Nebraska's Big Ten Intentions Will Be Known Thursday
Two of the Nebraska Board of Regents told FanHouse on Wednesday that in order for the move to the Big Ten to get on the agenda for Friday's scheduled meeting, Nebraska Public's Meeting Law requires that the agenda item on a said topic has to be made public 24 hours in advance. That would mean Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman and athletic director Tom Osborne (right) must have an agenda item proposing a move to the Big Ten posted on the school's website by 1 p.m. (CST) Thursday.
Board of Regent Jim McClurg did confirm later Wednesday that a resolution has been added to the Board of Regents agenda for Friday to discuss realignment. McClurg said the exact details of what will be discussed were not given but should be known Thursday by 1 p.m.
According to reports, the Big Ten has accelerated its expansion plans and has at least extended a membership offer to Nebraska to give the league 12 members. More teams are expected to receive invites, while doubts are growing that Missouri will be invited as had been expected.
NU Regents Chuck Hassebrook and McClurg both said they were unaware that an official offer had been made by the Big Ten on Wednesday. But McClurg did acknowledge that the Executive Committee of the Board of Regents did have a teleconference Wednesday to discuss realignment and to have the item placed on the agenda.
"I don't know that," Hassebrook said when asked if he has been told of an offer being made by the Big Ten for Nebraska to join its conference. "I have not been told one way or the other."
But it does sound as though, if a recommendation is made Friday by Perlman and Osborne to leave the 14-year-old Big 12, the Board of Regents will almost certainly comply.
"With the level of confidence I have in the two of them, I would listen very closely and be really positively inclined to consider the recommendation they would make," said McClurg, who has served on the Board of Regents since 2002. "Obviously I have to make up my mind, but these are two very accomplished executives and leaders. You can't do much better than listening to the two of them about this situation."
If Nebraska's decision is to move to the Big Ten, it could begin a ripple effect that will result in the formation of four 16-member mega conferences in the next several weeks. The Pac-10 is apparently ready to extend invitations to Big 12 members Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and either Baylor or Colorado. With Nebraska and maybe Missouri gone to the Big Ten, and if the above schools accept the Pac-10 deal, it will effectively dissolve the Big 12.
Sources have confirmed Nebraska and Missouri left last Friday's Big 12 spring meetings with a one-week deadline to commit or the league would likely disband. League sources said Friday that athletic directors have begun bracing their respective departments for a major announcement Friday.
Texas president William Powers and athletic director DeLoss Dodds did meet with his coaches Wednesday to update them on what is going, but media contact John Bianco said Wednesday that reports Dodds told them the Big 12 is dead are inaccurate.
While McClurg insisted Wednesday that no proposal to change conferences had been put before the board yet, he did concede that changes in the college landscape could be coming and that Nebraska could be involved in the shift. It is believed that Nebraska officials have finally grown tired of the power Texas wields in the Big 12 and how all the influence has settled in the South division. It also doesn't hurt that Nebraska could pull in as much as $22 million from the Big Ten each year.
"If you look back every 12 or 15 years, there has been a series of forces at work and then there is a five-day period where the whole world shifts and then it goes back into that steady state for the next 15 to 20 years," McClurg said. "It's kind of looking like the next week or so it could be one of those periods in time where there is a complete realignment to a new set of facts in athletics. I hope we are in a position that this is good for University of Nebraska.
"I think the best thing we could have done is be solvent, compliant and graduating our students."
Another major issue that has been brought up if Nebraska moves and Missouri doesn't come is who in the Big Ten would become the Cornhuskers natural rivals? But McClurg said with programs like Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Penn State, new rivalries will replace Oklahoma and Texas.
"In terms of these kind of changes and what they do to traditional rivalries X years ago in the Big 12," he said, "all of a sudden we are not playing Oklahoma very regularly. So these things happen and new rivalries are created and things change.
"The only ones left behind are people who are not willing to change. Nebraska wants a high quality program that they can support and I think we have to make the right decisions for that to happen."
Big 12 officials declined to speculate Wednesday on what the end of the week might bring.
But it seems almost certain that the look of the Big 12 will, at the very least, be a lot different soon. There is a lot of back-door dealing going on in the state of Texas where political pressure is mounting for all four of the major schools to stick together in whatever conference.
The Pac-10 had originally planned to expand by inviting Colorado along with the five South Division teams to join with Arizona and Arizona State to create a East Division. But now it looks like the Buffaloes might be replaced by Baylor due to significant political pressure being placed on the University of Texas to bring the Bears program along.
There is also a movement by the Big 12 to continue discussions with the Pac-10 about some sort of partnership if only Nebraska or Missouri leaves Friday. Apparently, the Big 12 regards Nebraska as more of a critical piece of the conference than Missouri because of the Cornhuskers' national stature. Missouri could be replaced by TCU or a similar school. There is no comparable replacement for Nebraska out there for the Big 12.
But in the meantime, Big 12 coaches and athletic directors are left to wonder what might become of the conference in the coming years.
"Obviously there are other schools, but you have to be concerned about your school," new Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville (right) told FanHouse in his office Wednesday. "You have to ask yourself where are we going to fit in this scenario.
"As it looks right now, in our eyes from this desk about the football program at Texas Tech the next 15 years, the scenario of the Big 12 or the scenario of being in the Pac-16 or whatever they would call it, we are going to win either way. I think the Big 12 is a very good conference and we can be successful in the Big 12 how it is.
"I think it's going to change some way," Tuberville continued. "We are either going to take some more in the next two to five years. Something different is going to happen. Or if we go to the Pac-10, I think that will be a great opportunity, too."
Most believe, aside from the major drawback of more travel and more missed class time in sports outside of football, that going to four 16-team super conferences would ultimately put more pressure on coaches to win in an environment in which there are fewer opportunities to compete for division and conference titles.
Tuberville has his own view.
"I think it would be less pressure on coaches," said Tuberville, who has been a longtime head coach in the SEC at Ole Miss and Auburn and years before was an assistant with the Miami Hurricanes. "From a guy that has been on three national championship teams, and team that was undefeated, been in tough conferences and been in tough games, the way it is structured now we play a playoff game every week. Our regular season games are playoff games and, if you basically lose a game during the year, you are out of it in terms of national championship because there are going to be some teams that go undefeated as we've seen for the last six or seven years.
"I think if you went to the super conferences of four, I think you are going to have the opportunity to lose a game. You can lose a non-conference game but win your side of the conference, end up in the conference championship game, win that and then have a chance to win the national championship with one or maybe two losses."