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Countdown to 2012: As it Turns Out, 12 isn't Such a Bad Number Afterall

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Congratulations. You made it through the weekend. Only one more to go before we kick off the 2012 season! One more weekend and the most wonderful time of the year is set to go! Ladies and gentlemen, friends and Buckeyes, we’re 12 days away!

The Big Ten conference has long been mocked for its seeming inability to master simple counting drills. It was as old and tired as the joke Nebraskans have heard for as long as anyone can remember that "N" stands for knowledge. Hilarious. Knee-slapper. Then something funny happened. Nebraska joined the Big Ten. And the conference that couldn’t count added one more for a total of 12. How does that work? As it turns out, pretty well, at least so far. Nebraska is happy. The Big Ten is happy. The rest of the college athletics world still thinks we can’t count. Whatever. It works for you, err, us. It’s not a group without its flaws and dysfunction. But it works.

That said, the Big Ten needed a makeover. It was losing out to the Big Twelve, SEC and Pac-10, especially at the end of the season when the Big 12 somewhat dominated the Thanksgiving Day weekend viewing. The Big Ten had its weekend and it was relegated to the sidelines while the rest of the country crowns their champions over the next two weeks.

So the Big Ten added us! Nebraska! Hey there! Good to be here. The 12 Big Teners are split into two divisions and voila! We’ve got ourselves a championship game. We’ve got ourselves relevancy. Michigan/Ohio State twice a year? Sign me up! Nebraska/Wisconsin for the Rose Bowl? Heck yes! Let’s do it! Penn St./Michigan State for…never mind. It’s only been one year. But so far that year has come up, well…roses. We saw one of the best games of the year in the title game between Michigan State and Wisconsin. And it’s only the beginning. It’s the beginning of a wonderful adventure. Trust us. We’ve been there. Occasionally, it’s going to be painful. There will be national title hopes dashed. It will happen. Sometimes they’ll be made. Sometimes it’ll just be a game. But it will always be relevant.

The target has shifted slightly. The Rose Bowl isn’t the only goal anymore (we’ll cover that more in detail in about ten days), that might be difficult for the old guard of the Big Ten to fully understand. The Rose Bowl may not be the be all end all anymore, it’s part of the end, a big part, granted, but not the only. And to do that, to restore its stature in college football, it had to adapt. And it did. The best way it could. Nebraska is better for it. The Big Ten is better for it. The college football world, well, they can just deal with it.

And in 12 days, the race for Indy begins again!