This is it - Nebraska's last day in the Big 12. Seriously, it ended quite a while ago for many Husker fans, but after today it becomes official.
We started this countdown at 100, and we've covered a massive amount of history, from ... to ... to... and I'd like to say - from all of the writers at CN - we've done a lot of work, and had a lot of fun.
We struggled a little bit on the last day, though, because a long time ago we decided on a round table, but we didn't do so well at deciding what it would include until nearly the end. We argued (discussed, bantered?) a bit, but ultimately the round table came down to the following criteria:
2 - Coach (or person you'd most like to meet associated with the Big Ten, dead or alive)
3 - Game/Team most looking forward to and why
4 - Achievements (can be considered also a predictions segment)
5 - Wildcard - Females you'd like to meet... what should B1G fans know.... how much do you hate Michigan.... etc etc.
It wasn't a lot of direction on the Wildcard, granted, but, this should be a chance for everyone to chime in. And plus... and this is my favorite part - it gets everyone a chance to be themselves. Or at least maybe avoid therapy.
1- Stadium - I suppose the purist in me should say the Big House or the ‘Shoe. Before those, though, I want to go to Camp Randall. Something about "Jump Around" seems cool. That, and Madison is probably the most beautiful campus I've been to.
2 - Coach (or person you'd most like to meet associated with the Big Ten, dead or alive) - Pat Fitzgerald. He seems to get the most out of those players at a school where athletics is not Priority #1. By all accounts, he's a good guy and a helluva motivator. I know he's not the Bo/Woody pick, but it would be fun to pick his brain over a beer or six.
3 - Game/Team - Hands down: Iowa. Mostly because I'm an Iowa grad, but also because Nebraska has needed a rival since the Good Ol' Days (read: Oklahoma) and this is a natural fit. I see Iowa as our new Kansas State...Hawk fans desperately want to be one of the Big Boys, but they're always on the outside looking in. Example: Do you think another conference would bend over backwards to get Iowa into the fold? That's what I thought.
4 - Achievements - We will contend for Big Ten championships out of the gate for football, baseball, volleyball and track. And that will piss off Iowa fans something fierce.
5 - Wildcard - We're genuinely excited to be in the B1G. Most things about Husker sports are argued ad nauseum throughout the state (e.g. - Pelini, Martinez, new gloves, etc.. I have yet to hear one fan....one....who says they're not excited to be in the B1G. We will initially hate Iowa, Michigan, Penn State, and Wisconsin, but we'll love every minute of it.
1 - Stadium - I'd most like to visit Camp Randall, because they come off as drunkest Big 10 stadium crowd from what I can see on TV and that's right in line with my comfort level. (No offense to Ohio St. fans - my comfort level does wane when surrounded by grown men in jorts, and sorry, Big House, but your women look like cattle) I would look for a seat higher up or at least at the top of the student section, because I have no desire to be squashed by the drunken horde if Wisconsin wins. (This decision is contingent on Madison still being free of open container laws.)
2- Coach (or person you'd most like to meet associated with the Big Ten, dead or alive) -I thought of going with Joe Paterno and a watching him face-dive some pea soup joke, but that's been done to death. Kirk Herbstreit would be an interesting choice to have a drink with, just for a shot at scooping up seconds on the copious amounts of women types that gravitate toward him (I have seen this in person. It's amazing.) In the end, I'd go with the Indiana connection and do dinner and drinks with Lee Corso. Yeah, yeah, I know, but he's personable, he's passionate about what he does and I bet he has some damned good stories that can't be told on Gameday.
3- Game /Team - Not to be cocky and make it sound like a done deal - it's far from it - I'd love to hit the inaugural Big 10 Championship game with the ‘Skers as a participant. Quite simply, the is the one tradition on which we get to start at square one with everyone else. In a year sure to be filled with traditions that we won't help but feel a little left out by, this is our one shot at being a part of Big 10 history.
4 - Achievements - See #3. You can have your divin', shootin', wrasslin' and rowin'. If Big Red takes home that 1st Big 10 Championship Game trophy, I'll walk a little taller in the spring and summer of 2012.
5- Wild Card - As much I'd like to defile a coed from every opponent's school, I can't afford to hit the road games, and the ones that can afford to travel here can do better than me. Much better. So random sex with anonymous Big Ten gals is out (Editor's Note: unless they all come to find him.) . Damn.
And while all the new faces will be fun, it's still college football and I'm pretty familiar with everyone. So I'm going to stretch the boundaries a little and go with attending a Minnesota hockey game at Mariucci, if not against our beloved UNO Mavericks (who swept them up there last year - oh snap, Gophers!), then against Wisconsin or the North Dakota Fighting ?'s. Yes, I know the Big 10 isn't a hockey conference - yet - but still....
1 - Stadium - I'm a bit of a traditionalist, so my first choice would be the Big House. That being said, I'm also a Cub fan, and while it's completely impractical (too small in terms of capacity as well as to squeeze a field in there), I'd love to see the Huskers play Northwestern at Wrigley Field. Even if they have to play one-way again.
2- Coach - The natural answer is JoePa. But I'll go with Jim Tressel, if only to gauge for myself if he's as much of a two-faced liar as he's shown himself to be over the last year.
3- Game /Team - Well, of course, it's the Huskers playing in the inaugural Big Ten football championship game. That being said, you can't dismiss Nebraska's first Big Ten game against the twin cousin that we've never met. It's going to be quite the night in Madison.
4 - Achievements - Football Championship game, of course. Make it to Friday in the men's basketball tournament. (Yeah, I'm aiming low here...) Volleyball - Playing Penn State twice: once in the regular season, and again at the Final Four. Baseball: Winning our first Big Ten title, then getting a home regional.
5- Wild Card - I'm happily married, so I'll abstain on the defiling idea. But Andy's mention of hockey and UNO sparks an idea. What about a final outdoor sendoff from the Badgers or the Goofers, and bring in North Dakota and Nebraska-Omaha for an amazing weekend double header outdoors, either at Camp Randall or TCF Bank Stadium. Or better yet, at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha?
1. A stadium that I'd like to visit? All of 'em of course. I started making plans for Wisconsin and Minnesota this year, but it's starting to look like a tough ticket. I've actually seen Michigan Stadium and Camp Randall, but have never been inside.
2. Which coach would I like to meet? Probably Bob Devaney. It is known that he was interested in joining up with the Big Ten. I would love to talk to him about his view of the conference and about football back in those days.
3. I'd like to say Penn State, but I only know one alum here in town. I have family in Minnesota and Iowa and plenty of people around here like the Hawkeyes. I guess it would have to be Iowa, but this whole season is going to be fun.
4. I don't think Nebraska is going to mow down the Big Ten like some people say. I would hope that they can be competative with every school they play against this year and put themselves in a position to win every week. I think a Big Ten title would be expected within the first 5 years and maybe a NC shot again. I want Nebraska to be able to field a team where people are nervous about playing them. I think Bo is getting back to that point, but we aren't quite there yet. I want to see a Rose in Bo Pelini's mouth.
5. Wildcard. I would be very happy if the Big Ten stopped expanding. I have a feeling that in a few years things may change again, but things seem just about perfect with the 12 schools they have. Something that doesn't get a lot of attention anymore is the Pac-12/Big Ten Rose Bowl. That's going to be a very high profile game now since both members will be coming from a conference that has a conference championship game.
1- For anyone that's new to the site, I've been living in Minnesota for over 20 years now, although I may be moving back to Nebraska soon due to the statute of limitations running out. Having said that... nothing has changed. I started this site years ago because of an unhealthy obsession with college football. On the list of places I want to see a game have always been Michigan, Penn State, and Wisconsin (although not Ohio State, and honestly, I don't know why). Minnesota is a given because of all the Nebraska fans. OMG! People are coming to see me now! You have no idea of how many relatives I have who have never been to Minnesota!
2 - Notice I included the criteria "dead or alive" and I'm the history guy, right? RIGHT? Woohoo! I'd like to meet Fielding Yost and do a post game interview, asking the question "What were you thinking, kicking to that Grange kid?"
And what about an interview together with Bo and Woody - specifically asking the tough question - "What kind of mamby pamby candy asses are we raising these days? Why are fathers so stupid as to let mommies completely take over and what's this mean for America?"
Kirk Herbstreit - I'd just ask him not to pair up with Brent Mushberger anymore because the arrogance between them is unlistenable. It's like they're jacking each other off. Alone, I think Herbstreit does well.
3 - OMG, Penn State and Iowa, because Jim Delany said it was so - and I must be true to my new overlord masters. Oh. Seriously. I'm most looking forward to Wisconsin because so many of my oldest sons friends chose to go there and they're so young, and they have yet to find the concept of hate - in fact of two best friends one is going to Iowa, the other to Iowa State... but.... oh.... they shall soon grow up (or be candy asses - see Woody and Bo reference above). :)
4 - Let's be clear about something. We did not join the Big Ten to win more football championships. It's going to be as tough as the SEC is, and if you're a Husker fan who thought we'd rule this conference you'd damned well better lower your expectations or be prepared for constant disappointment. We're going to play Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State, and Iowa on a yearly basis. These schools have way more money than our old Big 12 North counterparts. And Michigan - they won't be down long. They're just like Nebraska - they won't tolerate losing and they have the history and cash to make winning happen. Good news - maybe we can become Texas to them. I'd like that a lot.
Baseball - win it all of the time. Seriously, every year or just give up on having a good baseball team. The bar SHOULD BE SO FRIGGIN' HIGH on baseball that either Darin Erstad is the best coach ever or a complete failure. No leeway - he's Tom Osborne's buddy, not mine.
Basketball - I am so looking forward to those 31-28 games against Wisconsin. Seriously. Not joking. I'm watching all the Husker basketball I can on BTN. And bitching about it. You should be here for those game threads.
Volleyball - OMG OMG OMG OMG - you can bet your ass that my entire family and I will be at every Nebraska - Minnesota game since the last time I was there I had some Minnesota dude screaming at me the entire time to shut up. Plus, hey, volleyball women. They're just beautiful, athletic women and most of them are Nebraskans meaning they could kick your ass in a fight. Who wouldn't pay to see them play?
5 - Wildcard
Since I'm last and I've spent the last few years trying to make this site work, I want to say goodbye. The last year has made it very difficult for any of us who still had respect for our old Big Eight/Big 12 opponents to feel any remorse, yet you can't just walk away from decades worth of contests and not feel at least a little like something's been lost.
So... Good Bye, you sunsabitches. Good luck to whatever future awaits you. And seriously, despite the animosity, I hope it's a good one. I have plenty of friends who've attended your institutions and I respect their alma maters.
Otherwise... How Did I Get Here?