College football is now two years removed from a significant restructuring and – surprise – the specter of further conference realignment still lingers. With the creation of a four-team playoff and a hierarchy of five ostensibly equal power conferences, it was perhaps inevitable that one conference would consider itself at a disadvantage – and that conference is the Big 12. They were the big loser of the last round of realignment: Nebraska, Missouri, Texas A&M, and Colorado all found more stable homes in three separate conferences and the Big 12 added TCU (great on the football field, horrible on the hardwood) and West Virginia from mid-major leagues to compensate. They’re the only conference without a championship game, which is perceived to be a significant disadvantage. That they missed out on the playoff in one of the two years of its existence has driven them to question whether expansion might improve the league – though apparently immediate action is unlikely. However, it’s a pretty good bet that the Big 12 won’t exist in its current form in five years.
It’s worth noting that some of the different members of the conference have disparate goals (which isn’t the case in most other Power Five leagues). Texas is content with the present arrangement, which enriches itself with the lucrative (for Texas) Longhorn Network contract and effectively exists as the celestial body around which all others orbit in the Big 12. They and the other Texas schools are probably quite leery of Houston (arguably the best candidate for Big 12 expansion); promoting TCU to the Power 5 level has weakened its neighbors and with Tom Herman at the helm at UH, it’s easy to envision history repeating itself. Oklahoma isn’t happy with looking up at Texas in the Big 12 power structure but – perhaps because it’s saddled with Oklahoma State – can’t flee to the Pac-12 or SEC. West Virginia probably wants expansion to bring more geographically proximate foes into the league. Iowa State’s just happy (and a little confused) to be here.
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Intersting Post on one of the Big Red Blogs concerning why they left the Big XII. My friends that are Nebraska fans are pumped to be part of the Big Ten, and forwarded me this as an explanation of why Nebraska Nation overwelmingly approves of this move. It also explains why Texas is probably never going to be a good fit for the Big Ten.
Why Nebraska Left: Everything You Need To Know
On Wednesday, June 9, 2010 Nebraska became the catalyst of what will turn out to be, one of the most historically monumental decisions in college athletics. The first, and most critical domino has gone horizontal, and those that lie in front of it are about to fall at wildfire pace.
One has to wonder, why now? And why Nebraska? Why would Tom Osborne, a conservative former coach and politician upend the boat? What about tradition? Fear of change? The deciding factor for Nebraska to leave the Big 12 came entirely from within. Osborne knew, way back in ’93, that merging the Big 8 with the four Texas schools from the Southwest Conference would result in a rocky, abusive marriage and inevitable divorce. We were warned. He knew.
And he knows now.
When examined closely, there were many components that went into Nebraska’s decision, most of which were entirely out of its control. Enter, Big 12 Commissioner and Village Idiot, Dan Beebe. Dan has (had) a simple job. Keep the Big 12 thriving and each member happy. To Bebee, this job description transcribed to keep the Big 12 stagnant and Texas happy and was content in becoming Texas Athletic Director Deloss Dodds’ conference mouthpiece/string puppet. Just keep Texas happy. Nebraska ahead 12-10 with 0:00 on the clock in the Big 12 Championship? Not a problem. Ol’ Beebs can add a second. (Aside: Funny how that karmic hammer swings back at you. I think Alabama just scored again.)
He also fell behind in the times when it came to forward-thinking ventures like a conference television network, but it was acceptable for Texas to explore their own “Longhorn Television Network.” And Texas, who has turned out to be the powerful, yet pea-brained oaf in all of this, resorted once again to arrogance and dismissed the 11 other members of the Big 12 as mere minions.
Make no mistake, Nebraska football is a national brand. The elite of the elite. In the same fraternity as Alabama, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Oklahoma. 3rd all-time in wins. Where the rest of the Big 12 were content to be pimped out by Texas and roll over like starving hookers, Nebraska had far more self respect. A conventional, yet notable moment where this was ever-prevalent, was the 11-1 conference vote to keep the Big 12 Championship game in Texas for the foreseeable future. Osborne, not to be pushed around or degraded, was the lone opposing vote. No one else in the Big 12 North bothered to sign up (isn't that ironic now to see KU and KSU begging NU to stay and save them?)
Missouri, who has played a significant, somewhat noble, yet moronic role in all of this, became discontented with the revenue sharing policy of the Big 12. A fair gripe, yes, but the equivalent of Obamacare in college football. Whining for more money/handouts when you’ve accomplished, well, nothing, will only get you so far. And it definitely will not earn you any respect.
The Big 10, sensing an uprising in the Big 12, quickly realized that their desire to expand could come to fruition, with or without holdout Notre Dame. While Missouri governor Jay Nixon was flapping his gums about “deserving” a Big 10 invite, Tom Osborne waited patiently with a much better poker hand. Adding Missouri, without Nebraska, adds little to the Big 10. A bandwagon, ill-behaved fan base along with a bed-wetting sense of entitlement is not an ingredient for conference cohesiveness. Nebraska is the real gem. A rich history of Heisman Trophies, national championships, and conference championships? There’s a program that’s earned their respect. Sign them up.
Beebe then mustered up a solution so insanely idiotic, you have to wonder if there were paint chips in his morning coffee. Give Nebraska an ultimatum. Yup, poke the angry dog even more. Pledge your loyalty to the Big 12 within one week - or else. Or else what? You’ll kick them out, leading to the demise of the Big 12 anyway? And where is Texas’ ultimatum? Good move, moron. If I were Osborne, I’m not sure I could’ve contained my laughter in that room at that very second. And felt I’m sure, immense disappointment knowing that the abuse couldn’t be tolerated any longer. Thank you, Texas. Thank you, Beebe. As much as it pains to leave the beloved traditions and bitter rivalries of Colorado and Oklahoma, you’ve left us no choice but to go - to a much better place.
Osborne didn’t need a week. He acted quickly and precisely, playing his hand with dignified grace. Nebraska wanted out and the Big 10 knew it. The dissolution of a broken marriage and the beginning of an ideal one. And $15,000,000 extra per year in television revenue? Sure, that doesn’t hurt either.
Inevitably, this will cause casualties. Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, and Baylor may be left without a pot to piss in. In Missouri’s case, a strong wind has soaked them in it. Millions of dollars in lost revenue and no conference. Nothing to play for. But Kansas has one of the most elite basketball programs in the nation? Not anymore. Bill Self just hit the employment ads, and hard. And Missouri? Blame your governor and you’re dumbfounded sense of entitlement. In the end, it’s sort of difficult to feel that sorry for them. Just remember, “11-1.” You all sided with Texas on so many issues. You can beg them for mercy now. Leave Nebraska out of it. When the going was tough you sided with the dim wits from the south.
Looking forward, the landscape of college football looks quite different because of a few unintelligent, arrogant miscreants who thought they could ignore, bully, and laugh at Nebraska and Tom Osborne. The result? Utter chaos. The Big 12? Dead. Dan Bebee? Unemployed. Texas-run conference and Longhorn Network? Bye-bye. I can’t help but imagine Osborne in his comfy office chair tilted back with a smile on his face.
Who’s laughing now?
There is a meme going around that if the Big Ten were to adopt the obvious East-West geographic alignment that preserves all important annual rivalries,* the West division would be like the Big 12 North, yielding a meaningless, lopsided championship game each year while the dominant programs in the East beat up on each other, reducing their chances of making the BCS championship game. This, however, ignores a number of realities:
- The Big 12 North's performance has been monumentally bad, far beyond anything we can expect from a Big Ten West. Take a quick look at the Big 12's conference standings for the past eight years. The North's record, both overall and against ranked opponents, is truly abysmal.
- In addition, the Big 12 South has been profoundly unbalanced, with Texas and Oklahoma the only champions.
- The Big Ten West can produce a viable champion each year. This is especially true if Nebraska is out of the doldrums, but does not depend on it, unlike the Big 12 North.
- An undefeated or even one-loss champion coming out of the Big Ten East would always be in play for the BCS championship game, due to strength of schedule (computers) and human factors (voters).
The real difference between the new Big Ten and the old Big 12 is the latter had no consistent, ambitious middle-tier (i.e., consistently ranked, but rarely threatening for a national title) football programs like Wisconsin, Iowa, and Michigan State -- nobody to really pressure Texas and Oklahoma from within their division, or Nebraska if they hadn't lost their minds. Instead, the Big 12 had a few middle-tier programs dependent on individual coaches -- Kansas State under Snyder, Texas Tech under Leach, for example. Not a recipe for long-term success.
* [WEST: Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Northwestern, Illinois] [EAST: Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Indiana, Purdue]
As I try to fill out my bracket, I keep coming across Big XII teams that seem to be seeded / ranked higher than my impression of them. Anyone out there watch much Big XII hoops this year? I'm inclined to think that a lot of them are over rated. I want to pick KSU to go down in the second round to BYU, A&M to go down to Utah State and I don't really believe in Baylor. Problem with picking A&M to lose is that Purdue is the 4 in that bracket and they are obviously mortally wounded. Am I about to kill my bracket?