In case you didn't know, I'm a huge college football nut. Especially a Michigan Wolverine fan. Hell, I helped my dad create a UM fan's ultimate "man cave" in his basement we affectionately call THE M DEN (also the name of a really great Michigan apparel store in Ann Arbor). It's kinda strange to explain this obsession to my Canadian brethren, but I have created a number of converts. If you even remotely follow college football, it would be tough for you to have not heard about the seismic changes occurring in the alignment of conferences (and if you have, check out http://frankthetank.wordpress.com/ for everything you could ever want to know about expansion). After all the doomsday scenarios painted by many reputable sources across the U.S., really not much has happened - at least relative to some of the more incredible notions of Texas and the rest of the Big 12 South moving to the Pac 10, for example. But Nebraska ending up in the Big Ten is a pretty big deal. The Big Ten conference is a pretty traditional space within the college football landscape and I know a number of the "get-off-my-lawn" types are displeased by the conferences moves away from the Big Ten's roots. But below are the top 5 reasons fans should be excited to Nebraska usher in a new era in the Big Ten.
#1 Nebraska Fans
Nebraska fans are some of THE most passionate in the sport. The joke always goes that there is absolutely nothing else to do in Nebraska other than revere the Cornhuskers football team. Well...it's kinda true and they own up to it. They have sold out every game at Memorial Stadium since November 3, 1962. And they regularly take over opposing teams' stadiums (see above). Also known as some of the most hospitable fans (a welcome departure from the idiocy that are Ohio State fans), I'm looking forward to them making their way to Ann Arbor and vice versa.
#2 Natural Fit
Nebraska makes a lot of sense in the Big Ten. Geographically they fit quite well, butting right up to Iowa and fairly close to the rest of the Big Ten states. They are a traditional power, much like Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State. They often play an old-school brand of smash-mouth football that greatly resembles "3 yards and a cloud of dust". And they're not a big city school - the University is king to the area.
Adding Nebraska adds quite a bit of football prestige to an already prestigious Big Ten. With Nebraska, the Big Ten adds the 3rd most winning program. That means that the Big Ten has the 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 6th programs with the most wins in CFB history (Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State, and Penn State). Nebraska is also the most winningest program in the last 50 years.
The best part about Nebraska joining the Big Ten really has to be the instant amazing match-ups that are created. Honestly, all of a sudden every single game that Nebraska plays in the Big Ten seems not only extremely relevant to me, but actually exciting. I seriously can't wait to see Nebraska and Indiana square of. Really. But for the more casual fan: Nebraska - Ohio State, Nebraska - Penn State, Nebraska - Wisconsin, Nebraska - Michigan...that's all must-see TV for me. And then the instant rivalry between Nebraska and Iowa will be superb television viewing. Nebraska increases the number of big games in the conference by 50% instantaneously by joining the Big Ten. And if rumours are true, the Big Ten will hopefully move to 9 conference games. This means there will be one less out of conference game for each conference member - which likely means each team will lose match-ups with Div 1AA teams or lowly Div 1A teams like Western Kentucky. This is really good for college football.
#5 Conference Champion Games
This is kind of a 4a to the above. Many traditionalists hate the idea of the conference being decided by a "one-game-to-determine-it-all" type conference championship game, but really what is there not to like. You're adding another marquee match-up between the best of two divisions within the conference. If all goes well, it will be held at a great location like Soldier Field or Lambeau Field. Maybe these are unlikely, but even if it's at Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis, it will be different than other conference championships since Big Ten teams travel well and will fill the stadiums creating an electric atmosphere. Not to mention the gobs of money made from such games that is redistributed evenly to the teams and betters the programs of the conference.
All in all, this is a major win for Nebraska, the Big Ten, and college football in general. I can't wait until they join.
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