As the earthquake that is conference realignment continues throughout the country, Nebraska fans had better brace themselves. Brace for the barrage of criticism that will be manufactured and manipulated to lay blame for the implosion of the Big 12, and the start to massive realignment of college football as we know it, at the feet of Harvey Perlman, Tom Osborne and the University of Nebraska.
The epicenter of this, “They did it, not us” discourse will undoubtedly have its roots about 850 miles due south of Lincoln, NE.
Even before the announcement came out of Lincoln on Friday that Nebraska would be leaving for the Big Ten, there were some interesting quotes coming out of Texas.
On Wednesday, University of Texas President William Powers and Athletic Director Deloss Dodds held a meeting with athletic department staffers and coaches, during which Powers said, “We tried to save the Big 12.” What are they, Robin Hood? They certainly do fancy themselves as such.
Tom Osborne stated it best yesterday. “One school leaving a conference does not break up a conference,” Osborne said. “Two schools leaving a conference does not break up a conference. Six schools leaving a conference breaks up a conference.” That comment is directly aimed at the University of Texas.
Osborne also stated that during the Big 12 meetings Nebraska was being pressed for a commitment while one unnamed team (take a guess), was shopping themselves, to not one, not two, but possibly three different conferences while simultaneously demanding that Nebraska commit to the Big 12.
How Dan Beebe thought he could demand or expect a commitment out of Nebraska without a long-term commitment from the University of Texas is beyond me. Could this possibly have been more a demand from Powers and Dodds, then it was an ultimatum from Beebe?
During the conference meetings last week Harvey Perlman asked for a commitment from Texas by allowing the Big 12 to hold all television and radio rights to all conference athletic events; Texas declined.
Much of what has gone on between Texas and Nebraska has to some degree the same dynamics of an abusive relationship. Texas, the party with much of the power and control, manipulates by using this position of power and control to always get their way. Now that Nebraska has regained control of the situation by leaving, Texas is mad and looking to assign blame.
I am sure that much of what we will hear in coming days out of Texas will be, “It is their fault, not ours.” I am also sure that at some point Texas will reverse roles and try to take on the role of victim in all of this.
Texas is about to lose the control and power that they have so valued and wielded like a battle axe. It has to be assumed that they will join another conference and leave what is left of the Big 12 for the Pac-10 or the SEC.
In doing so, the University of Texas will no longer be in a position of control and superiority where they can manipulate to get their way. No more conference title games in Texas, no more using the population of Texas and the TV dollars that come with that as leverage in negotiating conference rules and policies, no conference home office in their backyard, no unequal sharing of conference revenue, no lucrative Longhorn television network, and no conference commissioner in their back pocket.
Losing all of this is likely to make the Longhorns very angry. Texas had all the cards, now after Nebraska called their bluff they are left with none.
It is reasonable and fair to assign a bit of blame for the coming realignment onto Nebraska since they are the first “brand” program to make a move to a new conference. But Tom Osborne and Harvey Perlman were left without any reasonable and positive outcome if they didn’t make this move now. Much of this can be traced to and blame put upon the University of Texas putting Nebraska in this spot.
If Texas wants to assign blame for Nebraska leaving and the Big 12 imploding on itself take a look in the closest mirror. They may not like the reflection they see staring back at them.