From the Dust Bowl to the Rust Belt

I’ll be in the minority here, but I’m going to miss the Big 12. That wasn’t the fashionable side of the argument over the summer and it’s definitely not now. For most people the shadier aspects of this season — Eric Martin’s suspension, the penalty clubbing the Huskers took at A&M, the trophy snub from the league offices — only reinforced the sagacity of the move. And I agree. Going to the Big 10 is a great move for the University of Nebraska as a whole. But away from the football field it’s going to sting more than most people think. Nebraska was and always will be more Dust Bowl than Rust Belt, more Great Plains than Great Lakes. That culture shift will be obscured for a few years with all the exciting new trips to Madison, Iowa City, Chicago and Columbus but eventually we’ll start to see it. Nebraska used to use the state slogan “Where the West begins.” In the Big 10 we’ll be where it ends. It doesn’t feel like we’ll miss Kansas and Missouri, particularly after the acrimonious end to the Huskers’ run in the Big 12, but we will. Nebraska never had a great rivalry with anyone outside of Oklahoma, but the potential was always there. Why? Because these states were like us. That won’t always be the case next year and no matter which way you spin it — we’re getting away from the omnipresence of Texas, we’re leaving a conference that could be gone in five years, we’re getting more money — that’s a loss. It looks like Nebraska is out in front of the changing landscape of college football. That’s a good spot to be but that doesn’t mean it will be easy. --On a less reflective note, the Sidetrack Band might be the single best thing about being a Husker fan. I saw the band — now going on 40 years of supporting Husker football with raunchy, pigskin textured covers of country and rock classics — play to a packed house twice while in Dallas for the Big 12 Championship game. It may have been the best part of the weekend. Here’s all you need to know about Joyce and Paul. They played a Big 12 break-up anthem to the tune of Hank Williams III’s druggie ode “Pills I Took.” How’s that for range and creativity?

posted at 03:05 pm
on Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

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