Can you believe that Thursday, July 1 marks an entire decade since the Nebraska Cornhuskers officially became a member of the Big Ten Conference? A lot has changed in those ten years, a lot has stayed the same, and probably even more observations have just generally been missed in the melee of everyday life on this big marble planet. At any rate, it seems the perfect time to get the staff together for a round table and give our thoughts on some of the lingering questions, observations, and wish list items after a full decade of life in what was once “the western conference.”
Starting off easy on this one: What is your favorite aspect of having joined the Big Ten?
Patrick: I would say that stability that comes with it. It seems that every so often there is talk about the Big 12 imploding. There is no discussion like that in the Big Ten.
Nate M: Money.
Jon: I live in Minnesota, so the best part of us in the Big Ten is I get to go to more sporting events than previously. When we were in the Big 12, I made the trip to Ames for football. That was about it as far as travel goes. In the Big Ten, I’ve been to Minnesota (about 35-40 minutes away) for a ton of different sports. I’ve been to Madison twice. I need to get out more.
Aaron: Stability in a conference that has been around since before even Jon was born. And one that is perennially good in academics, football, volleyball and basketball.
Mike: No more Texas llama drama. (Money is a really cool bonus, though.)
Andy: Dollah $$$ bills, bitches.
Other than that, not too much. While getting the hell away from a conference run by Texas proved to be a very popular leisure sport among the members, it was a shame it came to that. We’re again a whipping boy, this time as a forever newbie in a conference of murderers, racists, abusive parent-substitutes and multiple levels of horrifying perverts and their protectors who play act as if their conference some sort of Ivy League of the midwest whose sports the New York City metro area is dying watch on the BTN.
They are now our brothers but also the kind of wild-eyed creeps for whom you’d land mine your front yard if they were your neighbors.
Now flipping that question, what is your least favorite aspect of having joined the Big Ten?
Patrick: Stubbornness of the conference
Nate M: Incompetence.
Jill: Losing football games, especially to Iowa
Jon: Having to put up with these sunsabitchin’ Big Ten fans when we’re losing. Would we be doing any better in the Big 12? I doubt it. We made bad decisions, named Shawn Eichorst and Mike Riley. (Get over this revisionist bullshit that Bo Pelini would still be around, the guy ran out of leash, if Eichorst had waited another year, it’d been obvious.)
Aaron: As a baseball writer, I miss Big XII baseball. The B1G is so much better than when we joined, but still nothing like going down to the Oklahoma and Texas schools for a series. And I love traveling for baseball tournaments, so going down to Bricktown Ballpark for the Big XII baseball tournament was one of my favorite trips every year. Seems the B1G is stuck on earning all the money Omaha has to offer for the tournament, so I won’t be traveling anytime soon for a week of pure baseball.
Mike: I miss the loss of old Big Eight rivalries like Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri and especially Oklahoma. Eventually over time, NU will have new rivalries develop, but those take time.
Andy: Ah hell, I wasn’t reading ahead. Pretty sure I covered that above already.
Nebraska has played at least one game at every Big Ten football stadium. What stadium have you been to that is your favorite or the one you still want to bucket list most, and why?
Patrick: I would say the TCF Bank Stadium in Minnesota would be my favorite. It’s new, nice, and the sight lines are good. Also, they serve walleye fries. As for one that I want to go to, I would have to say Beaver Stadium at Penn State. Mainly because I really want to check out the campus and surrounding area.
Nate M: I’ve only been to Michigan State. I was a little underwhelmed but I think part of that is because I’m used to Memorial Stadium. It reminds me a bit of going to other zoos around the country. When you’ve grown up going to the Henry Doorley Zoo every year then almost all other zoos don’t have a chance.
The wife and I are trying to see every MLB Stadium and are about halfway there. I think it would be fun to start knocking out the Big Ten football stadiums.
Jill: Hmmm. Mile High is pretty awesome. I haven’t been to any other Big Ten stadiums outside of Nebraska.
Jon: I want to see a game at Michigan. And Columbus.
Aaron: I’ve been to Iowa, Minnesota, and Illinois for games so far, and hope to get to them all. Illinois is my favorite place to go for a game. Good restaurant/bar scene close by that is open late for night games. And I love that they have all their students and band in one end zone. Nebraska should learn from that. Plus you can get amazing seats for next to nothing. And we win!! Iowa’s stadium sucks.
Andy: Also see answer #1. Until the conference cleans up its act, I’ll continue to enjoy this conference on widescreen HD.
What about basketball arenas or other sports venues (volleyball, hockey, baseball, etc.) in the league you’ve been to and liked best or want to visit most?
Patrick: I have yet to go to an arena in the conference. I would like to go to Williams in Minneapolis as I hear it’s loud and I love old palaces like that. Might also add in Assembly Hall in Bloomington. Mainly because it is such an interesting setup that you don’t always see in sports.
Nate M: Would like to go see a game at Michigan State, Indiana and Maryland. I’ve not been to a basketball game at another B1G venue.
Jill: I think I’d love to visit the Shoe or the Big House just because of the Big Ten history. One place that I have been is the Big Ten Conference Center in Rosemont. I know it’s not a sports arena, but it has a lot of history hanging on the walls. I could wander around there for hours (and not just to get out of my meeting either!)
Jon: Baseball. I mean.... I’d like to go see baseball at other Big Ten schools, but they don’t seem to give a shit much, so what’s the point. Volleyball at Penn State (I’ve been to many matches at Minnesota and they are awesome.) Basketball at Michigan State. Wrestling at Penn State and Iowa (yes, I said that).
Aaron: Have traveled just a bit for baseball. I actually like what Iowa has done with their small stadium. Indiana’s is newer, and looks new, but up close everything looks like it was made with the cheapest material and planning possible. I really would like to get to all the baseball stadiums. Would like to see some basketball at Indiana and Michigan State. But Nebraska volleyball at Penn State is really one of the matches I’d really like to see! Only slightly ahead of watching a baseball game at Wisconsin…
Andy: No basketball trips yet either. However, even as dangerous as travel across Indiana can be for the unsuspecting, I have always to see some hoops in Bloomington.
Pretend the Big Ten is planning a move to 16-teams. Which two do you want to see added (but you are not allowed to pick Oklahoma or Texas, and can only choose one old Big XII foe besides them)?
Patrick: I will go with Kansas out of the Big 12 to start things off. Proximity between Lincoln and Lawrence is nice and they will boost an already good conference in basketball. On top of that they are a fine academic institution. For the second school I am going to go with Virginia Tech. Believe it or not they fit in the footprint well enough and are a very good academic institution. They would lose the east side of Virginia for recruiting but could pick up the far east of the Midwest in it’s place.
Nate M: Kansas would be awesome for basketball. Just think how the conference would look from a basketball perspective if you add Kansas. It would be incredible. Football-wise it normally would be a win for Nebraska in the division. Maybe with some of that B1G money that Kansas could take a step up with football.
Notre Dame. I know they are basically an ACC school for the moment but they would fit in perfectly with Big Ten in terms of geography and they have a historic football program like Nebraska, except Notre Dame is actually good now unlike the Huskers.
Jill: Kansas isn’t a bad option. Their football profile has been pretty bad, but it would be nice to have a close road game. I’d probably like K-State more but I don’t think they would actually get a look from the B1G. Another team I’d like to see in the B1G is Virginia Tech or possibly Virginia. The Cavaliers would make my dream of Big Ten baseball dominance a bit of a nightmare, but no one cares about baseball (right Jon?)
Jon: Cincinnati. It would piss off Ohio State because it’s in Ohio and it would piss off everyone else because they’re not good enough to be a member of such an elite group of research institutions.
Aaron: Seriously, Notre Dame belongs in the Big Ten. And I feel weird not having Iowa State in the Big Ten. They are in a perfect spot geographically, now that we have boxed them in. And have two teams that they have history with already there, in close proximity.
Mike: I’ll go with Kansas, of course. It makes sense from a basketball perspective, and it also brings the Kansas City media market along. And if we’re restricted to only one Big XII foe, I’ll go with Georgia Tech. Decent athletics and great academics, plus it makes a B1G push into essecee territory.
Andy: Well, God knows Notre Dame is the natural, but since they are far too greedy to ever risk giving up the NBC deal, I’ll just add them to the Texas/OU list. (And why in f**k would we want Texas?? They’re the whole reason we’re in this extended mess. They come to the Big Ten, hello again Big 12.)
Let’s go with Iowa St to start - a rivalry with Iowa spices up the division and Husker fans actually get an occasional road trip where we don’t have to contemplate flying.
In addition, let’s add West Virginia - their backcountry fit in with the Big Ten’s current oddities and we get moonshine!! In addition, Penn St. finally gets the in-conference hillbilly rival they’ve never truly had. Wins all around.
Knowing what you know now, if you could go back in time to the decision to leave for the Big Ten and it was up to you, would you still make the decision to switch conferences? Why or why not?
Patrick: Yes, I would still leave. It was a very volatile situation during that time and I really do not think we would be any better still in it. We might have a few more wins in football and basketball but that might be it. I still see us having the coaching and player issues that we have had since joining the Big Ten. Just in a different setting.
Nate M: I think if you took money out of the equation then I would go back to the Big 12 nine times out of ten. Though I don’t blame the decision to bolt the Big 12 because it looked like it was about to implode and Texas had their own television network. Losing the connection to the state of Texas really hurt football recruiting. Though, so does losing.
Jon: Yes. Let’s say you’re out of a toxic relationship. The further it gets in the rear view mirror, the better it looks because you’re out of the day-to-day nightmare. Add to it our tendency to romanticize the past, and BAM! You’re right back in. Suddenly, you realize what a hellhole it was all over again. There were damned good reasons we left. If you miss the Big 12, you’re either an idiot or not in touch with your feelings much because you can’t tell what you miss is the winning, not those turned-their-back-on-us shitbags from Oklahoma.
Aaron: 100%, yes. Was getting tired of the Big XII being the conference of Texas, and to a lesser extent Oklahoma. And with baseball being my favorite sport, I thought Nebraska would do a little better than the two conference championships its had since joining. But that is largely due to the conference improving so much in the last decade. I just wish the Big Ten brass and BTN crew would give it the respect it is clearly deserving of now, like the Big XII did.
Mike: Is this really a question? The stability of the Big Ten was sufficient reason by itself to not be held hostage by Texas. Add in the money plus the exposure BTN provides, and the decision is still a no-brainer. The University of Nebraska has made a bunch of dumb decisions in recent years, but moving to the Big Ten was never one of them. Those dumb decisions are much more the cause of Nebraska’s issues, not the change in conferences.
Andy: Nothing much to add really. I hated leaving but when one school is basically dictating to the the commissioner and other schools how things will be run along with being able to start their own network while giving everyone the finger, it really is time to go. Obviously, we weren’t alone given the number of other schools who left. (And for that matter, who tried to leave but couldn’t find a landing pad.)