Blog Entry

Tom Osborne on the move to the Big Ten

Posted on: July 1, 2011 12:08 pm
Edited on: July 1, 2011 12:10 pm
This is the day Nebraska officially says goodbye to more than a century of history in the same conference. It started with the old Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association in 1907. It ended Friday when Nebraska left the Big 12 and joined the Big Ten.

Gone are decades of history in the old Big Six, Seven and Eight. Gone are memorable games with Oklahoma. Gone is Nebraska's preeminent spot in its conference. It is joining the nation's oldest conference populated with Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and others. Nebraska is still a big fish, only in a bigger pond.

Where does one of the country's most recognizable football factories fit in? In this companion blog to Friday's story on conference realignment, tried to find out in this exclusive interview Nebraska legend/AD Tom Osborne. How is the Big Ten different than the Big 12?

Tom Osborne: "Probably a little more traditional, more emphasis on traditional rivalries, not that they weren't there in the Big 12. When the Big 12 was formed Oklahoma began to face South, focus on the game with Texas. Nebraska-Oklahoma was no longer a regular game. It seems that the Big Ten puts an emphasis on history and tradition.

"I would say that the Big Ten is more oriented toward a level playing field in that they don't preserve a large percentage of TV money for those that appear more frequently.

"What all that does is probably lead to a little more stability. I'm not saying one's right and one's wrong ... I would compare it to the NFL model with pretty much equal revenue distribution. If you're in a major market you're able to generate a lot more money. Generally, the Yankees do better because they make more money." Were you surprised Nebraska was kicked out of the Association of American Universities? (Note: The AAU is a prestigious group of research universities. For the first time in its 111-year history, it voted a member out. It was supposed that Nebraska's AAU membership was key to its being attractive to the Big Ten.)

Osborne: "It came out of the blue. The thing that was difficult, we're a land-grant college in an agricultural state. The AAU decided they weren't going to count those agricultural research dollars. Our medical school is on a separate campus. If that was not the case we would have been [OK] ... They chose to discard us." What about assimilation in the Big Ten, football-wise?

Osborne: "We'll be in uncharted water but so will they. They'll have no familiarity with Nebraska and we have little familiarity with them. An outsiders' perspective is we'll probably be playing with a traditional defense, three linebackers on the field. In the Big 12 you found yourself playing with one linebacker and six defensive backs a lot of the time. If you're playing teams with one running back or no running back and five or six receivers, it becomes sort of a matchup game.

"I can relate to it a little better. You'll see more teams that have a tight end and fullback in the game. In the Big 12, you saw some teams with no tight ends." Will Nebraska have to change its recruiting focus? It has been a national program in that sense in the past.

Osborne: "The orientation is not very much different. We've always been a national recruiting program. I imagine there will be a little more emphasis in the Big Ten states. We've always been in Texas, California." It's amazing after all the conference realignment upheaval, it's Nebraska's brand name that carried it through. In other words, population density didn't necessary matter.

Osborne: "I don't want to sound [presumptuous], but there was something there that was attractive to the Big Ten. Whereas they had a chance to bring in a school from a more heavily populated area. We're glad they did invite us." What's your feeling about Jim Tressel? He was key part of this early on, in that he stopped by and you showed him around the athletic department last spring.

Osborne: "It's very sad. I know Jim personally. I believe him to be basically a very good person. I just imagine he's made a wrong decision ... I don't see him as a person trying to do something intentionally unethical."

Category: NCAAF

Since: Feb 2, 2011
Posted on: July 7, 2011 12:02 am

Tom Osborne on the move to the Big Ten

I'm tired of hearing Nebraska bitch about being kicked out of the AAU. They are not at a disadvantage because its a land grant agricultural school with a medical college on school on a separate campus (thus not counting). Texas A&M and Iowa State from the Big 12 are land grant agricultural universities without medical schools and Purdue and Illinois are the same from the Big 10. Its also interesting to note that all Big 12 AAU members voted to keep Nebraska in while some of the Big 10 members voted them out.

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