College Football Conference Expansion: A BCS Meditation Over the Big Red Exodus

Joseph BurkeyAnalyst IJune 11, 2010

9 Sep 1995: Head coach Tom Osborne of the University of Nebraska during the Corn Huskers 50-10 win over Michigan State at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Michigan.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Perhaps the keystone team of the Big 12, the Nebraska Corn Huskers, stand to break a lot of hearts as the conference collapses into itself over the next several weeks.

Big Red, considered the heart and soul of Midwestern football, seems headed for (dare I say it?) browner pastures in the Big 10.

This nonsensical and confusing move seems to come at a time when the Huskers were about to take back the conference, although many other teams in the conference had perfectly legitimate shots at the title as well.

Oklahoma lost more first-round NFL draft picks to the draft than anybody. Texas said good bye to it's quarterback and defensive leader. Texas tech was still sorting out an identity crisis, and Colorado had little to say for itself.

Although Ndamukong Suh and several other key pieces departed from the Huskers as well, their program was on the way up. They had just come off of a Big 12 North title, lost by a field goal in the Conference title game, and dished out a country ass-whipping to Arizona in the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl.

Now, however, the big red machine will face seldom-played competition in the Big-Ten, the name of which has raised more questions than it's answered since Penn State jumped to the conference in 1990.

How the up-an-coming Huskers do against the Big-Whatever will say as much about where the conferences were as where they are going.

With the old rival Sooners and Buffaloes headed for the Pac-Ten, new rivalries will be formed, but with which teams? Butting into the Michigan-Ohio State feud would seem to be bad form, after all.

But give it time, and big battles will breed bad blood. Iowa would seem the logical starting point geographically, and any Big-12 schools to follow the Huskers will certainly bring some memories of past whippings with them.

The result of the heartland's dissolving conference, and mass exodus will be a hand full of supercharged mega conferences. Sad and scary as it might seem, this is the unmapped road to an eventual BCS tournament.

Yes, the landscape of college football is in a huge state of flux, and as many sports aficionados and connoisseurs are currently glued to the Copa Mundial (World Cup) they will wake up at the beginning of the 2010 NCAA football season and ask, "What the heck happened here?"

And we will answer "We're not exactly sure yet."

But we shouldn't act as though the surprise is a ghastly one. Fans of teams in all corners of the country used their conferences as premises to why their team was better than your team they hadn't played. The Big 10 (Big 11 and counting) had done quite well in last year's Bowl games, and Big 12 fans heard about it in both ears.

Now it's time for a mixer. New blood, new kid in town, new bully on the block. The frame of the collegiate sports vehicle has been cracked open, and it's headed for uncharted waters.