Nebraska Cornhuskers: Ode To the Big 12

Jason VolentineContributor IDecember 7, 2010

Congratulations Oklahoma! 

I’m a Cornhusker football fan, but I applaud the Sooners nonetheless.  I clap my virtual hands just as my real palms would slam appreciatively together in a true Memorial Stadium applause following yet another installment of this historic and competitive rivalry, regardless of the outcome.

I clap just like Husker fans—who’ve been unfairly characterized as rude zealots this year—cheer every opposing team in Memorial Stadium, win or lose. 

I applaud just like the same fans who proudly buy opposing fans drinks on “O” Street following a hard-fought fall contest.

The children of the corn have gotten a bad rap lately for being irrational, conspiracy theorist fans.  However, I assure you, while we do feel slighted by the Big XII, we appreciate each and every opponent in the conference.

Sure, we hate losing, but we appreciate the fair competition on the field.

No better example of this fair competition exists outside Nebraska’s Saturday loss to original Big 6/Big 8 rival Oklahoma. 

I could break down the game play-by-play. 

I could discuss what Nebraska did wrong and Oklahoma did right.

I could dance the X’s and O’s all across the screen like Taylor Martinez scurrying away from pursuing Sooner lineman salivating for a sack. 

However, I want only to talk about legacy, respect and prominence.

I’ve talked with many friends and fellow alumni about Nebraska and its future.  Playing for another Big XII Championship is fine, but playing against such a storied program that shares such a rich history with Nebraska is a greater honor. 

While many of the Husker fans—myself included—would have loved to snub the conference, thumb a nose at Commissioner Dan Beebe and take our ball—and Big XII Trophy—to another playground, I don’t mind losing a hard fought battle to a respected and worthy foe.

That said, much comes to an end with the final whistle of the Big XII Championship.  As such, and as a member of the media, I’m constantly asked my opinion of the move. 

Here it is—

No, I don’t want to cut ties. 

Yes, I would prefer to maintain every Big 8 relationship. 

I will miss the KU rivalry that qualifies as the longest consecutive series in the country. 

I will miss the battle for the Missouri/Nebraska Bell. 

I will yearn for the days of Oklahoma and the “Game of the Century.”

But for all the teams and opposing fans blaming Nebraska for ruining these nostalgic and historic events that currently reside in the Big XII realm, my response is two-fold.

1)      The Big XII is not Nebraska’s conference. 

Nebraska tolerated the Texas schools entering the Big 8 because Nebraska was playing nice.

Nebraska fought against the ruin of its most storied Big 8 rival in Oklahoma, much to the satisfaction of Texas, who won that battle to retain that key rival. 

Nebraska watched Texas throw its money at the conference to get its spur-jingling way at every turn. 

Bevo’s dominance has nothing to do with Herbie’s exodus—as suggested by many.  Rather, it’s the Nebraska value of humility and avoidance of those who flaunt intemperance, which leads Nebraska to a new conference.

2)      Somehow, Nebraska became a second-class citizen in the Big X(ii), even after rescuing Texas from obscurity following the collapse of the South West Conference—who’s demise Texas precipitated. 

As the Forbes estimates go, Nebraska is the fourth most valuable team in college football. 

Topping the list is, of course, Texas, which again, owes its “corporate” existence to Nebraska/Oklahoma/the Big 8’s generosity

So when pushed, yes, I’m happy to make the move to the Big 10. 

The Big 10 version of Nebraska finally has what it deserves.

Nebraska is an equal partner in an historic conference with some of the most storied programs in college football—a club in which Nebraska certainly belongs. 

It’s bitter-sweet to leave behind good friends from the Big 8, but it’s easy to leave behind back-stabbers who voted with Bevo in starry-eyed hopes of shared talent, wealth and prosperity. 

Teams with whom Nebraska had a 100-plus-year history were non-remiss in voting against Nebraska at every opportunity. 

Those teams could then hope for a payoff in talent and money from the Texas elite who relished in obliterating the North from a financial and reputational standpoint. 

Even as Nebraska flees as a Texas refugee, opposing fans blame the Huskers for “leaving them hanging.”  Teams like K-State and KU curse Nebraska for leaving them vulnerable to the scorn of the Lone Star State, but forget so quickly the dozens of “11 to 1” Big XII votes where Nebraska was the lonely dissenting member.

In stark contrast to its time in the Big XII, Nebraska is now an equal partner in the most historic conference in football history.  Nebraska also fits in with the Big 10 as an academically elite school, a moniker that never quite stuck in the athletically blinded Big XII.

That said, I’ve read a million articles this week about Nebraska’s hubris to think it’s better than the Big XII.  I can assure readers there isn’t a single Nebraska fan, coach, player or alumnus who believes Nebraska deserves special treatment. 

However, each of these groups would agree that Nebraska has earned fair treatment.

Now, Nebraska is where it truly belongs and will be appreciated. 

Jealous fans will be chided to learn that NU now combines with Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State to create the most historic assembly of college football teams in one conference to date. 

The Big 10 now boasts four of the top ten winningest teams in NCAA football history, featuring: #1 – Michigan with 877 wins, #4 – Nebraska with 827 wins, #5 - Ohio State with 819 wins and #7 – Penn State with 812 wins.

The SEC and Big XII tie for second place with just two teams apiece in the top ten.

Nebraska didn’t take the Big XII Championship home forever—that’s a sour fact for Husker fans.

However, Nebraska’s administrators, coaches, players and fans showed a year long commitment to adversity. 

Adversity creates strength.

Strength creates champions. 

Thank you to Oklahoma for the memories. 

Thank you to the Big 10 for the opportunities.

Thank you to Texas for the motivation. 

Thank you to the true fans for the dedication.

And lastly—GO BIG RED!


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