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Nebraska Football: Rogue One Reaction - A Roundtable

Looks like some people had thoughts about what happened yesterday

Iowa v Nebraska Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

While everything seems to change by the minute, at this point what do you think WILL happen going forward for Nebraska football in the fall?

Big Red Cobcast Pat: Nothing. Nothing will happen this fall. Nebraska is going to go to the mat to try and make something happen, but in the end, there’s too much to lose monetarily. If they void a contract, they risk losing a TON of Big Ten money, and no one is in a position to do that right now. If they could lose the (hypothetical) spring football TV money. They could also lose the long-term conference money. But that’s not going to happen. Nebraska is a big-time university with actual lawyers who’ve passed the bar exam. Maybe they’ll find a loophole, but ultimately they’re not going to do anything that jeopardizes their current standing unless there’s some sort of golden parachute waiting for them. And unless the SEC happens to be that golden parachute (extremely unlikely), they’ll never find a conference that matches the Big Ten’s money long-term. Ohio State, Michigan and Iowa all seemingly wanted to play, and even they have come out in support of the conference (at least publicly). That tells you how realistic an alternative option is.

Brianna C.: We all get our hopes up and hear rumors of great plans. Then, nothing happens and we have to go into a dark hole and cry.

Jon: Nebraska will make every effort possible to field sports teams this fall. EVERY effort. Why? Because there’s no “long term standing” to worry about. As I write this, the Big 12 is moving on with plans to play. Can Nebraska join them? Hey, why not try?

Mike: It’s a lot of talk. The statements made by NU’s administration play well with fans, but the chances of anything actually happening are close to zero.

Jill: Lots of crying. And drinking.

Nate M: There will have to be some huge change if Nebraska will be playing in the fall. The change would either be the Big Ten allowing them to play a full non-conference schedule and still stay in the league or they would have to join another conference. I don’t see either of those things happening.

Patrick: Lots of training for the team. Wind sprints, squats, & hydration.

What do you think SHOULD happen? Or what do you WANT to happen?

Big Red Cobcast Pat: Honestly, I don’t even care anymore. The past five months have worn me out with regards to these types of discussions. I don’t know the right answer on any of this, and I’m more than comfortable admitting that. If there’s football to be played, I will watch it. If not, I’ll figure something else out to occupy my time. I know and realize that a lot of people’s livelihoods are affected right now, and I would hope that people are sensitive to that fact, but the fact of the matter is, football or no football, things weren’t going to be the same this fall. Nebraska would have gotten its TV money, but the businesses that survive based on Nebraska football weren’t going to see anything close to their full revenue due to the likely absence of fans. This is a rough time for everyone, and I’m not sure there are any easy fixes right now. I know this much, though. Spring football almost certainly isn’t happening. If it does, I’ll eat a feces-filled hat. There are too many non-COVID risks, and there are too many uncertainties that will likely remain uncertainties. Unless there’s an NBA-style bubble (which will only support the idea that these guys are not amateur athletes, a virtual no-go for administrators), I don’t think enough will change in six months to ensure spring football.

Brianna C: I want to see them find a way to play. However, I have no idea what is the real best choice.

Jon: Make every effort to play football. If not, have some spring game-like festivities in Lincoln. Nebraska football and volleyball aren’t just sports to our state. They are social gathering events. Those events could help save businesses in downtown Lincoln and other places around the state. There should be something done to supplant the $300M impact Nebraska sports brings to the area.

Mike: The $300M impact that Nebraska athletics brings to the area was already long gone, thanks to the virus. The BEST case scenario for weeks has been to have football games with EXTREMELY limited attendance (say 10,000-15,000 fans). Complaining about the impact of the cancellation on small businesses and restaurants who depend on fans descending on Lincoln is way too late; that issue was already settled a long, long time ago. (And when Bill Moos talked about “100% capacity” at Memorial Stadium, he lost a large amount of credibility in making a case for football.)

Jill: What should happen? Everyone should start making plans for the Corn Nation Olympics (who wants that gold medal for the best Herbie Christmas light sculpture?!?)

Nate M: If playing a non-conference schedule is not an option then they should keep practicing and have a spring game of some type. Use this time as the spring period that Nebraska missed and then get ready for the actual season in the spring (which isn’t happening).

Patrick: What do I want? I want Nebraska to go independent for the rest of their existence. I want them to get a media rights package that gives them just enough money to be competitive nationally and schedule anyone they want year in and year out. But that’s never going to happen because that would in all reality be really dumb. I’m a dreamer

Do you agree with Nebraska sidestepping the Big Ten Conference? Was it smart?

Big Red Cobcast Pat: I understand it. From a recruiting and program-building standpoint, Scott Frost is making his pitch to the kids (and parents) who think similarly to him and the idea of the program he envisions. This is calling out to the people who want to play football and compete all the time, at any and all costs. And whether or not you agree with that mindset, it’s what the program has lacked, and it is a message that will resonate with that type of person. I think it’s a really smart play, even if it doesn’t actually lead to fall football for the Huskers. It’s not like the Big Ten is going to start colluding against Nebraska like the old Big 12 did (gulp; I hope not). Unless Nebraska makes an egregious error in interpretation of the contracts and gets its ass sued or kicked out of the league (unlikely), there’s no harm in a little bit of posturing. Nebraska is stealing the headlines in a way they haven’t since the first month of Scott Frost’s tenure.

Brianna C: Yes, I agree with it. You have to believe that Nebraska’s program knows what’s best for Nebraska’s players. Was it smart? Sure. I mean, it’s not like Nebraska is a loved program in the Big Ten and this is going to hurt our popularity. I agree with Pat that the lawyers aren’t going to let them do anything to get kicked out.

Jon: Yes, because Nebraska has to worry about the University of Nebraska first. Nebraska has a unique relationship with its state. They are more intertwined than anyone else in the Big Ten. Every other state has multiple universities they can attend, in Nebraska, there are multiple options, but there isn’t much beyond the University of Nebraska system.

If the Big Ten can’t handle that, they can go fuck themselves. I like the Big Ten. I like our being in the conference, but if they aren’t going to support their sports to the fullest like they did under Jim Delany, maybe Nebraska is better off somewhere else.

Mike: The big problem is that any other options cost Nebraska dearly. Run back to the Big XII? Well, that comes with a $20 million annual hit in a post-COVID world. We left them once before because Texas was threatening to blow the whole doggone thing up. It’s good to let people know that you aren’t going to simply smile and let others run over you, but eventually you do have to play nice with others.

Jill: The Big Ten botched their handling of this. It is still hard to fathom what the leadership was possibly thinking in how they rolled all of this out. The lack of transparency is disturbing and the timeline is suspect. If it was obvious that cancelling was so close to reality, why the big show over the schedule rollout? Who thought that trying to dominate two news cycles was a good idea when those messages are in clear conflict? The old guard schools followed precedent and kept their responses relatively muted even when making it clear there was disagreement. Nebraska’s strong public dissent sends a message to their athletes and future recruits. I know that is not why they did it, but it is playing well here at home and they will no doubt use that as they communicate with players. Every CEO coaching firm is firing off their pricing packages to the B1G offices right now.

Nate M: 100%. This isn’t the first time we have stood up to a conference. That was happening all the time in the Big 12. It may be a bit of a culture shock to some Big Ten schools but I applaud our leadership with putting their names on the statement and standing up for the state. It may not amount to anything but at least they fought for it.

Patrick: Nebraska came from a conference where they fought everything they didn’t like. What makes anyone think they would have been any different in the Big Ten? Nebraska did was Nebraska has always done. It’s in our DNA at this point. So yes, I agree with what Nebraska did.

Anything else that you would like to get off of your chest?

Big Red Cobcast Pat: I get the anger. I do. I’m just kind of over it all. That said, the Big Ten could have avoided all of this hand-wringing if they had a.) found a way to let the Pac-12 lose their weird game of chicken and be the first league to cancel its season and b.) NOT DONE A NATIONALLY TELEVISED EVENT IN WHICH THEY RELEASED THEIR SCHEDULE ON THEIR IN-HOUSE NETWORK ONLY DAYS BEFORE. Kevin Warren has faced a lot of heat for this decision when really it’s the university presidents who made the call. BUT, Kevin Warren needed to do a better job of feeling out his membership and taking the temperature of the room before trotting out the dogs and the ponies for the televised schedule event. That’s the true failure in his leadership right now.

Brianna C.: This year really sucks.

Jon: Big Ten or not, this will kill a lot of college athletic departments. There’s this concept of “return to normal”. Then there’s this idea we’ll return to some semblance of normal. Consider that neither of these are true. You go a full year without college sports and see how many athletic departments still exist. Is that possible? Damned right it is.

It’s going to kill a ton of media outlets. The OWH and LJS will be merging staff much sooner than they would otherwise. Will Hail Varsity continue? What about all the photographers I’ve stood next to at games? How will they make a living?

There are many, many college towns all over the country. How will they fare? I pray for all of them.

Mike: It was clear that the Big Ten wasn’t in agreement on this on Monday; based on the social media posts by Michigan and Ohio State (among others), it wasn’t 12-2. And certainly Nebraska let the rest of the Big Ten know that they weren’t going to agree to this before the announcement. I just don’t see how Jim Delany would have allowed the Big Ten to look this disorganized and confused.

Jill: The pain this is going to inflict is massive. It will extend far beyond the walls of One Memorial and it will be long lasting.

Nate M: Maybe Nebraska simply would not fit in anywhere. It is obvious it does not fit in with the Big Ten. With the power structure in the Big 12 (i.e. Texas), it doesn’t fit in there either. It also can’t go independent. If you stay with the Big Ten then it means more money and better stability. If you go back to the Big 12 then that means recruiting Texas, more regional schools but less money and worse stability. There isn’t a good answer.

Patrick: For the first time in forever, I bought a gaming system. I’m not a big gamer at all. My wife thinks that I have given up. Thanks Big Ten/COVID!