This weekend is more than just a game between Texas and Nebraska: It is a microcosm of the Big 12 debate that ended in the severance of ties by Nebraska. Those ties included partnerships that go back a century, but in the end Nebraska had no choice.
The Huskers will not be part of the Texas Conference. Nebraska felt this so strongly that they were willing to pay $9.255 million, according to the Big 12, to say goodbye.
Are Nebraskans angry, bitter, or upset? No, the losers in this battle were the schools caught in the middle. Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, and Iowa State were left to dangle in the wind while the battle lines were drawn.
Missouri tried to play all sides, even inviting themselves into the Big Ten, a move that was denied by the Big Ten, which left Missouri to twist in the wind. They had no choice but to change course and beg for forgiveness from the remaining Big 12 schools.
The early winner is Texas, who apparently will gain most of the money due the Big 12 for fines assessed on Nebraska and Colorado when those schools announced their departures. Texas also holds the rights to a new television network. I doubt Texas is planning to share any profits with the rest of the Big 12. Yet, the membership of the Big 12 is upset with Nebraska. Nebraska was the only school not to make a deal with the devil.
Maybe those words are a little tough. Texas may not be the devil, but they do get the largest share of everything. Even the Red River Rivalry game and the Big 12 Championship games are solely in Texas. Why can’t we have a Big 12 Championship in the North, say, Kansas City?
Nebraska asked, and nobody listened. The Big 12 offices are even in Texas. Is the playing field level?
Don’t forget that Colorado was out the door first, and most of the teams in the South were reportedly talking to either the Pac-10 or the SEC. They would give no commitment to Nebraska that they would keep the Big 12 together. What was Nebraska to do?
Then the offer from the Big Ten arrived. Nebraska was the perfect fit, and it was at the perfect time.
There has been a rebirth in the spirit of Nebraska. Membership in a community of schools that promote each other equally in academics and athletics is what Nebraskans desire and what they will have in the Big Ten. Nebraska is just the perfect fit—the entire Big Ten will be stronger with Nebraska, and Nebraska is better with the Big Ten.
Now we have a game. Texas and Nebraska will play out their last battle on the football field, and it will be on Nebraska’s terms. At least it will be on Nebraska’s turf. Husker fans have waited for this game since December. To them it is the final parting shot in an ugly goodbye. Will the severance of ties allow Nebraska to become the national power they were before the alliance with Texas? We will see the first step in that direction this week.