Well, no matter what you keep hearing, Big Ten Expansion is an important topic. And it will remain so until we find something else to fill the void during the off season. Lord knows we're getting tired of writing the same thing about the basketball team (good start, fall apart down stretch, lose game they could've won). So we're talking Big Ten Expansion with Corn Nation, SB Nation's outstanding Nebraska Blog. Nebraska provides a name program for the Big Ten to pull in, great economic, fans that will travel to Moscow if there's a game to watch, and an athletic department that's got its business in order. Because we don't know a lot about one another, we decided to do a little Q&A. My anwers to their vicious questioning are up there now.
Touch your toes, I've got new gloves
But what do we really know about Nebraska? I know they've got corn. I know they've got a nightmare inducing giant mascot. I know Tommy Frazier was the greatest college quarterback I have ever seen. Other than Bo Pelini and Ndamukong Suh, I'm in the dark.
So let's find out a little more about our friends to the west, shall we?
Maize n Brew Dave: I keep hearing about this "Nebraska" as an option for the Big Ten. Remind me who you guys are again?
Husker Mike: Well, we've won five national championships, including going 60-3 with three trophies in five years in the middle 90's.
Mr. Corn: Remember that red and white steamroller that took over college football in the the 90's? That was us.
Jon Johnston: Historically, Nebraska is one of the few members of the 800+ wins club along with Michigan. The World War II era was our nasty period when so many men left Nebraska to serve in the armed forces and didn't return after the war was over. It took 20 years to recover, but when we did, we've won more games than anyone else in the last 40 years.
MnB: Just so you know, up front, we still hate Tom Osborne for 1997. And for the 2005 Alamo bowl. I don't care if he wasn't involved. /misdirected angry scream/. But now that he's saying "the Big Ten is good" we kind of like him. Why the open arms to the potential conference swap?
Husker Mike: Hey, you should be grateful that the Rose Bowl clock operator let the clock run out so you managed to get a share. (http://huskermike.blogspot.com/2009/12/famous-games-where-clock-was-allowed-to.html) Why the open arms? Well, it's likely a defensive mechanism. If the Big XII is about to implode like the former Southwest Conference or what used to be Big East football (with Miami and Virginia Tech), Nebraska probably doesn't want to be a part of it.
Mr. Corn: Tom is tricky. Ultra-sharp, and very diplomatic. Even we don't know where he really stands. Plus, I heard he likes the Cherry Festival. [Ed. Note - the Cherry Festival is epic. If you like cherries, that is.]
Jon Johnston: The shame about ‘97 is that the media played up the "gift to Tom Osborne" crap so much that you guys probably haven't heard our perspective - that the split national title was a gift to Michigan more than it was to Tom Osborne. (http://www.cornnation.com/2007/5/30/23365/0638). [Ed. Note - No. You are wrong. We like you anyway.]
Hey, there's a lot of similarities with Nebraska and the Big 10. We're both accustomed to having to go play warm-weather teams in their home stadiums for bowl games. The SEC won't schedule games against us, either, and we're both full of powerful, pasty white guys.
MnB: We're talking about a lot of money here with the Big Ten Network involved and a shitload of Ro-Tel queso dip. Since money is the prime motivator for both parties, how does the revenue sharing in the Big XII work and how is Nebraska doing in the grand scheme of the Big XII revenue sharing?
Husker Mike: Revenue sharing is based on what you bring to the table, so Nebraska does better than most. (A whole heck of a lot better than an Iowa State or Baylor...) But how much money does the Big Ten Network actually make, considering it barely cracks 40% of the nation.
Mr. Corn: Money-talk = Deferring to Jon.
Jon Johnston: The revenue sharing in the Big 12 doesn't work, and that's the problem. Television contracts, specifically, are the problem because they're not shared evenly, but based on television appearances. Nebraska benefits from this more than their Big 12 North counterparts, but the balance is really tilted to the Big 12 South. The bottom line - Iowa State, Colorado, Kansas and Kansas State are being starved to death, while Missouri is getting shafted as well. This is why the Big 12 will change or die.
Beyond TV contracts, Nebraskans travel better than anyone in the nation. This past season we celebrated our 300th consecutive sellout dating back to 1962. If its money you want, we're a good fit.(http://thesportseconomist.com/labels/expansion.htm)
MnB: Just so you know, because of the Big Ten Network, every dorm now has a golden bidet in their bathrooms. Granted they're communal, but we're still talking about things made out of gold. Right? Anyway, I took a stab at how the conference would line up if Nebraska was added and here goes...
Big Ten West: Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Northwestern.
Big Ten East: Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State, Indiana, Penn State, Purdue.
What do you think of that? Do you think you could learn to hate them enough to replace some of your other rivalries?
Husker Mike: Generally speaking, Nebraska doesn't hate their opponents unless they act like a$$clowns. (See Colorado, Texas, and occasionally Missouri...) From watching some Big Ten hockey fans come to Omaha to play Nebraska-Omaha, and I think it won't take long for Husker fans to forget about Buffalo fans.
Mr. Corn:I live in Des Moines, IA...so I would love that lineup. Finally a chance to shut all these Hawkeye fans up about how much better they are than us. (Gag) [Ed. Note - OPS and Hawkeye State, enjoy.]
Jon Johnston: So basically you're asking us if we could hate Iowa? We're already there!
Barry Alvarez played for Nebraska in the 60s, so there's a connection there with Wisconsin. Penn State and Nebraska have had some really good series over the years, and they got screwed out of being #1 with an undefeated team in ‘94 when we won it, so there's some unrequited hatred there to build on. And then there's Ohio State. Who the hell can't hate them?
There's only one thing missing. Hippies. If you've got a school with a lot of hippies to replace Colorado, that'd make it an effortless transition! [Ed Note - Dude. Hippies? Have you been to Ann Arbor?]
MnB: How would you line this up?
Husker Mike: You really think that it'll fly to put Michigan, Ohio State, AND Penn State in one division? Good luck with that. Obviously you have to leave Michigan, Ohio State, and Michigan State in one division, so you've probably got to put Penn State and Nebraska into the other division just to have some sort of competitive balance in terms of football. For other sports, do it regionally.
Mr. Corn: Same. I like it. The chance to beat Michigan or Ohio State every year on national television in early December would be fantastic!
MnB: Speaking of rivalries, who are your prime rivals? You haven't played Miami in years, after all.
Husker Mike: We don't have a non-conference rival, really. Oklahoma is really our closest rival, and we hate Texas. But we don't play them every year either. Colorado, Kansas State, and Missouri like to pretend they're our rival, but we won't give them the satisfaction of reciprocating. [Ed Note - Like most of the Big Ten for us. I'm looking at you in particular, Illinois.]
Mr. Corn:Well, it was Bill Callahan, now I think it's the basketball team. Joking aside, I think Texas has had our number in the last 10 years. Although we like playing OU better.
MnB: So besides the Topeka College for Disabled Nurses and, well, um.... some other team, no other big rivalries?
Husker Mike:Thank goodness we got rid of former athletic director Steve Pederson before he had a chance to schedule those games. (He's the idiot who thought hiring Bill Callahan was a good idea.) We like to play big name opponents, but it doesn't matter who.
Mr. Corn: Bring the furry rodent followers to Lincoln any day!
Jon Johnston: One of the big benefits of leaving the Big 12 might be that we could once again schedule a yearly game with Oklahoma, the only team Nebraskans consider as a true rival. Colorado would have to find someone else to hate, though as we'd leave them behind. Holy crap, this is looking like a better fit than I thought!
MnB: Talk to me about some of the non revenue sports. Non-revenue in that they're not very good or actually are non-revenue. How's the hoops team doing? How'd they fit in the conference?
Husker Mike: Hey, our hoops team is undefeated and ranked #3 in the country! Oh, I suppose you are referring to MEN'S basketball. Well, they've been rebuilding for the last 10 years or so. Maybe they'll be good eventually; they tempt us by leading ranked teams (Kansas, Kansas State, and Baylor), but then knock us back to reality by letting Texas disembowel them.
Mr Corn:See my desperate attempts to draw readership on the mens b-ball team. Terrible year... They'd fit right above Iowa.
Jon Johnston: You don't mention volleyball, but Nebraska and Penn State are two of the top five teams perennially in that sport, so that would be fun.
MnB: I know you're a baseball junkie, where would you place the Huskers in the Big Ten Baseball hierarchy?
Jon Johnston: At the top. Nebraska has done remarkably well (last season was an anomaly) for being a cold-weather team. We have one of the best college ballparks in the nation, and we have the College World Series in Omaha. The Big 10 has been largely irrelevant in college baseball for a very long time. Perhaps we could help raise the level of perceived competition.
MnB: Now we talked sports, but the Big Ten has academic standards. We require nerds. Lots of them. Discuss your nerd population and it's affect on Nebraska's academic standing and normal student populace.
Husker Mike:Well, Warren Buffett could buy and sell the entire state of Michigan if he wanted to. Not sure why he'd want to do that [Ed. Note - Neither am I], but he could. But he's not really a nerd. How about Evan Williams, the guy that founded Blogger and Twitter? Is that nerdy enough?
Mr. Corn: The alpha-betas have nothing on our Nerds!
Jon Johnston: Hell, our student-athletes consistently graduate at higher rates than nearly any other program throughout the nation. Even our athletes are nerdy. I don't know what you'd want as a better testament than that.
MnB: Another key to admittance into the Big Ten, hot chicks. We don't have a lot of them right now. If we do, they're covered in six layers of North Face goose down. At least I hope that's six layers of goose down. /shudder/. So if you're joining the party you have to bring some good looking ladies along with you. Rules are rules. It's kind of a sausage fest in here.
Mr. Corn:No problem there. I believe that we had the Playboy Centerfold for the Big 12 issue...nuff said!
Husker Mike:Well, this usually isn't our style, but our friends over at DoubleExtraPoint would nominate Melissa Midwest. (http://sammyvegas.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/melissa_midwest-4.jpg)
[Ed Note: Playmate?