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Iowa mascot Herky
Iowa Hawkeyes mascot, Herky, is giving high fives to Iowa fans at Arizona Stadium in Tucson, Ariz., Sept. 18, 2010.

Get ready for some rhubarbs.

The switch to the Big Ten Conference for the University of Nebraska is certainly going to stoke those fires around here when it comes to disagreements between acquaintances or co-workers with differing allegiances.

We do actually have a number of people who ride the fence between the Hawkeyes and Huskers and also Iowa State. That's a fairly positive and healthy approach for anyone without a vested interest in any of these schools.

Still, I'd imagine the neutrals are greatly outnumbered by the zealots, whose favorites would be next to impossible to tally.

The imbalance simply couldn't be as pronounced as it would appear from attendance at spring football games last Saturday in Lincoln, Iowa City and Ames.

While approximately 4,000 showed up at Iowa State and roughly 5,000 attended the end to spring drills at Iowa, more than 66,000 attended the Nebraska spring game.

And, that disparity, regardless of weather or any other factors you might name, is downright astonishing.

Iowa, to be fair, doesn't really play an actual spring game anymore. Not only that, but the wet snow that hit Siouxland overnight last Friday was pelting Iowa City by Saturday afternoon. No doubt, that discouraged plenty of fans from heading to Kinnick Stadium.

It looks like Iowa and Nebraska will be developing a rivalry game to be held each year on the day after Thanksgiving. The Huskers host the teams' first-ever Big Ten clash on Nov. 25 while the annual Iowa-Iowa State game will be played this year in Ames on Sept. 10.

For what it's worth, Illinois is excluded from Iowa's schedule for the next four seasons, which is as far as the Big Ten slate goes thus far. The Hawkeyes don't play Illinois, Wisconsin or Ohio State the next two seasons and then they bypass Illinois, Indiana and Penn State in 2013 and '14.

Nebraska won't get acquainted with Indiana on the gridiron until sometime after its first four seasons in the league. The Huskers' eight Big Ten foes for 2011 and '12 exclude Indiana, Illinois and Purdue while the omitted rivals in '13 and '14 are Indiana, Wisconsin and Ohio State.

VOLLEYBALL SHOWDOWNS

Much as so many in the "Husker Nation'' might have you think otherwise, this move to the Big Ten isn't all about football.

This dramatic conference change involves all of Nebraska's sports programs, most of which are successful. You can bet there will be quite a stir on Wednesday, Sept. 21, when Penn State's four-time defending NCAA champions visit Lincoln for the Huskers' Big Ten volleyball debut.

Nebraska, of course, is a perennial national volleyball power and was ranked No. 3 when 11th-rated Washington posted a regional semifinal upset last Dec. 10, taking advantage of playing the Huskers in Seattle.

Coach John Cook's NU team is currently playing a spring schedule that only seems to be accelerating far beyond what the NCAA would have once considered reasonable for student-athletes.

Say what? Saturday night in Lincoln, the Huskers will host China's five-time defending professional volleyball champions, Tianjin Bridgestone, and tickets for this 7 p.m. "scrimmage'' are $10 for reserved seats or $8 for general admission.

This intriguing test came about, I'd imagine, after Cook took his team to China for a 17-day trip last June.

HONORARY REF

The busy business of covering the Sioux City Relays always seems to result in various oversights and omissions on our part.

This year, that list would easily be topped off by the absence of any recognition for Chris Prince, who was named honorary referee for her tireless efforts in keeping Western Iowa's premier track and field carnival running smoothly.

The wife of Bob Prince, co-meet director, Chris has contributed to the ambitious two-day track and field carnival in a variety of ways ranging from corporate sponsorships, which she has revitalized, to coordinating such things as the awards stand and the feeding of 200 coaches and volunteers who work the event.

The current president of the Morningside Commercial Club is a 1981 Bishop Heelan graduate who participated in basketball, softball, volleyball and track. She attended Western Iowa Tech and Briar Cliff.

Apologies also to the placewinners in the prep boys 800, won easily by Elkhorn Mt. Michael's Tommy Feichtinger (2:01.80). That event got left out of our published results, but you can find all the weekend's results -- everyone who competed, not just the top six that we customarily print -- at www.screlays.com.

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