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Nebraska vs. The Big Ten: The Sequel

Here we go again. One would think that Nebraska and the Big Ten would be on the same page and at least a hand shake type friendship now that football is being played again. But that would not seem to be the case.

This week has been yet another rollercoaster for Nebraska and their fans. Plenty of ups and downs and another clash, albeit this one smaller than before, with the Big Ten and Kevin Warren.

Let’s break it all down again shall we?

Stay Put (On) Wisconsin

The roller coaster began last weekend for Nebraska. Wisconsin looked every bit the part of a Big Ten title contender with their dominating 45-7 win over Illinois.

Their biggest question mark was how would Redshirt Freshman quarterback, Graham Mertz, look in his debut?

He looked pretty damn good.

A team that lost some key defensive pieces and Jonathan Taylor to the NFL seemingly isn’t skipping a beat behind their young QB. Would be a tough test for the Huskers.

Nebraska mean while ended up getting blown out 52-17 by Ohio State. But for those of us who didn’t care about the score, Nebraska looked vastly improved from their first two years under Frost. The Huskers held their own in the trenches, and minus some self inflicted wounds and the play of what is already an NFL caliber quarterback in Justin Fields, played pretty well.

And then the news came out, Graham Mertz tested positive for COVID.

Wisconsin was going to be without their stud quarterback. This was the chance for Nebraska. To take down a rival who has dominated the rivalry. A team where the Huskers hold the same record against as they do hated Texas (4-10).

And then the news came forward even more, Wisconsin was down their back up QB as well, as he tested positive.

As a human, you feel for those kids, hope they recover swiftly. As a fan, you’re salivating at finally toppling the mighty Badgers and imagining chugging a can of Spotted Cow over their metaphorically defeated corpse.

Paul Chryst kept saying they would play. Classic football guy, doesn’t matter who’s taking the snaps, we are going to go out there and fight.

But things got worse for Wisconsin, more positive tests popped up and they had to stop football activities.

Under Big Ten guidelines, if more than 5% of your team’s population tests positive, you must stop all football activities for seven days.

Eventually the game was canceled. Nebraska’s home opener and chance at finally taking down Wisconsin would have to wait.

No forfeit, no number in the win column for the Huskers, no rescheduling of the game. Simply just canceled.

It planned on being a quiet Halloween in Lincoln.

Tennessee-Chattanooga “You up?”

Credit Bill Moos. The Nebraska Athletic Director has probably called more of his colleagues this year attempting to schedule games than all of his years as AD at Oregon and Washington State combined.

News broke Thursday morning that Nebraska and the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga had agreed to play a game this weekend.

The deal was Nebraska would shell out $200-$250 thousand for UTC to come to Lincoln and play on short notice.

UTC was also very open with their testing practices in which they had zero positive cases. So it’s not as if Big Red would be dooming the rest of the Big Ten by scheduling this non-conference game.

The only issue however, the Big Ten was the first power five conference to move to a in conference only schedule. And this agreement directly flew in the face of said decision.

Nebraska was at the mercy of the Big Ten to “Ok” the game.

A shocker to pretty much no one, the Big Ten said no.

Halloween will indeed be quiet in Lincoln this year.

What Is Your Problem Big Ten?

The Big Ten has brought this upon themselves. I applauded them and Kevin Warren when the initial, conference only schedule came out. Multiple bye weeks for all teams, a communal one at the end of the season.

That was the last time I credited Kevin Warren with really anything. Instead of that fantastic model they have since employed an eight week sprint with absolutely zero contingency plans along the way.

I’m not here to say I told you so. Anyone could see something was going to go wrong. It doesn’t take a PHD to figure that out.

But here is my take with the Big Ten. Why are you so rigid? Why do you refuse to adapt? An old dog learns a new trick faster than you.

If I have learned anything from this pandemic, it’s that thoughts, concepts and ideas one month, one week or a day ago could very easily change. This is a completely brand new virus we are dealing with here, we learn something new about it every day.

So why won’t the Big Ten Conference adapt to the changing times?

The Big Ten is the anti-mask person gone viral that everyone is laughing at. And this is not a political statement about masks on my end. But we laugh because they refuse to change their way of life despite the numerous amounts of data that supports the different way of thinking.

The Big Ten is crossing their arms and shaking their head at reason. Refusing to adapt or change what has always worked for them before although it flies in the face of reason today.

UT-Chattanooga has been incredibly transparent about their testing procedures and results. They have zero positive tests. Them playing Nebraska this weekend does not endanger the rest of the Big Ten.

The Big Ten is simply saying no without any sort of resolution. And that is incredibly frustrating. At least say why. And give a good reason as to “why” not just “because we said so.”

There is zero adaptability with the Big Ten. But is it the institution itself, or is it the school who is asking?

Nebraska’s Dilemma

This isn’t the first time Nebraska and the Big Ten have butted heads this season. They already had an open rebellion against the conference when the Big Ten canceled the season. Nebraska threatened to play non-conference opponents, to which the Big Ten shut that down after some confusing initial dialogue.

But with the latest decision made by the powers that be, Nebraska humbly accepted the decision with no further push back.

The question that pops up for me however is, if it were any other school asking, what would be the answer?

If it were Ohio State, Penn State or Michigan who attempted to play out of conference would the Big Ten allow it?

Or is Nebraska the only school with the stones to directly challenge the Big Ten like this?

I asked it myself on my podcast, Verbally Committed. Is there a conspiracy or at least an anti-Nebraska agenda going on at the Big Ten headquarters?

There was a twitter poll up that I believe has since been deleted asking Nebraska fans that if the rolls for Wisconsin and Nebraska were reversed is the outcome the same?

Many Nebraska fans believe that answer is no. That the Big Ten would force us to play no matter who we throw out at quarterback. But since it’s A) Wisconsin and B) They are playing us. Then sure cancel the game, it’s not a forfeit, Nebraska doesn’t get to schedule another game.

Does that idea seem silly? Maybe to some. But it also provides some context into how paranoid we Husker fans are right now. It truly feels like our own conference is working against us.

During the Ohio State game, Joel Klatt. Yes THAT Joel Klatt even questioned some of the calls going against Nebraska. And there isn’t exactly a ton of love between Big Red and Klatt.

Am I out here saying that the refs conspired against Nebraska? No. And that’s 0.0% of the reason the Huskers lost that game. But it sure seemed as though Ohio State got the benefit of a blind eye way more than Nebraska did.

It feels like an uphill battle already against the Big Ten.

As though we are playing with no cleats against them.

And the Big Ten has the national media on their side.

Media Reaction

Last time we fought with the Big Ten, ESPN’s Desmond Howard and Michael Wilbon were very quick to pass out judgement on Nebraska. And that judgement was kick them out.

The Big Ten came back and both media members said they were thrilled with the decision. So pretty hypocritical yeah.

Part of the reason Nebraska is fighting an uphill battle against the Big Ten is because the national media is siding with the Big Ten. And not just to the point of “should rather be safe than sorry” but as far as to call Nebraska “embarrassing.”

Saturday is a big day for Paul. Halloween is the only time people compliment Finebaum for looking like a Goblin.

All intended insults aside what is this? The only time Finebaum crawls out of whatever hole he lives in is to polish Alabama’s trophies when his lord and master Nick Saban commands him to.

Other than that, I have zero time or patience to listen to this sun dried raisin with Mr. Potato Head ears attached to it.

This however is the issue. The 49 other states that don’t live in “The Good Life” hear this rhetoric and figure that this ridiculous opinion is the one to run with.

Paul is right about one thing, Nebraska hasn’t won much since joining the Big Ten. That’s because since firing Solich the University has torn down, built up, torn down and are trying to build up their culture and winning identity again.

But to act as though Nebraska is equivalent to a Baylor, South Carolina or Georgia Tech is just arrogant.

This is a school that has five national titles and dominated the 1990’s with some of the greatest teams college football has ever seen. It’s a school that has a sellout streak of 375 games and counting since 1962 and a record of 312-63 during that time.

This is no middling University of Indiana program here you overgrown burlap sack.

Nebraska since joining the conference has been to either more or just as many Big Ten championship games than Michigan, Penn State, Iowa, Minnesota, Northwestern, Indiana, Illinois, Purdue, Maryland and Rutgers.

The only schools who have been there more. Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan State. But right, Nebraska is an utter joke inside the Big Ten conference.

The national media wants Nebraska to act like the program their record has reflected the past few seasons, but that is simply not in Nebraska’s DNA.

The Huskers are not Iowa. Content with a six to eight win season. If they were, Bill Callahan may still be here. Bo Pelini is in Baton Rouge getting torched on a weekly basis because the fan base didn’t even want to settle for nine win campaigns.

And what, may I ask is the embarrassment about a football team wanting to play football? For some of these collegiate athletes this are the final eight possible games they will ever get to play. And you want to call them a joke for wanting to play?

No, Emperor Palpatine with glasses is the embarrassment here.

By the way the homosapien equivalent to Droopy Dog. What about Penn State’s child molestation scandal? Was that an embarrassment? Or Iowa’s issues with race over the years? Ohhhh I know Michigan State gymnastics sexual abuse scandal with Larry Nassar. Ohio State and covering up a coach who beat his wife?

No? None of those are more embarrassing? Just wanting to play football? Got it you embodiment of a blob fish.

But again here lies the issue. The rest of college football eats this up and believes that Nebraska in fact needs to shut up because of Kevin Warrens talking puppet. There is no national public outcry or pressure for the Big Ten to change their thought process.

So What Now?

Well now we are relegated to a pretty boring Halloween. No Nebraska game to kick off the holiday with. I had predicted that the Huskers would knock off Wisconsin on Saturday even with Graham Mertz. I suppose in a way I will always be right.

But it also includes a rockier relationship between Nebraska and the Big Ten. This is twice now within a season that the Big Ten conference has told the Nebraska football team, no, Nebraska cannot play football.

I’ve said before Nebraska doesn’t need to go anywhere. This is a beneficial relationship for both Nebraska and the Big Ten. But they are having trouble seeing eye to eye for the moment.

Right now Nebraska and the fan base don’t trust Big Ten leadership. And when there is no trust, there can be no love.

But the Big Ten isn’t compromising with a disgruntled school and fan base. Rather they are squeezing lemon juice over an open wound rather than help supply it with a bandaid.

The first spat between the two sides felt like a possible tipping point. But perhaps we are hitting just the tip of the ice berg. Maybe these are just the first skirmishes preluding to a larger war. A Lexington and Concord if you will.

Obviously lets hope it doesn’t come to that but both sides are seemingly digging in their heals in this season long game of tug of war. Could simply be a matter of time before the rope snaps.

 

Connor Ryan (@connoryan68/@PodVerbalCommit/@YourFantasy_CGS)

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