Welcome back, Nebraska. We’ve missed you.
And now the college football world is seeing just how much you’ve missed us.
You see, Nebraska, we shouldn’t really miss you. And you’ve left us no reason to long for your return. In fact, you’ve given us all reason to passionately root for misfortune to befall you at every turn.
That said, we can set all of our difficulties aside. Let bygones be bygones.
You made a mistake, Nebraska, and it’s time to admit it.
In reality, maybe it wasn’t a mistake. That might be the wrong term. A miscalculation, maybe? A risky gamble, perhaps?
Regardless, it’s only taken 10 years for you realize the depth and vastness of your miscalculation. And for that, we’re proud of you.
Before we absolve you of your sins, Nebraska, we first need to delve into what your mistake has cost you. You see, in order to welcome you, the Big 12 is going to need assurance that you truly understand the error of your ways.
Let us first start with the Big 12 Missile Crisis.
Do you remember, Nebraska, your reasoning for leaving us in the first place?
You were upset, Nebraska, that Texas had the run of the roost. The title game was moved to Texas, as were the league offices, and you felt slighted.
What you failed to realize, Nebraska, was that you were one of the teams on top. You, Texas, and Oklahoma. You helped steer the conference. Your university had meaningful power and influence.
And in joining the Big 10, you willingly gave up that power. In the Big 10, you are just another land grant university with an average football team. You’re just a less locomotive-themed Purdue. You’re basically just Indiana but with a stadium full of fans.
You went from having near-equal power to Texas and Oklahoma to being behind Michigan, Penn State, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Michigan State, and Iowa in the Big 10 power structure.
But power is not all you lost following your decision to leave.
You thought that your academics made you a better fit in the prestigious Big 10 Conference. After all, they had more AAU (Association of American Universities) members than the Big 12, which is a clear indicator of academic prowess. The Big 10 thought they were gaining another AAU school with sterling academics.
And then the AAU, in an unprecedented move, revoked your membership shortly after leaving the Big 12. The irony surrounding the fact that joining the Big 10 hurt your academic reputation is so thick you could cut it with a knife.
But your academic reputation is not all you lost, Nebraska.
You’ve lost football games. A lot of football games.
Nebraska, you’re nine years into your Big 10 membership, and in those nine seasons, you’ve won 65 games and lost 50 games. In your last nine seasons in the Big 12, you won 73 games and lost 44.
You’ve also lost some head coaches, Nebraska. You’re on your third head coach since leaving the Big 12.
Rivalry games are also among the list of the casualties of your ill-fated decision to leave the Big 12. Nebraska, you were so desperate for some sort of meaningful rivalry that the conference created quite possibly the worst titled rivalry game of all time in the “Hero’s Game” with Iowa, a rivalry game you’ve fared horribly in.
In fact, the best rivalry game that you had was with Minnesota, a game in which the trophy was created by the internet and was just some pieces of broken chair with a five dollar bill taped to it.
You also lost the ability to make short drives to road football games, Nebraska.
Long gone are the days of hitching up the horse for a short buggy ride to Manhattan or Lawrence. No longer can fans make the short 2 hour trip from Omaha to Ames. Instead, you get to make a 6 hour trip to Minneapolis or Iowa City. And those are your closest opponents.
You know what else you lost, Nebraska? Quality home games. Playing Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, or Michigan State at home once every five years didn’t bother you at the time, but now sticks in your craw. Your home schedule often features perennial losers like Northwestern (a team that you can’t seem to beat), Illinois, Purdue, and Minnesota.
And sitting atop the shit sandwich that you’ve been choking on since 2010 is the 2020 football season that won’t happen.
Kevin Warren is trying to sell you the idea of spring football, you recognize it as the ocean-front property in Arizona that it is. You understand that your TV money (all $54 million of it) isn’t walking in the door without football. And you know that your other sports are toast if there’s no football.
Now then, we’ve delved on the past enough, Nebraska. It’s time to think about the future.
You want to play football, Nebraska. Your coach wants to play, your athletic director wants to play, and your fans want you to play.
The Big 12 Conference is playing football and is ready to welcome you home, Nebraska, if you’re ready to admit to your mistakes.