Huskers, Big Ten on the Brink?

June 9, 2010

Written by Jon Miller

Hawkeye Nation

It’s been another crazy day in the world of following college conference expansion.  Since the early morning report from the Omaha World Herald that made it sound as though Nebraska could announce its joining the Big Ten as early as Friday, it’s been a wild ride.

Of course, it’s been a ride that has not included anyone going on the record…that would be too old fashioned, right?

We have an ESPN story from tonight where Iowa’s favorite rumor mongerer Chris Mortensen reported that Tom Osborne told some staff members that the Huskers were Big Ten bound, then in the same story ESPN’s Andy Katz reports that he spoke with some folks at Nebraska that said no such conversations took place.

Now that’s 2010, baby!

There is just too much smoke on this for it to be totally crazy, and the Nebraska Board of Regents have added conference expansion discussions to their Friday itinerary; that happened today after a conference call between the Regents.

Then you have reports that say the Pac 10 is preparing invitations for the same six Big 12 schools that were talked about last week; Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Colorado (not Baylor).  You can read the latest on that here.

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That wasn’t going to happen until the Pac 10 felt that Nebraska was gone to the Big Ten, because no one wants to publicly invite teams and get denied (see the Big Ten and Notre Dame from the late 1990’s).  The Pac 10 probably has as few good sources that believe Nebraska has received an invite from the Big Ten, and that they are going to take it (duh!) which means the Longhorns and Sooners have their straw man to blame for the next several decades as THE school that broke up the Big 12 and changed the landscape of college football forever.

Don’t think that isn’t a part of this, and I think Notre Dame might even be gun shy about being strapped with that dubious tag.  It will be Nebraska’s scarlet letter to bear, whether or not you believe it (which I don’t…Texas will have plenty of Orange blood on their hands as far as I am concerned.)

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Nebraska is just the first domino to fall, of course.  As I said earlier, the Shady Six will leave the Big 12 to the Pac 10 and perhaps that might be enough to coax Notre Dame to give up the ghost related to their independent status. I’ve written this before; I can see where the brass at Notre Dame would not have wanted to be the first domino to fall, and wait for that “seismic shift” that AD Jack Swarbrick talked about, so they can then go to their fans and say ‘Hey, we waited this out.  We wanted to remain independent, but the evolving landscape of collegiate athletics demand that we join a conference, otherwise we are uncertain what our future would be if we remained independent.’

While their fans might not like it, even the most arrogant of Notre Dame fans must recognize that their future is indeed uncertain as an independent.  They’ll likely become less ‘special’ in a conference, but then again they haven’t been special since Lou Holthhz was coaching the Irish.

So welcome, Nebraska.  Welcome to the Big Ten.  Welcome to a new rivalry with Iowa, one that Iowa fans welcome.  Welcome to a league where you are treated the same (financially) as the lowest run on the ladder.

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Unless of course this is all just the biggest ruse in the history of college athletics…after all, this post from the Northwestern Rivals board says the Big Ten has invited Texas, Texas A&M, Missouri and Notre Dame to join the league.  At least we’ll have something to talk about tomorrow…

10:12 pm UPDATE:  The Chicago Tribune is reporting that Nebraska to the Big Ten is expected to be announced on Friday.

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