The Big Ten released its 2014 football schedule on Wednesday. For Nebraska, there were the expected division games against the new B1G west teams along with cross division games against Michigan State and Rutgers.
Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State were nowhere to be found, which depending on your point of view, can be both a positive and a negative.
Here’s a look at who the Huskers will be matching up with in the first year of the Big Ten’s new 14 team conference along with a few thoughts to follow.
Nebraska 2014 Schedule
Aug. 30 Florida Atlantic
Sept. 6 McNeese State
Sept. 13 at Fresno State
Sept. 20 Miami, Fla.
Sept. 27 Illinois
Oct. 4 at Michigan State
Oct. 11 BYE
Oct. 18 at Northwestern
Oct. 25 Rutgers
Nov. 1 Purdue
Nov. 8 BYE
Nov. 15 at Wisconsin
Nov. 22 Minnesota
Nov. 28 (Fri.) at Iowa
The good: Winning all of your games is better than losing, right? That’s not to say Nebraska’s schedule sets up for an undefeated season necessarily, but it certainly will be much easier to accomplish by avoiding Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State during the regular season.
The bad: With a selection committee set to decide the four teams that make the new College Football playoff in 2014, how would the committee view an unbalanced conference schedule? That’s anybody’s guess, but if strength of schedule is truly going to be a major component of the decision process, Nebraska’s 2014 schedule certainly won’t do them any favors should they put themselves in that position. In such a scenario, the Huskers would have to hang their hat on a road win at Wisconsin and a victory against the east division champion in the B1G title game.
The good: Nebraska gets a bye week before two of their tougher road games, at Northwestern and Wisconsin.
The bad: The home schedule is void of any marquee matchups. It’ll be cool having Miami visit Lincoln, but this is certainly the same Hurricane program we used to know. Who knows how good they’ll be in two years, but they visited Kansas State last season and lost by 39.
The good: Nebraska doesn’t play on the road in consecutive weeks all season. They’ll play Northwestern and Michigan State on the road in back-to-back games, but the games are separated by the first bye week of the season.
The bad: Nebraska gets Rutgers at home in one of their two cross division matchups. That game just oozes Big Ten rivalry, or something.
The good: Nebraska gets Illinois, Rutgers, Purdue, and Minnesota as its home Big Ten games.
The bad: Nebraska gets Illinois, Rutgers, Purdue, and Minnesota as its home Big Ten games. It feels a lot like Iowa State, Kansas, Missouri, and Kansas State back in the day minus the history.
The good: Nebraska maintains is needed seven game home schedule.
The bad: Two of the nonconference matchups are against Florida Atlantic (coached by brother Carl) and FCS member McNeese State.
The good: If you were handpicking a schedule in a year after you lose a four-year starter at quarterback, this might be the one.
The bad: The Huskers toughest Big Ten games of the season are all on the road, at Michigan State, Northwestern, Wisconsin and Iowa.
So what do you think? All-in-all, not a lot to get excited about as far as marquee national games go. But then again, winning is what most fans care about and the Big Ten certainly laid out a schedule that should be full of those.
Wes Lunt's career at Oklahoma State is over before it really got started.
On one hand, Lunt deciding to transfer from Oklahoma State is absolutely surprising. How many quarterbacks graduate high school early, leave home to attend spring football practice and win the starting quarterback job only months after stepping foot on campus? Not many, especially at a place like Oklahoma State where the offense is so predicated on strong quarterback play..
On the flip side, it's never going to be easy keeping three capable quarterbacks happy. Only one guy can play which means two guys are standing on the sidelines getting really good at hand signals.
Lunt was the guy on the field to start last season and now he's gone. Who knows what the situation would be had Lunt stayed healthy all season. He injured his knee in the third game of the season only to come back a month later and sustain a concussion essentially ending his freshman season.
His injuries allowed J.W Walsh and Clint Chelf to show what they could do which, by the way, wasn't good enough in practice apparently. But Walsh and Chelf both had plenty of success when they got their chance which put the Cowboys quarterback situation in a bit of murky water.
Head coach Mike Gundy said Chelf was the number one guy heading into spring practice but following 15 practices, the job may or may not have reopened. Gundy wasn't talking other than to say the competition for the starting job would continue into fall camp.
The only thing we know for sure at this point is the starter won't be Wes Lunt. Did he see the writing on the wall? Maybe, but I doubt it. Had Chelf indeed played this coming season, Lunt could have redshirted and still had three years left to play. He would have had to beat out Walsh next season, but he's already done it once so there's no reason to think he couldn't do it again.
Was he just plain unhappy in Stillwater? Maybe, but from most accounts that didn't seem to be the case. We will probably never know the truth on that front.
The only thing that sticks out at this point in which we can try to draw conclusions from is the fact his offensive coordinator, Todd Monken, is now the head coach at Southern Miss. He won the job last spring and I'm sure Monken had a big say in that decision. With Monken's departure, maybe Gundy or new offensive coordinator, Mike Yurcich, didn't see the situation the same.
After all, the offense wasn't going to change. Yurcich has spent the bulk of his time since arriving on campus learning the Cowboys playbook initially installed by Dana Holgorsen. The only thing that has changed is the guy calling the plays.
Lunt's departure won't spell any doom and gloom at the position this season assuming they don't get hit with the rash of injuries they suffered last season. The offense is still in good hands with Chelf or Walsh running the show. Where the Cowboys may begin to feel the sting of his departure is in 2014 when Walsh and Arizona transfer Daxx Garman are left to battle for the job.
Of course, there's still plenty of time for Oklahoma State to fill the vacancy through recruiting or picking up a transfer of their own.
All we know is that Lunt will be wearing a different jersey when and if he see's the field again. It's funny how fast these things change sometimes. One second he looks like the future of the program and the next he's searching for a new home.
On Wednesday, USA Today released their compilation of athletic department revenue for all the public universities across the country. It's not exactly shocking news to see that Texas continues to lead the country in revenue by over $20 million.
The Longhorns raked in over $163 million of revenue in 2012 which netted a profit of $25 million. The Longhorns top line was nearly three times that of Iowa State who generated the smallest revenue in the Big 12 (it should be noted that since Baylor and TCU are private schools, they are not required to make their financial information public).
Texas has the biggest stadium in the Big 12, they receive the highest amount of donations, and haul in far more rights licensing fees than any other school in the league (or country for that matter), or in other words, it's good to be Texas.
Here's a look at where the eight of 10 Big 12 teams finished the 2012 fiscal year.
Big 12 Finances, 2012
|Nat'l Rank||School||Revenue||Expenses||Net Profit|
Only two schools in the Big 12 generated a loss within their athetic department last year, Oklahoma State and West Virginia. It appears as if the Mountaineers found out switching conferences can be a rather expensive endeavor even if it's in the short term.
I have no idea of the situation at Oklahoma State other than to say the category listed as "other" within their expenses was significantly higher than it has been in years past. I'm guessing that might have been some kind of one time expense known in the accounting world as an "extraordinary item" that caused the loss, but that is nothing more than a wild guess.
Digging a little deeper into the numbers, it's no secret that when you generate more revenue, the more you can spend. Texas spent far more for it's coaching staff than any school in the country.
The Longhorns paid their coaches approximately $53 million in 2012. Ohio State, which was second in overall revenue, paid their coaches $31 million, Michigan, $39 million and Alabama, $39 million.
There's no breakdown of coaching salaries by sport, but does anyone think Texas might just be overpaying for it's coaching staffs? I guess working at Texas is a pretty sweet gig as far as compensation goes. If you've got the money, you might as well spend it especially since UT still generated a profit of more than $25 million.
Here's a breakdown of what the Big 12 schools spent for their coaching staffs in 2012.
Big 12 Combined Coaching Salaries
|School||Coaching Staff Expense|
All in all, there wasn't any big surprises in the overall numbers. The big schools keep printing dollar bills and everyone else keeps chugging along while most continue to generate a profit. I'm guessing they have the TV networks to thank for that.
Count former Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville as one who was surprised when West Virginia joined the Big 12 getting the conference back to 10 members following Missouri's defection to the SEC.
Dennis Dodd at CBS Sports had a good interview with Tuberville who has never been shy about sharing his thoughts on expansion or the Big 12's need for a championship game.
“They [Big 12] made a great choice in (inviting) TCU. Gary's (Patterson) a good coach. Then from left field here comes West Virginia and we're all going, ‘What?' Football's not bad [for travel] but in basketball and all the other sports you're going, ‘What is West Virginia thinking?' “
Well, it's not secret what West Virginia was thinking. They were sitting in the Big East which was disintegrating right before their eyes and were on the verge of being on the outside looking in.
The Big 12 offered a place to call home and one where they were going to bring in significantly more money than they had been making in the Big East. It also offered them a spot in a conference that was going to be a major player in the new college football playoff which will start following the 2014 season
The extra travel was a definite downside to the move but considering the alternatives at the time, it was a small price to pay to have a seat at the big boy's table for the foreseeable future.
Tuberville also offered some insight into what he was thinking when the Big 12 was on the verge of collapse. Even though it wasn't that long ago, it's easy to forget what a tumultuous time it was for the Big 12.
“At Tech we didn't know. For about 48 hours at one time, we were going to the Pac-12, I thought. I thought it was done. … Then the next year A&M gets pissed and they're gone. And Missouri takes the money and runs. Now what are we going to do? We can't be the Big Eight."
All that is now ancient history with conference expansion coming to a screeching halt with the ACC's grant of rights deal and Tuberville now finds himself at Cincinnati, one of the former Big East schools outside of the five remaining major conferences.
Instead of butting heads with Texas and Oklahoma, he'll now be prepping for games with Houston, South Florida and the likes of East Carolina, Tulane, and Tulsa starting in 2014. But he knew what he was getting into when he took the job at Cincinnati, or he at least had to know there was a definite possibility that they would find themselves in their current situation.
It's still a bit of a head scratching move, but then again, he probably saw the writing on the wall in Lubbock and got out while it was still his choice to do so.
Who knows, maybe he intends to parlay the Cincy job into something better back in the SEC, something that some thought he was trying to do by taking the Texas Tech job. If that was intent, well, things didn't go so well.
If he couldn't get it done in Lubbock, it certainly isn't going to any easier in his new gig as the gap continues to widens between that haves and have-nots in college football and right now Cincinnati looks to be the latter.
Replacing quarterback Collin Klein is no small task at Kansas State. Klein accounted for roughly 69% of the Wildcats offense over the past two seasons not to mention 79 touchdowns. And more importantly, he led K-State to 21 wins over the span which included a Big 12 championship last season.
The candidates to replace him include redshirt sophomore Daniel Sams who was Klein's backup a season ago and junior college transfer Jake Waters. Waters is fresh off leading Iowa Western to the junior college national championship last season.
Both look like the type of quarterback that fits perfectly into Kansas State's offensive system. Sams is probably the better runner, although based on what he showed in last Saturday's spring game, Waters is more than mobile enough to pick up yards on the ground. He also appears to be the more accurate passer of the two.
“Unlike anyone we have seen, he puts the ball in different spots,” KSU wide receiver Curry Sexton said. “If there is a tight window in a certain route where a guy looks like he is covered, somehow he fits it in there. He has that ‘wow’ factor more than what we’ve seen in the past.”
With the talent and tools that seem to mirror each other, whoever wins the job will likely be the guy who is most comfortable running the offense which usually leads to making the fewest mistakes. One thing is for certain, the quickest way to find yourself standing next to Snyder on the sideline is by turning the ball over.
Kansas State is +31 in turnover margin the last two seasons. They turned the ball over only 27 times which is fewer than any other team in the Big 12 over that time. Some consider Bill Snyder to be some sort of wizard for winning football game with inferior talent, but there's really not much magic involved in it. Make fewer mistakes than your opponent and you've given yourself a good chance win a football game.
That's where Sams might have the slight upper hand. He's been on campus for two seasons and has had the opportunity to watch and learn how Klein goes about his business. But that doesn't ensure he won't make mistakes when the lights come on for real. He has only played in one game over the past two seasons that wasn't already decided. The simple fact is, you don't know for sure how he'll respond when and if he becomes the guy to lead KSU's offense.
There's also plenty to like about Waters, but it's nearly impossible to predict how a guy makes the transition from the junior college ranks. What Waters has shown to this point is that he's more than capable of being a very good Big 12 quarterback, but blowing up the K-State's second team defense in the spring game is one thing, doing it against Oklahoma, Texas, or TCU is another.
So no, replacing Klein isn't an easy chore, but Snyder looks to have two good options to attempt to do just that. Who ends up getting the first crack at it - not even Snyder probably knows at this point - will have plenty of expectations to live up to.
Whoever wins the job will be working behind one of the best offensive lines in the league to go along with an experienced running back in John Hubert and he'll have the luxury of throwing to one of the most exciting players in the Big 12 in Tyler Lockett.
If I had to put my money on somebody right now, I'd go with Waters starting the opener against North Dakota State and that's not to take anything away from Sams. There's a lot of upside with either guy and remember, nobody could have predicted - or for that matter expected - Klein would have accomplished what he did in Manhattan.
He far exceeded anybody's expectations and now that he's finally moved on, the cupboard isn't exactly bare although we won't know that for sure until sometime this fall. But here's guessing Snyder will find the right man for the job and the there won't be the near the drop off in Manhattan that some are predicting. The guy happens to have a pretty salty track record when it comes to these sort of things.
Junior Paul Millard and redshirt freshman Ford Childress spent the spring in Morgantown fighting for the starting quarterback job at West Virginia. As expected, that battle will continue into fall camp with neither quarterback gaining a sizeable lead in the race throughout spring camp.
That race will have a new participant when practice resumes this fall with Wednesday's announcement that former Florida State quarterback, Clint Trickett, has officially announced his intention to transfer to West Virginia in hopes of earning the starting quarterback job.
Trickett will graduate from Florida State this spring meaning he'll be eligible to play this fall with two years of eligibility still remaining.
At a minimum, his foray into WVU's quarterback competition gives Dana Holgorsen an insurance card should Millard or Childress fail to prove their capable of being the trigger man in Holgorsen's offense which depends entirely on efficient quarterback play.
With Geno Smith talking the bulk of snaps over the past three seasons, Millard's opportunity for playing time have been almost nonexistence since arriving on campus in 2011. Childress has plenty of potential but has yet to take a collegiate snap after redshirting last season.
Enter Trickett who has more game experience than either of his competitors having started two games in Tallahassee which included an impressive performance against Clemson in 2011. Since then, however, he's been mostly relegated to mop up duty backing up starter E. J. Manuel who was the only quarterback selected in the first round of this year's NFL draft.
It doesn't take a genius to figure out why Trickett chose West Virginia over Auburn and South Florida. Holgorsen's offensive system combined with the fact there is no incumbent starter returning more than likely made it an easy choice for Trickett. Not to mention, he spent time growing up in Morgantown while his dad, Rick Trickett, served as WVU's offensive line coach from 2001-2006.
Can he run Holgorsen's system with the same type of success that Case Keenum, Brandon Weeden, and Smith had before him?
He'll have plenty to prove over the summer and throughout fall camp, but here's guessing Holgorsen is excited to have another option to lead the Mountaineers as they enter their second season in the Big 12.
There was plenty of talk during Mike Gundy's most recent flirtation with Tennessee about the Cowboy's scheduling philosophy. If there is indeed still a feud between Gundy and athletic director Mike Holder (or ever was one), I guess you can chalk one up for the AD with the Cowboy's announcing a future home and home series with Boise State.
The Broncos will play in Stillwater in 2018 with OSU's return trip to Boise scheduled in 2021.
As you know, Gundy isn't a big fan of playing strong out of conference opponents while atheltic director Mike Holder sees some benefit ($$) in putting at one strong opponent on the schedule from time to time.
Oklahoma State opens the upcoming season by playing Mississippi State in Houston and will open the 2014 season by playing Florida State at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, both at which Gundy reportedly balked at.
It's possible, however, Gundy is just changing his tune a bit with the upcoming College Football Playoff set to get started following the 2014 season.
Strength of schedule is expected to be a component of the selection process and given the fact the Big 12, as it stands now, is without a championship games, adding a strong out of conference opponent will do nothing but help their resume. The selection committee might not exactly be impressed with too many more 84-0 victories over Savannah State.
As for the fans, it's a win-win all the way around.
I've never understood the theory in softening a schedule to the point where it's downright embarassing. Sure, you don't want to load the schedule with power house teams every season, but playing good teams should only make your own team better, in theory at least. And besides, if your team is good enough to play for a national title, it'll win those games. If it's not, it won't and it doesn't do anyone any good to wait until the title game to find that out.
Of course, by the time these two teams actually meet -five and eight years away - who knows what the playoff picture will look like. It's only going to get bigger, if anything, and losing a nonconference game against a worthy opponent isn't likely to knock a team out of picture given they run the table during the conference season.
Oklahoma captured its eight Big 12 championship last season and they now have the rings to prove it according to the OU equipment team's twitter feed.
The picture is a little blurry, but it appears as if they decided to leave the Co-champion off the part where it says Big 12 champions.
If you remember, Oklahoma split the Big 12 title last season with Kansas State who also finished with an 8-1 conference record.
That fact they didn't include "Co-champions" on the rings isn't meant in the least as a bash against Oklahoma for claiming the title despite their loss to Kansas State when they met head-to head in Norman. They finished with the same conference record as did the Wildcats and therefore have their fair share of the title even if KSU did earn the league's automatic BCS bid.
It does seem ironic, however, to listen to the Big 12 talk about one true champion since the league has moved to a 10 team format without a championship game. The logic is there since every team in the league has to play every other versus the old format when a team could win the title game but could do so without having to play every team in the conference.
The logic is there and mostly correct, of course, except in the year when there are actually two true champions.
There's no word yet on whether or not Kansas State has received their rings - publicly at least - that I've seen, or whether or not they'll have imprinted "The Real Big 12 champions" at which point they'll really be something to talk about.
Until then, one true champion it is, or two, but who's counting anyway.
The Big 12 has said over and over they're happy with 10 teams and let's hope they're telling the truth because after today's announcement that the teams which make up the ACC have assigned their media rights to the conference, expansion for the Big 12 - or any other conference for that matter - just got a lot more difficult.
That leaves the SEC as the only major a conference that hasn't signed such an agreement (and good luck prying anyone away from the SEC) which considerably reduces the pool of available candidates should the Big 12 want to move beyond 10 members or if the Big Ten or SEC ever want to get to 16 teams.
So where does all this leave the Big 12? Well, if you listen to conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby, it leaves the league right where it wants to be.
“We’re not at 10 by default,” Bowlsby said last week. “We’re at 10 by choice. I think until we’re persuaded to do otherwise, that’s where we’ll continue to stay.”
Well if conference realignment is actually coming to a screeching halt following the ACC's announcement, it's not hard to argue the other side to Bowlsby's comment.
The Big 12 is at 10 teams because Colorado, Missouri, Texas A&M and Nebraska left, plain and simple. The conference responded with two solid additions in West Virginia and TCU, but let's not kid ourselves, it is not the conference it was in 2010.
And that's not to say the Big 12 isn't in a good place financially or isn't on solid ground, after all, the league's schools are earning more from their media rights that ever before. But then again, it's anyone's guess as to what the league would or could be earning if you put those other four teams back into the mix, not to mention a conference championship game.
If conference expansion is indeed over, let's take a quick inventory of where things stand.
The Big Ten's core is in place, plus Nebraska and now Maryland and Rutgers.
The SEC's core is in place, plus Missouri and Texas A&M.
The Pac-12's core is still intact plus Colorado and Utah.
Outside of the Big 12, the ACC was the only other major football conference to lose a team (Maryland) but they've also added Syracuse, Pittsburg, and Louisville plus Notre Dame outside of football.
The two conferences that took a gigantic hit in realignment were the Big East which was completely decimated, and the Big 12.
So far all the cheerleading that's been coming out of the Big 12's office over the past year, let's not forget what the conference once was.
Is the Big 12 truly in a better place? Or should they have added Louisville? Should they have done more to try and lure Florida State, Clemson, or Miami if they were truly looking around? I guess that depends on your fandom so I'll let you be the judge.
As far as future expansion goes in the Big 12, it's now hard to imagine anything changing in the near future. What's left is BYU, Boise State, and the teams from the old Big East, none of which are market movers as far as new TV deals are concerned.
Of course not that any of it really matters, the Big 12 is right where it wants to be. Today's news about the ACC's Grant of Rights probably didn't even raise any eyebrow in the Big 12's offices, or so they'd like everyone to believe.
There's little question that college football has become, more than ever before, a huge cash cow for FBS schools all over the country. It's also no secret that is due in large part to the astronomical dollar figures television networks are willing to pay conferences in order for the rights to televise their league's games.
Is that a bad thing? Bill Snyder certainly believes it is.
“College athletics, particularly football, has changed dramatically throughout my career,” Snyder said on 610 Sports Radio KCSP in Kansas City. “I think it's in a bad place right now. It's in a bad place for a variety of reasons. We've allowed it to become money driven. We've allowed it to become TV driven. We've allowed athletic programs or football programs to mean more to a university than what the university is really supposed to be all about.”
On one hand, it's hard to argue with the guy. If there's anybody who knows about college athletics and what it should and shouldn't stand for, he's the guy. There are few people in the country that have been immersed in college athletics more than Snyder and when he speaks, his opinion carries a lot of weight.
And if he's referring to conference realignment in the above statement, it's not hard to see the validity in his statement. Over the past several seasons, more than a few schools have jumped ship from one conference to another ending longstanding relationships that have helped make schools what they are today.
They've made those moves for a variety of reasons, but at the top of that list is the money and the increased revenue such a move would generate over the long haul.
But outside of conference realignment, is college football truly in a bad place right now as Snyder indicates?
The game's popularity is at an all-time high. You can argue the competition on the field is as good as ever. And while the increased revenue generates it's own set of issues, it also brings with it advantages that schools haven't been slow to capitalize on.
The increased revenue brings with it increased exposure that in many cases, not only benefits a school's athletic department but also trickles down to other facets of the school, as well.
And like it or not, it also benefits a school's non-revenue generating sports. Without Kansas State's football program, there probably isn't a track and field team.
Snyder also added, “The last I heard, we were educational institutions. Certainly there is an education that takes place in football, and I understand all the parameters. But it's not driven by values; it's driven by dollars and cents.”
That raises the question, because college football is making more money than ever before, does it really change the educational values of an institution?
Those values are set by a school as they see fit regardless of what money an athletic department is or isn't generating. And it's hard to imagine that any veterinary science major attending Kansas State has had his or her educational values altered based on the changing landscape of college athletics.
On the flip side, if college athletics is indeed in a bad place, fixing it is going to no simple matter. How do you turn off the money spigot since it's already filling athletic department coffers like never before?
The answer is you don't. There's not a school in the country that's going to start taking less money for the good of the game and why should they? The game itself is fine.
Somewhere in how schools deal with and make decisions surrounding the increased prosperity is a likely solution if the game is indeed broken, but best of luck in finding a one that fits each schools' best interests.
College football has indeed changed a lot over the past 40 or 50 years and that change has certainly come under increased scrutiny the past several seasons. There's some bad that's comes with that change but also a lot of good.
The alternative is to look the other way and stay the same which would have more than a few pitfalls itself.
What do you say, do you agree with Snyder that college football is in a bad spot?
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