Nebraska-Texas Big 12 title game

Texas' Michael Huey celebrates after UT kicked a field goal with 1 second left to defeat Nebraska 13-12 in the 2009 Big 12 Championship. (LJS file)

We wouldn't direct you to a story with opinions from a former Kansas State president without good reason.

But there's no question this article in the Kansas City Star will interest Husker fans. Jon Wefald, the KSU president of 23 years, recently wrote a book. He didn't pull any punches in it either.

Wefald is especially candid in laying out the person he feels was most detrimental as any outsider to both Nebraska football and academics -- former Texas president Bob Berdahl.

Berdahl was in the captain's chair in Austin while the Big Eight was turning into the Big 12.

Here are the key paragraphs from the Star story about Wefald's book. All the quotes are his:

On the academic rule that limited the number of Proposition 48 qualifiers — the SWC didn’t allow them, the Big Eight did and new league settled on one such qualifier for football and men’s basketball: “It was aimed directly at (Nebraska) Cornhusker football. By the late 1990s, this new Big 12 rule has seriously damaged the quality of Nebraska football. In fact, you could say it brought the era of Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne to a close.”

Wefald recalled Berdahl harmed Nebraska after leaving Texas. Berdahl was the president of the Association of American Universities (AAU) in 2011 when Nebraska was voted out of the prestigious group. Wefald said Berdahl could have used his influence to sway a close vote.

“The truth is,” Wefald wrote, “no outside academic leader has dented Nebraska’s athletic and academic standing over the years more than Bob Berdahl.

“In another irony, if Nebraska had not been a member of the AAU in 2010 when the Big 10 was adding a new school, the University of Missouri, an AAU school, would likely be a member of the Big 10 today.”

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The fight to limit Prop 48 athletes isn't exactly new information around here, and the votes went 11-1 against Nebraska at the time. So it's not like Texas power players, while leading the charge, were alone in making this happen.

You could also make a tidy argument that Nebraska football hasn't been the same since 1997 simply because Tom Osborne stopped coaching the program in 1997.

But it catches the eye when such a high-profile figure like Wefald puts a specific name in quotes as the person he feels to be most behind the tensions that have surrounded Nebraska and Texas.

Berdahl was actually only president at Texas from 1993-97, but that was the time when the rules, and the tone, of the Big 12 were being set.

It's the AAU claim that might interest people as much as anything.

Although reporting by the Journal Star in 2011 found out that the Huskers didn't get any help from a couple of their new Big Ten siblings on the AAU vote either.

If you read that linked report, you'll notice Berdahl's name comes up in a 2011 email from former UNL chancellor Harvey Perlman.

Perlman writes Berdahl with displeasure as to why votes are still being taken about Nebraska's AAU status after the initial voting deadline. This was disadvantageous to Nebraska's cause since any abstentions counted in the school's favor.

"It is preposterous that the announcement of a deadline as clearly as you announced was not intended to be a deadline after all," Perlman wrote in an email to Berdahl, then AAU president. "This is one more instance where the process as defined and implemented has created the impression in my mind, and in the minds of others, that the leadership is determined to achieve a particular result regardless of the rules."

Reach the writer at bchristopherson@journalstar.com or 402-473-7439. On Twitter @HuskerExtraBC.


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