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.
With 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 chat with former Cornhusker Aaron Terpening. A graduate of North Salem high school in Salem Oregon, Terp lettered with the Huskers for four years, and was three time Big 12 academic all conference. His role on special teams and as a Rover (free safety) for Nebraska was an important part of their team from 1999-2002; he played for Frank Solich and just missed the first Pelini era. He also graduate from UNL with a Masters in Architecture, and currently works as an architect in his home town of Salem Oregon.
Here we go:
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? What are your former teammates saying about the move?
Thanks for the warm welcome. From what I’ve heard and read, the Big Ten Fans have been very gracious and welcoming. That makes a big difference. Joining another conference could be intimidating and awkward, but I think the Big Ten is going to make this transition feel natural. I heard Delany wore a “N” lapel pin on recent visit. That is a small thing that makes a big impact.
I’m excited and a little sad. It’s hard to think that over a hundred of years of consistent opposition is going by the wayside. But, I think it’s important to remember that before the Big 12 it was the Big 8 and before that the Big 6. The Big 6 had teams like Drake and Grinnell. So, conferences and opponents change over time. To move to another conference is nothing new. When the Big 12 formed and the yearly match with Oklahoma was thrown out, to me, that diminished the importance of continued rivalries for us.
If you read/listen to folks from Austin, Nebraska is the reason that the Big 12 is dissolving, At the press conferences. Dr. Osborne and others were pretty frustrated by this line of thought. As a former player, was there anything that surprised you in the way that it happened?
I know from my experience with Tom Osborne and Frank Solich for that matter, emotion was never a huge part of the equation. There was a time and a place for it, for sure. And that time was about ten minutes before kick-off. Otherwise, decisions on Nebraska’s part under TO’s leadership have always been consistent, thought through, and fair. Nebraska as an institution would never act in a disingenuous manner toward the other institutions within the Big 12. I don’t mind the idea that we were “at fault’ for the crumbling of the Big 12. Who cares?
The fact is, the conference was a mess and there are/were a couple schools willing to do something about it. I sincerely think Nebraska tried to make it work, but they were apparently unable to get any concessions by other members. From the day the conference was formed and they made the headquarters Irving, Texas and moved it from Kansas City, things have been tilted south. I am a bit surprised that the Big 12 didn’t do more to keep itself together. I don’t know who’s fault that is.
Are there specific ways that you see this transition helping the Huskers? Recruiting, television, other sports?
Recruiting is something I am a bit concerned about. I have no idea how that will go. Not playing teams from Texas, Kansas, Missouri(maybe), and Oklahoma every year may make it more difficult to pull players from those states. I just don’t know how that will go.
Basketball may be one sport that Nebraska could really see improvement in due to the realignment. Husker fans have been waiting patiently for years expecting that the basketball program would follow the football programs success somehow. Maybe this move will finally make that a possibility.
The academic part of it seems to be a great opportunity for the University of Nebraska. I don’t know much about it, but the CIC (assuming Nebraska gets to be part of it) will be a good affiliation for the schools. This together with the athletic and monetary parts of the deal will be Tom Osborne’s legacy. This may be bigger than his championships. However, this might not have happened except for the trophies.
What are going to be the challenges for Nebraska in this new conference?
Nebraska will have to get used to larger crowds and different styles of coaching. The Big 10 at the moment has some very conservative styles of football. I think this is why Nebraska is a good fit. But, it’ll be a challenge because their opponents may be strong in some of the same areas Nebraska is strong. When i say ‘conservative’, I mean good defense, a strong work ethic, sportsmanship, and respect for opponents. These are all things Nebraska has excelled at and the Big 10 is known for.
You were a part of Nebraska’s historic “walk on” program- What was that like for you? How did you choose to go that route rather than accepting a full scholarship at another institution?
Being a walk-on was a dream-come-true for me. My family were always huge Nebraska fans. Growing up watching players like Calvin Jones and Baron Miles inspired me. They played so hard every play, they were strong and relentless. I wanted to be a part of that. I modeled how I played after that. So, to get the opportunity to make it happen was an amazing feeling. I enjoyed it from the day I got there. I loved practice, I loved the conditioning, I loved the humid summers and freezing windy winters. It was all part of Nebraska football. I miss feeling like I was going to die from lack of oxygen in 98 degrees with 98 percent humidity at five o’clock on a summer night with the other defensive backs hunched over together. That was why I went there, to be somewhere that valued that work ethic.
What should Ohio State players and fans be ready for at kickoff in Memorial Stadium? What’s the atmosphere like on the field and in the stands for gameday?
I know other schools have great traditions, fans, and gameday atmospheres. In my biased opinion, Nebraska’s is second to none. It’s truly an amazing place to be on Saturdays in the fall. Nebraska fans have some traditions like giving the opponents a standing ovation as they leave the field. These and other things make it unique. I hope Ohio State fans can come to Lincoln expecting to be treated well, have a great time, and enjoy some good football.
What’s the one moment or play that stands out for you from your career?
That’s tough. Blocking a punt against Kansas State was a big deal at the time (ed. For this, he was named Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week). Another fun memory was my first play my freshman year. It was at Iowa. Just getting to travel with the team the first game of my freshman year was a blast. The game was well in hand and I was put in for a kick-off at the end of the game. I made the tackle. That was a great feeling.
ed.- Terp is humble to a fault. On the kickoff team, he played one of the most exciting and dangerous roles, the wedge buster. In addition, he completely forgot to mention his blocked punt against Iowa State, and his career high six tackles against Penn State. Oh, and his touchdown against Kansas. Although, it was Kansas, so…
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. Others have suggested that Iowa should be the new Thanksgiving game. Who do you see as the new “rival” for Nebraska?
Honestly, I’d prefer to see Nebraska continue it’s rivalry with Oklahoma somehow. Colorado was totally fabricated and never was a rivalry for us. I guess Iowa would be a natural rival. (ed. “Farmageddon”) However, the historic success of programs like Michigan and Ohio State may make for some heated competitions. We’ll see what develops.
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?
I heard maybe Rutgers and Syracuse. Rutgers makes some sense. But, I don’t know about Syracuse from the whole culture standpoint. We’ll see what happens. I wouldn’t mind the conference the way it is for a couple years.
Your turn: Thoughts on Mich1gAAn?
Rich Rodriguez may not be “the guy”. I feel like Michigan may be in a similar spot as Nebraska was a few years ago when they fired Solich. To me, a 10 win season is adequate. Consistently good teams(like 10 or more years of being in the top ten) usually have one main ingredient, a head coach who’s been there the whole time. When Nebraska fired Solich, I predicted they would fall off the map nationally and go through the cycle of coaches for at least a decade. I’m hopeful Pelini is it and my prediction was wrong. But, we did go through at least one person – so I was partially right.
Stability is a big thing in college football. Teams that have it, eventually find their way into the top ten. Look at Iowa. So, if Michigan can endure a few more seasons of mediocrity, Rodriquez might pull through and get them back to where they want to be. But, if they aren’t patient, they could end up on the merry-go-round.
Thanks, Aaron- Our next installation will hopefully get some perspective from the academic side of this transition.