The Big Ten is expanding once again. With the addition of Maryland and Rutgers, the Big Ten will now boast a total of 14 universities.
It's hard to believe it was a conference of only 11 until three years ago. Much like Maryland and Rutgers now, Nebraska made the switch to the Big Ten in 2011.
Since then, the Huskers have spent time getting acclimated to the new conference. How has it all worked out?
From a football perspective, the Big Ten has been nothing short of a roller coaster for the Huskers. In 2011, Nebraska stepped into its new conference with high hopes. It was assumed the Huskers would have a great shot at representing the "Legends" side of the division in the Big Ten championship.
Things didn't go exactly as planned. The Huskers fell 48-17 to Wisconsin in prime time that year. Nebraska then went on to lose 28-25 to Northwestern and 45-17 to Michigan, which ultimately seated Michigan State at the top of the "Legends."
As for 2012, the Huskers did make it to the Big Ten championship. Nebraska fell to UCLA 36-30 and Ohio State 63-38 during the regular season, but the team managed to get past those setbacks and make it to the championship game. Unfortunately, the Badgers handed Nebraska an embarrassing 70-31 loss.
In its third year in the conference, Nebraska football once again did not make it to Indianapolis. With losses to UCLA, Minnesota, Michigan State and Iowa, it was ultimately too much for the Huskers to overcome.
In the three seasons of Big Ten play, Nebraska football has ended with four losses. Fans are torn on what that number means, as Paul Myerberg of Pre-Snap Read noted in 2012. He even went on to question if nine-win seasons are the norm. Two years later, the question still remains.
It's not that things have been bad for Nebraska in the Big Ten. It's just been repetitive, as Matt Brown of SportsOnEarth.com said. "But Nebraska remains a good fit for the Big Ten culturally, and it now stands as the clear power, historically, in the new Big Ten West," he concluded.
Ultimately, Brown is right. Nebraska has been a good fit for the Big Ten and the Big Ten has been a good fit for Nebraska. It hasn't been an easy three years for the football program, but overall, it hasn't been a bad deal.
Looking at the Huskers' 2013-14 postseason recap for all sports shows promise. From men's basketball making it to the NCAA tournament for the first time in 16 years to the baseball team winning one game in the Stillwater regional, Nebraska has made its presence known.
From a financial standpoint, things are also looking up for the Huskers. As reported by Henry J. Cordes of the Omaha World Herald, "In 2017, when Nebraska will finally be on equal financial footing with the core Big Ten schools, the school's annual revenue from the conference could well swell to between $40 million and $50 million a year. Such a figure is astounding compared with four years ago, when the Big 12 paid NU $9 million."
As Maryland and Rutgers prepare to join the Big Ten, Nebraska can look back on the last three years and feel at ease with how it's gone so far. There are plenty of goals left to achieve, but it hasn't been a bad move overall.
There will always be the fans who miss the Big 12 (or the Big 8, specifically), but the Big Ten has been pretty good to the Huskers.
A season with less than four losses just might make it great.
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