BRISTOL, Conn. -- Kansas State coach Bill Snyder raised eyebrows at Big 12 media days this week with his comments that two former league members wished they could “get back in the conference.”
Was he talking about Nebraska, which bolted in 2011 for the Big Ten? It sure sounded like it, though Snyder did not specify which teams he was referring to in Dallas.
He did Wednesday as Big 12 coaches visited the ESPN campus for interviews.
Snyder said he “most certainly” missed K-State’s rivalry with the Cornhuskers, saying that the two schools, separated by less than 150 miles, “should be” meeting on the field.
“When push comes to shove," Snyder said of Nebraska, "I don’t want to speak for anybody, but I’m not so sure they’re pleased with the decision they made.”
The Huskers have won 25 of 40 Big Ten games in five seasons, but just six of 15 games against league heavyweights Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin. Old rivalries are gone and new ones have been slow to ignite.
This year, Nebraska’s home league schedule includes Illinois, Purdue, Minnesota and Maryland. Not the most attractive slate.
But is Snyder right?
It’s highly doubtful.
By nearly all accounts out of Lincoln, Nebraska enjoys the prestige, athletically and academically, and stability that the Big Ten affords -- not to mention the financial benefits and a decent cultural fit. The Huskers can likely handle an uninspiring schedule if its conference assures a position of power on the future college football landscape.
The Big 12 can’t make that guarantee as it enters another phase of expansion.
Nebraska’s move to the Big Ten -- made as the Big 12 faced questions about its future six years ago -- is representative of the changing priorities in college athletics. There’s no doubt that money and power play a large role in decisions nationwide.
All of Snyder's five wins in 19 games against Nebraska came in a seven-year period that ended one season before his first retirement in 2005.
The 76-year-old coach, admittedly “old fashioned,” said he misses the focus on student-athletes and education. Changes have not bettered the sport or its players, he said.
“It’s not any particular changes that have taken place within a program or how the game is played,” he said. “It’s just about the outside sources that have impacted football, athletics [and] college as dramatically as they have.”