05.18.2010 / Huskers to the Big 10? Blog Posting by Mike Babcock, Huskers Illustrated Magazine.

Is Nebraska going to the Big 10? Who would be joining? What are the benefits of the deal? Has an offer been made? What is going on in Lincoln?

"What has not been exaggerated is interest from the Big Ten in expanding, by either one, three or five schools."

The words of Mark Twain would seem to be appropriate here, on some level. “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated,” he once said.

So, apparently, was a recent report by a Kansas City radio station. According to the report, Nebraska was among four schools receiving “initial” offers to join the Big Ten Conference.

Nebraska officials quickly denied receiving such an offer.

However, the denial, in a release from UNL University Communications, was open-ended, “Until the Big 10 Conference makes and announces its decision on expansion, the University of Nebraska will have no further comment, and we do not intend to continue to respond further to questions of speculations on this subject,” the release said.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany also denied that such offers had been made. Nevertheless, the speculation continued, vigorously, in fact. What has not been exaggerated is interest from the Big Ten in expanding, by either one, three or five schools. The 11-team conference needs at least one more for a championship game.

In addition, expansion would increase the saturation of the Big Ten television network. Both the championship game and the TV saturation would mean more money, lots of it. That’s the bottom line here. The Big Ten is wealthy, and looking to become wealthier. Big Ten schools received more than $20 million each from the conference’s television money last season. The top teams in the Big 12 received about half that amount. The Big Ten shares TV revenue equally. The Big 12 does not.

The schools mentioned besides Nebraska were Notre Dame, Missouri and Rutgers. If all four were to agree to join the Big Ten, according to the report, another would be invited. The most likely candidates would be Pittsburgh, Connecticut and Syracuse. The situation is fluid, certainly, with rampant rumors and daily discussion of the implications of Nebraska’s leaving the Big 12 and joining the Big Ten – something that has been mentioned at various times throughout the history of Cornhusker football, going back almost to the beginning.

During a news conference to discuss the arena that will become home to Husker basketball following the passage of a bond issue in Lincoln last week, Nebraska Athletic Director Tom Osborne and Chancellor Harvey Perlman were asked a question phrased to elicit a response related to the Big Ten. Perlman reiterated that there would be no comment on the matter. “We do know that we’re not returning to the Missouri Valley Conference,” he said. “I will confirm that.”

The Missouri Valley Conference to which Perlman referred became the Big Six in the late 1920s. It started playing football as the Big Seven in 1948, the Big Eight in 1960 and the Big 12 in 1996.

In announcing the formation of the Big 12, Big Eight officials indicated that four Texas schools would be joining the league. It was presented as an expansion. Some, however, now suggest it was a takeover, with the power and focus moving south. Hence, there seems to be significant Husker fan interest in joining the Big Ten.

That’s an opinion rather than a report. But it doesn’t seem to be much of an exaggeration.


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