Nebraska is not just a football school. You have many other outstanding athletic programs. Which non-revenue generating sport will benefit the most from the move to the Big 10?
HM: You know what, I'm going to go with baseball. I think the Husker program could dominate here. The Big Ten really hasn’t been very good in baseball, and Nebraska’s been a national contender at times recently. One could argue that a weak conference could hurt the Huskers, but then we’ve seen schools come out of weak conferences and compete nationally. It just means those non-conference games have to be beefed up.
Jon: That is tough, but it has to be baseball if Nebraska can keep a non-conference schedule that maintains a high RPI. Nebraska has one of the best college baseball stadiums in the nation in Haymarket Park - Penn State baseball fans will enjoy making that trip. In fact, I'll go so far as to say it might embarrass some Big Ten teams into improving their baseball experience.
Penn State Women's Volleyball team are the reigning and defending four time National Champions. Nebraska's women's team is also pretty dominant. Be honest, are you excited for the annual Penn State vs. Nebraska women's volleyball matches?
HM: Volleyball is big here, and watching the way your fans followed the team to KC this December makes me think this is going to be one heck of a rivalry.
Jon: Yes. Very much so. No sarcasm intended - the Big Ten is going to be one helluva volleyball conference.
Cael Sanderson has re-energized the Penn State wrestling program, leading the Nittany Lions to their first ever Big Ten Title. Nebraska is located next to the hotbed of college wrestling (Iowa, although I would argue that Pennsylvania produces the most D-1 grapplers). Do you think the move from the Big 12 will hurt or help the Nebraska wrestling team?
HM: Again, hard to say. The Big 12 is solid in wrestling as well, so I don't know how much of an effect the move is going to have here. I will confess that I really don't follow wrestling at all.
Jon: Wait, I have to call in a lifeline. This one comes from one of our members that closely follows the wrestling program:
It will be very tough for the Nebraska team to compete. They will be a middle of the pack team most of the years. The Big Ten is a "grinder" conference and that isn't the type of wrestler that comes out of Nebraska. Nebraska does not compete well head to head in recruiting with Iowa, Ohio State, or Penn State. They hold their own on the mat vs. Minnesota from one year to the next, but they do not have the depth from top to bottom in their lineup to challenge the top.
The Big 12 -- all five teams that wrestle -- usually has three tough wrestlers in each weight class, maybe four in a few. In the Big Ten, there are at least five or six tough kids, sometimes seven or eight. Coach Manning will have to change his approach as he has never put much of a priority on duals. In the Big 10, duals are a real big deal. Plus, he won't be able to schedule as many lower tier teams due to commitments in the conference to help younger wrestlers get some "confidence wins." Wrestling is one sport where Nebraska will not be as good off as they were in the Big 12.
Any other sports teams we should keep our eye on?
HM: Other than baseball, I don’t know. Anybody in the Big Ten follow men’s gymnastics?
Jon: Actually, Nebraska’s bowling team is one of the best in the nation, and we typically compete very well in track and field.
Penn State will be going D-1a in hockey in the near future. Any chance Nebraska does?
HM: Doubtful. I follow Nebraska-Omaha in hockey as well. That program’s move to the WCHA created the opening for Penn State in the CCHA. I really don’t see why the Big Ten would add hockey as a conference sport. Most of the other Big Ten schools that have hockey teams are nationally competitive (yes, I’m looking at you, Brutus); I don’t think the Michigans and Minnesotas want to beat on each other all season and likely bump one or two out of the Big Skate each season. The costs to add hockey are too high IMHO for Nebraska to take on.
Not many Big 10 schools have "Rifle" as a sport. Any chance Nebraska scraps that sport, or will they continue to compete against other rifle schools?
HM: Nope. Gender equity means women’s sports stay.
Jon: One thing you should know about Nebraska women. They’re tough as nails. Then you have some who have rifles. You go tell them you’re taking away their sport and I’ll sell tickets to what happens next.
Thanks again to Jon and Husker Mike from Corn Nation. Make sure you follow them on twitter ( @cornnation) and also on SBNation. This won't be the only time we collaborate with these guys this year, so get to know them BSDers (and Divas).