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Nebraska Cornhuskers Will Miss (And Will Be Missed In) The Big 12

The legacy and rivalries involving the Cornhuskers creates a big hole in the new Big 12.

Last week marked the official ending of Nebraska's membership in the Big 12 conference. A move that was put into motion a year ago sends the longtime conference opponent of Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri to the new Big 10 which now sits at 12 teams.

The history between the Cornhuskers and those teams tied to the Big 12 dates back to 1907 and the days spent in the Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association. The initial members included Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa State, Iowa and Washington University in St. Louis. Kansas State would join in 1913, Oklahoma in 1919 and Oklahoma State would enter into the picture in 1925.

In 1928 Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas State, Kansas, Iowa State and Oklahoma broke off from the original group which included several smaller schools and formed the Big 6 conference which would eventually morph into the Big 8 by adding Oklahoma State and Colorado. Obviously the rest is history as the schools formed a strong Midwestern organization and developed into what we now know as the Big 12 which also encompasses some of the old Southwest Conference teams. But when you look at Nebraska's departure for the Big 10, it's those initial rivalries and those longstanding traditional matchups that will be missed the most.

Probably the biggest football rivalry in the Big 8 conference included two of the charter members in Nebraska and Oklahoma. The two schools were football first institutions; they played on an annual basis for years and often times it was for the conference championship. The first meeting occurred in 1912 and up until the formation of the two division Big 12 conference; the teams would square off every year reaching a total of 86 match-ups over the years. Oklahoma ultimately holds the overall series lead with a 45-38-3 record but the intense rivalry was something the conference was able to hang their hat on. From 1970-1980 the two teams would meet on 10 different occasions as top 10 nationally ranked opponents and those high stakes match-ups catapulted both programs and the conference into the national spotlight.

Now that same parity and success never really developed early on for the three Kansas City area schools in Missouri, Kansas and Kansas State. Overall the Cornhuskers hold a decisive advantage over all three teams, but in recent years all three schools have gained on Nebraska with Missouri and Kansas State both competing on a fairly annual basis at one point or another with the Huskers. It marks a shift that started with the formation of the Big 12 conference and the two division format.

Football was the Nebraska legacy and it was a program with a national footprint and a devoted fan base. Say what you will about their departure and the parity that has ensued in recent years, the Big 8 and the Big 12 benefitted a great deal from the success of Nebraska football. In fact, Nebraska football could have continued to provide a lift for the conference had they not elected to depart for what Husker fans believe to be greener pastures.

Yes, things have changed quite a bit from the days when Nebraska and Oklahoma would duke it out for the Conference title. Texas entered the picture, Missouri was competing in the North, and the two division format meant that Nebraska or any conference champion would have to win the conference championship game. All these things were proving to be obstacles to the tradition and legacy of Nebraska. It's just too bad that the end result for the Huskers meant a departure from the conference. It wasn't necessarily meant as a solution for football or any sport for that matter.

There are certainly other pieces to the puzzle that make a Big 10 move an attractive one. But what is lost in terms of a longstanding connection and longstanding tradition is something that will take time for both the Big 12 and Nebraska to develop anew. You can't manufacture history overnight; time will tell if a future in the Big 10 will prove to be as kind to Nebraska as those years spent in the MVICC, Big 6, Big 8 and ultimately Big 12.