Nebraska: Is This It for the Cornhuskers in the Big 10?

As many people know, there are a lot of people dying due to the horrible pandemic that is COVID-19. Sadly along with people, this virus is also killing hopes, livelihoods, and college football. It was once told to me, that the population of Lincoln, Nebraska seems to triple on a college football Saturday. It does not matter if the team is good or not, the Nebraska Cornhuskers are the heartbeat of the entire state. Recently, it came out that the Big 10 Conference that they belong to has elected to not play football this fall.  Nebraska said in a statement that they had other plans.

Big Plans

A couple of days ago, prior to the decision to cancel all fall sports became official, Head coach Scott Frost was in a Zoom teleconference when that possibility came up by way of a question from a reporter. First, he started by exclaiming Nebraska’s pride about being a “Big 10 School” and whatnot. What was interesting was how he ended his response to the question by saying, “We want to play a Big Ten schedule. I think the only reason we would look at any other options is if for some reason the Big Ten wasn’t playing and only a handful of teams from the Big Ten wanted to continue playing. I think if that’s the case, I think we’re prepared to look at any and all options.”

Awfully interesting. Then again, how much say does the head coach really have. But, this is where it gets interesting.

Nebraska’s Statement

After the Big 10’s decision became official, the University of Nebraska released an official statement that said, “We are very disappointed in the decision by the Big Ten Conference to postpone the fall football season, as we have been and continue to be ready to play. Safety comes first. Based on the conversations with our medical experts, we continue to strongly believe the absolute safest place for our student-athletes is within the rigorous safety protocols, testing procedures, and the structure and support provided by Husker Athletics. We will continue to consult with medical experts and evaluate the situation as it emerges. We hope it may be possible for our student-athletes to have the opportunity to compete.”

After this then it went back and forth with some properly worded, public relations cockfighting. Where it’s not exactly as brash as an episode of Wildin’ Out, but it’s clear the Big 10 Conference is not happy with Nebraska at this moment. So what happens now?

Positives Not to be in Big 10?

It’s clear we may not know the answer to that for a little bit. One thing that was made clear by Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren is that if Nebraska goes forward and tries to play sports this fall, they would be doing it as former members of the conference. Could that actually be a good thing for Nebraska football?

Right now the members of the Big 10 Conference are as follows:

  1. University of Illinois
  2. Indiana University
  3. University of Iowa
  4. University of Maryland
  5. University of Michigan
  6. Michigan State University
  7. University of Minnesota
  8. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln (for now)
  9. Northwestern University
  10. Ohio State University
  11. Pennsylvania State University
  12. Purdue University
  13. Rutgers University
  14. University of Wisconsin-Madison

Outside of maybe Michigan, Penn State. Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Michigan State, how much national air time do these schools see for football? Sure the University of Minnesota has a decent program. And maybe Northwestern as well but the reality is there is not a ton of exposure for this Nebraska team as far as football. That’s because only 4/14 schools are actually seen as worthwhile to be nationally broadcast season after season. On top of that, almost all of these schools are a pretty distant traveling distance from Nebraska, which means there is more money being put into team travel than recruiting.  Now let’s take a look at the closest regional large conference that has made it clear they are going to try and play this fall, the Big 12.

Big 12 is the Answer?

The members of the Big 12 Conference are the following:

  1. University of Baylor
  2. University of Iowa State
  3. University of Kansas
  4. University of Kansas State
  5. University of Oklahoma
  6. University of Oklahoma State
  7. University of Texas
  8. University of Texas Tech
  9. Texas Christian University
  10. University of West Virginia

For the most part, the geographical locations of these schools are much closer to Nebraska than those in the Big 10. Not to mention if you look at some of these names, even without going national they reach much higher audiences by themselves right in their recruiting areas for students. This helps out because then you get almost free advertising because your school will be playing games right in front of your direct marketing area. And it means you could see a spike of enrollment that can help put more money into athletics.

Final Thoughts

Sure, the SEC and ACC are also playing this fall. However, the Big 12 is the closest regionally that can help them in more areas outside of football from a university sales perspective. Although it is unclear at the moment this article is being written what Nebraska will do. It is clear that it could be a huge turning point for not just athletics, but their admissions department as well.

Where do you think Nebraska will play? Leave a comment below.

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Follow Corey on Twitter @CoreyDecker11 

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