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“Well, there goes the neighborhood,” is what can typically be heard from inside homes as nosy neighbors remark about who is moving in across the street. The over-packed U-Hauls pull up and everyone gets a bird’s-eye view of the avocado green couch with purple flowers and the contrasting recliners. Next is the rear projection big screen television and black velvet Elvis art. As the parade of mismatched children’s furniture and the lopsided washer/dryer set that won’t ever be level finds new locations, people peering from next door want to know several things: Where did these people come from? What do they do for a living? And once they get settled in, what kinds of problems are they going to cause us? How many dogs can one family have, and will they send them to my yard to do their business? All important questions. Once the new folks have been there a while, other things become apparent. Yes, they really are going to leave that old washing machine on the porch for the foreseeable future. Yes, it is July and their Christmas lights are still up. No, regardless of the car up on blocks in the front yard, it’s really not a used

82 MAY 2011

auto lot. And no, they don’t plan on mowing the front yard more than once every eight weeks, regardless of how high the weeds grow. You feel compelled to call Jeff Foxworthy with new material. THE BIG 12 CONFERENCE NEIGHBORHOOD looks a little different in 2011. And not because newbies are moving in, but because of who’s already vacated. Nebraska and Colorado packed up and left Dodge. They thought they’d just move out without even trying to get their deposit back. Mini-blinds dangling. Dust bunnies blowing. Walls maimed, carpet stained. That’s what they thought. But like Lee Corso says, “not so fast my friends.” THE BIG 12 IS JUST FINE, thank you. The number of national championship trophies you took when you left were minuscule. The remaining teams have a powerpacked number of student-athletes about to put on quite a show on a national stage in the next nine months in a myriad of sports. While schedules from teams in the north just got more difficult (welcome to the expanded Big 12 South), the benefits of every team playing the others is intriguing.

And finally, the new, lucrative television contract negotiated by the conference insures we have the funds to make any repairs to a slightly livedin house our former tenets vacated. As for Nebraska and Colorado, good luck in the Big 10 and Pac 12. Ralphie will have to find a new backyard and those corncob hats, a new peg on which to hang. You’ll find teams in LA, Tuscon, Eugene, Columbus, Happy Valley, Madison and Ann Arbor might be watching from behind their living room curtains. Suspicious ... wary. Intent. But not necessarily envious. Some neighborhoods are tough. The grass on the other side of the conference fence isn’t always greener. In fact, sometimes there is no grass at all. Too many dogs running around. We like it in our own neck of the woods where the grass takes on a nice, mid-summer shade of ... ORANGE . KYLE WRAY ASSOCIATE VICE PRESIDENT ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT & MARKETING


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