In what has become an annual thing, I invited Jon and the gang from Corn Nation to answer some thoughts and questions I had concerning Nebraska and the B1G. Read along as the CN team discusses living abroad, Delany and the cashflow we're getting form the B1G, the addition of Rutgers and Maryland, and where they think we will be at the end of the season. Oh, and Cobby stops by, which is always something...
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1) So it's year four of the Huskers experiment, and we're finally not going to be the new guys (And yes, Penn State is eyeing everyone suspiciously from the corner wondering what took so long to add more people). Last year we talked a little bit about the impact Nebraska joining the B1G had on things like our appreciation of the Rose Bowl, and how much we liked our new digs. This time, let's go in some new directions. I know that an incredible amount of your staff is scattered outside of Nebraska. How has the move affected perceptions in your opinion? More importantly, what aspects of fandom are you embracing now that you hadn't in the past? Others that you miss?
Cobby: Oh man, I remember that sophomore year of college during rush. I was no longer the new guy and all the newbs were eyeing people suspiciously from the corner. We were talking to them about the impact they were going to have here and how they should appreciate the magic porcelain bowl located in the center of our digs, surrounded by naked lady statues. We had one night, during that rush, where we scattered all the pledges outside of Nebraska in abandoned corn fields in order to affect their perceptions of us. I think it was some place in Iowa because I saw all of these hogeye signs. They became real big fans of us when we came back a few hours later to pick them up and take them home. The story we told our sister sorority was that our pledges got lost and we drove to their rescue through blinding hurricanes and the harpy attack.
Aaron: Don't mind cobby. He tries to entertain us over at Cornnation. After he was promoted to Vice President of Stupid Titles, he kinda let things go to his head and he did a lot of things he probably shouldn't have. Because of that, he can ramble on a bit.
As far as perceptions and opinions? I think the issue that has affect perceptions about Nebraska the most, Nationally, are the blowout games and the blow ups on the sidelines. Nebraska has the pedigree, and will garner respect from most of college football fans, but the blowouts have made people question things in Lincoln while the blow ups have people wondering how far we will stoop to win. I live in Nebraska, so I can't give you a great grasp on what people outside the state might be saying, but I get it from the people inside the state that are not husker fans.
Salt Creek and Stadium, in the heart of the SEC: 95% of the people I talk to about Nebraska football don't actually know we're in the Big Ten. In fact, for the most part, they talk about Pelini's time at LSU and how they think he's over his head as a head coach. (Also all of their perception is dictated by what ESPN tells them. Seriously.) Oh, and they talk about Todd Gurley and his lack of ability to walk on water and how Mark Richt has failed to instill fear in his program. So basically, "whatever happened to their [Nebraska's] football team?" or, "SEC SEC SEC SEC SEC SEC SEC SEC SEC SEC SEC."
Other than that, I enjoy being able to watch all of Nebraska's games outside of the conference footprint. Never had that in the Big 12. Remember all those pay-per-view games? As shitty as NeuLion and BTN2Go are, they're certainly better than PPV. Especially when you're a financially challenged graduate student without cable.
And while I miss going to games weekly, I feel like going to games as an alumni has changed the experience for the better. It's like going home, which is a nice feeling.
So thanks for ruining that, Iowa. Bastards.
Jon Johnston: I've lived in Minnesota since 1987 and last season got to see Nebraska lose to the Gophers for the first time since 1960. That was so great.... What's changed is that I can now get crap from people around me when Nebraska loses. When we lost games in the Big 12 (or Big Eight), no one up here cared much. Now, there are Big Ten alums around me. People with Wisconsin plates flip me off as they drive by and see the Husker sticker on my car. I wish I had a dirt basement like the old house I grew up in Nebraska. You could bury a ton of bodies down there, and nobody woulda ever found them.
Andy Ketterson, Omaha: I guess I was already pretty familiar with the Big 10, so there's no real surprises or change of attitude here.
Since we're always considered rubes wherever we go, I always find it a little humorous when denizens of a university not located in New England or named after a crusty, old white feller try to cultivate an elite image in a hick-ish region (read: not the northeast, or a major metropolitan area not in the deep south or Texas). The Big 10 has a healthier dose of these folks than I initially would have guessed. They're the equivalent of Madonna when she tries to be British.
Cobcast Ryan, Los Angeles: Out here people think Nebraska is a steak house on the Sunset Strip or they hate us because "MEAT IS MURDER" or whatever. Ultimately, I miss playing Oklahoma but I'm glad we may never have to see a Long Horn ever again. I like playing Wisky and Iowa. I like the B1G... because Osborne.
Ty, Lincoln: I'm kind of the odd man out, I suppose. I moved here from outside of Boulder, Colorado, but I was ready to be done with Buffs fans when we made the move.
I guess I'm not a good guy to answer the question, but I will say that one thing I've always loved about being a Husker fan is the camaraderie. I remember walking through the King Soopers (Kroger brand) by my house one Saturday morning and getting a "Go Big Red!" from another shopper. Yeah, we lived in Boulder County. I think the excitement in this city around almost any sport at the U is what I'll miss if the wife and I ever move away.
2) Sparty fans like to complain about Delany because they apparently aren't cashing the huge checks that they're receiving each year, but I think it would be disingenuous to say that this hasn't been a lucrative move. That being said, how would you rate the man that schemed to bring in Nebraska, but also Maryland and Rutgers?
Salt Creek: It's all a ploy to deny us the opportunity to ever play Indiana. Look for more expansion in a couple of years. (It's okay, we'll just keep beating them at basketball until they let us play them in football.)
Cobby: Well, you can't cash a check if De-line is too long. You first start to complain to yourself and then the old lady in front of you hears you say something and she starts shaking in her boots. All of a sudden, you're on the floor of the bank in handcuffs because someone yelled "Robbery!" and you were the last man standing. Schemed? Disingenuous? It would have been a lucrative move if I had pulled of that heist, but I never suspected someone from Maryland or Rutgers to set me up like that. After I got out of prison, though, it sure makes for one hell of a story. I sometimes fill it full of conspiracy theories about having some little hunchback rat out my 300 boys and we all end up dead. People usually call B.S on me at that point.
Aaron: I don't buy that this whole-population-shift-to-the-south is going to destroy the rust belt. See, the Midwest has things that the south doesn't. We have this resource called water. Not a single drop of the Colorado River makes it to the ocean anymore because it's all used. If you don't have water, you can't grow a population. Texas and the southwestern US will eventually hit a point where they just don't have the water to grow anymore. What does the Big Ten have? The great lakes, the mississippi and the missouri rivers. Not to mention the Iron fields in Minnesota and the best farmland in the world in the Midwest. Let the south have their Golden Era over the next decade or two. We have it pretty good here in the Midwest and by then, we should be integrated in the Northeast.
Andy: He is a complicated man. Yes, he brings in scads of cash. But he also has some kooky theories like, "If we add Rutgers, people in the Big Apple will suddenly give a shit about the Midwest!!". There's also his idea that weird threats like, "If we have to start letting players have some of the cash then a) we'll shut down all non-revenue sports, and b) the Big B1G will go Division 3," will end the pay-for-play debate once and for all.
I can't decide if he's just desperately talking out of his ass or if his past successes have him in I'M KEITH HERNANDEZ mode 24/7 these days.
Cobcast Ryan: He may be diluting the conference a bit but, hey, at least he's not Beebe.
3) Oh, and let's talk about that for a moment. Rutgers is practically in a different country from us. What do you think about the new travel arrangements? Do any of you plan on going out east for events? Do you think we should have more events in Iowa/Nebraska/Minnesota? Do you think people should care? Does it really matter?
Salt Creek: I think they'll be a fringe game, kind of like how Baylor and Texas Tech were for Nebraska in the Big 12. An oddity when we play them, but little more. There's just too much distance for people to form a real interest in the game.
Cobby: Different country? Let me tell you something I learned about travel arrangements and penmanship. See, people with pHd's are suppose to be smart right? Well, they do this research-thingy and learn something cool. Instead of teaching the rest of us lain-brains what they learn, they type out some unintelligible paper written in a language (I think it's call Rutgers), that no-one but their best nerd-buddy understands. THEN, they try to write you a note. Their writing is horrendous! They can't even teach you anything if they spell it out on paper because you can't read that language (think it's called Maryland) either. My PhD buddy wrote up a travel arrangement for me to St. Paul, MN once and I ended up in some place called Spain. I tried asking if anyone knew where I could find Iowa/Nebraska/Minnesota, but they all just said, "Quieres una cerveza?" I didn't know what they were talking about but I was handed enough beers to forgive my friend for getting me here in the first place. Now, how I got back is a completely different story...
Andy: 1) I don't. I'm not going there. 2) I said I'm not going there. 3) Sure, why not. 4) It's July. If I'm going to care, now's the time. 5) Not one damn bit.
Aaron: I may hop a plane to go check out a football game in Jersey or D.C. Especially if the mass transit system will take me directly to the stadium from the airport.
Cobcast Ryan: I like NYC, Chicago, Minnesota, etc... Husker fans will travel. I wouldn't be surprised if Rutgers stadium is redder than Bo Pelini's face after a bad call when we go there in 2 years.
Jon: I don't think it's fair that anyone should have to go to New Jersey unless they've been convicted of a serious crime. I wouldn't mind going to Maryland, I've been there, and it's kind of nice. I don't get to go places for events since I have teenage children and they took all the fucking money and I just get to stay home and drink cheap gin now (MAKE YOUR TRAVELIN' WHILE YOU'RE YOUNG DAMMIT). They need to have more events in the midwest because I'm afraid of the east coast - evil people live there and it's the most likely place for the zombie apocalypse to start, then the whole place will have to be nuked to save humanity and where's all your TV sets now, Delany, you bastard!
Ty: (I skipped the last question on purpose, as I don't know how to answer) I've always been under the impression that New York City didn't really care that much about Rutgers football anyway, so... why the hell would they care about teams like Purdue now? I don't get it.
From a superficial standpoint, the opportunity to have two of the four biggest markets in the same conference (Chicago and NYC) makes sense, but I just don't see it working out like it was envisioned. While Rutgers made a couple of decent runs in the Big East, I think they'll be outclassed most of the time in the B1G. Both schools are usually afterthoughts in football (Save for Maryland's AWESOME UnderArmour unis...) so we'll see.
4) As a general wildcard, give me your 50 words or less summary of where Nebraska football will be at the end of this season.
Jon: The entire state will be on fire after another 9-4 season as civil war breaks out between BoHaters and BoBelievers, both sides equally armed. Iowa laughs as Grand Island burns.
Salt Creek: Watching cat videos on YouTube to calm down.
Cobby: Well, in summary, I did make it back to see Nebraska again. I spent 12 hours on a plane in a cat-carrier fighting for my life. See, I didn't have any money, and I had to sneak onto the plane. This is where things got interesting. I ended up (sorry, due to the 50 word limit, Cobby's response had to be cut short).
Andy: Improved D whose interior line depth issues cause problems, but whose LB's and surprising DB's are among the best in the conference. Best RB and RB depth in conference. Turnover prone QB who is slightly above average runner and one of bottom 3 passers in B1G negating one of conference's best receivers. Lots of 27-23 type games.
The record: 9-4 (could there be any doubt?)
Aaron: When you're stuck in the mud, the wheels will spin and spin until you try something different. They will keep spinning until you figure out what you need to get you over the hump.
Cobcast Ryan: I only need 3 words - Big 10 champs.
Ty: I'm always the optimist. They win all they're supposed to and take one that the experts don't expect us to. We win the B1G west, and probably lose in the conference championship game. 10-3 (11-3 with the bowl game).
Big thanks again from Corn Nation, a great part of the SB Nation family. If you're looking to get a good feel of what's going down in Husker Nation, give them a look. If you're feeling particularly weird, don't forget to give a follow on twitter to Cobby. He needs friends. @CobbyNation