Exhibit 25.18

Conference Realignment

If you'll allow me to talk about college athletics for a moment...

...I've got mixed feelings about how Nebraska broke college football. Not that college football got broken, but that it had to be Nebraska doing it. It's not exactly the situation, of course, and Colorado's move into the Pac-10 takes some of the heat off the Big Red, but at least in Texas the sentiment seems to be that it's Nebraska driving a stake into the heart of the Big XII (and not, you know, a flawed revenue sharing arrangement or conference championship game that's not going to played north of Dallas anytime soon).

Nebraska is doing what's right for Nebraska, but it's unfortunate that there are likely going to be some pretty dire consequences for some surrounding schools. I'm mostly sad for Kansas in all of this which has to be looking around and panicking that their basketball team is going to end up playing Boise St. and Wyoming twice a year. The Texas schools will always be okay, and Oklahoma seems likely to land on its feet one way or the other, but the Plains schools are going to be in an awkward position if things continue on their current course. Its a course that means 16 team super conferences and--eventually--a host of lawsuits and possible congressional action.

It's not going to be pretty, and, while I agree with the decision--am crazily excited about it actually--it's Nebraska's responsibility. Apparently, like Han Solo, Nebraska shoots first. It's shocking such an old-guard administration was able to weigh the school's future against tradition and determine the money was worth the criticism. And this is about money. Nebraska wanted more, and so they were bold instead of loyal. They were determined not to be left behind, and how it came to be Nebraska joining the Big 10 and not Missouri is a story that I hope comes out at some point. Somehow a university from one of the country's smallest states came to be the key player in a national revolution driven by the acquisition of television ratings. Tom Osborne must have made one incredible PowerPoint presentation.

So now the university will position itself to build its academic reputation around its Big 10 membership. Good, they should be so ambitious. The state seems to think there are ways this could lead to jobs and population growth (we'll see. Frankly, I'd be afraid if college football is actually that important). The athletic department is going to try to sell everyone on the idea that Iowa is rival, and soon it probably will be. And of course the only reason that matters: the financial windfall. The end.

It's a win, but it's a momentary one. By the time Nebraska joins in 2011, all of the other pieces will have fallen into place and it might not look like such a smart move to have cast off the past. If things go the way they seem to be going, this is going to be a reset button in college athletics (though, notably, not the one we'd all like to hit which would bring some much needed reforms to spread the wealth to student-athletes). Nebraska is hardly guaranteed their relevancy, and there are obvious pitfalls in moving north rather than south. O well. They broke it, they bought it. Thankfully, it shouldn't be a problem paying for it.


Anonymous said...

I don't know, Pete. You don't think this is good for Nebraska in the long run? I mean despite the survival of the Big 12, we at some point had to give a big "fuck you" to Texas for the last 15 years. Texas is going to continue to dominate the Big 12. Why can't Oklahoma grow a pair? The Big 12 will not be here in 10 years. Perlman and Osborne saw the writing on the wall and made a smart move.

A. Peterson said...

O, I agree--not with the profanity, that I am firmly against--but I definitely think Nebraska made the right move. The Perlman/Osborne press conference definitely set the record straight in a way that makes this post slightly irrelevant. It's pretty clear that every school was considering leaving, and Nebraska just happened to outmaneuver them while getting exactly what they wanted.

That the Big "XII" is making this work, even if momentarily, is pretty incredible. Obviously no North school is going to be happy with the arrangement except insomuch as it protects them from obscurity and one wonders if Oklahoma will be satisfied in a year or two either. You have to wonder if the Pac-10 or SEC isn't back starting this conversation in a year or two anyway, especially if the Big 10 manages to get ND (which people seem to think is increasingly likely). If another school leaves, it's all over.

One way or another, one of Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas A&M--in order of likelihood--is going to bolt sometime in the next two years. It'll be interesting to see what happens to Texas if they already have their own network. No other conference is going to tolerate that internal competition if they all have their own established. Could we see a new Southwest Conference? That really seems to be what Texas has wanted all along.

I have no idea why this fascinates me so. But, to the point: yes, this is good for Nebraska as a school, as a state, and as an athletic department.