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C O M M E N T A R Y
T A D    S T R Y K E R
May 28, 2010

 
I’ve tried it on a few times, tried adjusting it here, tweaking it there, and can’t get it to work.

I’m no tailor, so maybe I’m not making the right type of alterations. But this idea, this business of Nebraska joining the Big Ten Conference, just makes me uncomfortable. It doesn’t fit like a well-designed garment should.

This fancy Big Ten blazer is not what it’s cracked up to be. In fact, it looks a bit shopworn and dated. Sure, the Big Ten has a lot of fine traditions, and Barry Alvarez is the AD at Wisconsin, and it makes a certain amount of sense to play a next-door neighbor like Iowa every year in football. But why should Nebraska leave the Big 12 to go to a plodding football conference like the Big Ten? Because the sousaphone player dots the “i” in Ohio?

A lot of folks seem to think it would be fun to leave the Big 12 because its commissioner, Dan Bebee, and seemingly the entire conference office, defer to Texas in general, and UT-Austin in particular. Then Nebraska could tell Bebee to take a hike. That is true, and it might be fun for a few days, but if you’re upset with the Longhorns acting like a prima donnas, here’s a little secret: there’s a lot more of that to be found in the Big Ten.

It doesn’t excite me at all, this movement that promotes Nebraska jumping to the Big Ten.

I guess if you’re tired of all the politicking and posturing in the Big 12, you ought to be excited about my friend’s idea. He told me months ago that a new “Great Plains 10 Conference” should be created. It would include all the old Big Eight schools except Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, plus four Division I-AA schools: North Dakota, North Dakota State, South Dakota and South Dakota State.

I have to admit that this Northern Plains-oriented conference would have a lot more good old-fashioned Midwestern values than the Big Ten – or even the current Big 12 with all its residual festering toxins from the old Southwest Conference – but I can’t see the Dakota schools competing on a national stage in any sport except rodeo. I’m not excited about that one, either. Especially if the Sooners are not included.

To leave the Big 12 now leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Nebraska football has unfinished business with Texas, and with teams like Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. And those of you who have fond memories of annual Nebraska-Oklahoma football games, how will going to the Big Ten help strengthen that rivalry?

OK, so the Big Ten – or whatever it would be called – would be a tougher conference than the Great Plains 10, but the Big 12 has a clear edge in football, baseball, volleyball, women’s basketball and track and field. I’d give the Big Ten the edge in men’s basketball. Wrestling is just about even.

I see no compelling reason to give up the annual games against the Wildcats, Tigers, Buffaloes, Cyclones and Jayhawks.

You say there is a compelling reason? Money? Well, that’s an important topic, all right. Supposedly there are huge piles of money to be made by tapping into the Big Ten Television Network.

Would the extra revenue make up for significantly longer road trips, year-in and year-out? Maybe. But the most distant Big 12 city (Austin, Texas) is 823 miles from Lincoln. If the rumors are right and the Big Ten grabs Rutgers to gain more New York City television sets, think about a 1,291-mile road trip – one way – every other year for basketball, baseball, soccer, wrestling, softball … and the list goes on. The second-most distant Big 12 school? College Station, Texas, at 808 miles, compared to University Park, Pa., at 1,075 miles.

Do the student-athletes who have to make those longer midweek road trips and then show up for class the next day really benefit that much from the extra TV revenue? Will Nebraska’s athletic and academic facilities be dramatically upgraded because of extra Big Ten money? I don’t think so.

Speaking of TV revenue, I’d prefer to see the Big 12 and Pac-10 work together for a new TV contract, while leaving their memberships intact. When you add the Los Angeles, Seattle and Phoenix markets, you could come up with high enough numbers to keep the TV execs fairly happy.

If you’re infatuated with trying on something new, that’s one thing. But before you buy, you’d better make sure it fits.

 

Formerly the sports editor at the North Platte Bulletin and a sportswriter/columnist for the North Platte Telegraph, Tad Stryker is a longtime Nebraska sports writer, having covered University of Nebraska and high school sports for more than 25 years. He started writing for this website in 2008. You can e-mail him at tad.stryker@gmail.com. | Archive

 
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