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Exploring the State of Nebraska and its unique football tradition

Conferences Explained

During the fourth game of the season against Southern Mississippi I had the pleasure of sitting next to a Colorado-based Nebraskan who had brought his young son along to see his very first Nebraska game. Around that time there was a lot of talk about the Huskers playing their first Big 10 game the following week against Illinois.

I tried to imagine a conversation between father and son the following Saturday morning before the game.

Son: Daddy, why did you say the game today is so important?

Father: Well, that’s because it’s Nebraska’s first conference game of the year.

Son: Huh? What was last week’s game?

Father: Oh that was just a game against another team from another conference.

Son: Oh. (pause) What’s a conference?

Father: Haven’t you finished your breakfast yet?

Son: No, Mommy is bringing me another pop-tart and some more milk.

Father: Ok, that’s great. Go ahead and eat your breakfast.

Son: Daddy, what’s a conference?

Father: (Sigh) Well it’s a group of teams who get together and form a kind of club to play games against each other.

Son: Oh, kind of like when Tommy and me play video games against the Dragons.

Father: Well, kind of like that except this conference is called the Big 10.

Son: But I thought you said there are 11 guys on a football team.

Father: Well yes, there are 11 guys on each team. How’s that pop-tart?

Son: It’s good. (Pauses thoughtfully) Oh, I get it. There’s 10 teams in the conference.

Father: Not exactly, there are 14 teams in the Big 10.

Son: Oh. (Puzzled look) Well then why do they call it the Big 10?

Father: Because they just do, son. The 14 teams are divided into two groups that they call divisions.

Son: Oh, so there’s 10 teams in each group?

Father: No, there are 7 teams in each group. Look, how about some nice muesli?

Son: Well then why don’t they just call it the Big 14?

Father: Well because….er, because that would get people mixed up with other conferences like the Big 12.

Son: So the Big 12 has 12 teams?

Father: Not exactly, the Big 12 only has 10 teams. How’s that muesli going?

Son: Well then why don’t they call that conference the Big 10?

Father: Because that would get people mixed up, too. But anyway, why so many questions about conferences?

Son: It’s because Mommy says every time you go to a conference you come home smelling like stale beer and cheap cigars.

Father: I see. Well, just eat your muesli, son. Mommy and I will talk later.

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