This article was submitted to the Kansas City Star by one Martin Manley. Let's just say he's less than happy both about Nebraska beating Missouri AND the fact Nebraska is "Movin' On Up" to the Big Ten.
Nebraska Cornhuskers - The New Enemy
If I were a Mizzou alum, this post would (and should) be considered nothing more than sour grapes--the type that any emotional homer might feel toward the team that knocked “us” out of the national championship picture. But, since I’m not an MU alum, that characterization is not really applicable. Nope, my newfound dislike of Nebraska comes from something else--although, admittedly related.
I’ve been a Husker fan for as long as I can remember. My first real exposure to NCAA football was in 1971, when NU finished the season No. 1, OU No. 2, and Colorado No. 3. The greatest season in college football history by any conference--at the time, the Big 8. No other conference in history has even finished No. 1 and No. 2, much less No. 3 too!
Must Read: All-Decade Nebraska Defense
I’ve always rooted for NU to beat the snot out of every other team outside the conference, and most of the time inside the conference--even when it was against area schools--mainly because it almost always benefited the Big 8-12. The higher Nebraska was ranked, the better it was for conference prestige. Of course, the fact that NU scored over 40 points for 18 of 20 seasons from 1977 to 1996 vs KU--and quite often before and after--wasn’t a pretty site. But, the vast majority of the time, it was better for the conference to have NU win 63-10 than it was 27-17. So, I set aside any bias I might have otherwise had for the sake of the conference.
The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.
Besides, you had to have enormous respect for a program that went to a bowl every year since 1492 and had only had two coaches since Abe Lincoln. Not to mention the fact that fans were rabid enough to oftentimes outnumber the opposition in its own stadium, wherever that may be.
Admittedly, there isn’t a whole lot else going on in Nebraska--no major professional sports of any kind. The closest is Kansas City --at least for most of the population in the state-–and even here, the word “major” can sometimes be a moving target. So, it’s understandable that every kid on a tractor would grow up a Husker football fan, generation after generation.
Whether or not NU fans were arrogant about their football or not, I really don’t know. It never would have bothered me anyway, considering they were playing and winning in football since before almost any of this article's readers' grandparents were alive. To the degree that they were proud of their school and history, it was (by association) a commentary on the conference. Bully for them. Bully for us!
So, fast forward to 2010. Nebraska decides to jump ship to the Big Ten. In retrospect, who knows if it would have even happened if not for the fact that Missouri started the ball rolling. It’s ironic that MU did not get invited to the Big Ten, but NU (not wanting to be left behind) did. If everyone knew then what they know today, who can say for sure if Nebraska or even Colorado would have gone to another conference?
But, that’s irrelevant to me. It’s like saying if a kid hadn’t grown up in a broken family with an alcoholic father who, when he wasn’t in jail, beat him, the kid might have turned out okay and not have committed some crime. Maybe. In NU’s case, the crime was leaving the Big 12.
Up until today, I was willing to accept NU as just like any other Big Ten team. Certainly I was not going to root for them, but I didn’t see any reason to root against them, either. After all, I can appreciate some of the reason they decided to leave the Texas Conference, otherwise known as the Big 12. I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.
It’s only partially the fact that they beat Mizzou that I feel differently today. In doing so, they not only knocked the Tigers out of the national championship race, but they gained a huge leg up on winning the Big 12 North. And I’m not sure there is anyone in the Big 12 South that can beat them in the title game.
Why do I care?
Well, I care partly because Columbia is local, Lincoln is not. But, I also care because, believe it or not, perhaps the biggest bias I have in sports is Big 12 football. In fact, I don’t have much bias at all except for the Big 12. And, football more than basketball. I guess that goes back to 1971 when I was first remember being exposed to it. Once wired into the brain at an early age (did I mention No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3), it’s never going to be unwired.
If Nebraska wins the Big 12 title – which is very possible at this point, it is forever going to be a stain on the conference. The team that won the championship left the next season to go to the Big Ten. From their point of view, they will always be able to say that they beat everyone in the Big 12 and left to go to greener pastures because the competition wasn’t good enough. That really bites, and it’s unacceptable as a Big 12 fan.
For me, and those of my ilk, we have to hope NU stumbles somewhere along the line. But, when the remaining four games are Iowa State, Kansas (bye), Texas A&M and Colorado… what are the odds? Since the North looks sewn up, perhaps the most important game left on the college schedule to yours truly is the B12 championship game when I will (for the first time) be pulling strongly for the South winner.
Of course, I’m not happy about NU winning Saturday, but I’ll tell you what I’m a lot MORE unhappy about. I was listening to the game on radio on the way to work. It was sometime in the second quarter during a break. The Nebraska announcer gave the scores of the Big 12. He then gave the scores of the Big Ten. Ok, no problem. I can understand giving both if you are talking to an NU audience.
But, the next thing he said REALLY irritated me. I will never forget it, and neither will I ever forgive Nebraska University for it. Paraphrased: “As you know, next year, Nebraska is moving up to the Big Ten.” Ok, now I got me some bitterness! I may not have all the words correct, but “up to the Big Ten” is precisely what he said.
Clearly, if that is his--and by default, his audience’s--perspective, then there is only one thing for any self-respecting Big 12 fan to wish for--utter and total annihilation of the Big Ten (especially Nebraska) whenever they are playing the Big 12 or just about anyone else.
There is absolutely NOTHING about the Big Ten that could be considered moving “up” IMO unless it is latitudinally. I pretty much put them in their place with this post when MU was first considering the move. But, it appears the Big Ten will continue to survive, so I’ll just have to deal with them.
As to KU, KSU and MU, they will always have been considered second rate to Nebraska in FB. However, here’s a little something for NU fans to chew on besides tobakki and corn cobs.
COOL FACTOID: Over the last 13 seasons for Kansas State, the last five seasons for KU, the last eight seasons for Missouri, the total score is Nebraska 771 – KSU-KU-MU 767. A whopping four points. That’s football.
Of course, the (2-14, 2010) Cornucobias don’t want to even think about basketball.
The bottom line is that I could have excused their departure from the Big 12 as simply circumstances. I didn’t have to consider it a snub. But, when they cop a Jefferson “movin’ on up” attitude, it’s time for me to cop one back.
May they lose every remaining game in the Big 12 in football and get buried in last place in basketball… again. May KU, MU and KSU beat them by 30+ points every game. That will end their tenure with the conference on an appropriate note.
The first basketball game NU plays against the area three is January 12 vs. Missouri. That’s over two months away. Until then, I’ll just have to wait patiently.
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