This weekend, an expected move made the University of Nebraska the 12th member of the Big Ten conference.
The addition will not only round out the conference, allowing it to play a football championship game, but the school’s location will also benefit the University of Minnesota, making travel easier and a renewed rivalry more likely, University officials said.
“I don’t know anybody on the landscape that’s any better fit,” University Athletics Director Joel Maturi said. “It’s a whole lot easier of a trip for us, and I think as a result the addition of Nebraska is particularly favorable to the University of Minnesota.”
Maturi said this advantage not only applies to high-profile sports like football and basketball, but also benefits parents and supporters of non-revenue-generating sports at the University.
He also said it will likely be easier to establish a competitive rivalry with the Cornhuskers than it has been with Big Ten’s previous new addition — Pennsylvania State University, which joined the conference in 1990.
Historically, Gophers football has fared well against Nebraska, with a record of 29-20-2, but has lost 14 straight games since 1963. The two schools haven’t met for 20 years.
University of Minnesota Regent John Frobenius graduated from Nebraska in 1963 and said he is looking forward to a renewed rivalry between the two schools.
Maturi said he assumes Nebraska has played Minnesota more than any other school in the Big Ten, in all sports.
Nebraska’s announcement came Friday on the last day of a rumored ultimatum issued to Nebraska to either join the Big Ten or remain in the Big 12.
The conference acted quickly, and the member universities’ presidents and chancellors voted unanimously to add the Cornhuskers.
Nebraska became the second Big 12 team to move after the University of Colorado left earlier last week for the Pac-10.
It was anticipated that these moves were going to be the first of many in a major conference shake-up.
However, the University of Texas announced Tuesday that it would stay in the new Big 12, likely preventing the conference from being reduced to six teams.
Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said that the conference hasn’t closed the door on further expansion.
“We’ve really done some hard work and some good work on an expedited time frame,” Delany said Friday in a teleconference. “For the next 12 to 18 months, we’ll continue to look, be aware of the changes taking place around us. If something makes sense, we’ll make that change.”
Any conference change will not take effect until the fall of 2011. Before then, the Big Ten is working to break the conference into two divisions and begin preparations for a football championship game expected in the first year.
“Many people wanted us to get to 12, because it’s the only way you can play a football championship playoff game,” Maturi said. “It’s not only additional revenue and additional exposure, but I think there are many people who feel that our teams have gone an unbelievable amount of weeks without any competition.”