"I will not be taking any questions in regards to any Big Ten issues," Pelini announced during his opening remarks on the first day of the Big 12 football media days. "We're excited about being in the Big 12 this year. We're excited about the upcoming season, and our focus is on the Big 12, which is a great conference we're excited to be in this fall -- and looking forward to the future."
Certainly, Pelini was going to be grilled on the move by Nebraska that nearly led to the breakup of the Big 12 last month regardless. But his unsolicited no comment was the beginning of a long conversation about what this final season in the Big 12 will be like for the Cornhuskers.
Pelini tried hard to downplay the Big Ten/Big 12 issue, though his athletic director Tom Osborne will be attending the Big Ten football media day instead of the Big 12 this week.
"There is no Big Ten/Big 12 matter," he insisted. "We are in the Big 12 right now and that's all we are concerned with."
Pelini insisted that his approach and his team's approach wouldn't change as they prepare to enter the 2010 season as the favorites to win the Big 12 North title for the second year in a row.
"Business as usual," Pelini said when asked how he has handled the move with his team. "The way we run our program is we talk to our guys about focusing on the process and what they have to do on a day-to-day basis to have an opportunity to compete. That hasn't changed."
But so much has changed with the decision last month, spearheaded by athletic director and former coaching great Tom Osborne, for Nebraska to leave the conference it helped form in order to join the Big Ten. The Cornhuskers' move was quickly followed by Colorado's decision to head to the Pac-10, and for several days it appeared that Texas and four other schools would also leave for the Pac-10 to form a super conference.
The Big 12, however, was saved when commissioner Dan Beebe was able to secure a more lucrative television package for what will be the 10-member Big 12. Additional concessions were made to keep Texas happy.
Apparently, while the rest of the nation awaited Nebraska's decision, it wasn't major news among members of the Cornhuskers football program.
"It wasn't big deal for us because we know nothing is going to change for us except when we go on road trips we are going to be going other places and preparing for other teams," said Nebraska junior defensive tackle Jared Crick. "Anything else is going to be the exact same for us.
"We support the administration, we believe it was the best decision for the entire university and not just the football team or a certain team. We think it's the best thing for us. We trust in our organization."
When pressed on why he feels the move to the Big Ten is in the best interest of the Nebraska, Crick pointed to the belief in Osborne as a primary reason.
"Just because Tom Osborne made the decision and we trust in Tom and every decision he makes we're going to back him and believe that was best decision no matter if he tells us his reasons for doing it or not," Crick said. "We trust in our organization and the athletic director."
It has been little secret Osborne had long been uncomfortable with the strong influence of the conference by the South division schools and he also disliked the power Texas wields in the Big 12. It probably didn't help that during last year's Big 12 championship game at Cowboys Stadium, Osborne and the rest of the Nebraska faithful had to sit back and watch as time was put back on the clock after they had appeared to upset Texas. But the Longhorns were able to kick the game-winning field goal to advance to the BCS national championship game after one second was put back on the clock.
Now, the Cornhuskers have a chance to win the conference title on the way out the door, with Oklahoma and Texas as the heavy favorites in the South.
"Last year or first year, it really doesn't matter," Crick said. "We'd like to win the conference championship no matter the circumstance. The conference championship is the conference championship no matter if we are trying to prove a point or it's a first year we are trying to prove a point. If we can get a conference championship we are going to happy no matter what."