HuskerLand is on the brink of a seismic shift in the world, and it starts with Big Ten expansion. Are we ready for this?
According to Steven M. Sipple of the Lincoln Journal Star, Husker fans are "very receptive" to the idea of making the switch to the Big Ten. I do not get that same feeling out of Husker Nation.
Husker fans are known for being one of, if not the most knowledgeable fan bases in all of college football. With that knowledge, we all know that the Big Ten has been under scrutiny for the majority of this century.
When was the last time the Big Ten beat a perennial power in college football? I'll have to go back to four years ago. The 2006 Buckeyes went into Austin, Texas and defeated the Longhorns, led by redshirt freshman quarterback Colt McCoy. Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith ended up winning the Heisman trophy prior to commanding the Buckeyes offense to 82 total yards in a 41-14 loss in the National Championship to Florida.
The Big Ten has yet to recover from that night in Phoenix, as undefeated Ohio State were seven-point favorites against the one-loss Gators.
So Husker fans, why leave the Big XII now? At this very moment, Husker fans have to be very excited with the way the conference is shaping up to be. The conference is at a standstill, with the powers of Texas and Oklahoma reloading after losing the winningest college quarterback of all-time in Colt McCoy, and a former Heisman trophy winner—along with the first pick in the draft—in Sam Bradford.
These two are going to continue their stay atop the conference, but the only difference is that now there's a third team that gets put into this conversation. Nebraska beat Oklahoma in Lincoln and were narrowly defeated by the Horns in the Big XII Championship, giving the North an actual threat to the powers in the South.
For nearly all of the previous decade, the Big XII North was nonexistent, getting embarrassed by the South more often than not.
But now that's all about to change with this coming season, as the Huskers are favorites to win the Big XII in 2010. With a conference championship, the Huskers can return among the nation's elite, all the while sticking it to the South.
However, outside of Oklahoma and Texas, does Nebraska really care about the rest of the Big XII?
This is what makes the move to the Big Ten intriguing. Do Husker fans really enjoy traveling to Manhattan, Kansas or Lawrence, Kansas in October for a big-time conference matchup? Now, think about all the great destinations the Big Ten has to offer.
I love the idea of traveling to either Ohio State, Michigan, or Penn State for the country to see. Heck, I'd even rather go to Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Iowa over any other team that isn't named Texas or Oklahoma in the Big XII.
Imagine taking over "The Big House" similar to the way we took over Notre Dame in 2000, now we're talking.
With Missouri joining the Huskers into the Big Ten, a "real" rivalry will be formed once they jumped to the Big Ten. No longer are they playing Kansas every year in the Boarder War, and Missouri is already disgusted by the Scarlet and Cream. There would be no choice but to dial up that rivalry even more.
Speaking of rivalries, I've got a potential blockbuster of a rivalry for the Huskers. The way it's looking right now, the Big Ten would divide into two divisions of seven programs, with the leaders of the Eastern and Western divisions meeting in the Big Ten Championship.
The West division would consist of Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Northwestern, and Illinois.
The East would include Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue, Indiana, Penn State, and Rutgers.
By the look of the potential divisions, it looks pretty promising for Nebraska to come out on top on a yearly basis.
Now back to my brewing rivalry in the making. Ohio State is the current top-dog of the Big Ten, and should continue to reign supreme once the expansion takes place. We all know Ohio State's true rival will always and forever be the maze and blue of Michigan, but this matchup hasn't been anything more than a speed bump for the Buckeyes on their way to Rose Bowls or other BCS bowl games.
Nebraska is a legitimate threat to the Buckeyes. Bo Pelini is building a monster in Lincoln, and Ohio State will have to deal with them on a yearly basis in the Big Ten Championship. Whether it's because of retirement, or of the ever popular questioning of his coaching abilities, Jim Tressel will not be the coach at Ohio State past 2015.
"Sweater Vest" will be 63 years old then, and the Buckeyes won't have to look far to get their next head coach. Bo Pelini will return to his alma matter after beating them for Big Ten Championships while at Nebraska.
This move has been much discussed around Husker Nation, and when the job opens up, I just can't see Pelini turning it down. The Youngstown, Ohio native will coach the team he grew up loving and playing for while establishing himself as one of the best coaches in all of college football.
But who will coach Nebraska? Older brother Carl Pelini will answer the call, as long as the defensive coordinator doesn't land a head coaching position before this will take place. The rivalry would already be in place with the frequent meetings in the conference championship, but with Bo returning to Ohio State, this rivalry could become something special. Oklahoma-Nebraska special. Maybe even Michigan-Ohio State special.
So Husker Nation, are we ready to make the jump to the Big Ten? I'll let you be the judge of that.
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