Before we begin, I’d like to point out that it is a matter of well known fact that I am no fan of Husker football, the University of Nebraska, the majority of it’s students, and the city of Lincoln itself. It also goes without saying that I am a diehard, blindly faithful, "2-10 isn’t that bad of a season," Thunder Hawkins worshipping Buffs fan. If you want objectivity, you should probably look elsewhere.
Ok, so all things seem to point towards Nebraska going to the Big Ten. Good for them. They saw a chance to pick up a little more green, step up a rung or two in the world and they jumped on it. What really chaps me about this whole process is the way the Nebraska media (read: Tom Shatel and Lee Barfknecht) handled this whole situation. The last time I saw this much spin, I was playing Ring-Around-the-Rosie on a merry-go-round. It was mind-boggling how the same issue could be painted with two brushes, especially in the department of remarks employed to villainizing Texas. I’m not going to break out the (somewhat stale) "Nebraska is running scared if Texas" jab because the same could be said of the newly-departed, Pac-10 bound Buffs (Christ, you could say the Buffs were running from Kansas State or Oklahoma State). But I will not shy away from the following contentious points, all of which just downright pissed me off:
1) Texas has a "Texas-first" attitude
I’ve heard a lot about the "Texas-first" stance that is being presumed by Texas AD DeLoss Dodds, and how his program only thinks itself and acts exclusively in its own interest. Well, that doesn't seem very nice of them, and many in the Nebraska media (read: Tom Shatel and Lee Barfknecht) were quick to accuse Texas of not being a team player and condemn them for their arrogance. Then, with the same pen, they write that Nebraska must do what's right for Nebraska, that Nebraska must pursue the course most beneficial to them. Seems to me that such a mindset could be called "Nebraska-first."
2) The championship game argument
I hear a whole lot of pissing and moaning about the Big 12 championship game being played in Cowboys Stadium in Dallas. It moved there this year and was renewed for the next couple years a few weeks ago. moving the game from Arrowhead in Kansas City. Holy smokes, how Husker Nation bitched. They're shifting the league south, they said, they're putting the game in Texas' backyard! Was the league shifted north when the game was in KC? Don't you think fans from the South Division got tired of coming north, just the same as you're bed-wetting about going south? As for the "Texas' backyard" contingent, buy an atlas, dummies. Austin is 195 miles from Dallas, whereas Lincoln is a paltry 163 miles from Kansas City. If we're gonna talk backyards, the Big 12 really moved the game out of Nebraska's backyard to, say, down the street from Texas. If none of this has taken hold, chew on this, dummies: a brand-new, state-of-the-art, billion dollar stadium is offering to let you play on their field. Who turns that down?
3) The Big 8
The Nebraska media (read: Tom Shatel and Lee Barknecht) have been making a big fuss about how they never really trusted the Big 12 and wish they could go back to the simpler times of the Big 8. What they really mean is they wish Tommie Frazier was 19-years old again and that the spread offense had never been invented. The Big 8 was more like a family, but the corrupting influence of the now-defunct Southwest Conference has made it a dysfunctional corporation. If only we could go back to the good old days, before the Texas schools ruined everything. I have a hard time swallowing this sentimentality. When Nebraska follows Colorado out the door and jumps to the Big 10--which will more than likely cause the Big 12 to collapse--what schools are going to be left standing there with their pants around their ankles and their dicks in their hands? Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, and Iowa State, maybe Missouri. Besides Baylor, all former Big 8 schools. The Big 8 is a family? I knew a family like this once. The dad hit a mid-life crisis, bought a convertible, fucked the hot neighbor lady and split town. Deadbeat Nebraska.
4) "When the Big 10 calls, you answer."
That phrase kind of became the buzzline for the Nebraska-Big 10 affair. Shatel and Barfknecht--they know I'm talking about them here--repeated it so many times that they could have copyrighted it and made a nickel everytime some other doofus said it. This logic--that if something better than what you're with offers to take you up, you should leap at the chance--strikes very close to home for me. When I was in the 10th grade, I asked a nice-looking gal if she wanted to go to the Homecoming dance with me. She said yes, and I was stoked. However, the Thursday before the dance she told me that a senior had asked her, so she was going with him instead. I was a dejected downtrodden shade of a pre-mustache me. I hope the Big Ten and Nebraska have fun at the dance while Kansas and Iowa State get shitfaced off a bottle of Mad Dog 20/20 under the railroad bridge (which is, coincidentally, what me and my best friend did at Homecoming '04.)
As AP's old man once said, "When there's nothing left to say, Lightweight will still be talking" so I'm not done with this subject quite yet. Yes, it is very cool for Nebraska that they are moving to the Big 10. However, they are in for a serious culture shock. Nebraska is seriously outclassed by the Big 10. Academically, Nebraska isn't within a sniff of the Big Ten schools, all of whom rank in the top tier of public universities (except Northwestern, who ranks in the top tier of private universities). Tradition-wise, even the Cornhuskers' storied past dims in the light of the Big Ten. In the break room at work today I overheard a couple crewcut sporting Nebraska fans spouting off about "Happy Valley" and "the Horseshoe" the same way 3rd graders talk about "the pyramids" and "outer space;" things they've seen on TV but really have no concrete understanding of. Geographically, Nebraska would be the westernmost school in the Big 10. They'd be going from a Big 12 mainstay to a Big Ten backwater. Much in that same way Nebraska fans often puffed out their chests and turned up their noses about having to travel to Ames, Manhattan or Stillwater, folks in Ann Arbor and Champaign are saying, "Do we really have to go to Lincoln?" Nebraska going to the Big Ten, for the first few years at least, is like a little kid walking around in their dad's shoes.
Now, I wouldn't be a true Buffs fan if I didn't follow up a round of Husker bashing with a bit of CU horn-beeping and back-patting. What does a move to the Pac-10 mean to the boys from Boulder? More money, which is crucial. True, it's not the 22 million bones Nebraska will reportedly be handed, but Colorado has always worked with a smaller budget. More recruiting in California, which is awesome with a coach that has already established pipelines in that state. Also, it's nice to see CU make the news without someone getting raped. Most importantly, though, Colorado will be a smash hit with the Pac-10 culture. The Pac-10 will look at the Buffs the same way the Big 12 did: hippies from Boulder. The big difference, though, is that in the Pac-10 that's a good thing. You don't think fans from Palo Alto or L.A. want to spend a little time in the mountains come mid-September? Hell, so many people from California live in Colorado that they might sell a few more tickets at Folsom when Cal and UCLA come to town. On a related note, I hope Nebraska fans are looking forward to their trips to Muncie and East Lansing. I'll call you from Eugene or Seattle.
AP asked me if I'd miss the Colorado-Nebraska game the day after Thanksgiving. Yeah, I'll miss the game. What I won't miss is every bug-eyed, red-wearing, mouth-breather screaming "'Skers!" in my face after a Nebraska victory or, alternatively, calling me a faggot when the Buffs win. I won't miss getting my 7th grade ass kicked for wearing a Colorado shirt to school after the Massacre of 2001 (62-36). I won't miss "Sal Is Dead, Go Big Red" and I'm sure Nebraska won't miss batteries flying from the student section. Li'l Red can burn in hell. I won't miss every Nebraska win touted as domination and every Colorado victory written off as a fluke. If I never set foot in Memorial Stadium again, it would be too soon. So, on second thought, I'm not too heartbroken over losing the Nebraska game.
To conclude, all this conference realignment hullabaloo grows tiresome, but we should really stop and think about the student-athlet for a second. These kids are such pawns, their jerseys might as well have dollar signs before the number. This conference stuff is all about money, and, as Garth Algar once said, "That's just really sad."