In light of the Big Ten’s decision to cancel fall sports in 2020-21, rumors have circulated about whether or not it’s in Nebraska’s best interest to remain in the Big Ten. Comments from Nebraska football head coach Scott Frost about the Huskers’ willingness to face any competition in order to have a fall football season, and the ensuing national media reaction, added a spark to those rumors.
However, despite this fiasco, it’s still in Nebraska’s best interest to stay put for several reasons.
In the College Football Playoff era, Big Ten teams have made a combined four appearances, along with a national championship win. For comparison, the Big 12 has also made four appearances in the Playoff, but haven’t made it to the National Championship.
The Big Ten is one of the better conferences out of the Power Five, and Nebraska football might have more to gain by attempting to succeed in the conference rather than leaving for a weaker one.
While the football team hasn’t been extremely successful in the Big Ten, volleyball has been in the national championship game three times since joining the conference.
The competition in the Big Ten is top-tier in volleyball as well. Penn State won the title in back-to-back years (2013, 2014), Wisconsin has finished as the national runner-up twice since 2011 and Illinois lost in the championship in 2011. Since Nebraska joined, the Big Ten has had more volleyball championship appearances than any other conference and is tied with the Pac 12 for the most titles since 2011.
Wrestling is another sport where the Big Ten has had the most success, as Penn State has won eight of the last nine championships, and Ohio State won the other championship.
While rejoining a conference like the Big 12 might be attractive, the Big Ten offers the best possible competition for Nebraska’s best teams outside of football.
In 2018, The Big Ten generated $759 million in revenue, and the 12 teams in the conference that got the full shares were given $54 million. The Big 12 generated $373.9 million in revenue in the same year, with shares to the ten teams ranging from 36 million to 33 million across the conference.
That is roughly a $400 million conference revenue difference with the shares being close to $20 Million per team.
The Southeastern Conference (SEC) brought in $720.6 million in revenue for 2019 but was still beaten out by the Big Ten, which was at $781.5 million, and shared out $55.6 million to 12 out of the 14 teams (Maryland and Rutgers did not receive the full share due to being newer).
Nebraska doesn’t necessarily need the Big Ten’s revenue over any other conference, but it could be valuable in the long term. With the losses the program will take from not having fall sports, the Big Ten may still offer the best long-term stability going forward.
The Huskers were a historic university before coming into the Big Ten, but the conference has helped them stay in the spotlight. Adding to the attention that the Big Ten gets from the TV deal, which nearly doubled the revenue for the Huskers, Big Ten football now has broadcast partners in ESPN, Fox and Big Ten Network.
Those media companies will now get a pick of games to have only on their networks, which broadens the way that people can now watch Big Ten football games.
CBS will continue to have media rights to basketball games in the Big Ten as well.
This six-year deal started in 2017, so the Huskers now still have three years left.
The Huskers have to think about the long term effects staying in the Big Ten would have on the school — not just in football, but also in all sports.
Nebraska has had some success inside of the Big Ten, and there is a lot more that is left to be done. There may be disagreements now, but it’s best for the Huskers to not make such a major move.