Category Archives: Nebraska Big 10

Nebraska the Buzz of Big Ten Media Days

By Todd Neeley

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that Nebraska’s move to the Big Ten was creating a buzz around the conference media days this past week, http://www.startribune.com/sports/gophers/99866599.html.

Maybe the most substantive bit of news coming out of the Star-Tribune story is that Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney said the conference will not change its name although there will be 12 teams competing in the league starting in 2011.

Recently the Pac 10, which added Colorado and Utah to the conference, announced that it would change its name to the Pac 12. At least it appears that the Big Ten has thought this through, and has decided that its brand name is more important than getting the conference name numerically correct.

In addition, Delaney said that if the conference does expand further that Notre Dame likely would not be added to the league.

The Star-Tribune said that adding Nebraska to the Big Ten Network will be a significant draw.

According to publication Big Ten Network president Mark Silverman said “Nebraska is as big ticket a football market nationally as there is. And being able to show Nebraska football games on our network is going to greatly increase the relevance of the network and the distribution of the network nationally over time, like few other schools would, in my opinion.”

It’s interesting because the few critics of Nebraska’s move, including T. Boone Pickens, said that adding NU to the Big Ten is not adding many televisions to the Big Ten Network.

Well, T.  Boone, I guess the people who run the network clearly disagree.

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Big Ten Network to Launch new Fall Lineup in September

By Todd Neeley
I’m guessing this will be a good thing for Nebraska when it joins the Big Ten. The national exposure with this kind of programming has to be tremendous for the Huskers….
  
CHICAGO – On the heels of its most successful ratings year, the Big Ten Network will debut several programs in September, enhancing its fall lineup to include new shows about the conference’s iconic student-athletes, the current lives of former Big Ten stars in sports and society, and rare footage from the Big Ten of yesteryear, according to a release from the Purdue sports information office.
The new shows, which roll out almost daily beginning Sept. 3, are Big Ten Icons, The Next Level, Big Ten Film Vault, Big Ten Pulse, Big Ten Football Report, and Big Ten Football Saturday: Kickoff.
“These shows represent a wide array of programming that will definitely appeal to Big Ten fans,” Big Ten Network President Mark Silverman said. “We’re also thrilled to have more programming that reflects the conference’s great history and tradition. We can’t wait to introduce fans to these new shows, while continuing to improve and expand on the football-themed shows we introduced last year.”
The Big Ten Network saw significant year-over-year ratings increases during the 2009-10 academic year. Based on Nielsen data in the network’s nine metered markets (Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Detroit, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, and Pittsburgh), weekend ratings jumped 32 percent. Primetime ratings were up 27 percent and the network’s overall year-long average saw an 18 percent increase.
The network also set new single-game viewing records in football (Oct. 3: Michigan-Michigan State and Northwestern-Purdue and men’s basketball (Feb. 17: Purdue-Ohio State).Silverman will offer a sneak preview of the network’s new shows at Big Ten Football Media Day Aug. 2. Clips also will be posted next week on the network’s Facebook and YouTube pages, as well as at Big Ten Network.com. 

Big Ten Icons (Tuesdays, 9 p.m. ET): The network’s fall programming lineup will be headlined by Big Ten Icons. Hosted by legendary sports broadcaster Keith Jackson, Big Ten Icons is the network’s most ambitious project to date. The 20-episode series debuts Saturday, Sept. 18, and then airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET.

The program will count down the most iconic figures in Big Ten history, based on their collegiate playing careers. Each 30-minute documentary will spotlight one Big Ten Icon. Numbers 50 through 21 will be revealed on Big Ten Network.com in advance of the program’s television debut.

The Next Level (Thursdays, 8 p.m. ET): Each episode of The Next Level, which debuts on Sept. 9, will spend a day with former Big Ten stars to learn about their lives in professional sports and society. Lavar Arrington, Dallas Clark, Joe Girardi, Dhani Jones, Muhsin Muhammad, Nick Swisher and others also will re-live their time on campus and share their personal stories of how competing in the Big Ten helped shape their professional careers.

Big Ten Film Vault (Tuesdays, 8 p.m. ET): With hours of rare footage, some of which has never aired on national television, the Big Ten Film Vault debuts on Sept. 7 and will feature yearbook and highlight shows from the 1940’s, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Fans will see rare mic’ed up footage of Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler and other Big Ten coaches. The narration for these shows was originally recorded by broadcasting legends such as Chick Hearn, Jack Brickhouse, Tom Harmon and Bill Flemming.

The show will be hosted by Michigan alum and Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Dierdorf.Other new shows that will debut on the network this fall include Big Ten Pulse (Thursdays, 9 p.m. ET), Big Ten Football Report (Fridays, 8 p.m. ET) and Big Ten Football Saturday: Kickoff (Saturdays, 10 a.m. ET).In addition to the new programs, the Big Ten Network will also return 10 from last year’s schedule. They include: Big Ten Extra Points (Mondays, 7 p.m. ET), Big Ten’s Best (Mondays, 7:30 p.m. ET), Big Ten Football: Breakdown (Mondays, 8 p.m. ET), Big Ten Press Pass (formerly Sites and Sounds) (Tuesdays, 8:30 p.m. ET); The Big Ten Women’s Show (Wednesdays, 6:30 p.m. ET), Big Ten Football and Beyond (Wednesdays, 9 p.m. ET), Big Ten Football: Behind the Schemes (Thursdays, 8:30 p.m. ET), The Big Ten’s Greatest Games (Fridays, 6 p.m. ET), Big Ten Tailgate (Fridays, 11 p.m. ET), Big Ten Football Saturday Pre-Game and Wrap-Up (before and after football games).

Big 10 Meetings Beginning of Nebraska Whirlwind

Nebraska Athletic Director Tom Osborne will be attending the Big 10 meetings next month in Chicago, the Minneapolis Star Tribune said, http://www.startribune.com/sports/gophers/99059659.html.

While Nebraska is expected to start Big 10 play in 2011, Osborne will not have a vote at the league’s preseason meetings.

These early meetings are expected to be critical for Nebraska as the Big 10 discusses future schedules and how the soon-to-be 12-team conference will split into two divisions. Clearly, one of the main concerns Big 10 schools will be addressing is how to strike a competitive balance between two divisions.

There has been a lot of discussion in media circles about how to split the conference.

For sure the next 12 months will be a whirlwind for the Big 10, and for Nebraska which could be facing a substantial penalty for leaving the Big 12. That’s a matter likely to be settled in court, as NU officials have stated publicly that they believe an early exit penalty isn’t warranted.

One of the more interesting aspects of the Big 12 rulebook is that the conference has to show that it has faced some kind of financial damage as a result of Nebraska’s exit. However, in the weeks following the Nebraska announcement the Big 12 announced it was staying together and that the remaining 10 teams would likely see an increase in television revenue as a result of Nebraska and Colorado leaving the conference.

I’m not an attorney, but my guess is that a judge might look at that and rule in Nebraska’s favor.

Green Bay? In December? No Way…

A Lincoln Journal Star blog reports that the Big 10 is considering hosting the conference football championship at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. http://my.journalstar.com/post/Husker_Extra_Group/Husker_Extra/blog/how_frozen_is_that_tundra.html

Don’t get me wrong, Lambeau is the most historic and legendary venue in the NFL, but not sure it makes sense to play the title game in Green Bay in November or December.

Clearly the odds are good the weather will be horrible, not saying it can’t be done. Heck, Nebraska played Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game in Kansas City a few years ago, in what was arguably one of the coldest games NU has ever played in.

Championships games are important these days with the Bowl Championship Series and the hunt for the national championship, so why not play in the Metrodome in Minneapolis, the dome in Indianapolis — anywhere where the elements won’t play a role in the outcome of the game.

Not sure Soldier Field in Chicago would be any better.

Problem is, there aren’t a lot of options for a championship game location in Big 10 country. But there’s no way either Green Bay or Chicago should be high on the list.

Are you people crazy?

Saying Goodbye to the ‘Little 4’

I get the sentimental take by college football purists.

Nebraska’s move to the Big 10 flies in the face of tradition, head-to-head battles with….a, with, Oklahoma, uh, OK, maybe Texas. Then there’s, uh, Colorado….No, not really.

And I’m especially going to miss the other games that really matter, like….like Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Iowa State. OK, this is a waste of time.

I struggle to come up with other annual conference matchups that I can’t do without — reasons to stay in the old Big 8/Big 12.

Sorry to be so blunt, but Nebraska should have left the Little 4 at the alter years ago.

Heck, Nebraska/Oklahoma stopped being a real rivalry after NU’s 37-0 win in Lincoln during the 1995 national championship season.

And let’s face it, except for Oklahoma there never was a reason for Nebraska to stay in the Big 8.

So what’s left? Sticking around and being Texas’ servant for another 14 years?

That’s how the Little 4 will always do things.

That became even more clear when the @#$%^ hit the fan during the recent exodus from the Big 12 — All the teams that hung on Nebraska’s coat tail for decades in the Big 8 proved they never have been legitimate programs.

Even OU and Texas A&M had a prime opportunity to leave the Texas cradle, as the Southeastern Conference came calling.

Instead they hung on to a conference that won’t be around 10 years from now.

When it became apparent Nebraska was leaving the conference, NU got its share of sermons from the likes of Iowa State and T. Boone Pickens, and of all people, Texas fans, who somehow thought Nebraska would stick around in a conference that can’t be trusted.

Hard to care much about Texas, obviously.

It has become impossible to get fired up to play Oklahoma like the good old days, and though some of the other former Big 8 teams have given NU fits at times, there exists little tradition at MU, KU, KSU and ISU.

Yeah, their fans in recent years have done plenty of talking, in particular Missouri fans. In fact, Tiger fans seem to have an over-inflated opinion of where their program stands in recent years, and clearly last season’s loss to Navy pretty much proved that.

Kansas State had a great run under Bill Snyder in his first tenure, but even with some of the program’s best teams the Mildcats could get nowhere near a national title.

KU had a decent run with Mark Mangino, but we all know where that went. Iowa State came out from its dark cellar a few times to bite NU, but has never mattered.

Win a national championship or two and then tell Nebraska why it shouldn’t leave the conference.

Until then, tell this Nebraska fan why there was any reason to stay.

What, so you can keep pulling on NU’s shirt tails?

Yeah, sounds like a great set-up — Nebraska can remain affiliated with a bunch of programs that have never mattered.

If they did matter, ISU, MU, KSU and KU would have had options just in case the Big 12 caved in now. Heck, NU is a combined 313-90 against all of these teams, all-time.

Can’t say heading to the Mountain West or the Ohio Valley was any option at all for the Little 4.

And they’ve never won consistently enough to go independent.

But that would mean they’d actually have to win a few bowl games from time to time. That means they would actually have to build their programs.

So spare your lectures. Go find a longhorn to hang onto, and good luck in the new Big 12.

Exactly how Long was a Move to Big 10 a Possibility?

OK, maybe I’m a psychotic conspiracy theorist who has a little much time on his hands. But have you ever wondered how long Nebraska’s move to the Big 10 was in the works?

Moving from one conference to another doesn’t come about on a whim, but it is a major decision that goes far beyond the bounds of football and other athletics.

Such a move can have profound and lasting effects on an entire state, especially somewhere like Nebraska where much of what we do centers on the University of Nebraska.

Just follow me for a minute.

For starters, Nebraska’s dislike of Texas goes back from the beginning of the Big 12.

In the eyes of fans, however, the all-out hatred of the Longhorns hit a pinnacle in the 2009 Big 12 championship game. Had not so much been riding on the BCS for Texas and the conference, those officials would have never taken a second look at Colt McCoy’s incomplete pass out of bounds. In any other game that would have been the last play of the game.

But it’s Texas, and there was huge money on the line.

So follow me. The point is, Nebraska’s move to the Big 10 has clearly been in the works for some time.

For the first time in 100 years Lincoln did little to fight to keep the Nebraska state fair in town. With little fanfare Lincoln officials let the state fair move to Grand Island — largely because NU wanted the state fair property to house a technology park.

A technology park can draw industry to move to Lincoln, which means more jobs and research dollars available to NU. As we’ve seen since Nebraska’s move to the Big 10, there have been many discussions about how the Big 10’s accumen is a big part of why NU made the move.

So maybe there’s much more to the technology park idea than first met the eye. Was it done with the knowledge that Nebraska could someday soon be making the move to the Big 10? Perhaps.

Second, there was a significant push to build a new basketball arena in downtown Lincoln, providing what will be a sweet venue for Nebraska basketball. Tom Osborne as well as former NU athletes, city officials and others got on board the pro-arena campaign. The pro-arena crowd was better organized, better funded and in the end voters approved the arena.

It easily will be the cream of the crop as arenas go in the Big 10, and again, seems to have been planned with some bigger goal in mind. Or, maybe it’s just me.

In addition, we’ve seen the University of Nebraska facing significant budget cuts because of the economy. So it brings into question just how far the budget can be cut before it starts hurting the university.

A move to the Big 10 will undoubtedly improve NU’s budget situation, as it can be expected that students from across the Big 10 region will consider Nebraska as a college choice — because it is in the Big 10.

And in this day and age of dwindling population in rural America, Nebraska’s move to the Big 10 could significantly slow brain drain in this state.

So, is it reasonable to think that Nebraska was just ticked off at Texas’ demands in the recent conference meetings, and decided to take its ball and play somewhere else? All in reaction to Texas snobbery?

Not hardly. The writing is on the wall — this was a carefully measured move that has been in the works for some time.

Why else would the NU Board of Regents just put a rubber stamp on this? It appears that even the board knew a lot more than the public on this.

The decision was much bigger than football, and the move was made with significant comfort by everyone involved.

But, maybe it’s just me.

Dividing the Big 10 into Divisions

Now that Nebraska has launched from the Big 12 to the Big 10, the debate will begin as to how the 12 teams in the Big 10 will be divided.

At first glance the most logical way is a simple East/West divide.

In this scenario the Big 10 west would include Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Northwestern and Wisconsin. When you look at what would be the other side of the conference in the east, however, it doesn’t take long to see how far out of whack this idea really is.

The east would be top-heavy: Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan State, Purdue and Indiana.

Early on in the process the Big 10 Commissioner Jim Delany has said it will be important to keep rivalries in-tact. In football, for sure, that includes the Michigan/Ohio State battle, Michigan/Michigan State, even Penn State/Ohio State and Purdue/Indiana.

Although Nebraska and Iowa have met fewer than 10 times on the football field, it would make sense for this to be a natural rivalry, similar to Colorado/Nebraska. Some commentators have suggested that Nebraska/Wisconsin would be another game that should be played every season, largely because of the Barry Alvarez connection to Nebraska. Alvarez is a Nebraska alumni and played for the Huskers.

The problem with dividing the Big 10 into east/west is that the conference championship game, at least on paper, would be a mismatch nearly every year.

I doubt this is what the Big 10 has in mind.

It would make more sense to split the traditional powers — Ohio State, Nebraska, Michigan and Penn State, two in each division.

Since this is all about football — which revenue-speaking it is — then it would be easy to put Michigan and Ohio State in the same division. This by far is the biggest rivalry in the conference.

Since Nebraska is new to the Big 10 the conference will have some flexibility in where it puts the Huskers — there are no established rivalries with Big 10 schools.

When the dysfunctional Big 12 formed back in the ’90s there was some discussion of teams designating a rival they would meet on the football field every year. When Oklahoma decided it didn’t want to continue to play Nebraska every year, that ended one of the most storied rivals in all of college sports.

Now that we’re starting from scratch, it would make sense to start a new with this idea.

The Big 10 should allow Michigan/Ohio State to play every year, no matter how the divisions shake out. Then schools could play their five divisional foes every year, plus three different schools from the other side of the conference every year, along with a single, designated rival.

So here’s how I see it shaking out — at least this makes some sense.

One division should include Nebraska, Penn State, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois. The other division should include Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State, Purdue, Northwestern and Indiana. Putting Michigan and Ohio State in the same division secures the future of that rivalry no matter what.

Putting Nebraska on the same side with Penn State, Iowa and Wisconsin at least secures what many believe would be natural rivals for Nebraska — Wisconsin and Iowa. And it ensures at least a semblance of a balance of power in both divisions.

If you look at Nebraska’s history in playing Big 10 schools, probably the Huskers’ biggest “rival” would be Penn State. As Husker fans no all too well, the officiating debacle at Penn State in the 1980s eliminated Nebraska’s national title hunt.

So bad blood can be a good place to start.

When you look at the Big 10, playing in the dome in Indianapolis makes the most sense — by far — when it comes to venues. And really Indiana is centrally located in the Big 10, making it fairly easy for most fans to make the trek.

Whatever the case, Nebraska’s move to the Big 10 is a great opportunity to put together a unique situation in college football.

Let’s hope they get it right.

It Has Always Been about Texas

While the Iowa States and Texases of the world will do everything to pin the blame on Nebraska for leaving the Big 12 for the Big 10, in the end, the events of recent days have proven that this has always been about Texas.

When word broke in recent weeks that Nebraska was considering a move to the Big 10, there was little doubt that something wasn’t right. NU Athletic Director Tom Osborne is about as conservative as they come — he’s not a knee-jerk-reaction kind of guy.

As we’ve seen throughout his entire Nebraska tenure that spans 30-plus years, coach has always been measured in his decisions on the field, in Congress and as Husker AD.

We now know that in recent weeks Osborne learned that multiple Big 12 schools were looking hard at joining other conferences, and in Osborne’s words “as many as three conferences” for some schools.

In other words, the kitchen was on fire but Texas and a group of other south schools wanted Nebraska to stay put, shut up and just cook. Texas wanted a committment from Nebraska to stay in the Big 12 until at least 2016 — all the while shopping for another conference and turning down NU’s request for all Big 12 teams to turn over their media rights to the conference.

 It was a smart move by Nebraska, because quite honestly, there is no such thing as television revenue sharing in the Big 12. In fact, Texas has made it more than clear that it wants its own television network, and had no intentions of sharing any of that with the conference.

The Big 10 is everthing that the Big 12 has never been. It’s stable, it’s national, it has big time recognition from coast to coast, and for Nebraska’s liking, the Big 10 operates like one big family.

From day one, the Big 12 has been a disfunctional mess because it has always been the Texas way or bust. That was the case although it was the Big 8 that essentially saved the Southwestern Conference’s hindend. Texas, Texas Tech, Texas A&M and Baylor had nowhere to go when their conference was in trouble.

Where is the thanks for the Big 8 taking in four Texas teams?

Sure, Texas has owned Nebraska on the field since the Big 12 formed. Yet NU has been brushed aside time and again when it was pushing for north/south equality in the conference — what the heck was wrong with alternating the conference title game location between Kansas City and Dallas every season?

In the end, it was all about Texas — playing in Dallas.

Now that Dallas has its billion-dollar Cowboys stadium to show off, there was no way KC would ever be in the picture again — basically telling the north teams that ‘you don’t matter in this discussion.’

Nebraska critics have raced out to the nearest microphone, editorial page and podium to talk about how NU’s move to the Big 10 was all about doubling television revenues.

But I’m sure I speak for many Nebraska fans when I say that we don’t need the likes of Iowa State, Missouri, Texas and others giving us a sermon about loyalty, or about doing what’s right for the conference.

Where has the rest of the conference been when Nebraska stood up to Texas on many key issues?

Nowhere.

 And during this recent upheaval the higher ups in the Big 12 have proven what they are really about.

Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe’s failure to lead or consider the concerns of all conference teams before making key decisions, and the south teams’ courting of the Pac 10 even before Nebraska’s move to the Big 10  became a possibility, are perfect reasons for NU moving on.

In the hours following Nebraska’s acceptance into the Big 10 a fair share of pundits were saying that the Big 12 could hold together if Texas decides to stay.

I don’t buy it.

If Texas managed to control Nebraska in every way, shape or form in the Big 12, there’s no way the remaining schools would have any say in decision making.

The Big 10 is about great rivalries, revenue sharing, equal weight at the conference table, national exposure, fair competition and stability.

Texas is about controlling the argument, wielding your influence, bending the rules — (hard to forget the extra second UT was gifted in the Big 12 title game against Nebraska) — and about money.

Clearly, in these past few weeks we’ve seen exactly why Nebraska is leaving this God-forsaken conference.

Tom Osborne said this move isn’t about having animosity toward any particular school, but Nebraska fans beg to differ.

Texas has made this all about Texas.