The move of Nebraska to the Big Ten Conference has sparked conversation and controversy all over the college football world. Bloggers, tweeters, facebookers, analysts and reporters are all reporting what “sources” say. While the NBA finals are trying to wrap up and college baseball teams try to validate their ticket to Omaha, many eyes have turned to college football. We don’t need to mention the seasons begin in August and this is June. No matter what changes happen, there are always winners and losers. If the college football changes end today here are the top five winners and losers.
5. Missouri – The Tigers appeared to be ready to jump the Big 12 ship and were given an ultimatum with Nebraska to make a decision. It turned out the Tigers never really had a decision to make. When the Big 10 turned to Nebraska, the team from Columbia (who was thought at one point to be on its way to the Big 10) fell off the radar of James Delaney and company.
4. Big 12 Conference – While the recent changes have not been a complete loss for the conference, they did come out on the losing end in some categories. The loss of Nebraska means losing a football power, thus weakening strength of schedule. The conference also lost its best women’s basketball team from last season, a perennial volleyball national contender and a softball program that made the NCAA tournament this spring. The conference, however, should have no problem losing a pair of men’s basketball programs that have long been in the cellar of the conference.
3. Nebraska fans – Some fans are concerned about the Oklahoma and Colorado rivalries ending….newsflash: The OU rivalry died when the Big 12 was formed because the two teams didn’t play every year. The CU rivalry was a good one, but Iowa City is closer and the Husker/Hawkeye football matchup will grow to one of the best each season. Aside from those minor changes, how about travel plans for the Big Red Faithful? The conference move will force the Midwestern fans to budget more if they are going to continue to be known as fans that travel well. NU fans are used to an average travel of four hours to see the beloved Huskers meet regular opponents each year. Heck, throw in Oklahoma and Oklahoma State just for fun and the average travel for a Husker fan is five hours. The move to the Big Ten increases the average to just over seven hours. This is a three hour difference from what fans are used to. That is an extra gas tank or two. Is this good for a state that ranks in the lower half of median household income or that has two counties that make the list of the 100 poorest counties? The state does rank in the top 20 in obesity so maybe the Big Red will budget more money on following the Huskers and less on food and become a slimmer group of people. If this happens, Husker fans win.
2. Western Athletic Conference – There has been one school to keep the WAC on the map in college football. That school, Boise State, will become a member of the Mountain West Conference. This is a great move for the school, but the WAC suffers a huge blow. The biggest name now in the conference is probably Fresno State. Some of these schools have made bowl games and done some nice things, but it was Boise State and Boise State only that has competed in the national spotlight in the football ranks.
1. Pac-10 Conference- The conference has suffered a big blow over the past week and appear to be the clear cut loser in all of the conference shifting. With USC being slapped in the face by the NCAA for violations, it appeared critical for the Pac-10 to reel in some of the Big 12 schools. Just when they thought they had a deal done, BOOM, the Big 12 survives and the Pac 10 is left with only Colorado. The conference is seeking Utah as a potential member and could lure the Ute Brass with the idea of playing in a BCS conference. The MWC just added Boise State to help its case, the loss of Utah would be bad. The Pac 10 needs something more than just Colorado out of this deal. They have to survive as a conference while USC is being buried alive by the NCAA.
5. Big Ten Conference – It is not secret the conference would love to add Notre Dame. They wanted the Irish over Nebraska, but did see Nebraska as a good fit. With the addition of Nebraska, perhaps it is more attractive for a school like Notre Dame to eventually be a part of. The conference now has four of the top 10 winningest programs in college football (1. Michigan, 4. Nebraska, 5. Ohio State, 7. Penn State). If the conference can lure Notre Dame they will have four of the top five programs, adding No. 3 Notre Dame. The conference also helped itself in other sports as well by adding a Nebraska women’s basketball team that made the NCAA tournament last year, adding a perennial volleyball power and baseball and softball are upgrades as well. Nebraska had an ultimatum and the Big 10 made its move.
4. Nebraska – They wanted even revenue sharing in a TV deal, they wanted to be a better fit somewhere with academics and they were sick of being controlled by Texas…..the move to the Big 10 is a solution to all scenarios. While the fans were mentioned above as losers in this deal, it is a great move by the institution. The Big 12 killed the rivalry with Oklahoma and left Nebraska in a North division that was not on par with the South. Yes, the north (between Nebraska and Kansas State) seemed more dominate early on, but the South won 10 conference title games, while the North was crowned just four times.
3. Boise State/Mountain West Conference – The MWC has been trying to prove its case of being a legit conference. They want an automatic bid to the BCS, the addition of Boise State only helps the case and ensures Boise State and Utah (or TCU or Air Force or BYU) will not be stuck playing each other if the two should qualify for a BCS Bowl. This move has been thought of for a long time and it has finally happened. The MWC has to find a way to keep Utah from jumping into the Pac-10. That would be a blow for the conference, but right now the MWC and Boise State are winners from the shifting.
2. Notre Dame – With one of the richest traditions in college football, the Fighting Irish may be able to continue on as they always have. They don’t want to join a conference and will not have to. If the Big 12 folded and the conferences became Mega Conferences then Notre Dame may have been inclined to join a conference. The Big 12 survived and there haven’t been enough changes to force Notre Dame into a conference, yet.
1. University of Texas – In the driver’s seat of the Big 12 for a long time, the Longhorns didn’t really want to go to a conference they couldn’t control. The Pac-10 move could have meant the end of the Longhorn Network, which was a red flag for UT. The Big 12 is staying together, for now, and Texas will see an increase in TV revenue from the new deal. They never wanted even revenue sharing (Nebraska did) and now they won’t have to. Texas will still end up with more money on a yearly basis than the other schools in the conference. They remain superior, just as they wanted.
Who’s to blame?
5. Nebraska/Colorado – The husker athletic department had a “don’t blame us” attitude when they announced in a presser that they would be leaving the Big 12 conference. However, there has to be some blame on the shoulders of Nebraska and Colorado, right? If you leave then you begin the idea of change and that is what happened. Nebraska wasn’t happy with the TV deal so they left. Colorado saw they could be left out if things fell the right way so they bolted when an invitation was received. Smart move by both schools, but the schools are to partially blame for the moves.
4. Missouri – While they end out losers in this whole thing, the Tigers should be blamed for some of the shifting. It came out in Missouri before anywhere else that the Big 10 had extended offers to Nebraska and Missouri. This is clearly not the case and the only thing it did was expedite the process and leave Missouri stuck in the Big 12, like it or not.
3. Big Ten Conference- They seem to be the conference that has tried to make big changes. The conference had a goal of reaching 12-16 teams in a 12-18 month period. They are now at 12 with the addition of Nebraska and will continue over the next 12 months to try and add schools. If they didn’t jump after Nebraska so hard, we wouldn’t have been left speculating all the changes and “what could be’s”.
2. University of Texas – Yes they are winners, but UT is to blame. Some schools wanted to see more money from a TV deal, but that could have meant the end of the Longhorn Network. If Texas would have committed to making a Big 12 Network happen then perhaps Nebraska would have stayed in the conference. Colorado may have stayed as well. Even if the Buffs left, the conference could have gone after another school with a better structured TV deal.
1. Big 12 Conference – There is no one more to blame than the Big 12 Conference for the shifting in teams. When they issued an ultimatum to Nebraska and Missouri, it meant changes were to likely happen. Perhaps if the ultimatum is never issued the conference could have spent a week in meetings to agree on some changes that could keep the conference together. When the ultimatum was issued, Colorado bolted for the Pac-10 so it wasn’t left out in the realignment talks. The Big 12 is the culprit leading to the changes in the Big 12 Conference.