We're going through some changes here at CN (as you no doubt have noticed), as I have been bringing on some more authors/writers/homeless people with computers in a attempt to delivery more content and try to keep my sanity/marriage intact.
We're going to attempt a Countdown to 2012, attempt being the key word here. Maybe we shouldn't actually call it a countdown, but let's say it's countdownish because adding "ish" to a word makes it kinda, sorta, likea that.
Want another example? Journalism. We're not journalists, here, but we're journalishy ("ishy" works just as well, see?).
There are 17 days left until the season of the 2012 season, so we're starting here. The theme is "Things We Learned Our First Year in the Big Ten". I'm not 100% sure we learned 17 unique things in our first year, and we may need some suggestions (WTF will we use for 16?) but I can tell you exactly where 17 fits in the equation.
"17" was the sign of the reality check that told us we were in a completely new situation.
I speak, of course, of the 17 points scored in our first ever game as a member of a our new conference. If we had the 2009 defense, 17 points would have won the game. We did not have the 2009 defense and therefore did not (as if I needed to tell you that).
Last year's Wisconsin game was one of the funnest game day experiences I've ever had. Everything was a blast. The Wisconsin fans were great. The beer was great, the food was great, and I guess to make up for all that, the game had to suck. A lot.
Wisconsin served notice that we're not playing in the old Big 12 North anymore, scorching our bottom 48-17. As if those 17 points weren't enough to drive home a point, the number 17 raised its ugly head in similar fashion during our first trip to Ann Arbor as a member of the Big Ten. It was another butt-kicking as we scored again only 17 points, while the Wolverines ripped off 45.
There seems to be a fair amount of apathy heading into the 2012 season. I understand it, somewhat. There's not a lot of buzz about this year's team. The prospect that we can win the western division is iffy at best. The idea we won't see a lot of improvement this season has Husker fans not caring as much as they would were we favorites to win the conference.
There's a big part of me that says we better get accustomed to 9-4 seasons. That's not a statement about Bo Pelini's coaching abilities; it's a fact of the new world we live in. Tom Osborne would not have gone 25 years without losing more than three games in any season in this conference, nor would he have won nine games every season.
In the old Big Eight, we had one perennial superpower to deal with in Oklahoma. In the Big 12, we dealt with Oklahoma and Texas. Now, in the B1G, we will deal with Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan State as long as Mark Dantonio sticks around. And of course there will be those years in which others come along with good teams just as there was before.
9-4 is not the best we'll ever do. It's not the worst we'll ever see either. But this idea that we're supposed to win nine games a season forever should be gone by now.
I'll confess, I didn't learn that in our first year in the Big Ten. I suspected it, but it was driven home by the results of the 2011 season. I wonder how many other Husker fans have accepted the reality of our new situation, or do you all continue to have the same expectations?