Take a bow, Nebraska. Against the odds, you led the fight to save B1G football
Some told Nebraska to shut up. Imagine if that actually happened.
Imagine if Scott Frost, Bill Moos, Ted Carter and the Nebraska players who filed a lawsuit against the league had simply taken all of this lying down. Imagine if those Midwestern ways set in upon the announcement that the B1G wasn’t having fall football, and that the decision wouldn’t be revisited. Imagine where we’d be right now if nobody fought back against an unprecedented decision that lacked unity and transparency.
I’ll tell ya one thing. I don’t have to imagine this. We wouldn’t be any closer to fall football. A total 180 like the B1G returning to play doesn’t happen without a strong, vocal opposition.
The Huskers weren’t alone in that fight. Lord knows plenty of B1G players and parents vocalized their opposition, as did Ryan Day and James Franklin. And I’d say Justin Fields getting over a quarter of a million signatures on a petition to play along with his efforts in the #WeWantToPlay movement certainly helped the resistance gain momentum, as well.
But from the top down, Nebraska didn’t shut up, and it didn’t care that others deemed that the program/university/fan base/state was “acting out of line.” Roughly 3 weeks after the B1G’s announcement, look at what Frost said in an interview with The Omaha World-Herald:
“All I really want to say about it is, if I get criticized for fighting for my kids and wanting to play football, I’m OK with getting criticized.
“I want fighters. I want guys who aren’t afraid to stand up for what they believe in and aren’t afraid of criticism or afraid of a fight. That’s the attitude I want from our players and they need to see it from us and know we are fighting for them.”
Frost didn’t care that people like Michael Wilbon and Desmond Howard told Nebraska to take its ball and go home. Had that happened, where would the B1G be? Why don’t you go ask the Pac-12. That is, assuming you can find them. Their postponed season wasn’t met with such opposition.
That’s also because the Pac-12 was willing to cite its experts’ medical findings in a 12-page report for why it deemed a college football season unsafe. Meanwhile, getting that information from the B1G was like squeezing water out of a rock. Of course that was going to be met with resistance in places like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Nebraska, all of which are states still having high school football seasons.
Transparency was needed. This wasn’t a kid asking his mom why he had to go to bed at 8:30 and her responding with “because I’m your mother and I said so.” This was (and is) a decision was lasting socio-economic impact on an entire region of the country.
Some told the 8 Nebraska players who filed a lawsuit against the B1G to shut up. It’s a good thing they didn’t. Why? That’s what led to the league actually releasing its 11-3 vote (Nebraska, Iowa and Ohio State were reportedly the 3) from the university presidents. Seriously. According to the World-Herald, a Lancaster County (Nebraska) district court ruled that B1G will had 10 days to “produce additional documents in its decision to postpone fall sports.”
Yes, that was in direct response to that lawsuit. Imagine that.
And for Carter, the Nebraska president, the fight didn’t stop there. Last week, along with chancellor Ronnie Green, Moos and Frost, Carter spoke to KLIN 1400 am about how from the top down, Nebraska was united in its desire to safely have a fall season:
“There is an awful lot of work still going on with the Return to Play Committee for which chancellor Ronnie Green, athletic director Bill Moos and coach Scott Frost are on. They’re putting together some plans that the presidents and chancellors will vote on very soon. The fight is still on. We have been aligned in this state from the get go. From the governor, to myself to the chancellors to our coaches and players, that we feel it’s safe to play here.
“That’s been our theme and we’re still strong on that.”
Yeah, that’s coming from Carter, AKA 1 of those 14 people who actually got to vote on that decision to return.
And unlike other presidents who weren’t willing to speak on the record, Carter didn’t mince words. Well, except that one time. Whether it was on a hot mic or not, everyone in Nebraska who needed to be vocal was vocal. I said it a month ago, but this is about as unified as Nebraska has been in quite some time. I mean, even the Nebraska Attorney General sent B1G commissioner Kevin Warren a letter demanding more transparency from “a nonprofit operating in the state.”
To be fair, that was a few days after the Ohio Attorney General spoke with the Columbus Dispatch and said Ohio State could sue the B1G with “excellent contract claim for several tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue.”
If the Big Ten had a legitimate leg to stand on, it wouldn’t have felt this pressure. If all the other Power 5 leagues had canceled their seasons, we wouldn’t have seen this type of pressure to have a fall season. But instead, we saw, in the middle of the first Saturday of Power 5 football, a report that leaked about the B1G getting serious momentum for a fall start and that a new vote was coming.
(If you think that timing was a coincidence, well, good for you. You’re not as cynical as I am.)
Sure, the league stood behind the new rapid testing developments as its justification for changing its tune. In the same way that it failed to correctly cite its medical concerns when it postponed the fall season in August, the B1G wasn’t returning to play without science on its side. That’s all well and good.
But let’s give credit where credit is due. Nobody was more unapologetically — and publicly — opposed to the initial postponement decision than Nebraska. I don’t think we’d be at this point a month after the fact without seeing such strong opposition complete with lawsuits, on-the-record resistance, written statements and everything in between. And that’s not to say that people who publicly supported the Big Ten’s initial decision, like Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan, deserve blame. Everyone is entitled to say, feel and act on their own best interests.
For the sake of those who wanted to see the B1G attempt to safely play football this fall, though, there had to be some sort of antithesis to the conference after the way in which it was communicated. There had to be someone besides just Ohio State, AKA the school with legitimate national title aspirations, justifying why there should be a fall season.
Nebraska was exactly what the B1G needed. It would have been easy to shut up.
Perhaps those who mocked Nebraska’s push should take some of their own advice.