My thanks to John M from Crimson Quarry, SBN's Indiana Hoosiers blog, for giving an outline of Hoosier sports and Bloomington. And let me say - Bloomington.is.an.amazing.college.town. It's much easier to talk about the awesome campus and co-eds than the football team...
Allow me to welcome you to the Big Ten on behalf of Indiana University fans and alumni. In many ways, our schools' athletic programs are mere images of each other. Nebraska fans, as far as I can tell, care about football 365 days a year and regard basketball as a winter diversion that never has provided much joy. Despite IU's recent struggles in basketball, IU has long been the opposite, a hoops-obsessed school with a football program regarded as an afterthought. The basketball obsession is still there, but the recent coaching changes and capital improvements have IU fans hoping for, if not greatness, at least relevance in football.
Past Welcome Letters...
No football program has been more accommodating to its Big Ten brethren over the years than IU. Every school in the Big Ten holds a winning record over the Hoosiers. Even the University of Chicago, which left the conference in the 1930s, holds a comfortable advantage. We were making a run at Northwestern in the early 1990s, but haven't been able to buy a break against the Wildcats since then. That's one of the reasons I am so happy to welcome Nebraska to the Big Ten. I know that the vagaries of Big Ten scheduling mean that IU and NU will not play until at least 2013, possibly 2015. Still, if I am still writing my blog when that happens, it will give me great pleasure to write in my preview, under "series," "Indiana leads 9-7-3." Yes, yes, I know that all of IU's wins came in the 1940s and 1950s, when the Huskers were struggling a bit, and that when the teams played a four game series during your Tom Osborne heyday, NU outscored IU 190-43. I don't care. NU's 1970s wins don't come with an asterisk just because Lee Corso was our coach then, so I'm counting them all, however earned.I had the opportunity to attend the Notre Dame-Nebraska game when you guys made the trip to South Bend in 2000, and ever since then, my opinion of Nebraska fans has been very high. If there is a more unfailingly polite and classy fan base in the country, I haven't stumbled across it. Nebraska is the bizzaro Ohio State. Still, here are a few things to keep in mind that will help us get along:
1. It's Indiana University. Like many other great plains schools, the University of Nebraska identifies itself as "NU." That's fine, but keep in mind that IU is IU because that's the way the words are ordered in the school's name. A certain number of "University of Indiana" references are inevitable, but please try to keep it in mind.
2. It's "IU," not "Indy." Sorry, that's just another fingernails-on-the-chalkboard thing that I stumble across sometimes. "Indy" is short for Indianapolis, not for Indiana and not for Indiana University.
Now that we have that out of the way, I'll tell you a little bit about our campus. IU's in-stadium atmosphere certainly isn't the greatest, and except during a period of respectability in the late 1980s and early 1990s, we have struggled to fill our 53,000 seat stadium, which is the third-smallest in the Big Ten. Purdue fans like to make fun of us for taking aerial photos of our stadium when red-clad Ohio State fans help fill the place. I'm sure Nebraska will become a part of that tradition as well. Despite IU's lack of a strong football tradition, I would recommend that you make a trip to Bloomington when you get the chance. I'm not unbiased, but Bloomington often is on the list of nicest college towns, both in the Big Ten and nationally. Bloomington is a fairly small town dominated by IU, and city's downtown, filled with nightlife and ethnic restaurants and other college town fare, is just steps from the beautiful heart of IU's campus. IU is the southernmost Big Ten school, so our October and November weather is better than at some of the Big Ten's northern tier. Tailgating is surprisingly good, perhaps even too good. Too many students never bother to wander into the stadium. Still, student support and attendance have been improving, the recent stadium addition has improved the appearance of the place, and overall, I recommend the trip.
Finally, I have to mention basketball. If IU fans have any disappointment with the last two additions to the conference, it's that they don't bring much by way of basketball tradition. Still, NU seems to be moving in the right direction, with the new arena and all that. In looking at your 2011 season, it would appear that you have most of the talent and scoring returning from a team that was somewhere near the bubble. Finally, your basketball coach, Doc Sadler, vaulted to the lead of the "best name" category among Big Ten coaches before ever coaching a Big Ten game. Most Big Ten teams are losing a good deal of talent in the offseason, so this may be a good time for your team to ease its way into the conference.