LINCOLN, NEB. • When he was doing graduate work in psychology, Tom Osborne said, one particular experiment resonated with him.
"If you hook somebody up to a galvanic skin response, where they have electrodes in the palms of your hands, you can't really distinguish between the emotions of hatred and fear," said Osborne, the legendary Nebraska football coach who now presides over its athletic department. "You have about the same response."
He added: "A lot of motivation before games, particularly in contact sports, is designed to build up a hatred for your opponent. We never felt that was appropriate."
Osborne was speaking more generally, but his always-temperate temperament contradicts some of the notions of Nebraska's reasons for leaving the Big 12 for the Big Ten after this year.
"We realized the decision would impact not just the athletic department but the whole university for many, many years," he said. "It was certainly not something that was lightly taken.
"Some people said, well, we were mad at his school. Or 'this school said that.' Or 'you had a one-point loss to Texas.' And that's why you did it."
With a wry smile as he sat in his office, Osborne added, "Well, you don't make a decision of that momentous nature based on the loss of a football game."
Instead, a number of factors played into it — and, no, he didn't include Mizzou's apparent flirtation with the Big Ten as Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman did in announcing Nebraska's decision in June.
Days before Mizzou's final scheduled football game against Nebraska, asked about Perlman's words, Osborne took a broader look at the Big 12 meetings in June that led to Nebraska's decision.
Relating what Perlman told him of the June 4 meeting of the league presidents in Kansas City, Osborne said Perlman raised the issue of whether the league would stay together if just Missouri left and got a yes.
Then he asked whether it would remain intact if just Colorado left, as it ultimately did for the Pacific 10. The answer again was yes.
But the answer was vague when Perlman asked what if Missouri and Colorado both left, Osborne said, and Perlman was further dismayed when he gathered that there was no consensus for committing to put all TV inventory into a conference pool to be divided equally.
Add to that the appeal on many levels of the Big Ten and the flirtation of Texas and other schools with the Pacific 10, and Perlman became more persuaded that the move was the right thing to do as Nebraska considered a deadline of a week later to recommit to the Big 12.
According to the Omaha World-Herald, Osborne and Perlman had met with Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany on May 25 but didn't necessarily have an offer yet and weren't sure what to do then.
By the time Perlman was driving home from Kansas City, though, he was about there.
"When he left that meeting, he didn't have an assurance the Big 12 would stay together," Osborne said. "The (Big Ten) presidents hadn't voted, but we were quite certain we (had) an offer. And we knew that if we turned the Big Ten down that three or four years from now they weren't going to come back and ask us again.
"So we had to make a decision. And given the information we had, we felt this represented the best choice."
"Nothing against anybody," he added. "It's just the way it was."
From his perspective, some of the sense of outrage by others in the Big 12 has been overstated.
"I think most schools in the Big 12 understand why we did it; I think a good many of them given the same opportunity would have done it," he said. "On the other hand, you always have the feeling (they may think), 'Well, Nebraska preferred somebody else to being with you.' So there probably is some rancor."
Just not from Osborne.
Nebraska in limbo
While the decision was made for a long haul, that doesn't change the fact this is a year of flux for Nebraska.
"This is a strange year, because even though we're a voting member in the Big 12 ... you kind of get the feeling that they'd just as soon you weren't there because the decisions they'll be making, most of them are next year and beyond and we're not a part of that," Osborne said. "So it would just be uncomfortable for us to be there, and probably not a very good use of our time.
"On the other hand, we go to the Big Ten meetings, but we never vote" since Nebraska isn't yet a voting member.
Even with a few days to reconsider, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops insists there was nothing wrong with his decision to go for two against Mizzou with Oklahoma trailing 36-27 with 6 minutes 6 seconds left last week.
"Why not? You've got to get two at some point, right?" he said at his weekly press conference, adding, "I don't even see why this is a question. To me, it was the only thing to do."
But logic speaks against it. By failing on the two-point attempt instead of taking the relatively certain point-after kick, Oklahoma put itself in a position where it had to score twice instead of once in the final minutes.
Sure, the Sooners would have had to go for two if they scored another touchdown, but that would be one play to tie it. Instead, they needed at least a touchdown and a field goal to match MU.