Know Your Neighbor- Nebraska Edition

Written June 11th, 2010 by MaliBuckeye

With the exciting news that the Big T1e1n has extended an offer to the University of Nebraska, I thought it would make sense to use my “connections” to give Buckeye fans a little bit of insight from the other side of this announcement.

So, in the spirit of great internet memes, here’s the first installation of “Ask A Husker“. Today’s guest is my brother in law, a 2000 graduate from Nebraska, and the grandson of  team doctor during the Devaney and Osborne years (who is also member of the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame). My bro-in-law is also the one that got me interested in recruiting, keeping me informed during the head to head battle for the services of Mike D’Andrea.

Here we go:

What are you excited about for this season? Even if Nebraska stays in the Big 12, what things are the Husker faithful looking forward to in 2010?

Certainly as a collective fan base we are looking forward to proving that we are back, and putting a beat down on Texas when they come to Lincoln on October 16th. Don’t look for the refs to add an extra second back on the clock. Uh, uh, not in our house.

Blackshirt tradition

Since our string of bad seasons in the post Option Football era, I am always looking to see some sort of progress being made. We went from being one of the worst statistical defenses in the nation in 2007 to the nation’s leader in scoring defense and pass efficiency defense in 2009. A true Blackshirt defense is back and we are excited about that.  This year will be interesting to see what we can do wit out the big fella in the middle (Suh). But with preseason all American Jared Crick manning the trenches and a potential stellar defensive backfield led by Prince Amukamara, Alfonzo Dennard and Eric Hagg, we are looking for them to pick up right where they left off last season.  Living up to Pelini’s prediction that they will be better than last year may be a tall order, but Husker Nation is pumped about the potential we see in them.

Conversely, what makes you the most nervous? Are there areas that are still question marks?

Our Offense is still a mystery. It was all but nonexistent at times last year, especially during Big 12 play. Whether that was lack of experience, injuries, or playing to our defensive strength by keeping the opposing teams offense off the field, who knows? Our offensive coordinator has shown a consistency for putting decent squads together wherever he’s been, so I’m guessing it was a one-year fluke.

The biggest issue is who’s going to be our leader at quarterback?  Senior and returning starter Zack Lee will be coming off injury, after missing spring practice with shoulder surgery. Athletic and exciting youngsters in Cody Green and Taylor Martinez are chomping at the bit for a chance to take the reins, but will their lack of experience cause more headaches much like our 8 turnover performance loss at the hands of lowly Iowa State do us in again?

With improved depth and health at quarterback and along the offensive line, and the backfield returning Senior Roy Helu and super Sophmore Rex Burkhead, we are looking for a dramatically improved offense. We lost 3 out of 4 games by two points or less in 2009. Should Nebraska find an offensive game plan and another consistent Blackshirts squad show up, it should be enough to launch us into the conference title game. Either way, we are expecting big things and to be playing in a BCS game in January.

Welcome to the Big T1e1n! Do you get the sense that Nebraska is a good “fit” for the conference? What are your feelings about this move? Anything surprise you in the way that it happened?

Coming soon to a stadium near you

Still so weird to think how all this has happened. Big 10…strange. Never would have thought it in a million years.

Looking at the potential divisional opponents in this new conference, I like our “fit”. A lot of bordering type of states, all within 9 hours drive of Lincoln. Not close, but certainly a reasonable weekend traveling distance wise.

That being said, the biggest thing that irks me about the move is potential disruptions that traveling to play eastern division schools, specifically Penn St. and other new potential expansion teams from the East Coast.

I also am sad for the loss of the long standing tradition of playing schools from the old Big Eight. Our tradition with Kansas is one of the oldest in the nation. Beginning in 1892 and has been played 116 times, consecutively since 1906! What a sad day this will be when it comes to an end.

It’s still too early to say I’m excited about playing in the Big 10, too many years of following my conference. No offense to the Big 10, it is a great conference and we will be happy to be here once everyone is settled in and conference play begins. But with the end of an era and the destruction of so much tradition, this whole thing is really quite sad.

Are there specific ways that you see this transition helping the Huskers? Recruiting, television, other sports?

The biggest impact that moving to the Big10 will have on Nebraska will not be in the athletic department, but on the academic front. The credibility of belonging to the Big10 conference and their outstanding institutions is far and away more prestigious than the Big 12. This should undoubtedly help the University of Nebraska in focusing on becoming a better university, not just an extra $10 million a season in television revenue.  I was reading what a difference it made for Penn State in research dollars once they joined the conference. Puts the measly TV contract to shame. I suspect this was a bigger selling point to our University Regents and Administration than we are lead to believe.

What are going to be the challenges for Nebraska in this new conference?

First off, this is an excellent football conference that has taken a bad rap the last few years. We will need to adjust our defense to a different style of play from the spread-heavy offenses of the Big 12.

My concern is on the recruiting front. Being able to maintain a presence in Texas and California. Without our ties to Texas and the promise of playing close by to some of these kids, it may be more difficult to get them to seriously consider signing with us.

Then again, Texas hasn’t always been where Nebraska goes after talent. The Osborne years were highlighted by players hailing from all over the country. Times they are a changin’…we’ll adapt to our surroundings and in this case do what we do best regardless of where the talent comes from, and that’s win.

The Big Ten was often called “The Big Two and little eight”; when Penn State joined, it became “The Big Three and little eight”. Historically, there’s been a lot of consistency at the top of the conference standings, with a surprise program rising up every now and again (Northwestern, Illinois, Wisconsin). Where do you see Nebraska fitting in? Do they come in as one of the top programs from day one, or will it be something that may take some time?

Depending on the alignment of the new Big10, Nebraska will most likely be sitting in a favorable side of the conference, competition wise. Much like they have been in the Big 12 North, I see the potential for Nebraska being one of the teams to beat.

Having fallen on hard times during the Callahan era, we are now gaining momentum and may be on the verge of successful run.  Mind you, all this is football talk…I haven’t even begun to think about the implications or the match-ups within other sports.

Indiana wishes their stadium was this red

When the Big 8 transmogrified into the Big 12, the Huskers lost their great rivalry with Oklahoma. Now that you’re moving into a new configuration, the Thanksgiving game with Colorado goes to the wayside. Who do you see as the new “rival” for Nebraska?

I for one will not miss the “rivalry” with Colorado, who has one of the worst fan bases in the country (ed. Wait ’till you go to Happy Valley). But we’ll miss the end of the tradition and long standing partnership with the likes of Kansans and the Oklahomans. That’s what I’m most bummed about, but at the same time we are looking forward to playing Iowa every year. Iowa State never really counted as a rivalry, yet there’s always been this tension between the two states. I predict this will be the biggest of our new rivals, and hopefully will replace Colorado on the day after Thanksgiving game. (ed- I’ve heard that this game may be referred to as “Farmageddon”.)

There are rumblings that this may not be the end of expansion, that the Big Whatever We’re Calling It Now may add a couple more teams to expand their footprint to the east coast. Are there any programs you’d like to see invited to join the party?

All I know is, this whole massive conference realignments that are happening is unfortunate. In the day and age where we need to be more concerned with our carbon footprint (ed. Did I mention he lives in Oregon?), shouldn’t we be curtailing unnecessary travel. By adding teams west and East and broadening the scope of the conference on the map, we are making matters worse. The impact they ultimately have on other sports and the affect they have on the student athletes juggling between school and sports midweek between parts of the country can be harmful and downright shameful thing that occurs.

As far as teams: Who doesn’t want Notre Dame to finally be forced to join the Big 10? It’s about time it happens!!

Other than that, as long as Nebraska is not in the same conference as Texas, I’m good. They think they can have their cake and eat it too. They have now ruined the Big 12, after ruining the Big 8 and the SWC and are to blame for this fallout. If all the conferences start realigning and College Football is forever changed, don’t blame Nebraska for being the catalyst, blame Texas for causing us to leave.

In responding to the rumors that Texas may try and back in to the Big 10 after all: Not too thrilled, but if it happens they must relinquish control. You guys have been around long enough and Delany has enough of a spine to stand up to their demands. And that would mean their hopes for a Texas TV network would have to die as well. Too many factors are in play that I don’t see this happening, but if it does at least it keeps the doors open to the fertile Texas recruiting grounds. And without a doubt they would bring a great academic reputation, a huge endowment and one of the biggest and most successful athletic departments in the country to the Big 10. Plus this may finally get Notre Lame on board.

Important question: Thoughts on Mich1gAAn?

Not a fan. I’ve come to pledge allegiance to The Ohio State University having a brother in law as a die hard Buckeye…so now that we both get to play them at least I’ll know what it’s like to truly despise Michigan. Unfortunately the realignment ultimately may end my relationship with a best bud who’s a Wolverine through and through. Oh well.

Coming home

What do you think it will be like for Bo and Carl Pelini to stand on the visitors sidelines of the Horseshoe, especially since Bo was a team captain for the Buckeyes?

The Pelinis seem to be locked and loaded on game day and as serious as it gets on the sidelines. I don’t think it will affect them outwardly, but who wouldn’t stop and stand in awe in that moment you come back to your Alma Mater and lifelong favorite school.

Final question- What suggestions do you have to keep the peace in our family when the Huskers and Buckeyes finally play?  Am I gonna’ be allowed to go to grandma’s house for Christmas, or am I now officially banned? Is there still any chance I’d get to use the family tickets when Ohio State comes to Lincoln?

Ha! I wouldn’t worry about the family issue.  Being on opposite sides of the conference, we won’t play each other every year in football. This is what doomed our rivalry with Oklahoma to the point of having this almost healthy respect for each other. I have come to root for the Sooners as it was better for our conference if we were both doing well.  I see this as inevitably my take on Ohio State. A rivalry sure, in some form or fashion, but a respect that says ‘hey, we’re the Big Whatever Conference, don’t mess with us!’ Plus we both wear ‘Scarlet‘/Red, so that’s cool.

I look forward to years of healthy family rivalry, but good luck on getting Grandma’s Husker tickets!

11 Comments

  1. KenNo Gravatar
    June 11th, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    Mali, this is a good read, thanks. My bros-in-law graduated from Univ of Buffalo, so not much going on there with college football discussions/input.

    Sounds like you’re going to have to throw Grandma from the train to get her Husker tickets.

    [Reply]

    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    June 11th, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    Well, Buffalo was coached by Turner Gill, who now coaches at Kansas (not in the expansion talks), but played at Nebraska.

    And he watched a movie starring Kevin Bacon.

    How’s that?

    [Reply]

    KenNo Gravatar
    June 11th, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    That’s pretty darn good, I’ll go with it. What is your gut feel for any other additions to the Big TenT Conference?

    Also, from your view on the Left Coast, what is fan reaction to USC getting curb-stomped?

    [Reply]

    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    June 11th, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    I think Texas is about 35-40% (struggle within regents, academics versus athletics), and they may bring aTm with them.

    I think Notre Dame has been given notice as well, and will either come on board soon or as soon as we start to pillage the Big lEast.

    I’ve got some USC thoughts posting tomorrow, and I’ll try to get a “four types of Trojan fans” post up on Sunday.

    [Reply]

    KenNo Gravatar
    June 12th, 2010 at 7:02 am

    Good stuff, thanks.

    [Reply]

    southbaybuckeye_ITSNo Gravatar
    June 12th, 2010 at 12:29 am

    that’s like 2 degrees of bacon, wow.

    [Reply]

    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    June 12th, 2010 at 2:47 am

    Mmmmm… bacon.

    [Reply]

  2. BIG TEN PERIODNo Gravatar
    June 12th, 2010 at 2:53 am

    Whether the Big Ten has 11 teams, 12, 14, or 16 it doesn’t matter with regards to the name. The Big Ten should be the Big Ten no matter the number of teams. Big Ten has taken on a meaning much deeper than how many teams are in the conference. It means BIG SCHOOLS, GOOD ACADEMICS, GOOD ATHLECICS, STATE INSTITUTIONS (minus NW), FLAGSHIP SCHOOLS, etc. We can debate who should join the Big Ten and what the next step for our conference should be. But the name is Big Ten and it should never change we are the BIG TEN period.

    [Reply]

  3. BrianNo Gravatar
    June 13th, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    So, if the conference stays at 12 teams(not likely) I think they should do it in the mold of the SEC. Each team in a division plays one school in the other division every year. LSU/Florida, Bama/Tennessee, and Auburn/Georgia come to mind. I like this practice, it’s about the only thing I like about the SEC. I never understood why the Big 12 didn’t do the same. That way Oklahoma/Nebraska could’ve kept ther rivalry alive.

    Assuming Ohio State and Michigan are in the same division in a 12 team conference, unless I’m wrong in assuming that, I would love to see Ohio State Nebraska locked in to play each year. At any rate, the only teams I really look forward to playing in conference are Penn State, Iowa, Michigan, and Wisconsin. The rest of the teams I just don’t care to see the games that often.

    [Reply]

    BrianNo Gravatar
    June 13th, 2010 at 11:26 pm

    Actually, I love watching each game, just don’t get excited for Indiana, Purdue, Minnesota, etc.

    [Reply]

  4. More Know Your Neighbor: Nebraska | Huskers 411
    July 6th, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    [...] that, here’s the second installation of “Ask A Husker” (be sure to check out the first). Last time, we got the fan perspective, hearing from a UNL alum. Today, we kick it up a notch, and [...]

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