Bedbugs In The Big Ten

Some traditionalists objected to Nebraska joining the Big Ten.  Would the Cornhuskers have been invited if Big Ten officials knew that the University has an embarrassing bedbug problem?

Officials at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln admit that they’ve found bedbugs in student rooms and common areas in four dorms.  An article in the Lincoln Journal Star says the situation is “indicative of a growing wave of bedbugs in Lincoln.”  The college is using a bedbug-sniffing dog to try to locate the critters.

To make matters worse, some students believe the University tried to cover up the bedbug problem.  One intrepid student, after being bitten repeatedly on the neck by an apparently vampiric bedbug, captured one of the pests and took it to school officials — who promptly said it was dead.  The students says her resident director instructed her to put a sign on her door saying that her room was being remodeled to explain her absence from the room while it was being cleaned of the bedbugs.  The University denies that there was any attempted cover-up.

What?!?  Bedbugs in Big Ten dorms?  Hey, Nebraska — as the newbie in our conference, you need to understand that the esteemed institutions that make up the Big Ten have certain standards.  Cockroaches, bad food, excessive noise, childish behavior, and generalized filth in dorms is one thing, but bedbugs is where we draw the line!

Properly Welcoming The Huskers To The Big Ten

Saturday night, the Nebraska Cornhuskers football team plays its first conference game as a member of the Big Ten. When the ball is kicked off and that game begins, the long-awaited expansion of the Big Ten becomes a reality.

Fittingly, Nebraska’s first game is also a big game, and one that should give them a proper Big Ten welcome.  The undefeated, eighth-ranked Huskers travel to Camp Randall Stadium to take on the unbeaten Wisconsin Badgers, who sit at number 7 in the polls.  For a visiting team, Camp Randall is one of the toughest venues in the Big Ten, with the distinctive traditions found in many Big Ten stadiums.  Nebraska will have to endure the taunts of the Wisconsin faithful and then, when the third quarter ends, feel the field shake when the stadium rocks and the student section hops to House of Pain’s Jump Around.

It’s hard to predict what will happen in this game.  Wisconsin has pulverized its opponents, but it really hasn’t played anybody with a pulse yet.  (C’mon, Wisconsin — it’s time to start scheduling some more competitive out of conference games.  South Dakota?  Really?)  Nebraska has beaten marginally better teams, but has given up a lot of points.  Given the caliber of the opponents, there’s no way of telling how tough these teams are.  Saturday’s game will give us a tentative answer to that question.

As a long time Big Ten fan, I’ll probably be rooting for Wisconsin to win.  Although I welcome Nebraska to the party, I want the Cornhuskers to understand that they’ve joined a tough, hard-nosed conference with more tradition than any other.  A hard-fought loss in their first conference game seems like a very good way to send that message.

A Bit More On Nebraska

The University of Nebraska – Lincoln, the newest member of the Big Ten conference, fits very comfortably among the ranks of Big Ten schools.

Nebraska is a land grant university that was chartered in 1869 and is a member of the Association of American Universities.  In the fall semester of the 2009-10 school year, Nebraska had more than 18,000 undergraduate students and more than 4,500 graduate students.  The school clearly has significant research capabilities; for the year ended June 30, 2009, the school received more than $122 million in research funding.  Like Ohio State, Nebraska is located in its state’s capital city named for a well-known historical figure; Lincoln, Nebraska is a city of 250,000.  The Nebraska website has a helpful alphabetical listing that compares Nebraska’s enrollment data (and other information) to that of other schools in the conference.

Most of us know Nebraska through its athletic program.  The football Cornhuskers play in Memorial Stadium (capacity 81,067), which has sold out for more than 300 consecutive home games.   Nebraska can boast of five college football national championships, including three in the 1990s, when Nebraska had one of college football’s most dominant programs.  Nebraska also has won national championships in men’s gymnastics, women’s volleyball, and . . . women’s bowling.   (As a native of Akron and a lifelong bowler, I have to give props to the Lady Cornhusker Keglers.)

I think Nebraska will be a good fit for the Big Ten, and Big Ten football fans who like traveling to away games — of which there are many — no doubt are looking forward to seeing a Big Ten clash in Memorial Stadium, one of college football’s most storied venues.  They will get their chance starting in 2011.

Welcome Cornhuskers!

It is now official:  the Chancellor of the University of Nebraska has asked the school’s Board of Regents to authorize an application for Nebraska to join the Big Ten.  He expects the application to be accepted by the Big Ten, and I do, too.  It seems unimaginable that Nebraska and the Big Ten schools haven’t worked out, in advance, that if the application is made it will be favorably received.  It therefore seems very likely that the Big Te(leve)n will now become the Big Ten (+2).  Other schools, Texas among them, will be meeting in the near future to consider their options, so other applications to join the conference may be forthcoming.

As any reader of this blog knows, I would prefer to keep the Big Ten as it is, with no conferences, no “championship game,” and a football season that ends with Ohio State playing Michigan in the rivalry to end all rivalries.  Still, if the conference has to expand to be competitive in this modern world, Nebraska is a good choice.  It may not have huge TV markets to bring to the table, but it is an excellent school with fine research, academic, and sports programs.  Adding Nebraska stays true to the Big Ten’s Midwestern roots and Midwestern sensibilities.  Nebraska’s football program has a record of accomplishment and traditions that is second to none.  And everyone I have ever met who hailed from Nebraska — the state or the school — has been a nice person.  (I haven’t met Senator Ben Nelson, so we won’t focus on his recent shenanigans.)

So Cornhusker fans, welcome to the Big Ten!  We think you will like it in our conference, and we look forward to meeting you on the gridiron in the very near future, in a stadium filled with red and scarlet.

Cornhusker Rustlings And Expansion Rumblings

The pace of speculation about Big Ten expansion has accelerated, and actual news stories with quoted sources are starting to appear in newspapers of record.

The most recent stories are reporting that we may learn as early as Friday that (wait for it, now) Nebraska may leave the Big 12 and be the first addition to the Big Ten since Penn State joined more than a decade ago.  At least, the Omaha World-Herald, among other newspapers, is reporting as much.

If the Nebraska scuttlebutt is true — and we’ll find out soon enough — it would be an interesting choice that is contrary to a lot of the conventional wisdom.  No doubt Nebraska is a fine academic institution, and of course its football program has a fantastic tradition, but it doesn’t bring either the metropolitan TV markets or the southern growth areas that some had speculated were the goal of Big Ten expansion.  It would, however, bring another mascot with an enormous head into the Big Ten conference, to keep Sparty and the Boilermaker guy company.