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I'll Believe Nebraska Has Joined The Big 10 When I Hear It From Tom Osborne

Wednesday evening, the University of Nebraska issued the following statement: 

A report being circulated this afternoon among sports media stating that the University of Nebraska Board of Regents "met informally" today and  have "agreed to move to the Big Ten" is not accurate. Members of the Board's executive committee met via conference call to discuss the agenda for Friday's meeting. Such meetings routinely take place prior to Board meetings. At its meeting on Friday, the Board will be briefed on UNL athletic conference alignment and consider a resolution. No action wastaken during today's conference call, and none will be taken prior to Friday's meeting.

Today, I'm sure that we'll see 100 other reports that Nebraska has joined the Big 10. No doubt Chip Brown will issue another article talking about the Big 12, potential litigation to stop what appears to be inevitable, and the Pac 10's assimilation of Texas and other soon-to-be-former Big 12 schools. Other news sources, who appear to discount bloggers will cite sources off twitter and blogs and make formal proclamations about an athletic department official will be sure to follow. 

None of it matters. There is a process here, and that process must be followed (I mentioned litigation already). Nebraskans can believe that we've joined the Big 10 when they hear Tom Osborne (or Chancellor Harvey Perlman) make a formal announcement. 

Having said that, Nebraska's move to the Big 10 looks like a sure thing. If you're a Husker fan that ought to leave you with some mixed feelings. 

There is the excitement of change, of taking a new job, of stepping up to an altar and saying "I do" while simultaneously wondering if the person you've just married is the right one. Then there's that feeling you had when you thought you and your wife had the flu together, but what she had was morning sickness. 

Fact is, you don't know what you're going to get until you get into it. 

If you're a Husker fan who's sure that Texas is the source of all evil and that the Big 10 is ripe for the taking, I have a word of caution for you. From a pure football perspective, this move doesn't make all that much sense. 

Let's be honest with ourselves. The Big 12 North hasn't been that strong a conference over the past few years. Every one of the teams in our conference has been through some sort of crisis with the exception of Missouri. We've made strides toward improving ourselves under Pelini. In 2010, Nebraska is a clear-cut favorite to win the Big 12 North, although Missouri should challenge but their schedule is pretty tough.  

In the Big 12, Nebraska could win a couple tough games, win the Big 12 championship and probably make the national title game. If we move to the Big 10, it probably won't be that way anymore. 

No one knows how all this will turn out, but it's a pretty safe bet that the Big 10 will add more than just Nebraska. In the end, the competitive playing field will be much more level than it's been in the past. It will be much harder to get to a national title game, let alone win a conference championship. That will most likely be true for all the other big name programs once the realignment dust has settled. (If you want to read another perspective, check out this article from our Iowa State site. Don't dismiss it because it's from an opponent. It makes a lot of sense.) 

I have to believe that this move is being made more because of academic rewards than athletic. That this would happen, that the decision would be made by a football powerhouse (and make no mistake, Nebraska is a football powerhouse despite what's happened in the past decade. The team will be one of the best in the nation over time because the state demands it.) says something about the University of Nebraska - that the concerns, as always, are academic as well as athletic. 

I'm pretty burned out. It's deadline week for the next edition of our Husker football yearbook, Cornhusker Kickoff 2010, and I've been writing and editing into the wee hours, while at the same time trying to take in my kids' soccer games and still doing a good job for my clients. They depend on me to make the right decisions for them, to make their networks work, and I take that responsibility very seriously. I'd like to come up with something clever here, but my brain is running on empty. 

All I can say is that I'm excited for the future of Cornhusker sports, and you should be to. There will be new rivals, new stadiums and fans to see, and a whole new set of traditions to establish (if that even makes sense). At the same time, it'll be sad to see a decades of tradition washed away with a single announcement, but that's how things go. I've been at every Husker game in Ames for the past 20 years or so, and I'm sure this year's game will be pretty awkward, especially when I talk to Cyclone fans - who knows what the future holds for them. 

In the next couple days, the process should be complete. The discussion is a part of the Regents' meeting agenda, so something will happen.  If the anticipation is killing you, I'd suggest you keep yourself busy with something besides twitter. Soon, Dr Tom will let us know what's going on, so don't worry so much about the rest. 

Oh, and to the Big 10 fans who are stopping by to give their welcomes, I say thanks. You're welcome here any time. 

Go Big Red, 

Jon Johnston 

Class of ‘87, Arts and Sciences