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'Additional change is coming': Nebraska AD says realignment only part of work ahead

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Red-White Spring Game, 4.9

Nebraska athletic director Trev Alberts walks around the field before the Red-White Spring Game on April 9 at Memorial Stadium.

Trev Alberts’ family left for vacation without him. There was too much he had to do.

Less than 24 hours after the Big Ten announced the landmark additions of UCLA and USC — effective for the 2024-25 school year — the Nebraska athletic director was en route to joining his crew Friday for the holiday weekend. Though he’s not exactly expecting a carefree few days.

“Of course, I’ll have my laptop with me,” Alberts said. “We’re probably needing to invest in Zoom at some point.”

As seismic as the news was — adding two flagship Pac-12 brands that expand the Big Ten to 16 teams and give the league coast-to-coast influence from Hollywood to New Jersey — Alberts said it represents more of a beginning than an end. The conference was prepared when the Los Angeles universities reached out a few weeks ago about joining, allowing everything to come together in “a rather tight window” that didn’t become public until the 11th hour.

“I think it’s important that we have strength in numbers and make sure that we’re aligned with institutions that share the vision,” Alberts said. “The Big Ten, I think, has done that.”

The ground is unstable in more areas than just conference realignment, Alberts said, though more of that could be on the way, too. Nebraska continues to explore outsourcing its multimedia rights to a third party after going in-house last year. The transfer portal and name, image and likeness remain unsettled issues. So, too, do future conference decisions on potentially radical changes proposed by the Division I Transformation Committee that could include, in part, unlimited funding to what have historically been partial scholarship sports.

Meanwhile, the Big Ten remains in negotiations for its next media rights deal that was already projected to be worth more than $1 billion before the league added two premier brands from the nation’s No. 2 media market.

And the league must still choose whether to scrap divisions — the Pac-12 and ACC recently made such moves — and what scheduling could look like, both now and when the Trojans and Bruins join the fray. Ensuring access to the College Football Playoff, at however many teams that might be, is a priority.

“Additional change is coming,” Alberts said. “It will be uncomfortable. The most important thing is to make sure that Nebraska has a seat at the table that once the dust settles — and it won’t settle in the near term — that we’re well-positioned to have an athletic department with the resources and brand associated that our fans identify with."

“We’ve got some major issues that face us that frankly are not sustainable. Everybody understands that. I think there’s a lot to work through and a lot of questions that reside in the courts.”

Anecdotally, Alberts said, he expects the additions of USC and UCLA to be meaningful to future Huskers because playing the Bruins in September 1993 was memorable for him. Then a senior linebacker, Alberts and eighth-ranked Nebraska held off UCLA 14-13 in front of 50,000 people in Los Angeles.

It was the Iowa native’s first trip to California — he’s been there only one other time since. There was lots of red in the stands.

“It was an important game for us and it was a great experience for me as a player,” Alberts said. “I just remember this left tackle — he was big. At the end of the game I thought, ‘He has a chance.’ It was Jonathan Ogden. He was pretty good.”

Much has changed since those days. More will look different — maybe unrecognizable — in the next couple of years as the landscape of college sports continues to churn.

“We’re going to have to be very comfortable being uncomfortable,” Alberts said. “Realignment is a small portion, but there’s a lot of additional work to do. Intercollegiate athletics as we all knew it certainly has changed.”​

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