clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

So long folks... A historical look at what Nebraska is leaving behind.

Thanks for all the good times...and even the bad.
Thanks for all the good times...and even the bad.

One of the better philosophical quotes I've ever read goes like this:

"Change is a bit like dying, and must be mourned"

I realize that a lot of us Husker fans are more than excited to leave the Big 12 behind us. I'm excited as well. But as I've been sitting quiet, watching this monumental event occur, the realness of this change got me thinking. Remembering. Not only about the Husker past that I remember, but the stuff that my Dad would have recalled. Or the games that HIS father might have listened to, and so on.

I started feeling all gooey inside. Sort of like when you get buyers remorse, before you actually buy something.

I've witnessed a lot of reactions from the state of Iowa, from both Hawk and Cyclone fans. There have been some touching and revealing comments made towards me as well. It's taken me back just a bit. Call me a softy, or whatever. I'm fine with that. I have far too much respect for the schools we have been playing with for over 100 years to just say "good riddance". They deserve better.

This post is to mourn some of the great things about those last 100+ years or so of Nebraska's affiliations with the "core" schools. (Explained below) This is relevant because we are not just breaking away from those awkward relationships that were forced upon us by the formation of the Big 12 (Texas), but we are losing traditions and rivalries with teams like Kansas, Missouri, Iowa State, and other old friends from the Big 8 era. I won't apologize for this being a sort of "funeral" post, because most Husker fans that I know, love sharing moments and rememberances. I also know some Missouri, Kansas, and ISU fans who love to do the same. Plus, it's raining buckets..and just fits the mood right now, so why not.

Just a few interesting facts to really call attention to what we've just left behind. Maybe a personal story as well. Whether you're a Husker or not, go ahead and share your thoughts/parting comments about the history we will be leaving behind.

And then, it's on to the future! (Oh, and there is an oh-so priceless bit of Texas-Nebraska related history at the end. You can't miss it!)

Few people know anything about Nebraska Football prior to Bob Devaney. Can't blame 'em really, most who would remember the 1940's-50's are either dead or just don't care to recall. (We sucked during the 40's) Prior to that,'d need a book. Being sort of a history geek, I have such books. Conference moves got me reviewing the very, very early years of Nebraska Football. Great stuff, and all the more reason to have pride and tradition in the Nebraska program. (Fits right in with the Big 10) There is more to Nebraska Football than just the modern era, and a whole lot more than playing Texas.

Here are some interesting highlights regarding Nebraska's brotherhood with midwest schools from a bygone era:

  • December 28, 1891 - The Nebraska Cornhuskers, Kansas Jayhawks, Iowa Hawkeyes, and Missouri Tigers form the Interstate League. That's right Iowa fans, we were brothers long before you joined the Big Ten. Reunited! (I always thought we looked alike. I wonder where our Dad is...)
  • 1901 - Nebraska applies for membership into the Big Nine Conference, a predecessor of the Big Ten. Nebraska is denied. ( Attempt #1 )
  • 1907 - Wanting more out of their conference, Nebraska along with Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, and the Washington University in St. Louis form the Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The intent is to add Kansas State Agricultural College, the Iowa State Agricultural College, Washburn, Oklahoma, Drake University, and Arkansas. (Weird to see who was relevent enough to add to a league back then. At one point, we played the YMCA and the Omaha Balloon School. Ha!) The Iowa State Cyclones, and the Oklahoma Sooners are added to the roster, but the conference loses the Iowa Hawkeyes to the Big Nine. (Thanks Iowa, for breaking up the league! How dare you search for greener grass!)
  • 1912 - Nebraska applies again to become a part of the Big Nine. Again, we are rejected. (Attempt #2. I guess the third time is a charm?)
  • 1912-16 - Nebraska's first dominating streak. The Huskers go unbeaten during this 4 year stretch, toppling mighty opponents such as The Notre Dame Fiting Irish, and Minnesota Golden Gophers among others. The team that ends the streak? Kansas.
  • 1923 - Nebraska plays it's first game inside the new Memorial Stadium, despite a soggy and suspect playing surface. Nebraska trounces the Oklahoma Sooners 24-0. Later that season, Memorial Stadium was officially dedicated with a game against the Kansas Jayhawks, ending in a 0-0 tie.
  • 1923 - Nebraska chalks up it's 200th win over the Kansas State Wildcats.
  • 1928 - Looking for more governance within their conference, Nebraska and friends leave the Missouri Valley to form a new conference along with Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Kansas State, and Iowa State. This will become the Big Six Conference.
  • 1948 - The University of Colorado is added to the league, now calling itself the Big Seven. (This name sounds damn cool by the way. Something about the lucky number seven. I hope someone ends up with it after all of this re-alignment crap is done)
  • 1954 - During one particular weekend, Nebraska played Oklahoma...and Kansas State played Colorado. The outcomes of these games would determine which of 3 teams would head to Miami and play in the Orange Bowl. Sounds familiar, eh? This was over 50 years ago...
  • 1958 - Oklahoma A+M (later re-named Oklahoma State) is added to the league, forming the new Big 8 Conference. The Big 8 would stay intact for almost 50 years with these teams, until 1996 when the Texas schools came calling. Dating back to the 1800s, the conference headquarters were always located in Kansas City. In 1996, those headquarters were moved to Irving, TX.
    (information taken from "Nebraska Football - The coaches. The players. The experience. by James E. Sherwood.)

I also stumbled upon this gem, and can't stop thinking about the modern-day parallels here. I've paraphrased:

In 1936, Nebraska Coach D.X. Bible had created a powerhouse football team in Lincoln. Beating the likes of Knute Rockne and his Notre Dame squad, Bible had reached an annual salary of $10,000. His salary made him the third highest paid coach in the college game, and matched what the chancellor of the University of Nebraska was earning. (Many people protested that a simple coach would warrant more pay than professors and faculty members. Boy has this changed...)

With the help of local businessmen, the University of Texas courted the Nebraska coach in the hopes that he would move to Austin and lead the Longhorns. In a move that garnered national headlines, Texas reportedly offered Bible a 50k signing bonus, in addition to a 5-year contract worth over 200k. Bible took the offer, and moved to Austin immediately. The state of Nebraska was in an uproar.

It's sad to see the great history with schools like Missouri and Kansas getting left behind, but it just seems that Texasand their money, will never change. (You hear that Delaney?)

Feel free to post an additional, and more recent,  facts. Or even better...some personal stories and recollections of Big 6 or Big 8 games of the past. I'll kick it off.