- Alanna Autler
- Alexandra Olgin
- Big 10 conference
- Big 12 conference
- Board of Regents
- Colin Nabity
- Colorado University
- Harvey Perlman
- Indiana University
- Nebraska Board of Regents
- Nebraska joing Big 10
- Nebraska leaving Big 12
- Oaken Bucket
- Penn State University
- Roy Hills
- Steven Balters
- University of Iowa
- University of Michigan
- University of Minnesota
- University of Missouri
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln
- University of Texas
Democracy Not a Spectator Sport in College Conferences
Alanna Autler, FNCU Editor
Colin Nabity is very opinionated.
For one thing, the recent Indiana University alum applauds the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for departing from the Big 12 conference last Friday; he cites Texas' independent sports network as the catalyst; and says he believes Nebraska Football has the ammo to challenge the likes of Penn State and OSU.
Nabity backs another point: the Nebraska Board of Regents' 12-0 vote to make the switch. He said students shouldn't partake in decisions regarding their athletic programs. While most fans matriculate, graduate, and eventually leave, athletic departments don't.
“This is a long-term commitment,” the Nebraska native said. “It's a change for the president and regents to vote on. They're thinking about tax payers, future students.”
Student fans who attend Big 12 schools will feel the Cornhuskers' absence when the move comes into effect in July 2011, and the enthusiasts at Big 10 universities must acclimate to a force that will stir additional competition.
UNL chancellor Harvey Perlman said he has not sensed a negative reaction from his student body.
“I would be surprised as a whole if they weren't anything but excited for this opportunity,” Perlman says. “I've only gotten positive responses.”
While Perlman says the lack of backlash could be due to UNL being in summer session, he adds that a student representative did sit on the board of regents and was “engaged.”
Whether the students voted or not, the decision affects them. Geographically, Nebraska falls within “the Big 10 radius”, as all conference schools are in the Midwest except Penn State. According to Perlman, this allows students and teams to travel shorter distance to games. Additionally, he says Nebraska is on par with Big 10 “culture and academic standards.” Perhaps the biggest change will be an opportunity for teams to play in a division championship. With 12 teams in the conference, this is now possible.
But this blessing could also prove to be a burden. If the conference is split into two divisions, schedule complications could put an end to traditional bowl games, such as the Oaken Bucket. According to Nabity, this is one of few reasons why the Big 10 community would be “resentful.”
In fact, breaks in tradition appear to be more upsetting than anything to students.
“For the good for college sports, consistency in conference play should be maintained whenever possible to ensure rivalries and the integrity of conference championships and records. Of course I wish I had a say,” said Roy Hills, a University of Michigan student and a FOX Digital intern.
Time will determine if its presence will skewer established rivalries in the Big 10, such as the one between Iowa and Minnesota. Colorado and Nebraska's absences will end the annual Big 12 North and Big 12 South playoff game. And the Nebraska-Missouri rivalry is recognized as one of the oldest in the Big 12, as well as the nation.
“I will miss the Mizzou-Nebraska game,” said Alexandra Olgin, a Fox News intern and University of Missouri student. “Tradition plays a huge role and uprooting it for more money does not make the school look good and does not gain fan support.”
Even Chancellor Perlman voiced regret on ending rivalries: “I grew up here; I grew up with Husker football. There is a sadness in giving those up.” However, Perlman added that the pros of leaving “obviously” outweigh the cons.
While Olgin disagrees with Nebraksa's departure, she says there are factors that students ultimately don't understand when making such a decision. Joining the Big 10 allows Nebraska more network coverage unavailable to Big 12 teams. And while any realignment can sacrifice a loyal fan base, it grants more geographic range for recruitment—and new players oft bring new fans.
And not all students are focusing on the shift itself—some are looking ahead. UNL student Steven Balters said he “loves” this decision for personal reasons. He says he's excited not only for new, big teams to come through Lincoln, but for his future, too.
“My degree just went up in value since Big 10 schools are respected more objectively and subjectively,” Balters said.
For now, students' reactions can't be fully gauged until the season begins anew—or until Nebraska officially joins the Big 10 in 2011. But one thing is for sure: regardless what happens, people will keep their eyes on Nebraska.