New Big Ten Divisions: "The Game" Unchanged - My Greatest Fear Unrealized

I'm sure by the time I publish this in the morning, you'll have seen about 20, maybe 30 other articles talking about the new Big Ten divisions, how hard Nebraska's 2011-2012 schedule will be and all the possibilities in between, so I'm not going to spend a lot of time covering those. 

Instead, I'm going to tell you that my greatest fear about Nebraska joining the Big Ten has not been realized. 

Most of my fear had manifested itself within The Game - the annual rivalry game between Michigan and Ohio State. Rumors and fear-mongering had it that The Game would be changed, the worst rumors being that it would not be played on an annual basis. Others centered around the date changing from late November to early October, and still others focused on whether or how many times Michigan and Ohio State would meet in the Big Ten Conference championship game. 

None of those fears were realized, as the new divisions and schedules were announced, the date would remain unchanged - The Game would remain unchanged. Nebraskans may not completely understand the mystique of The Game, but we know what it's like to have a rivalry blown up as the result of a major conference change. It leaves a scar that never goes away. 

My greatest fear would be that Nebraska would enter the conference as the bad guy, but it hasn't happened. 

SB Nation covers all of the Big Ten teams, and the most amazing thing about our sites, collectively, is that they give you the pulse of the fans. I challenge you to take a look across SB Nation's Big Ten sites and find fans of those teams saying anything nasty about Nebraska.

It's not there. Big Ten fans are still making comments about how they're looking forward to playing us, establishing rivalry games and trophies.

When you consider that Nebraska's entrance will blown up decades of traditions, that is just bloody amazing. Even Wisconsin fans, who have every right to be angry that they won't be playing either Nebraska or Iowa on a yearly basis, aren't ticked at us. 

So what if the first two seasons worth of schedules are damned tough (seven of eight Big Ten teams we'll face were in a bowl in 2009 and the only one not in a bowl was Michigan, the winningest program in college football history). Consider it a buy-in, giving the Big Ten Conference a full two years worth of incredibly marketable games (if there's a cable system somewhere within the Big Ten Conference geography that doesn't offer Big Ten Network in 2011, it has to be run by the biggest fools on the planet). 

The two years of tough schedules are worth it. There were no 11-1 votes, no contention about where the championship game would be held, no rules changes (that I'm aware of) that affected competitive balance. Granted, this isn't the same as the merger between the old Big Eight and four teams from the defunct SWC, but still, there is no sign of contention, no signs of anger at Nebraska. 

Amazing.     

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