One of the things I pride myself on is my wonderful ability to write about football and basketball, and to all of those other sports I claim to write about, despite not watching football... or other sports, because obviously as an OTE writer, why would I watch football? Anyhow, instead of another really long piece by me, I decided to bring in a team of guys who both actually watch football and also know Nebraska inside out. I told them that this was the Wildcard day for the Huskers and that they could write about anything they wanted. Initially my hope was that meant they would talk about how awesome Taylor Martinez was, but they chose something a little bit less controversial. What is that? Well, this is Year 3 of the B1G Nebraska Experience, and most of us have gotten our feet wet and now think we know the lay of the land. Obviously that means it's time to talk about all the things we would change.
One quick note, if you are looking for some of the most in-depth coverage of #AllNebraskaEverything with flavors of sunshine, pessimism, realism, insanity, and outright absurdity, then check out Corn Nation. Jon and the team are great and a huge thanks to Brian for organizing, and David and Mike also contributing for helping me avoid writing another article this week so I could instead eat copious amounts of Fla-Vor-Ice and watch everything on television except football.
Well, the boys at OTE would like to know what we, Nebraska folks, would change about the Big Ten now we're in the third campaign of the Huskers in the B1G. What would we all do?
I have a strong distaste for the unbalanced conference schedule they're moving towards. I would ditch that plan yesterday. A team like OSU or Michigan or Nebraska or anybody shouldn't have five conf. home games when others only get four.
Nebraska specific: I like the burgeoning Neb/Wisc. rivalry and would like to see that moved to the end of the season. I think both sides would embrace that.
Non-football related: I'd like to see the conference continue to emphasize baseball. They've made strides the past few years and Indiana making it to the CWS is a big thing, but I'd like to see that emphasis continue to expand. It's a sport that could be significant for the conference, but they have to continue to take it seriously. And that doesn't mean playing the conference tournament in Target Field, it means putting it in places where it will be embraced, whether that's Omaha (Werner Park, not TD Ameritrade...) or Columbus or Indianapolis, it doesn't matter, but a place where it fades into the background shouldn't be it.
How would I change the Big Ten... hmmm.... first off, I'd eliminate the nine-game conference schedule. While I respect that Jim Delany wants to get the conference together, there are about 20 other sports in which that could happen besides football. A nine-game conference schedule only isolates the conference, and I would rather watch Nebraska (or Ohio State, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, etc. etc.) play teams outside the conference than play each other more.
I'd make everyone stop playing Notre Dame. Screw them. They had their chance to join. Michigan/Michigan State/Purdue can establish new rivalries.
If the Big Ten truly stands for "student athletes" more than other conferences, then they need to force implementation of the things that Jim Delany talked about in this year's media day presser. One thing wasn't clear as to whether or not the stipend would extend to all scholarship athletes, and it should. The conference is making enough money as it is, and rather than it going to more salaries and facilities, it should be going to the young people upon whose backs it is being built.
I like the Big Ten's emphasis on "Olympic Sports" and I want to go on record that I wouldn't change that.
I'd give more incentives for universities to start up hockey and lacrosse teams across the board.
I'd give authors who write for a site called "CornNation.com" press passes, free air fare and lodging to every school and any sport they wish to see. WOohoO!!!! [ed note: The editorial board at OTE support this if authors at the site www.offtackleempire.com are also afforded such privileges. Honestly, none of us are turning that down and if you're reading this Jim, I'm sure Graham would take a phone call on the offer.]
Baseball: I'd push like hell to have the season start one or two weeks later, with the realization that the CWS would move into early July. That would screw up summer leagues, I know, and Omaha would go crazy, but this is pie in the sky stuff, right?
Honestly, there isn't a whole lot I'd change. Maybe we're still new, but I like the conference. I like the emphasis on academics. I guess the only other thing I'll mention is the inferiority complex that fans seem to have with the SEC. We will never outspend them in football. We will never be as crazy as they are, so fans need to stop wishing we'd break the emphasis the conference currently has and realize that maybe the SEC will dominate football for a long time and accept it, because if the arms race mentality continues, all of college athletics could be doomed in the long run.
Brian: Give me two things.... Massive baseball coverage on BTN, and November night football games. There is no reason, with the footprint, Fox Sports helping you, and the ability to create your own image that you cannot do both. I do not care about weather "issues" Sam I Am, make this happen.
Mike: I'd personally prefer that the Big Ten played eight conference football games instead of nine, but an unbalanced nine is infinitely preferable to a ten game conference slate. I would, however, require that each conference team schedule at least one non-conference game each season against either a Pac-12, Big XII, SEC, or ACC school.
Before we talk about November night games, I would require that BTN televise at least one primetime game every week prior to Halloween. Give schools and the networks the opportunity to play at night in November, but all parties agree to it.
I'll also play the heretic. Forget about this illogical obsession with the Rose Bowl being the end-all, be-all of the Big Ten. Yes, it's a tradition; I get that. But the Rose Bowl is also a dilapidated fire trap complete with lousy sight lines. When the new college football playoff semifinals fail at bowl sites, stand up to the SEC and bring these games on campus where they belong. We know why the SEC balked at that idea; four of the six bowl games that will host semifinals are in SEC country. Nebraska fans know the home field advantage southern schools have in bowl games; it's time to make this fair. Give Ohio State a chance to play for a title in the Horseshoe. Give Michigan a chance to play for a title in the Big House. Let a Florida school come to Lincoln in January for a change. Keep the Rose Bowl around for the top B1G school that doesn't qualify for the playoff, if you want to keep the tradition alive. Just stop letting the Rose Bowl sabotage the Big Ten.
After basketball season is over, there's no excuse to not fill out the BTN schedule with baseball and softball games, with doubleheaders/tripleheaders in April and May. Speaking of baseball, be sure to enlist Nebraska's help to promote the heck out of next May's Big Ten baseball tournament. If the prices are reasonable, there's no reason not to expect huge crowds at TD Ameritrade Park.
So there you have it! Thanks again to the Corn Nation guys. Seriously, they have a lot of talented writers over there and I appreciate their previews and thoughts on football. Also, their recruiting coverage is one of the best around and cannot be beat by any other free recruiting site out there. Check them out and say hello, and let them know we sent you... unless you make a mess, then we're totally blaming it on the SEC. You know, because we hate those guys.