Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Big XII Implosion: "There, But For The Grace of Tom Osborne, Goes Nebraska"

You really have to try hard to NOT pay attention to the full-contact, metal-jacket-required, family feud between the remaining Big XII teams. Aside from the actual games, it's shaking the foundations of college football as the ridiculous soap opera keeps finding new ways to jump the shark. It's kind of like narrowly missing a huge accident, then watching the flaming wreckage in the rear view mirror.  And it's not just Nebraska's just about EVERYBODY in college football.  It was the lead story on BTN tonight. It's the lead story everywhere. The only people not paying attention? The people who are so scared of what could happen that they are hiding in the closet, fingers in the ears, singing "Lalalalala! I can't hear you! Lalalalala!" at the top of their lungs trying to avoid dealing with reality.

It's breathtaking how fast this situation has spiraled out of control.  In June, Berry Tramel of the Daily Oklahoman tried to tell us ten weeks ago that everything was "lovey dovey" in the Big XII without Nebraska. I thought that was revisionist thinking then, and now I bet that Tramel wants that column back in the worst way.

Can the Big XII be salvaged?  One year ago, I didn't think it could. Then the Pac-12 and Big Ten turned down the Longhorn Network concept, and I realized that Texas has no place to go. Since then, I've felt that the Big XII would survive in some form.  A&M was likely a goner.  Oklahoma or Missouri might follow as well, creating a new Big Eight conference.  In recent days, the talk is that Texas is going to leave for the Pac-12 or ACC, which seems to be silly talk to me.  No way those conferences accept the deal Texas has with ESPN for the Longhorn Network. And frankly, I'm not sure how many conferences want to accept Texas as a member. Texas has been exposed for what they are. Everybody knows how Texas plays with others. Who's going to accept Texas as a member without severe restrictions and guidelines on how the conference will be run? And would Texas even consider joining a conference with such an arrangement anyway?

But with threats of lawsuits running rampant, how can this conference realistically survive? Who wants to join the Big XII now? It's damaged goods now.

And thankfully, it's not our problem now. In 2010 when conference realignment speculation was running rampant, there was a concern that Nebraska would be left behind.  Thankfully, Tom Osborne took it seriously at the time and deftly steered Nebraska out of the quagmire. If there ever was any doubt about the wisdom of Nebraska's move, it's gone now. One could make the argument that the Big XII was a solid football and decent basketball conference, and that switching to the Big Ten might be a step back. But that was never the point about Nebraska's move to the Big Ten. It was a desire for stability, and for that, Nebraska fans are forever grateful that the Huskers aren't part of this mess.

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