As conferences realign, many college rivalries torn up

Nebraska athletics director Tom Osborne fondly remembers college football’s 1971 version of the “Game of the Century,” when the Cornhuskers knocked off Oklahoma 35-31 on their way to the national championship.

“I was an assistant, and Barry Switzer was an assistant (with OU),” Osborne recalls. The Cornhuskers-Sooners rivalry, in the old Big 8 Conference, was at its apex that season with the teams at the top of the polls. It was a time when the Nebraska-Oklahoma rivalry, which began in 1912, was almost always an end-of-season game with the league title — and sometimes a shot at the national championship — on the line.

“Lots of memories,” Osborne says. “It was always a very intense rivalry.”

Osborne and Switzer would go on to win national championships as head coaches at the two schools. Switzer later coached the Dallas Cowboys to a Super Bowl title. Osborne went into politics and served in Congress before returning to Nebraska as athletics director in 2007.

And the Sooners-Huskers’ rivalry? That’s over, at least for the time being — a casualty of the wave of realignment in college sports that is tearing apart or changing some traditional regional rivalries.

Full story: Conference turmoil tears at some of college’s top rivalries