Published Friday, June 3, 2011 AT 2:07 PM / Updated at 2:07 PM
The Wrath of Tom?
Sam McKewon Omaha World-Herald

Just when you think the Big 12 vs. Nebraska conversation is finally out, somebody pulls Husker fans right back in.

The story-du-jour is a commentary entitled “Eulogizing the Cornhuskers” from the staff of Fox Sports Southwest. It attempts to put NU’s movement to the Big Ten solely on the shoulders Tom Osborne, apparently vengeful and egomanical, who loathed the Big 12 so much that he sought an exit from it at first light.

To wit (or lack thereof): “One administrator said that in meetings early in Osborne’s AD tenure there were occasions when other ADs would look at each other as if to say, “is he serious?” Even so, Osborne was seen simply as just that — a peer, one equal voice among 12. Peers who had to see him as a partnering administrator working towards a common good of a conference, not as a coach of 255 football victories who may treat administrative issues like personal wins and losses. Some of those peers now say Osborne was the latter, not the former. His voice did not have Moses-like reverence like it probably does in most circles in Lincoln, Nebraska or even among coaching peers. And if Osborne was an unhappy camper, the base camp in Lincoln where his word did carry significant weight was soon to follow. Add those elements together, including that unburied hatchet, and it’s a microwave recipe for Nebraska’s relationship with its Big 12 siblings to deteriorate.”

Later, FSSouthwest – the whole staff? One guy? A chorus of beetles? – heads to the Big 12 spring meetings to extract this odd sequence from Texas A&M athletic director Bill Byrne:

It was worth asking the question to Byrne, Osborne’s boss for three years: What do you make of Nebraska’s decision to leave the Big 12?

Byrne: “Nebraska did what was right for Nebraska. I understand why they did what they did.”

Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe has said that Nebraska’s departure makes the new Big 12 alignment more united. What in 1994 was a marriage of convenience between 12 schools, is now a marriage of commitment between 10.

Again to Byrne: It seems like a lot of blame is being heaped on Tom Osborne for all this with Nebraska’s move. Is that fair?

Byrne, pausing, then smiling: “Nebraska did what was right for Nebraska.”

In a word: Huh?

Is Byrne implicating Osborne? Is he declining comment? Disagreeing with the author(s)? Being dramatic because he can be that way on occasion?

I recall Byrne standing with Osborne on a variety of issues during the formation of the Big 12. I also recall Texas A&M flirting heavily with the SEC last June before return to the downsized Big 12 – much to the chagrin of some Aggie boosters.

Perhaps the most bizarre notion in the story involves Colorado expressing regret for “jumping the gun” to the Pac-12. So CU wants back into the Big 12 where none of its alums live and it routinely got waxed in every sport but skiing?

But let’s say the story weren’t written like a weird Wikipedia entry as edited by a Texas fan. Let’s say Osborne was precisely as the article states.

Nebraska still wasn’t wrong to leave, and Osborne still wasn’t wrong to have misgivings about a league whose rules are even more one-sided than they used to be. For a school like NU, betting on the Big 12 would have been like a restaurant owner selling his stake to the mob.

In five years’ time, Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State and Missouri may have some pretty good TV money flowing in. But they won’t have any football hardware to show it. No nifty divisional trophies. Certainly no Big 12 trophies. How do you sell that as progress to boosters? Hey, we’re running at 110% and still only finishing 7-5, but renew those season tickets!

About Sam McKewon

Sam McKewon covers Nebraska football for The World-Herald. Got a tip, question or rant? Good. Email him at And follow him on Twitter at @swmckewonOWH. And call him at 402.219.3790.


  1. Glitch says:

    So, we have FS SW, headquarted in.. you guessed it, Texas… Going out of their way to disparage nebraska, when it’s a done deal.

    is /anyone/ surprised?

  2. DaytonaDon says:

    We all know that Dr Tom is the Bull that Pulls the wagon at NU- Hell the whole state of Ne–Remember the election of a non-politician taking on a 20 plus year pro and getting a land slid victory–Yeah right! Then the gambling that would have saved and created so many jobs for Omaha till God Jr Dr Tom spoke! Then to top off how he shafted the Mavericks–and lower downtown Omahas environment but making them get rid of football- DR Tom you rule!!!! in Your World and that is any where in Nebraska–PS–Don’t ever move Tommy because people out of Nebraska really know your true colors and they ain’t Red there g

    1. John says:

      Dayton Don,

      Trev Alberts is the AD at UNO. Dr. Osborne did not have anything to do with
      the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s decision to drop the football program.
      Though UNO is looking at developing dormatories and becoming a more traditional
      student oriented university it is still the case that it is generally considered the
      university that is more geared toward the non-traditional student.

      Secondly, Dr. Osborne’s input in transition from the Big 8 to the Big XII is proving
      itself to be somewhat prophetic. He disagreed with how the conference was
      going to be divided. First off he was against the North/South division and simply
      wanted the Divisions to be East West oriented. The reasons were two-fold. First
      off, we would retain Oklahoma in our Division and still have our rival game. The
      Red River Rivalry is meaningfull only to Texas fans. Not even Oklahomans value the
      Red River Rivalry over the Nebraska Oklahoma rivalry. Secondly, Dividing the
      conference up in an east west orientation would provide for a southern team to
      come north to play in our environment just as it would allow us to go south to
      play in theirs. With the North south division, and all the bowl/championship games
      played in the south Dr. Osborne recongized quite quickly that all the money from
      the conference was going to wind up in the hands of its newest additions. He felt
      that was wrong, especially when you consider it was four Texas teams joining our
      conference and not 8 teams joining theirs.

      Then came the Texas Politics. The Conference HQ being moved from KC to Irving.
      That was just plain petty Texas Politics. To say nothing about the TV money that
      strangely always seemed to benefit Texas more than any other state in the conference.

      Now to close I will simply say this. Remaining in the Big XII for 15 years while the Big X
      was looking at us the entire time was something we did for the good of the people of
      Texas. We did it to rescue Texas from what it did to itself and its previous conference.
      After how Texas fans have seemed to turn this into some type of personal rivalry or
      competition between Nebraska and the Texas Longhorns, I will simply say this. A true
      fan knows where his team has come from and knows where its going.

      Coach Frottingham was given the first head coaching job at Nebraska. Largely because
      he brought a football with him to the meeting in 1890. After getting the program started
      and spending three years developing it, he was recognized by another organization that
      wanted to start playing football as well. They liked his style and they liked is organizational
      skills and motivation that he brought to the staff and the program here at Nebraska. So
      they offered him a job. After three years of being Nebraska’s first head coach, coach
      Frottingham left Nebraska to start a new program at the University of Texas at Austin.

      We don’t hate Texas’s program. We don’t hate your athletes, we don’t hate your school.
      As a matter of fact, this would be the second time you have had to rely on a Nebraska
      football coach to get your program going again. What we hate is the filthly one-sided
      politics you bring and the ignorant insults that you level against people of good character.

      Now it is rather simple. We can stay here and work hard for pennies, or we can go to the
      BIG X and work hard for dollars. Texas has been saved. (the state’s athletic departments not just one of the 4 Universities) A word of advice… Try harder not to screw it up this time will ya. Because should you ever need a helping hand again, and especially to the degree you needed ours, do not be suprised if there
      are fewer and fewer hands reaching back out too you.

      Good bye old friends, now we are going to go say hello to some other old friends we have known before.

      Nebraska vs. Illinois
      Total meetings: 10
      Series: Nebraska leads 7-2-1
      Last: 1986 (Nebraska beat Illinois 59-14 in Champaign)

      Nebraska vs. Indiana
      Total meetings: 19
      Series: Indiana leads 9-7-3
      Last: 1978 (Nebraska beat Indiana 69-17 in Bloomington)

      Nebraska vs. Iowa
      Total meetings: 41
      Series: Nebraska leads 26-12-3
      Last: 2000 (Nebraska beat Iowa 42-13 in Lincoln)

      Nebraska vs. Michigan
      Total meetings: 6
      Series: Michigan leads 3-2-1
      Last: 2005 (Nebraska beat Michigan 32-28 in the Alamo Bowl)

      Nebraska vs. Michigan State
      Total meetings: 5
      Series: Nebraska leads 5-0
      Last: 2003 (Nebraska beat Michigan State 17-3 in the Alamo Bowl)

      Nebraska vs. Minnesota
      Total meetings: 51
      Series: Minnesota leads 29-20-2
      Last: 1990 (Nebraska beat Minnesota 56-0 in Lincoln)

      Nebraska vs. Northwestern
      Total meetings: 4
      Series: Nebraska leads 3-1
      Last: 2000 (Nebraska beat Northwestern 66-17 in the Alamo Bowl)

      Nebraska vs. Ohio State
      Total meetings: 2
      Series: Ohio State leads 2-0
      Last: 1956 (Ohio State beat Nebraska 34-7 in Columbus)

      Nebraska vs. Penn State
      Total meetings: 13
      Series: Penn State leads 7-6
      Last: 2003 (Nebraska beat Penn State 18-10 in Lincoln)

      Nebraska vs. Purdue
      Total meetings: 1
      Series: Purdue leads 1-0
      Last: 1958 (Purdue beat Nebraska 28-0 in West Lafayette)

      Nebraska vs. Wisconsin
      Total meetings: 5
      Series: Nebraska leads 3-2
      Last: 1974 (Wisconsin beat Nebraska 21-20 in Madison)

  3. ksbugeater says:

    My money is on Wendell Barnhouse as the author. Fox SW produces all the conference shows (Big 12 Showcase) and they rely on him for commentary. Of course, it could be someone like Bill Land, pretty much the announcing voice of the Big 12 on TV.
    I know this sounds like it comes from behind scarlet-colored glasses, why do outsiders feel the need to inject unseemly motives into Tom Osborne’s actions? The guy’s book was titled, “More than Winning.” It is possible for people, even those in lofty positions, to be guided by a higher power instead of our banal tendencies toward jealousy and revenge.
    If T.O. were win-at-all-costs, he could have easily raised campaign funds to help win the Governor’s office. Instead, he accepted the will of Nebraskans without trying to buy or charm their vote. Thanks, Tom for doing the right thing. Thanks, Sam, for rebutting this sensationalist trash from, you guessed it, Dallas.

  4. bob jones says:

    Is this dishonest moron trying to convince somebody that the Oklahoma AD, A&M AD, and especially the Texas AD only wanted what was best for the conference, and were not looking out for themselves in particular? This is just more of what has become all too common in journalism these days, someone with a very biased agenda trying to pass something off as the cross my heart and hope to die truth, what a bunch of BS. Of course there would be absolutely no agenda at Fox Sports to disparage Nebraska now that they are no longer in the little 12, or Texas 10 or whatever they are called now, while Fox is betting the farm on their TV deal. Smells like another Dan [the corrupt crybaby] Beebe hatchet job. A really dishonest, classless hit job from Fox and the Big 12 and Beebe.

  5. bob jones says:

    These hatchet jobs for the last year from the KC Star, the slimeball Beebe, the Big 12 and now Fox Sports remind me of a story from the hilarious comedian Greg Hahn, he said an ex-girlfriend needs to get over him, she has even gone as far to make him jealous as getting married and having five kids, she needs to get over him, he is not coming back. Beebe, Fox, and the Big 12, get over it, WE ARE NOT COMING BACK. Skeerooo U.

  6. Shane says:

    Here’s the worst part, Sam: Fox Sports turned off the comments to the article. I got in when there were seven comments. Go to the site now. There is no way to comment. And what was on there was actually fairly reasonable responses. Should have figured this from Fox.

    1. Andy says:

      Hey Shane,

      I see you on B/R. I also noticed the comment section being shut down on the Fox Sports article. I was like the third person to comment, came back a couple days later to check out other comments and they were all gone. Like you said, no way to comment. I said something along the lines of “The name FoxSPorts Southwest and location (Dallas!) says all we need to know about the lame BS contained in that crap article.”

      Pure garbage. just like texas

  7. zumwalt says:

    The reason Byrne has little to say is he knows full well there’s a ton of blowback that makes the actions and motives of many Big XII schools less than honorable.

    1. Herbie says:

      I don’t see why he would hold back–as soon as July 1 rolls around, all of this information is simply a FoIA request (per school) away, and there would be no (real) legal standing for them to withhold information.

  8. Thom Beran says:

    The best comparison to Texas and the Big 12 is a jilted ex girl friend. They tell everyone how they always hated you anyway and never really wanted to date you. Then when somebody say’s if you do not care about them then why do you spend so much time talking about them. They’re answer is “I don’t I am just sayin.” Move on, find another boyfriend and leave us alone.

  9. Herbie says:

    Folks–this is one of the many reasons Nebraska is leaving the conference–manipulation of the local press by the Texass admin.

    Though the cowardice in which this unsigned piece was just dumped out there suggests someone like Barnhouse wrote it–the man was a large anti-Nebraska shill at the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram and a perfectly good waste of God’s greatest gift.

    Regardless, we’re going from what was a welded-together double-wide trailer with a sun room to a deluxe apartment in the sky, complete with the fish and bean-friendly kitchen. Get ready for the onslaught of revisionist history (Bevo Chip Brown, paging the Brown Clown Bevo Chip Brown…) articles as Nebraska gets ready to leave this conference in the rear-view mirror.

  10. Tony says:

    How can we predict what Iowa State, K State, Kansas and Missouri may be like in five years? Are you implying that if Ne remained in the Big 12 that those teams would win divisional trophies? Remember TO’s book “More Than Winning” probably is understood more by those team’s fans than Nebraska’s fans.
    Also, the only reason that TO did not win the race for governor was because Heinemen came out against equalized funding for Omaha area school districts while Tom did not. Heinemen knew that this would pull in the “white flight” suburban voters and swing the election his way. Tom understood that equalization of funding was “More Than Winning.”

  11. Al Clinchard says:

    And now you know why I rarely listen or watch anything to do with FOX news, sports, or whatever. Their TV shows are generally the trashiest sitcoms, etc, the news is always biased, and unless it’s an outstanding matchup, I won’t watch sports at all with their stupid robots. I didn’t watch Big 12 sports because it was FOX. I’m a bit stunned that more folks haven’t followed suit. You see many comments about their bias, so why don’t others learn and follow up their complaints? I always loved it when CBS and NBC carried the NFL exclusively, and hopefully someday soon, that’ll again be the case. FOX is a swamp–stay away!

  12. Sooner Steve says:

    It`s amazing to hear about how hard it is for the Big 12 to get over you. If you will pay attention it is not Texas talking about you, it is you talking about Texas. Read the coments on here. Its hilarious. Texas made more money than you, currently makes more than you, and in the future will make more than you. It doesn`t bug us Sooner fans. We just go ahead and beat them on the field. I guess you had a bit of a problem with that. OU, Texas, and Texas A-M just voted to share MORE revenue with the other teams. How come all you Big Pink fans are so keen on sharing basketball revenue but not football revenue? Might it have something to do with your basketball program not earning enough to leave tip money for the breakfast waitresses? FYI nobody wants you back. You are the biggest crybabies in college sports. Have fun in the Big Slow 10 and when they get tired of you good luck in the Sun Belt.

    1. VegasObserver says:


      You cannot be serious when you state “If you will pay attention it is not Texas talking about you, it is you talking about Texas.” You do realize that this article was about a story on Fox Sports Southwest (headquarted in Dallas) in which the story inquired of innumerable sources all talking about Nebraska and which focuses on the perspective from Texas to Nebraska leaving. The underlying story was precisely about people in Texas talking about Nebraska. This article does not involve Nebraska eliciting, inquiring, opining or discussing Texas; there is no element indicating that Nebraska cares what Texas (or OU) thinks about the departure. In fact the University of Texas is mentioned ONE time in the entire article (that the article reads “like a weird Wikipedia entry as edited by a Texas fan”). The general sentiment amongst Nebraska fans that I know is best wishes to those who wish to remain under the Benevolent Bevo-cracy but that it is no longer for Nebraska.

      1. UltimaRatioRegum says:

        Steve, save your (virtual) breath. The evidence was overwhelming when he made his inflammatory comment, and pointing out how obvious it was won’t impinge at all on the hard little bee-bee he substitutes for a brain.

        1. UltimaRatioRegum says:

          I meant VegasObserver, NOT Steve. Sheesh.

  13. GARY LUKERT says:

    I can tell you this, sports fans…that had the Championship game in ’09 had the One Second Left, and it would have been Nebraska needing that ONE second to kick a field goal–all raise your hands if you believe Nebraska would have gotten that One Second. There would have been some “Cave in to Texas” reason for Nebraska not to have gotten it.
    Remember…several years ago, when Texas was playing Kansas…and KU was ahead…and had just gotten a First Down that would have Iced the Game for KU…and Beaten Texas? Well, the officials peed down their legs! Flagged KU for a Bogus Offensive Pass Interference call. KU ends up punting, Texas gets the ball…and wins the game.
    Also…for Texas Fans: What did TEXAS want in the Big 12 it didn’t get? About the only thing was not getting the Conference BB Tournament in Texas every year. Even the rest of the Big 12 North couldn’t stomach giving that to Texas, too.
    Also…in the Big 10, schools share. No one has it’s own TV Network. Texas is nothing more than a Bully.
    The Longhorn Fans are burned up…because somebody else can “get some, too!”

    1. Andy says:

      Absolutely right about that texas/KU game. Absolute travesty. Big 12 officials have long been on the take, for ut long before the 09 Big 12 title game.

      No way in hell Nebraska would have got a chance to kick a last second field goal to beat texas.