Nebraska, Big 10 Expansion, and Competitive Balance: A Few Thoughts

Everyone is reporting that Nebraska to the Big 10 is a done deal. Something that I haven't really heard about is the competitive side of things in regards to football. Nebraska's style of play may fit in with the conference, but is joining the Big 10 really going to ensure as much success as they would have if they had stayed in the Big 12?

When I look at a program like Nebraska, they aren't as good as they once were (probably never will be), but they play in a division that is in a horrid place right now. It's hard for me to believe that Nebraska, with Pelini running the show, wouldn't be able to compete for the North year in and year out. That puts you in a spot where you have to only win one big game  to make it to a BCS bowl game. Heck, they just barley missed out on it last year, and no one was thinking they had a shot going to the Fiesta Bowl prior to this year. I kept hearing how they're 1-2 recruiting classes away from realizing their potential.

With the Big 10, I think it promotes mediocrity in a way. I just think that with having large conferences (14-16+ teams), the competitive balance will be more even. Look at Ohio State losing to a crap Purdue squad, and Iowa beating a so-so Northwestern team last year. And that's in an 11 team conference with a nice revenue sharing package.  Yes there are good programs, but the bottom teams still pluck some upsets. Nebraska joining the Big 10, a conference that shares more with the bottom programs, I have a hard time picturing the Huskers dominating the league the way the fanbase would want.

Husker fans strike me as the bunch that believe the glory days are coming back, Nebraska is going to be a national power, and they are out there to prove to the world that Nebraska is the place of dominance. That's over generalizing, and sterotyping probably, but from the handful of fans I know, these thoughts are definitley present (I'm just exaggerating for fun).

You're going to tell me that playing teams like Iowa, and Wisconsin year in and year out is a better situation than the Big 12 North? Then factor in the potential additions of east coast schools, and/or Notre Dame, and Nebraska could be seeing themselves having to potentially play Notre Dame or Ohio State on a regular basis as well, because it's hard to fathom Ohio State, Michigan, Penn St, and Notre Dame all playing in the same division.

Yes Nebraska is going to get paid, and it's good for the University on a lot of other levels, but I just wonder if down the road this ends up hurting their football program more than helping. I know if I'm a Husker fan, I want to play in a conference that I can dominate, and I want the easiest path to a BCS game. Going to the Big 10 doesn't help matters.

The bigger question is if going to all super-conferences, is going to ruin College Football is a whole. I do a lot of reading about sports and economics, particularly with consumer behavior. It's a hobby of mine I guess. Anyhow, a big thing with sports is that it helps the business-side of sports if there are a handful of powers who have a chance to play for the championship every year.

Studies show that having a team that everyone loves or hates does better than having a sport in which anyone could potentially win the championship. Say you hate Ohio State and they're in the Rose Bowl. You may turn in to watch to just to hope to see them lose. Heck, you may go to a sports bar and make some friends along the way.All of a sudden you're bonding with strangers and spewing hatred for the Buckeyes.

Don't agree? Why is it then in baseball teams that hardly get 20,000 fans for a game can sell out a series when the Yankees come to town? Or how come a Final Four in which all four #1 seeds make it, generates some of the highest ratings ever? It's because people want to see the big dogs, whether they admit it or not.

If everyone is just "blah" and equal, I think it's hard to promote the sport, as it's hard to isolate individual stars (stars being schools). As a fan of a team that's towards the bottom of a conference, I want Nebraska, Texas, and Oklahoma to be good. I want it so that if we beat them, it actually means something. If we lose more than we win, so be it. But when we win, I want it to count for something.

So, in short, I just feel like the Big 10 is going to get watered down, and that could hurt it in some ways. I feel like the conference is the big winner, but smaller programs like Northwestern have more to gain than the bigger ones as far as expansion goes. I'm concerned that College Football is going to get watered down as a whole, and the product on the field just isn't going to be as good.

Nebraska is going to miss out on advantages (in terms of happenings on the field) that they hold being in the Big 12. The conference is going to be full of 7 and 8 game winners, and it's going to be hard for the Huskers to separate themselves from the other teams in the conference. Short term they gain on some level, but longer term I think college football as far as product on the field, will continue to go downhill.

Lastly, of course I'm concerned about ISU's fate and where they end up. If you want a bitch fest about how much this sucks and a rehashing of everything that's been said before, go to Cyclonefanatic.com. There are plenty of discussions going on there you can participate in.

Disagree with me, or think there's something I'm missing? Let's talk about it in the comments! I'd love to talk about this stuff as opposed to coin flipping to between the Mountain West and CUSA, or talking about some "other" conference being formed with KU, KSU, Baylor, and Mizzou, and how ISU is going to suck for eternity. How all of our coaches and administrators leave, and how the university will go downhill. We'll have those discussions, but I can't handle that tonight. There will be plenty of time over the next couple of years to really hammer all of this down and freak out about it.

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