Husker football fans will likely mark this day, Friday, June 11, 2010, as a day in infamy.
For better or worst.
The scenarios, the speculation, rumors have been flying all around the Cornhusker State this week with the likelihood that Nebraska will bolt from the Big 12 Conference to join the Big Ten. NU Athletic Director and NU Chancellor Harvey Perlman have been mum so far, with neither a confirmation or denial of all the information being discharged, all the rumors running rampant, all the reports spreading across television and radio airwaves, all over the internet and through every Big Red booster household in the state.
By the time you read this Friday afternoon, the rumors, the speculation, the misinformation may become fact that, indeed, the NU Board of Regents may approve a move by Nebraska to abandon a possibly sinking Big 12 ship for bigger football dollar signs in the Big Ten.
Note: NU announced Friday afternoon that the Big Ten Conference made a formal offer for the Huskers to join the league, and NU accepted.
Thank goodness Colorado wasn't patient enough to see what Nebraska decided about the rumored switch to the Big Ten. The Buffs from Boulder announced Thursday that they would accept an invitation to join the Pac 10 Conference, meaning that if the final dismantling of the Big 12 comes to pass, Colorado will likely be first on the list of villians, with Nebraska's administration close behind.
I don't have a vote in the final NU decision. If I did, I would vote to keep the status quo, although the Big 12 cookie started to crumble with Colorado's early Big 12 defection.
Major college football pundits have been lining up the Division I dominoes for several weeks now. Those tiles were filled with rumors, speculation, conjecture, etc. about Missouri and Nebraska joining the Big Ten, or perhaps Notre Dame finally giving in to the Big Ten's wooing, or maybe Colorado plus Utah and/or BYU of the Mountain West Conference would jump to the Pac 10, or maybe Texas going to the Big Ten, Southeastern Conference or the Pac 10, or a six-school bonanza of Big 12 members (Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Colorado/Baylor) jumping ship and joining the Pac 10. That first tile tilted Thursday with Colorado's announcement, and the reaction will likely continue Friday afternoon with the expected decision that the Huskers will be the second Big 12 team planning to leave the league.
$$$ signs... A couple big things have bothered yours truly since I heard those rumors of conference realignment (by the way, all that conjecture started, I feel, when the Big Ten announced a few months ago that they planned to expand, with a planned timeline of 12 to 18 months). My biggest problem with all the realignment is the Jerry Maguire-esque grab by the BCS-member college football schools -- "Show me the money!" Don't be fooled, all this conference realignment scheming is all about the mighty dollar, and how those schools can bring in more dough.
My beloved Huskers are no different. NU stands to double their yearly dollars derived from conference competition, as the Big Ten paid about $22 million to each of its member schools last year, thanks in part to a healthy TV package.
Football is a big revenue source for the big NCAA/BCS gridiron programs like the Huskers, Texas, Ohio State, et al. Those big-time gridiron programs help pay for many of the other sports -- like swimming, wrestling, track and field, baseball, softball, etc. -- on campuses across the country.
What will happen to those other sports? Nebraska will face longer trips to places like Penn State, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin if they do indeed join the Big Ten. How will that effect the non-revenue producing sports mentioned above?
Another thing, for all you fans that like to jump in the car and drive to late October and November Big 12 football games in Oklahoma and Texas. Will you be able to do the same when facing late-season Big Ten trips north and east to Penn State, Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin, or even Indiana or Illinois?
Rivalries ... Husker fans will likely kiss goodbye to long-time football rivalries with the Sooners, Mizzou, Iowa State and the two Kansas schools. And what about Kansas? If the Texas/Oklahoma Big 12 members decide to join the Pac 10, what happens to the Jayhawks and their storied basketball program, one of the nation's best? Will Kansas be able to find a BCS Conference that will accept a mediocre football program (although one that should improve with new head coach Turner Gill)?
The NCAA says on its website that the core purpose of the college athletic's governing body is "to govern competition in a fair, safe, equitable and sportsmanlike manner, and to integrate intercollegiate athletics into higher education so that the educational experience of the student-athlete is paramount." I think some NCAA schools, like Big 12 members Iowa State, Kansas and K-State, may get squeezed out of the equation.
I didn't want to see the Big 12 dissolve. I loved for the Husker to play -- and beat -- the Texas teams in football, especially the Longhorns. I feel Coach Pelini has got the Huskers going in the right direction, and I think the Huskers will battle for national prominence again in the next few years. I would rather have seen that trip go through Texas or Oklahoma rather than Ohio or Michigan.
My biggest wish was that that all the conference realignment stuff was a bad dream, and Big Red fans would click their red ruby slippers and wake up and still be listed on the Big 12 roster. But, Toto, I fear the Huskers will not be playing in Kansas anymore.