Allow me to catch my breath.
I'm glad to have covered college sports when I have.
When traditions were more important than money. When a conference felt like a neighborhood; you knew everyone and you saw them every year. When you drove to road games.
I'm looking forward to this week's drive to Iowa City, the only drive of the season.
I count my Big Eight Skywriter trips like blessings, because of what realignment and the almighty TV dollar are doing to this great game.
What a mad, mad, mad, mad world. I never dreamed I would cover a conference with Maryland or Rutgers in it. Then again, since the chances are good that Nebraska will only see those schools twice every several years, it's almost like they're nonconference games.
Eventually, the Legends Division (probably including Illinois) will seem like Nebraska's conference. That's who you will know, who you will see every fall. The schools in the other division will be more like names on a board than campuses or stadiums you get to know.
We live in a time when money, power and ego run the sport. Maryland needs the money. The Big Ten wants the cable TV money. Jim Delany needs the legacy.
And yet, Maryland fans don't want to go. Wonder how Big Ten fans would vote if they had the opportunity.
What I've learned in this world of 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. games is that you can complain, you can picket city hall, but it's not going to do any good.
Just go with it. And don't throw away those memories.
>> The Maryland president let it slip that Illinois will switch divisions as the eastern seaboard duo climbs aboard the U.S.S. Delany.
That makes sense. I proposed Wisconsin do the honors, but I was shouted down by everyone except Urban Meyer. Something about a competitive imbalance for Ohio State.
Fair enough. I'm all for Champaign and Urbana, other than I spelled it “Champagne, Ill.,” the first time I covered a game there.
And let's go with straight “West” and “East” now, please. Pretty please.
>> Some people are on Boss Delany today for turning his back on Big Ten tradition, when you add two schools that have nothing to do with the Midwest, when there will be fewer Michigan-Wisconsin football games and Illinois-Indiana basketball games so we can watch Indiana-Rutgers. They have a point.
Fact is, the biggest Big Ten tradition might be power. Ultimately, that's what this move is about. Keeping the Big Ten in power.
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I've read a lot of well-done perspectives on this move in the last day or so. All of them boil it down to this: This is a chance for the Big Ten Network to get on cable systems in Washington, D.C., and New Jersey, two areas where population is thriving, not dying.
Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com quotes a television industry source as estimating the Big Ten could make up to $12 million more per year, or $120 million over 10 years. The source said the move was about “ego.”
Mark Blaudschun, a veteran college sports writer (ajerseyguy.com), theorizes that part of this is Delany's way of getting back at Notre Dame and the ACC (for partnering together after the Big Ten craved ND). How so? Even Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is worried about the ACC's future now.
That's collateral damage in an every-league-for-itself world.
Look, in this day and age, college sports is like Monopoly, where you collect schools like properties and collect sums that resemble Monopoly money. Boss Delany is doing his job, and he's better at it than anyone. He's protecting the league's interests, laying more money at its feet so it can do more, win more. This is the world in which we live, and the commish is trying to get a stake in the uncertain East Coast.
Say what you want about the Big Ten on the field. Off the field, it's a major player. Maybe the boss.
>> The one thing I like about this is that it could mean a move to nine conference games. I'd rather have a league game than an Idaho State. The people who write checks at the University of Nebraska, of course, do not agree. They get between $3 million and $4 million per home game. They may get one fewer of those every other year.
I also hope this means the end of the crossover division rival, except for Ohio State-Michigan. How can you justify Nebraska playing Penn State every year with six other schools in that division?
If Husker coaches go back to recruiting New Jersey the way I think they will, NU might want to play Rutgers every year.
>> I disagree with those who say this doesn't help the Big Ten's football profile.
Rutgers, the state school of New Jersey, is in an area dense with high school football talent. In many ways, untapped. Put the Scarlet Knights in some big-time games, and on national TV, and you might see this program explode.
That's what the Big Ten is betting on here, that the exposure to Ohio State and Michigan and Nebraska coming into New York and D.C. will give the locals a reason to care.
There are hundreds of thousands of sports fans in these areas, countless Big Ten alums, too. College football is a great game. Why wouldn't they fall in love with it if they had a reason?
That's one thing about this move I like: the Big Ten betting on itself. The Big Ten often suffers from a lack of ambition, not population. It's always been satisfied with being the Big Ten. This is outside the box. If the Big Ten can jump-start football at either of these programs, it will enhance its own reputation.
>> Who has the power in college football is based on perception. It's based on how many marquee teams you have and where are they ranked.
If the Big Ten gets Ohio State, Michigan, Nebraska or Penn State — and I'll throw in Wisconsin — into the top 10 or top five or playing for a national title, it will be considered a good football conference. The SEC isn't considered elite because Mississippi State is going to a bowl game. It's because it wins the stinking trophy every year and has two or three teams up high.
>> Creightonians need to start paying close attention to the big-boy Monopoly game. Realignment watchers are projecting Connecticut to take Maryland's place in the ACC. Or, others could leave the ACC. Louisville is itching to find a new home.
Bottom line, the Big East could implode at any second.
If that happens, the Catholic Basketball Conference will be holding tryouts. Keep an eye on that one, Bruce Rasmussen. These dominoes fall quickly, and without warning.
>> Speaking of Rasmussen, he spoke at my lunch series at the Omaha Press Club two weeks ago and turned some heads with one bit.
Creighton's athletic director said CU officials expected the Big Ten to consider playing 20 conference games in basketball. If that ever happened, Rasmussen said the Creighton-Nebraska series could end, because that would leave NU with only seven or so nonconference games to play. If that happens, most Big Ten schools will want to play all of those at home for the revenue.
Again, Rasmussen said this two weeks ago. With the news of Maryland-Rutgers, the 20-game hoop schedule was floated on Monday by Big Ten writers as something that could very well happen.
If that happens, that's a very unfortunate victim of college realignment.
>> His name came up for Arkansas last week. Now I'm getting questions from Husker fans wondering if Bo Pelini's name will continue to pop up with every SEC job that opens.
It seems everybody has a theory on Bo and what he wants and doesn't want. Some people are nervous.
Just a thought: Why don't we wait and see how things play out the next two weeks?
The hunch here is, if Nebraska is a Big Ten champion, the Nebraska job will be viewed in a whole different light. And so will the coach, including here at home with his detractors.
>> I gave Pelini a hard time back in July about not connecting with Nebraska fans, complaining about them rather than embracing them.
If the coach doesn't blow kisses to everyone all the time, it's not his style. But don't say the man doesn't get Nebraska football or embrace what it means.
Pelini was the brains behind the very cool idea of Tom Osborne leading the team onto the field last Saturday. Meanwhile, offensive coordinator Tim Beck came up with the idea to have the Husker receivers line up in a three-point stance on a toss sweep to open the Minnesota game. That was an unexpected, wonderful tribute.
>> Here's the latest, greatest from Creighton sports information director Rob Anderson: Doug McDermott led the country last year with 307 field goals, but only had one dunk. He equaled that output with a dunk in Sunday's win over Presbyterian.
The Jays' trip to Las Vegas this weekend is no slam dunk. CU plays Wisconsin on Friday, then Arkansas or Arizona State on Saturday in the Las Vegas Invitational. What happens in Vegas won't stay in Vegas. These are résumé-building games. Everyone expects the Jays to make the tourney. But wins over big-boy league teams could elevate the Jays' seed and help avoid playing UNC on the first weekend.
>> Come now, were you rooting for Kansas State to lose? I wanted to see Bill Snyder in the national championship game. I'm not surprised by any loss in college football anymore, but I thought things were finally aligned for KSU this time. I was stunned to see K-State lose by that much. Crazy game. Wonder if Collin Klein's battered frame finally caught up with him.
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