Skip to main content
You are the owner of this article.
You have permission to edit this article.
Edit
Steven M. Sipple: OU, Texas create upheaval; Alberts on sellout streak; and Frost's 'readers'
0 Comments
editor's pick topical top story
HUSKER FOOTBALL

Steven M. Sipple: OU, Texas create upheaval; Alberts on sellout streak; and Frost's 'readers'

  • Updated
  • 0
College Football 20201

Texas and Oklahoma play at the Cotton Bowl each year, though they may be doing so as members of the SEC in the future.

Things I know, and things I think I know: 

When the world as you know it changes significantly at an uncomfortable rate, you might find yourself doing uncharacteristic things. 

The college football world is in the midst of upheaval. It'll be remarkable to watch unfold. Which explains why I was hanging on Michael Wilbon's every word Friday as he assessed the situation (read: the damages) during "Pardon The Interruption" on ESPN. I hardly ever watch the show, but I found myself nodding in approval as Wilbon laid bare his feelings about Oklahoma and Texas seeking to flee the Big 12 for the SEC. 

There already has been speculation about the remaining eight members of the Big 12 joining forces with the Pac-12 to form a 20-team conference. I'll believe it when I see it, but it's best to keep an open mind in these times. 

It could be an interesting week in college athletics, which soon may exist in a form we hardly recognize.

"I hate it. I hate it," said the 62-year-old Wilbon, a Northwestern graduate. "I grew up in a different world." 

He grew up in a better world, a much better world when it comes to collegiate athletics in general and college football in particular. 

The best and the most Huskers news & opinion

Member benefits

  • • Texts from top columnists
  • • The most breaking news
  • • Husker History photo galleries
  • • Cutting-edge commentary

"I grew up in a world where the Big Ten was 10 schools I cared about, knew where each school was located, and could say the name of their stadiums," Wilbon said. "And now you're just going to have like two conferences. That's all it's going to be. So much for the Power Five. It's going to be the Power Two, and each one of them will have like 25 schools, and it's a waste of my time. It's a waste of time to talk about conferences.

"There are no more conferences! And by the way, I have not heard anybody ask or answer the question: Why the hell should the SEC even do this? Why?" 

Of course, Wilbon knows the answer. Everybody knows it. It's about money. Texas and Oklahoma bring in piles of it. It's also about clout. Scheduling clout, recruiting clout, preferential treatment from pollsters and media. All of it. This also could be about Texas and Oklahoma positioning themselves for the coming of a super-conference world.

Along those lines, what becomes of the remaining eight members of the Big 12? Will what's left of the Big 12 try to poach schools from other conferences? Will the shredded Big 12 simply disband and have its remaining schools go their separate ways? Would they really try to combine forces with the Pac-12? West Virginia in the Pac-12? Iowa State playing regularly in California? Yeah, it all feels weird. Get used to it.

Nebraska fans may regard the Big 12's ominous plight with a degree of sadness, and perhaps a large degree of sadness. I know I do. Nebraska has a long history with most of those programs, dating to the Big Eight days with Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Iowa State, Kansas and Kansas State — not to mention Missouri (now of the SEC) and Colorado (Pac-12). 

One of the cool aspects of college football is conference affiliation. Conferences tend to have their own personalities. It's a nuanced discussion affected by style of play, academic prestige, TV marketability, traditional success, different stadiums, coaches, weather, lots of things. 

Nebraska has a safe harbor in the Big Ten, never mind that it's not a great fit for the conference. In the rapidly changing landscape, a somewhat awkward fit takes a distant back seat to stability in any big-picture consideration. Stability was of utmost importance to NU in 2010 when it joined the Big Ten and remains that way now. Which perhaps explains new Husker athletic director Trev Alberts' answer Thursday when asked if there was anything in particular he wants to discuss with Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren this week.

They have a one-on-one meeting planned.

“The first thing I want him to know is we’re a proud member of the Big Ten — an extraordinarily proud member of the Big Ten," Alberts said.

Alberts takes the reins at Nebraska during an extraordinary period in college athletics. Although this may sound like a doomsday scenario, some people believe college football is headed to a 50-team group with no conference affiliations at all. Schools like Kansas, Oregon State and Vanderbilt may be left out. The "in" crowd will negotiate its own television deals and have its own playoff.  

"So we're not going to have college sports as we have known them," Wilbon said. "I don't like. I hate it." 

Plenty of sheep will nod and say it's all going to be OK.

But I deeply appreciate Wilbon's honesty. 

Taking a long and winding road, ex-Husker Noah Vedral says he's grateful for landing at Rutgers

* On the subject of honesty, correct me if I'm wrong, but Alberts seemed to indicate last week that Nebraska's home sellout streak — 375 games and counting — is at least partly a fabrication at this point. If tickets remain, they get bought up by a corporation or whoever.

The question posed to Alberts: How important is the sellout streak to you?

“I think it’s really important because it’s reflective of our fans," he said. "But I will tell you, too, that I’m not really interested in perception, I’m interested in reality. Part of good organizations is having the courage to examine the blatant truths of your current reality. That’s a quote from an old admiral. The reality is, part of growth is we need to be honest with ourselves, warts and all. There are some really great things about our program, and there are some things that need some work. So let’s define them and understand them. And if at the end of the day, the reality doesn’t match the perception, I’m not a guy who’s going to keep perception going." 

The sellout streak is one of the final remaining traits among several that once defined Nebraska football. Since Frank Solich's firing in late 2003, most of it has been stripped away. That's reality. 

* Let's get some names in the paper.

Nebraska coach Scott Frost peeled off some names of key veteran leaders to keep in mind as the start of preseason camp looms Friday. He mentioned Damian Jackson, Adrian Martinez, Austin Allen, Travis Vokolek and Montana graduate transfer Samori Toure. Frost clearly has a ton of confidence in Toure. 

Football's upon us. Enjoy the heck out of it. 

* It was pointed out to me that Frost is wearing reading glasses nowadays. Welcome to the club, old dog.

Contact the writer at ssipple@journalstar.com or 402-473-7440. On Twitter @HuskerExtraSip. 

0 Comments
2
0
0
0
0

Be the first to know

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics

News Alerts

Breaking News

Husker News