It’s no secret that Creighton used to have a football team, but what’s not as widely known is the impact that football has had on Bluejay basketball. Steven Pivovar’s “Road to the Big Time,” which chronicles a century of CU basketball, shows the connection.
Even before it had a basketball team, Creighton had sought admittance to the Missouri Valley Conference for football. But after a decade of rejections, the school finally decided instead to join the North Central Conference in 1922. Nebraska, Oklahoma, Missouri, Iowa State, Kansas and Kansas State bolted from the Valley to form the Big Six in 1928, because smaller MVC members had struggled to compete on the gridiron. The remaining Missouri Valley members — Drake, Grinnell, Oklahoma A&M and Washington University of St. Louis — then invited the Bluejays to join.
Creighton’s football struggles forced the departure in 1935 of athletic director Arthur Schabinger, who had doubled as basketball coach and had won four MVC hoops titles in the previous six years. Schabinger would have the last laugh, though. The university ended football in 1942 because of World War II, while Schabinger went on to be inducted into the basketball hall of fame.
The Valley pushed the Jays out of the league in 1948 when they declined to restore football, but the conference dropped the requirement in 1977, allowing Creighton to rejoin. And, of course, the new Big East was formed by seven schools frustrated with fellow league members that had become consumed by football. That opened the door for football-less Creighton to join.
“Road to the Big Time” is available now for $29.95, plus shipping and handling, online at OWHstore.com or by phone at 402-444-1014.