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2010 Jun 11

NU BIG TEN: Ten Strengths of the Big Ten

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By HuskerLocker

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Now that Nebraska’s made the leap to the Big Ten, we examine, off of sheer snap judgment, ten strengths about the Cornhuskers’ new home.

*It’s not the Big 12: And that’s no small thing. The Big Ten may not excel in everything, and sometimes gives off the whiff stewing in its money despite its general lack of football competitiveness, but the league holds together well, isn’t a leaky ship and, perhaps most importantly, its territory isn’t so obsessed with college athletics so as to squeeze the fun out of it. As the last two weeks shows: Some Big 12 members hate each other. While that made for great competition, it eroded the pleasure we take from winning, too.

*Big Ten Network/TV packages: Duh, right? Not only will the BTN funnel considerably more cash into NU’s coffers over time, it’ll be a better home for the Huskers’ non-revenue sports. Better yet, the BTN broadcasts enough games that Husker fans may never need to purchase another pay-per-view game again (after NU plays South Dakota State, of course). Want proof? The BTN broadcasted Wisconsin vs. Wofford, for goodness sakes. And Michigan vs. Delaware State. Every Nebraska game that isn’t picked up by ESPN or ABC is sure to make the BTN cut. Even better: Nebraska can finish a few conference games before, you know, midnight.

*The academic boost: Big Ten schools typically vie for more federal research dollars and their reputation will help Nebraska improve, as well. NU recruiters - for whiz-kids - should find that the Big Ten brand helps keep a few kids at home that might otherwise have headed elsewhere. The impact won’t be immediate but, a decade from now, you’ll see the difference.

*Great Stadiums: No offense to the rest of the Big 12, but the Big Ten wins easily wins this debate. The Big House. The Horseshoe. Happy Valley. Camp Randall. Nile Kinnick. Illinois’ version of Memorial Stadium, which drips with history. And Minnesota just built a brand new palace that’s among the best stadiums in college football for sight lines.

*Even better bowl games: Presuming they last, of course. For the short term, you can’t argue with the Rose Bowl as a main prize, with the Citrus, Outback and Holiday lined up as consolation games. Lots of games in Florida and California. Yeah, that’ll help national recruiting, won’t it.

*A new rivalry with Iowa: The Hawkeyes’ home, Iowa City, has always been far enough away that both programs can comfortably inhabit their own space with getting too much on each other’s nerves. Hawk fans know how to tailgate, play a classy brand of Midwestern football and resist the urge to puff out their chests Plus: Iowa’s pretty darn good, too and, because of the Big Ten’s wonky, unbalanced schedule lacking a true rival outside of Wisconsin and Minnesota, who don’t fit the bill. Nebraska can.

*Bo vs. Ohio State: When the man steps back into The Horseshoe to coach against his alma mater, two things will happen: 1. It’ll be cool and 2. It’ll reduce, with each returning visit, the likelihood that Pelini will head back to OSU once Jim Tressel retires (presuming Pelini’s a candidate for the job). If you go back to your roots just enough to satisfy your appetite, you’re more comfortable making a go of it somewhere else.

*Better hoops recruiting: Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee, Indianapolis…the quality of basketball in those areas easily surpasses that of the Big 12 regions. Look for Doc Sadler to nab a guy with big-city connections.

*A great women’s rivalry: Nebraska vs. Penn State in volleyball. The Nittany Lions have become the gold standard in the sport, snatching the thunder away from the West Coast, Nebraska and Texas. John Cook and his team will relish the challenge of toppling one of college athletics’ great emerging dynasties.

*Wrestling: It’s a minor perk - but a great perk nonetheless. Iowa remains the national standout, of course, but Nebraska will get to enjoy a full league of opponents and new recruiting markets in some of nation’s choicest wrestling hotbeds. If NU ever wins a Big Ten Championship among these titans, it will have been well-earned.

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Tags: big ten expansion, wrestling, big ten network

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