Friday, July 01, 2011

It's A B1G New World

Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
 "Oh the Places You'll Go!" was the final book that Dr. Seuss published, and while it was published as a children's story, it's also become a very popular graduation gift as people begin a new stage of their life. Today, the Nebraska Cornhuskers begin a new era, leaving their longtime home for a new home in the Big Ten. In many respects, it's applicable here. Husker fans are leaving behind familiar opponents like Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, and Missouri. The longest consecutive streak of football games being played annually will end this fall when Nebraska and Kansas don't face each other.

In return, we open up a new world with new, slightly more distant opponents. Iowa replaces Iowa State. Minnesota and Wisconsin replace Kansas and Kansas State.  Northwestern replaces Missouri. It's going to be exciting initially as we experience new schools and new traditions. Some people argue that we'll miss our former rivals, and there is some truth to that. But ever since the Big XII came into existence, Nebraska really hasn't had a true rival.  ABC tried to force feed Colorado as our "rival", but the Buffaloes have ran hot and cold ever since Bill McCartney retired. Sometimes very good, like in 2001.  Sometimes woefully bad, like under Dan Hawkins. But frequently, simply overrated.  Kansas State was pretty good for eight years, but then Bill Snyder retired. Now he's back, but the Wildcats are still trying to find their way back.  About the time Kansas State fell off, Missouri came on strong...and even took control of the series for a couple of years.

But what Nebraska lacked was that true rival that stoked the passions of fans each and every season. We only saw our former rival on a part-time basis.  And during too much of the Big XII era, one of the two teams was suffering due to incompetence. Names like Schnellenberger, Blake, and Callahan combined with the two years on/two years off schedule to forever alter the matchup and the relationship between the two programs. Where once names like Switzer, Sims, and Holieway raised the hackles, now lay a feeling of respect. When the two teams met last December in Dallas for one last conference championship battle, it wasn't a meeting of rivals, but seemingly of friends.

A lot has been said that Nebraska never felt comfortable in the Big XII. There's a certain amount of truth in that statement. Nebraska lost an awful lot of votes 11-1 when the conference was created. The Nebraska-Oklahoma rivalry was sacrificed, as it just didn't fit as well as the other rivalries in the conference.  So when Texas and Missouri started publicly working on dissolving the Big XII, Nebraska sought out a more stable arrangement rather than take a chance on being left behind. Then something funny happened.  Nobody else wanted to give into the demands of Texas.  And it turns out that instead of Nebraska being left behind, of being on the short end of 11-1 votes, Nebraska was actually valued and desired.

And that's where we find ourselves today.  In a B1G New World. Nebraska is moving on, leaving behind a conference that seemingly wanted to leave us behind back in 1995, and being instead in a conference where it appears that we're actually welcomed. Of course, they're being friendly with us now. We're helping them get more:  more money from TV, more respect nationally, and some more interesting opponents. It won't stay that way long once we actually meet on the playing field.

Calls won't go our ways, games won't turn out the way we want them to. That's ok.  This time, we decided where we'll go.
Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won. And the magical things you can do with that ball will make you the winning-est winner of all. Fame! You’ll be famous as famous can be, with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don’t. Because, sometimes, they won’t.
Today, a NU era begins in the Big Ten Conference for the Huskers.  Go B1G Red!


Anonymous said...

It only took you 4 paragraphs this time to start blaming everybody else.

You're making progress.

Husker Mike said...

Interesting perspective that you call it "blame"... your true feelings come through.

Good luck.