac-10's push to invite the Big XII South has been corroborated, much of the rest of his reporting seems to give the impression of a vendetta against Tom Osborne. He continues to be the only media outlet that seems to doubt that the Big Ten is interested in Nebraska for whatever reason. Nevermind the fact that this story wouldn't even be happening if there weren't some substance behind the Nebraska/Big Ten report.  Nevermind that numerous reporters (much closer to South Bend, I might add) continue to report that Notre Dame is not budging at all in resisting the urge to join the Big Ten.

Yesterday, he tried to insinuate that Osborne's dislike of the spread offenses now in vogue in the Big XII was driving Osborne to move the Huskers to the Big Ten.  (Later, he said it was merely a retweet from the Texas Tech Rivals' site...but that original tweet is nowhere to be found.) Today, he tweeted about "Tom Osborne's disgruntled view of Texas" and how it came to"infect the perception of the relationship between UT and Nebraska."

So what's going on?  Osborne offered the following quote to the Lincoln Journal-Star on Saturday evening:
When is "eventually", and what are these facts? Hard to say, but I think it will be a few weeks from now. I think we're in for a couple of stressful weeks here as a huge game of chicken is being played between Lincoln and Austin. The administrations at Nebraska and Texas will probably discuss matters, but frankly, that ship may have already sailed. The time to address Nebraska's concerns was prior to delivering an ultimatum. Make the Big XII a better conference, and nobody is considering other options. That didn't happen, and instead Texas offered up the ultimatum. But how does this ultimatum really solve Nebraska's concerns with the Big XII? It just fuels the seeds of disagreement and makes a dysfunctional  relationship even more so.

I'm surprised nobody has suggested to "stay together for the kids."  I have no doubt in my mind that Nebraska will come out of this ok.  Texas will be fine as well.  But Iowa State, Kansas, and Kansas State?  They may be irreparably harmed by this issue.  Colorado may end up in the Mountain West, and frankly, that's probably where they belong anyway.

In the end, I think this Friday's deadline will come and go, and Nebraska will receive an extension of a few more days.  At some point in the next couple of weeks, unless someone comes up with an 11th hour plan to improve the revenue stream for the Big XII and the perception of Texas dominance of the conference (which hasn't been helped in the last week, I might add), Nebraska will eventually bolt for the Big Ten.  It's a move that makes sense both athletically and academically for Nebraska.

It may be tough on tradition, but I don't think Texas has left Nebraska any choice in this matter.

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