Originally Posted by Saulbadguy
NU will never be back to the prosperity they saw back in the day. They will be a good team, but they can no longer cheat the scholarship system like they did under Osborne.
Not to back Saul too much, but this article sorta supports what he is saying about scholarships. It was printed back in Jan in the KC Star
diminish stature of Big Red
By BLAIR KERKHOFF
The Kansas City Star
JIM BARCUS | THE KANSAS CITY STAR
A loss to Kansas was a low point for Nebraska last season.
LINCOLN, Neb. | Tom Osborne called it painful. He sat dejectedly in the hotel ballroom after his loss in the Republican primary for governor last month. He’d even lost his home district.
“They sent me a pretty strong message,” he said.
These are rare moments for Osborne. Simply put, the man is not accustomed to losing. Sending strong messages? Osborne lives on the delivery side of those.
A decade ago, however, the new Big 12 Conference also sent a message to Osborne and Nebraska. The days of the Huskers getting their way, being admired and feared as the nation’s premier college football program, were numbered. The Big 12 would bring with it new rules and, because of that, new rulers.
Financially, the Big 12 has been a necessary blessing for its members. But there were losers along the way. Atop that list sits the Nebraska football dynasty, going from mythical to mediocre in this new super conference.
“The mystique of Nebraska fell off,” said Jon Zatechka, a Husker offensive guard from 1994 to 1997. “Once you know you can beat a team, that’s half the battle. And teams were lining up.”
Osborne and Nebraska approached the new league with skepticism. Bad enough the Big Eight seemed to be catering to the Lone Star State’s every desire. But the biggest blow — Nebraska football’s first Big 12 loss — came a year before the league kicked off. It served as the earliest stare-down between North and South, specifically the powers in each region, Nebraska and Texas.
Nebraska wanted unlimited partial qualifiers. Texas did not.
Unlimited partial qualifiers — players who don’t meet either minimum grade-point average or standardized test score requirements — would not be part of the Big 12.
“The University of Texas became a major driver of Big 12 policy,” Osborne said.
In time, when Osborne and his recruits from the Big Eight days shuffled out of the program, the Huskers started to slip. But it wasn’t until 2002 that the empire crumbled. Nebraska, which went 60-3 from 1993 to 1997, is 30-20 the last four seasons.
“It hurts,” Zatechka said. “When I was being recruited, it was like you could come to Nebraska and it was a guarantee you were going to win nine games and go to a bowl game.”
In the Big Eight’s final three years, Nebraska went 36-1 with two national championships and three undefeated regular seasons. It’s easy to see why the Cornhuskers were comfortable in their environment.
And they weren’t alone in cheering the Big Eight.
Former Iowa State coach Johnny Orr often reminded reporters in a high-pitched tone, “The basketball coaches voted 8-0 against merging with them.”
Kansas basketball coach Roy Williams teed up the Texas schools at a news conference. He thought “Big Texas” was a more appropriate name for the enterprise.
Even after the Big 12 got its legs, the resentment bubbled. In 1999, a confidential e-mail slipped out from Kansas State president Jon Wefald, in which he suggested the University of Texas “represents in most people’s minds incredible wealth and arrogance.”
Osborne sensed trouble from the start. He learned by reading it in the newspaper that the Big 12 had chosen former Oklahoma athletic director Donnie Duncan as the associate commissioner for football. Nothing against Duncan, Osborne said. Heck, they got along fine, and Osborne liked the choice. He just thought a memo from the conference office that the position even existed would have been appropriate.
It had been established that Steve Hatchell from the Southwest Conference would be the commissioner and not Kansas athletic director Bob Frederick, that the league office would be in Dallas and not Kansas City, and that the Huskers would lose their annual rivalry with Oklahoma in the new scheduling.
Nebraska, the Big Eight’s muscle, was seeing its wishes denied.
But as a sour point, the partial-qualifier issue towered above all.
The Big Eight allowed schools to sign athletes who fell short of certain academic requirements. Those athletes sat out as freshmen, lost that year of eligibility but could regain it through solid classroom work. Like basket weaving and corn shucking
Five defensive starters from the 1995 national championship team came to Nebraska that way.
Texas wanted stronger standards.
“We thought it was extremely important to make a stand on this,” said Chris Plonsky, Texas women’s athletic director. “This was a new generation of college athletics, and this was an opportunity for a new conference to say we were going to be about high academic standards.”
Besides, Texas was prepared to take its ball and run to the Pac-10 or Big Ten.
“The issue was a deal-breaker for us,” Plonsky said.
Still, Osborne pleaded his case. He reasoned that initial eligibility rules were biased against economically deprived athletes, that schools in the Midwest have a small recruiting base and need the advantage, and players in the university’s academic help system would succeed.
What’s more, Osborne resented that Nebraska was cast as an academic backwater. No school has produced more Academic All-Americans, and the football program has consistently ranked near the top of the conference in graduation rates.
But the vote went against the Huskers. Plonsky remembered being at a men’s basketball game when she was approached by then-president Robert Berdahl with the news.
“I remember him saying, ‘We held our ground,’ ” Plonsky said.
A compromise allowed each Big 12 school to admit two male and two female partial qualifiers each year. Osborne wasn’t happy. Then again, little about the whole Big 12 idea pleased him.