It’s weird, the feeling that exists in Big 12 country today.
Immediately, there’s the validation, of course. Oklahoma’s win did more than move Bob Stoops record in Big 12 Championships game to 7-1. It was the self-affirmation a bruised Big 12, the once-trendsetter-conference-turned-hanger-on, had desperately sought since the messy breakup was announced.
The Sooners played the hero in dramatic form, coming from a 17-0 deficit to knock off the hated Cornhuskers 23-20. In winning, OU gave closure to many who could not stomach the thought of the conference’s last crown going to an institution that no longer wanted to be a part of it.
Boy, did the Huskers show that.
Had Nebraska played its cards right, it could have kept the attention on Texas (it was the Longhorns who were, and still are, ultimately responsible for the current disaster) and the Big 12 (who, in its shameful, woeful meekness, have let Texas run the thing).
But, the Huskers didn’t play right. They assumed the role of villain and reveled in it. Threats to the conference commissioner, lighting up radio airwaves and Big Red play-by-play man Greg Sharpe dutifully checking the Big Ten scoreboard during Big 12 radio broadcasts. No, Nebraska didn’t do itself any favors.
It poured gasoline on a hatred firestorm that burnt any chance of the other schools caring why Nebraska was leaving. They just knew Bo Pelini was angry and chewed gum like it was a freshman quarterback’s backside. They grabbed on to every bad Nebraska memory and breathed new life into them.
They hoped, together, that OU would keep the Big 12 Championship within its current members’ fold.
So, from Ames to Lubbock and all the places in between where fans of the nearly have-nots are left to tread the future’s uncertain waters, you’re damn right that for one night the world was right as the team that didn’t want to stay had to leave without the big trophy. The Big 12 conference won. It was validation.
Except, it’s not.
Validation suggests things are now settled, that the conference can move forward sans Nebraska with its head held high.
I don’t know anybody who speaks with passionate pride about the current Big 12. This is a conference that’s fanbase could only raise half-hearted disgust over not offering Texas Christian University an invitation to join before the Big East; not because they wanted TCU really, but because they felt, again, that their conference is sitting on its hands waiting for its next command from Texas.
It was half-hearted because it is what Big 12 country has come to expect from its “leaders.” Proactive, expansion, solidarity, fair – they are all dirty words around these parts.
Unless you put the burnt orange logo on it – only then is it groundbreaking stuff.
Nebraska grew tired of it and it has left for what it (and everyone else) believes to be a much more equal playing field. I’m not a Nebraska fan, and I don’t know all the specifics, but I don’t blame them for thinking anything not-Big 12 has to be better.
Nevertheless, on Saturday, as the 5-7 Longhorns and everybody else watched, it was Nebraska, the team that had found a way out, who was hated. And, while in the long term it may have won, on Saturday it was Nebraska that lost.
It was the Big 12 that made things feel right.
Except, it didn’t.
With such a gloomy future, none of this feels right – not the steps that led to Nebraska and Colorado leaving, not the way that all information (as needed) has somehow emerged from Texas’ backyard each time, not the way Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe’s increased television revenue “plan” refuses to budge from “proposal,” and definitely not the future.
It doesn’t feel right.
It feels like a loss.
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