On Saturday, the mighty Nebraska Cornhuskers -- hauling their steamer trunks full of tradition, National Championship trophies and unparalleled prestige -- journey on the road for the first time in 2011.
Where does this highly anticipated barnstorming tour take the No. 8 team in the nation? Are they landing in Alabama? Maybe South Bend? No, it must be Death Valley. Brace yourself, college football fans: The tough, fearless Huskers are headed to the storied confines of... Wyoming's War Memorial Stadium.
Word is, War Memorial Stadium has not one but two concession stands.
Let's cut to the quick: Nebraska's bizarre decision to play at Wyoming is one that should embarrass anyone who holds the Huskers near and dear.
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This road game isn't just a worthless away date that does nothing for the program, it has a lasting negative impact on Nebraska football. Here is why:
1. Money. Isn't it all about the money? We've been re-taught this harsh lesson during the first month of the 2011 season. Who knows who will win the Heisman trophy. The real talk around college football is realignment and super conferences. And why is that? Follow the money train, son. It's what moves the sport -- plain and simple.
So when the Huskers chose to play in a stadium that seats a puny 33,500 fans (making it the smallest venue Nebraska has played in since God had a busy six days), the program willingly gave up hundreds of thousands of dollars -- if not millions -- in attendance income. Here at Opposing Views, we've pointed out how the Huskers could easily fill a 110,000-seat stadium each weekend. On Saturday, the Huskers will play in a glorified dump. There will be 70,000 Huskers fans unable to attend the game because Nebraska is playing in a high school facility.
2. Prestige. Nebraska doesn't go to the weak teams. The weak teams come to Nebraska. Remember the roaring 1990s when teams like Colorado State agreed to come into Lincoln for a whooping every season? The Huskers never ventured to Fort Collins, did they? No way. You know why? Because it was beneath them. If you want to be a football power, you have to have a certain swagger. By playing on the road in a mid-tier (and that's being kind) team's stadium, this is what you're saying to the world: We'll take a game anywhere we can get it. Listen, are wins that hard to come by for Nebraska? If you're the King, act like it. You don't visit the commoner at his flat -- he comes to Buckingham Palace.
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Please realize, in Wyoming's 2008 press release that trumpeted this amazing Nebraska coup, the Wyoming athletic department also announced: "a new series versus the University of Idaho, of the Western Athletic Conference (WAC), and Southern Utah, a Football Championship Series (formerly NCAA I-AA) program.
Wow, great company Nebraska. You're now being lumped in with Southern Utah.
3. Recruiting. In the hyper-intensive world of college football recruiting you try to get every edge possible. So when you show a recruit the upcoming schedules, how are you ever going to get him excited about playing on the road in Wyoming? Nebraska should be playing at Florida State or LSU -- big venues with epic crowds in electric atmospheres. Do you realize the Huskers only non-conference road trip in 2011 will be to Laramie, Wyoming? I'm not sure about you, but do you think this got any potential recruit excited?
4. Rankings. Nebraska has always been accused of having a weak non-conference schedule. It has improved somewhat -- but it still isn't where it should be. The decision to play on the road at a Mountain West school is beyond strange, and it will only hurt when it comes to weigh strength of schedule at the end of the season. Who knows how the BCS works, but if it's between the Huskers and another team that played tougher opponents, the Huskers will be left out.
5. Improving the team. You know who Oklahoma played this past Saturday? Florida State -- in Florida. It was hostile. It was crazy. And the Sooners prevailed. That signature win will undoubtedly make Oklahoma better this season. Nebraska needs to improve as well -- we saw that against Washington. But now it plays an inferior opponent that it will beat by 30 points. This will not improve the Huskers. This will not make them great or BCS worthy, which is the admirable goal of head coach Bo Pelini.
This will only make them 4-0.