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Rick Reilly On The Big Ten: When Facts Aren't Important

What year in the distant future will the next big thing take over and cause bloggers like me to act all high and mighty while yelling at the kids to get off my lawn? It will probably be when we can just laser beam a writer's thoughts directly into the frontal cortexes of our prospective readers. It will be great, especially once they clear up the part that causes 1 in 10 people to have a psychotic episode. Until then, bloggers get to be at the front of media while the old guard like Rick Reilly believes blogs and social media are passing fads. There is no way anyone who didn't go to journalism school can put together a coherent sentence, at least in Rick's world.

I say this because of his latest gem over at ESPN where he welcomes Nebraska and takes a backhand to the other 11 established programs in the conference. As usual when you reach someone of Reilly's massive bank account, ego, experience, facts aren't important. Don't get me wrong. I used to like Reilly when he was at Sports Illustrated, but he has gotten worse since he moved to ESPN. Most of the time I don't read his stuff anymore unless it is something like this or he challenges Bill Simmons to a fight to the death. His piece on welcoming Nebraska to the Big Ten makes him sound like a pretentious dickhole.

Hello, Nebraska!

"Hi, I am a full three weeks and 2,956,052 articles behind on this, but it's time for me to welcome you, so it's important!"

Now that you're joining the 12-team Big Ten, nothing is going to make sense anymore. I know it doesn't for me. Growing up as a Colorado Buffs fan, we were taught that if Nebraska was playing Libya, we should be there with a giant poster of Moammar Gaddafi.

Welcome to 1994, Rick. Congratulations on being the 1 billionth writer to make a joke about how the Big Ten doesn't know how to count. It's been this way for 20 years. Pay attention. Also, Gaddafi took power in 1969 in a peaceful coup and didn't start implementing the bad parts of his regime until you were in high school. I guess facts aren't important.

So why do we feel this weird need to help you switch over?

Because your state gave us Johnny Carson and Larry the Cable Guy. Besides, you kicked our butts to the state line every year and we're frankly glad to see you go.

"We couldn't beat you anyway, so we give up even though we hate you." I am sure every Nebraska fan right is thinking, "Wait, Colorado was our rival?" Imagine the bad blood at the first Nebraska-Colorado Rose Bowl.

Also, didn't Colorado leave the Big 12 first? In which case, what does it matter they joined the Big Ten, you weren't going to play them anymore anyway!

You are joining one of the great football traditions in America, a fabric woven with sturdy football, passionate fans and the time-honored institution of selling your jerseys for tattoos.

So here you go, Nebraska. Let us help you get the lay of the Heartland.

One player at one school sold his jerseys for tattoos. One, out of over 1,100 players in the conference total last year. That's less than .1% of the players involved in one season. Also, Reilly should say here, "I am going to demonstrate I know absolutely nothing about the traditions, but act like I do."

Your new rival -- Forget Oklahoma. Now it's Iowa, like it or not. You close out your regular season with the Hawkeyes on the day after Thanksgiving at home. Iowa's a natural for you. Both your states are so flat you can watch a train pull out for three days.

Football-wise, Iowa has been better than you lately, but you're 26-12-3 against the Hawkeyes overall, plus your football lore gives their lore an atomic wedgie (Nebraska: three full national championships and two half ones; Iowa: one-half of a national championship). All in all, it ought to be a big game every year. Got a name for it, too. The Cornfrontation.

Watch a train pull out for three days? What the hell does that even mean? Does it mean we're so bored without mountains we'll watch anything? And the like it or not is rather pointless. Fans on both sides seem pretty excited about the new Iowa-Nebraska series. It's not like Nebraska fans came in and demanded to take Ohio State's place with Michigan. Ridiculous name you give it aside, it should be a solid game between a pair of teams that, regardless of what you think, have been fairly even of late.

Academics -- I wouldn't bring this up at meetings, Nebraska. Until you joined, the Big Ten was the only Division I conference to have all its members in the prestigious Association of American Universities, which selects only the finest research and academic institutions in America. Sad how some people don't see the value in your night crawler research. Ah, well, when's the last time a bunch of lab geeks put 85,000 fannies in a stadium, am I right?

"Remember that N is for Knowledge! Har!" I guess them folk in Nebraska don't need them some fancy book learnin' to play the football!

Dress code -- Now that Jim Tressel and The Vest are gone from Ohio State, there is no dress code. Your lunatic screamer of a head coach, Bo Pelini -- the man who could be an entire season of "What Not to Wear" -- is going to fit in nicely. Your fans aren't exactly ripped from the Armani catalog, either. Oy, that Sea of Red some of you wear: red socks, red overalls, red cowboy hats. Goes nice with your necks, though.

And since nobody travels better than Nebraska -- remember the time you went to South Bend? -- all that red is going to wash into Big Ten stadiums and they're going to wish you were all Big Dead.

Because the Big 12 had such an erudite dress code? Bob Stoops coaches every game in a white tuxedo, doesn't he?

Also, the Big Ten is annually one of the top conferences in attendance. The Notre Dame game was a one time thing where Notre Dames "fans" made a lot of money selling their tickets to Nebraska fans. Those overly loyal ND fans really stayed behind bob Davie in a tough (9-3) year.

Divisions -- The Big Ten is divided into two divisions: Legends and Leaders. Yes, these are incredibly anvil-brained names for divisions, but you should have seen the stuff that lost out:

Second -- Princes and Potentates

Third -- Behemoths and Brutes

Fourth -- Cheats and Soon-to-be-caught Cheats

Reilly pulls off the double and becomes the 1 billionth writer to not like the Big Ten Division Names and come up with even dumber ones. Originality like this can only be taught in journalism school, folks.

You will be in the Legends division, along with Michigan and Iowa and a bunch of Twinkies. But you're going to end up playing everybody, so let me give you the thumbnail on all of them (in order of how you'll grow to hate them):

Yes, twinkies like defending Big Ten champ Michigan State, a Northwestern team that is light years better than anyone ever gives them credit, and a Minnesota team that, well, Reilly is for once right here.


Sadly, the Michigan Man has had to reduce the volume a little lately, having not beaten The Ohio State Man since the debut of the Edsel.

Michigan has arguably the grandest stadium in college football. The Big House is the largest in the United States -- holding 109,901 -- and yet they still sell out 102 percent of the seats. Can you imagine? They have very cool helmets that have nothing to do with their nickname, the Wolverines, which is about as indigenous to Michigan as the fairy penguin. They're talking about having a mascot, though, which is going to ruin everything.

Oh yeah, Rick. It's been so long since 2006 when the Wolverines were #2 in the country. If they sell out 102% of their seats 1. How can the Sea of Red take over, and 2. You missed another chance at a bad math joke! Pay Attention!


You're coming to the Big Ten at a lucky time, Nebraska. Ohio State has been the king, but if the king is not dead, it's on one knee and searching around for its mouthpiece. Buckeyes fans are usually very nice people, but all this vacating of wins has caused them to vacate their manners. They harassed Golden Boy QB and ESPN announcer Kirk Herbstreit into moving to Nashville and they sent death threats to the college newspaper sports editor over Tressel. Remind me, what did those guys sell?

Your Cornhuskers and coach Bo Weevil have a chance to come in early and corn-slap some people.

In what world does he think Ohio State fans are very nice people? I thought he was an expert on the Big Ten!


You're going to love coming to Madison, until kickoff. Put it this way, a weekend in Madison is going to beat the bejesus out of going to Ames, Manhattan or Stillwater. Great town, fun fans, delicious brats.

The problem is, Wisconsin has even bigger and stronger linemen than you do. Do you realize that the last lineman you had taken in the first round of the NFL draft was 27 years ago? Dean Steinkuhler? The Badgers have had five in that time!

I'm afraid Wisconsin is you, Nebraska, only with much better parties and more wins.

Except when it comes to Wisconsin trying to make that pesky BCS bowl as an at large or the title game. They really know how to play for championships up there and can teach Nebraska a thing or two!


Fun facts for you to tell when you visit Happy Valley on Nov. 12:

Q: Why do Penn State players wear black shoes?
A: Reportedly, coach Joe Paterno believes it makes his players look slower, which is not true. Bowl games do.

Q: How is the health of the 84-year-old Paterno?
A: His ears still hurt a little from The Big Bang.

The Big Ten is slow and JoePa is old. If this were Jeopardy I would answer, "What makes you look like an brainless outsider when you talk about the Big Ten?"


If you want to get under their skin, just go up to Michigan State fans wearing Spartans jerseys and say, "Oh, couldn't get into Michigan, huh?"

Come on, Rick! Ride the cliché! It's Little Brother, not, "couldn't get into Michigan." Like a pitcher blowing a perfect game, Reilly misses the chance to hit every cliché possible.


You will see a few people in purple shirts with a stupid cat logo on them. You do NOT have to worry about them. But be nice to their students. A lot of them end up running big media companies. The Wildcats found a really good coach in Pat Fitzgerald, though. He's hot property. Get his email ready for when Pelini rips off a referee's arm and eats it.

Because so many of the top notch programs (Ohio State, Notre Dame, Florida, Alabama, USC to name a few) really went after Fitzgerald hard with their recent openings. Northwestern has also made a habit of grabbing win after win over teams not worrying about them since 1995. More proof Rick Reilly still lives in 1994.


You draw more for your spring game than the Illini do for regular-season ones. I'm not kidding. You drew 66,784 for your spring game this year. The Illini didn't even average that for home games last year.

Kind of hard to do when their stadium (capacity 60,600) doesn't seat 66,784, but who needs facts?


Just awful. Being a football fan in Indiana is like being a scuba fan in Tibet. There's no point. The "I" on the Hoosiers' helmets is for the number of games they win every year.

You missed a layup of a basketball joke here, Rick. See, I can make bad jokes and puns too and I didn't go to journalism school.


It's hard to hate Purdue. You get to watch the little train that runs around. You get to watch the Boilermaker mascot get in fights. And you get to watch Purdue throw the football like crazy and still lose 56-35. Great fun.

Partial credit for giving us a nod to great passing games, but we haven't given up more than 50 points in a game since 1996.


The Gophers are in your Legends division. The only thing they're legendary for is losing. You'll love them.

Rick Reilly is not Tim Brewster, so we didn't hear about National Titles from the Eisenhower era.

As for you, Nebraska, the Big Ten is really going to take an instant dislike to you. Why? Saves time.

You know, except for the overwhelming fan support of sites like this one welcoming them to the Big Ten, but blogs don't count, remember.

Yes, you're relatively nice people. You never swear. You're devoted fans. But you represent a real threat. You could win a few titles someday and they aren't going to like it.

Apparently Reilly jumped back to 1994 and he cut and paste his column for welcoming Penn State here without doing any research.

Also, those games at Memorial Stadium with the freezing rain and the howling wind and nothing around for 100 miles to hide behind but corn stalks? They're not fun. Put it this way: You're going to have LOTS of visiting team tickets to re-sell.

Not a problem since they have sold out every game for almost 50 years. They really should show some interest in their program out there in Lincoln since they only travel to empty Big Ten stadiums for away games and no Big Ten fan ever goes on the road. They had a hard time selling those tickets in the Big 8/12 era too. God, this guy is a putz.

You know what might impress them, though? Your bowl record. You're 24-23 all time. You better knock that crap off.

In the Big Ten, that's just showing off.

And he nails it with a Big Ten sucks in Bowl games joke! I was actually disappointed there wasn't an SEC reference, but again, that would take research.