Big Red in the Big Ten

Hey Nebraska, how about the “Golden Corn Cob?”

The Big Red is about to join the Big Ten, which makes for Big Headlines.

And the Huskers are going to need one of those cool-looking trophies that all Big Ten rivals fight for.

You know, like the Old Oaken Bucket (Indiana/Purdue), Paul Bunyan’s Axe (Minnesota/Wisconsin), the Little Brown Jug (Michigan/Minnesota), the Floyd of Rosedale (Iowa/Minnesota) or the Old Brass Spittoon (Indiana/Michigan St.), just to name a few.

For what is sure to instantly become one of college football’s greatest rivalries — Iowa vs. Nebraska — I can’t think of a better trophy than a giant ear of corn.

The Cornhsukers against the Tall Corn State. Herbie Husker vs. Herky Hawkeye.

Up and down the Missouri River that splits the two states, allegiances lie with either the Hawkeyes or Huskers.

That’s why Husker and Big Ten fans should be ecstatic about Nebraska’s conference shuffle. Silly Colorado.

Those Buffaloes went and joined the Pac-10 on the eve of college athletics’ biggest transformation in 15 years.

CU tried to beat Nebraska to the punch, but that’s like Betty White compared to Mike Tyson.

Fine, Colorado. Leave the Big 12, and take your NCAA infractions, allegations and sub-par academic standards with you. I’m sure the conference doesn’t mind.

Now that the dud’s fizzled, let’s get to the real fireworks.

Nebraska just might have killed the Big 12 by deciding to ditch the Texas-driven conference for the Big Ten.

Of course, the separation won’t be finalized until UNL’s board of regents meet today, but that’s like trying to put a rubber stamp on an e-mail. In today’s Internet media cycle, that ship has long left the harbor with Nebraska AD Tom Osborne piloting.

It’s a good thing the former Husker coach spent a few years in Federal Congress, because this isn’t sports anymore — it’s politics. And if there’s anything I learned from that hard-earned political science minor (that I’m obviously putting to good use as a sports reporter), politics means money.

Almost twice as much money — as in, the conference revenue Big Ten schools receive compared to their Big 12 counterparts, largely due to the “Big Ten Network.”

In NCAA athletics, money means football. So we’ll stick with the pigskin, with no disrespect to every other Division I sport that is unfairly overshadowed by the Saturday crowds of 80,000.

One crowd in particular, that Sea of Red down in Lincoln, has a huge reason to be excited about this move:

Rivalries.

That’s something Husker die-hards have been thirsting for, ever since the Big Eight expanded to the Big 12 in 1996 and put Oklahoma and UNL in different divisions.

The Sooner/Husker rivalry is now just a legend, a fabled myth to the newest generation of college football fans like myself.

It’s not a big deal if you only play twice every four years.

Where are those who bleed Husker red supposed to whet their appetite? Colorado?

Please. Those Buffaloes hate Nebraska more than they love their own program. For UNL fans, the biggest struggle in Boulder is finding a place to park where their tires won’t get slashed. The Huskers’ departure from the Big 12 means no more trips to Colorado, no more dodging beer bottles, and no more entire CU student sections being ejected for harassing Husker players.

Missouri? I doubt it. It was the Tigers who started this whole mess months ago, when Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon all but begged the Big Ten to take his state’s university.

But the Big Ten wanted Nebraska more, and one D-I athletic director even told OrangeBloods.com that now Missouri is “getting the cold shoulder from the Big Ten.”

No, it’s time for the Huskers to look toward the East, at the other nationally-relevant program in the region.

Iowa/Nebraska has the potential to become the Big Ten West’s equivalent of Ohio St./Michigan (if the conference splits that way).

The two are intertwined by more than just geographic location, too — Husker coach Bo Pelini got his start as a graduate assistant under Iowa legend Hayden Fry.

I know this isn’t the reason UNL is making the move. The Huskers want more cash, and to be part of a more academically-sound, research-driven athletic conference like the Big Ten.

If that means severing ties with the rest of the Big 12, so be it.

No hard feelings.

Now, how about bronzing that corn cob?

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