11:25 PM EDT, September 28, 2011
Tradition clearly is overrated. Nostalgia is for saps.
"If memories were all I sang," Rick Nelson once sang, "I'd rather drive a truck."
You would think history might mean more in a sport that produced "Win one for the Gipper," but this is no time to be taking sentimental journeys.
Before the Pacific-12 Conference called off the expansion malamutes last week, conference realignment directors were prepared to tear asunder the Apple Cup core of some of its most ancient rituals.
Before he was all for the Big12 staying together, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops seemed perfectly fine with divorcing Texas and the Red River Rivalry.
"I don't think it's necessary," Stoops said in early September. "No one wants to hear that, but life changes."
The realignment pullback, thankfully, spared many traditional games from the scrapbook heap, but some are in limbo.
Texas A&M's wedding announcement to the Southeastern Conference this week, the church date set for next year, could end the Aggies' annual Thanksgiving weekend classic against Texas.
The series dates to 1894, but so what? Only two other rivals have played more than the 117 times the Longhorns and Aggies have met, but life changes.
"People mark their calendars for that ballgame," Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman acknowledged Monday during the Big 12 coaches' conference call. "It will be a passing that will be sad, but new rivalries come up and you start circling other games on the calendar, I guess."
If Texas A&M's move to the SEC forces Auburn to the East Division, Tennessee-Alabama might cease to be an annual meeting.
If Missouri eventually joins the SEC, will that end its Border War rivalry with Kansas?
Pittsburgh's down-the-holler departure from the Big East to the Atlantic Coast Conference might end, or certainly complicate, its Backyard Brawl game with West Virginia.
Maybe they move the series to the start of the season the way they moved the Holy War this year between Utah and BYU.
Even front-loading the game date, though, changes its context. Utah's path to its first BCS bowl in 2004 was made infinitely sweeter because the Utes clinched the berth with a final victory over BYU.
It was far more emotionally significant that Pitt, in 2007, was the team that knocked West Virginia out of the national title race with its shocking final-weekend upset in Morgantown.
The Big 12's split-division format put Oklahoma and Nebraska on life support.
A great series was pronounced dead officially when Nebraska moved to the Big Ten.
Remember, though, only puppy lovers stop and smell the Rose Bowl.
Nebraska makes its Big Ten debut Saturday against Wisconsin. The schools haven't met since 1974. Everybody's marking their calendars.
There is a fresh-scrubbed newness to it all.
"I've never been to Madison," Nebraska senior safety Austin Cassidy said this week. "I can't wait."
Then again, Cassidy was equally thrilled to play Wyoming last week in mile-high Laramie, except for this: "It was hard to breathe up there. My mouth was so dry the entire time."
Maybe Sherman is right. Maybe we need to get over the past and think about how much richer Texas A&M is going to be by joining the SEC.
Nebraska at Wisconsin has instant flex appeal, helped hugely by the fact both are top-10 teams.
"That's one of the reasons I came here," Badgers quarterback Russell Wilson, a transfer from North Carolina State, said this week. "Great game. Great atmosphere. Big Ten football."
Maybe someday, 100 years from now, people will look back at this Wisconsin-Nebraska game as starting the tradition of "The Alvarez-Osborne Goblet" or "Battle for the Old Barn Door."
It's just a progressive way of looking at things.
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