Big Ten Expansion: Could a Hawkeye-Husker Rivalry Be Coming?

B.Senior Analyst IJune 9, 2010

SAN DIEGO - DECEMBER 30:  Head Coach Bo Pelini of the University of Nebraska looks at his play list during the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl against University of Arizona Wildcats on December 30, 2009 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. The Cornhuskers defeated the Wildcats 33-0. (Photo By Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

If news reports are correct, the Iowa Hawkeyes could be on the verge of gaining a new rivalry.

On Tuesday, a Big 12 school's executive told the Omaha World-Herald that he expects Nebraska to leave the Big 12 for the Big Ten as early as Friday, ahead of the Big 12's previously reported deadline.

The reporter behind the story, Lee Barfknecht, has covered Nebraska football for about 25 years. 

Athletic director Tom Osborne spoke to a Nebraska radio station on Tuesday night, with his comments hinting that the university might be close to a decision on its future.  

"I think before too long, and I don't know exactly what that time frame is, we'll be able to put this thing to bed," Osbourne proclaimed.

Although Nebraska University Chancellor Harvey Perlman has refused to comment on realignment, he is expected to meet with the Board of Regents on Friday. The decision to depart the Big 12 would come after the conference asked Nebraska and fellow Big 12 school Missouri to pledge their league loyalty or risk having a six-school departure to the Pac-10 conference. 

Six months after the initial announcement, sources have indicated that the Big Ten is prepared to add anywhere from one to five schools, with Nebraska being the main target. The Pac-10, in response, is courting all six schools from the Big 12 South Division.

To add more fuel to the fire, the Dallas Morning News has obtained emails sent by Baylor regent and prominent Texas lobbyist Buddy Jones to Baylor alumni and supporters, urging them to push for Baylor to be included in any deal that moves Texas colleges to the Pac-10.

In the emails, Jones points to Nebraska as being a key to the conference realignment, and that might spell trouble for Baylor. He also blatantly offends a number of Midwestern farm states in the process. 

"It's hard enough get the home teams to stick tight. But harder still to influence a bunch of corn shuckers."

If the Nebraska invite does happen, it would give the Big Ten Network more viewership by creating a new series of marquee football games with other corn-schuckers like Iowa, Wisconsin or Minnesota, not to mention Big Ten powerhouses Michigan and Ohio State. The potential could be huge for the Big Ten Network.

If the Big 12 crumbles, Iowa State will suddenly find itself without a home. That scenario brings a smile to the face of many Hawkeye fans, but it could mean the end of the annual Cy-Hawk rivalry.

Hawkeye Nation's Jon Miller speculates that an Iowa-Nebraska game would mean more annually to Iowa fans than the Iowa-Iowa State game.        

"If Nebraska joins the Big Ten," Miller writes , "what you have is a border state rival, one that many Iowa fans view with some degree of contempt to begin with, that is also in your same league."

Fans on message boards and social networks seem to agree with his sentiment, and view Nebraska as a home run for the conference.  Miller goes on to write, "it would be an annual conference home and home game (likely), it might not take much time at all for that game to overtake the Cy-Hawk game."

Hawkeye fans will find out soon if this theory is correct.

In the meantime, they can prepare a thank you basket full of corn for lobbyists in Texas.