First off let me say welcome to the Big Ten from Colorado. Wrong state you say... Well as a proud Michigan born and bred kid a long way from home I can say the Big Ten is never far from my heart. Even 12 yrs in smoggy LA followed my 3 out here in the Rockies didn't kill the passion. To this day I root for Michigan first and Big Ten second, many years after rooting on my Wolverines in person wasn't possible (thank god for the internet). I'll regret saying this in person, but I even root for the Buckeyes every now and again (grudgingly reserved for when they reach the highest rung of competition).
It is this passion for your school and team first, and conference second that I think you'll find throughout all of Big Ten country. As I find with many of the Big Ten alumni (and SEC and PAC-10) I work with. Consider it like the stories you hear about a big family of brothers and sisters always trying to one-up each other. The result of which is some pretty serious feuds and bad blood between each other... But just like those stories you don't want to ever go against that family because in the end bad blood or not, they come together and fight as one. That's what being in the conference is all about and why Penn State, Florida State and Miami gave up their lonely wanderings for.
Unfortunately as an interested observer I never sensed that here with the Buffs and the Big XII. The Big Roman Numerals have some impressive history athletic achievements... But I never sensed the conference pride I did in Michigan and LA with the Big Ten and PAC-10. You could say it's that Denver isn't a college town, or the Buffs suck, but the expansion drive and the various bloggers showed me it’s deeper than that. The media can talk about a 100+ yr history, but all that died in 1996 when the Big XII replaced the Big Eight. And the same politics that made the SWC were carried over and have collapsed the Big Eight too.
In Big Ten country we used to say that Husker football was based on wins against Oklahoma and 6 patsies. This isn't to start a fight, but to point out that Nebraska-Oklahoma was the big rivalry that defined the Big Eight. Just like Michigan-Ohio State does the Big Ten. And the Big XII and Oklahoma just threw that away... Something that is unthinkable to me as a Michigan alumnus. To me the day the decision was made to disregard historical rivalries in the name of money was the day the Big XII signed its death warrant.
To tell the truth I'm upset the PAC-10 and Texas have decided to explode conferences... Only the same media types that brought you Leno at 10 pm would be in favor of a 16 team conference. It's essentially two 8 team conference in a wedding of convenience. And just like those weddings people will leave as soon as they see a pretty secretary. 12 team conferences are as big as you can get and play each other enough to make it seem a family. Instead of stopping with Colorado and Utah the PAC-10 is getting greedy, and Texas seems to taking their toys and going home like a 5 yr old.
This could have been "relatively painless"... PAC-10 takes Colorado and Utah, Big Ten takes Nebraska, Big XII gets back healthy with TCU and Houston (old SWC dancing partners), and the MWC feeds on WAC and C-USA. Yes feelings will be hurt... But it doesn't explode the whole endeavor with the risk of a clumsy government response. There's still time to avoid pushing the big red button. No pun intended because we know the real color of the button is burnt orange... The parachute rip cord color was red.