Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Upon Further Review

I have been thinking about the possibility that I discussed in my previous blog entry about the possibility of Nebraska joining the Big Ten conference. I think this is all a bunch of collegiate scuttlebutt and rumor that ultimately won't go anywhere. In normal times, I would write it all off as off season nonsense. It is being circulated just enough in enough venues and newspapers across the country that I think it has some credence, and this disturbs me. But conferences are becoming paranoid, and in an ever increasingly win-at-all-costs keeping-up-with-the-Jones sports realm, anything is possible. Personally, I think worse case scenario in terms of conference realignment is that Notre Dame joins the Big Ten. I think if the Big Ten can pull that off, they will largely be mollified of their expansionist ideas. (Of course, all this from the man who never thought Virginia Tech and Miami would bolt the Big East and join the ACC a few years back.)

I think the Pac-10 expansion is somewhat more likely, but still not really probable. That would make the Pac-16 (or whatever number they finish with) geographically untenable as it will basically encompass all of Western US from the Mississippi river to the Pacific Coast. Football teams and possibly the basketball teams at the bigger name schools might be able to afford those kind of season travel expenses, but I really don't think the other sports would be able to afford it logistically.

Nebraska joining the Big Ten just does not make much sense to me. True, they may make for money in terms of the Big Ten TV deal that has equal sharing of funds. Mark my words, however. For every extra dollar that Nebraska might conceivably make by joining the Big Ten money laundering revenue sharing scheme, they will lose a recruit. If the University of Texas (and most of the Texas teams) goes to the Pac-10 and Nebraska joins the Big Ten, Nebraska will in essence cut off its recruiting pipeline into the Texas/Oklahoma region.  Virtually none of those Lone Star State kids will want to play for a team that never even plays a Texas team anymore unless they are desperate.

That leaves Nebraska trying to recruit in the Chicago area, and if Notre Dame joins the Big Ten too, you can pretty much nix that idea. Most kids in Big Ten country dream of playing for some established Big Ten team like Michigan/Ohio State/Penn State. The natural rivalries between those teams give them the advantage in recruiting in those areas. Nebraska is not on most of those kids' radar screens except as a Plan B or C (or F). That would leave Iowa and Nebraska fighting over recruits from those respective states (and possibly Kansas), neither of which are states that are consistently blue chip mines. Mack Brown at Texas or Lane Kiffin at USC drive by more blue chip recruits on their commutes to work than states like Nebraska or Iowa or Kansas have in the entire state.

I think Nebraska will permanently descend into talent mediocrity if they try muscle into Big Ten territory. If Nebraska makes such a move, it will prove to me definitively that big time college sports is completely and solely about the money. If that is what Nebraska and college sports has descended into in its entirety, I think I may stop watching college football altogether.

I can solely watch the NFL or other professional sports if its only about the money.

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