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Big 12 gets low grade from Osborne Nebraska coach debates eligibility standards


TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Big 12 has yet to start its operation, but Nebraska coach Tom Osborne already seems to be regretting the merger between the Big Eight and four former Southwest Conference schools in at least one regard.

What has rankled Osborne is the Big 12's position on Prop 48 -- or, as of next year, Prop 16 -- players. The Big Eight allowed its members to take players who fell short of the NCAA's prescribed standards, but the SWC didn't.

And therein lies the problem.

"What we're saying is that players who qualified last year [under Prop 48] might wind up in junior college," said Osborne. "We don't have a lot of junior colleges in Nebraska, and Texas does."

Osborne used last night's 62-24 victory over second-ranked Florida in the Fiesta Bowl, as well as an impressive bowl season for the Big Eight, to go on his soapbox at Sun Devil Stadium.

"We're going to have four Big Eight teams in the top 10," Osborne said among his opening post-game remarks, "and we did it with Big Eight rules."

Under the new NCAA guidelines, which go into effect next season, players will need a 2.5 grade-point average in at least 13 core curriculum courses if they have an 800 on the SAT. That's an increase from a 2.0 in 11 core courses.

But some of his critics within the new league believe that Osborne's concern for non- or partial-qualifiers has less to do with access and more to do with staying ahead of the competition on the field.

They point to the fact that Nebraska and Kansas both have open enrollment policies, thus permitting anyone who has graduated from an accredited high school within the respective states to enroll in Lincoln or Lawrence.

None of the four Texas schools -- Texas, Texas Tech, Texas A&M; or Baylor -- have that luxury. One more thing that shoots down Osborne's theory. "The four Texas schools haven't recruited junior college kids since the mid '80s," said one Big 12 official.

Big 12 commissioner Steve Hatchell said here before last night's Fiesta Bowl that he understands Osborne's concern, but doesn't think the Big 12's standards regarding non- and partial-qualifiers should affect Nebraska's dominance.

"He has a valid point," said Hatchell. "Tom and Nebraska have taken the educational well-being of their student-athletes seriously."

Green's gruesome injury

Florida freshman Jacquez Green suffered a gruesome injury in the second quarter of last night's game. Green, a 5-foot-9 wide receiver, was returning a kickoff when he was rolled over by a Nebraska player and got his cleat stuck in the turf.

Another player hit Green, who suffered a dislocated hip and needed to be carried off the field in a cart. The game was delayed nearly 10 minutes.

Most points in bowl games

One team

Pts ...... Result

65 ....... Texas A&M; 65, BYU 14 1990 Holiday Bowl

62 ....... Okla. St. 62, Wyoming 14 1988 Holiday Bowl

62 ....... Nebraska 62, Florida 24 1996 Fiesta Bowl

61 ....... Alabama 61, Syracuse 6 1953 Orange Bowl

56 ....... Toledo 56, Davidson 33 1969 Tangerine Bowl

Both teams

Pts ...... Result

96 ....... Tex. Tech 55, A.Force 41 1995 Copper Bowl

91 ....... BYU 46, SMU 45 1980 Holiday Bowl

91 ....... Richmond 49, Ohio U. 42 1968 Tangerine Bowl

89 ....... Toledo 56, Davidson 33 1969 Tangerine Bowl

89 ....... Penn State 50, BYU 39 1989 Holiday Bowl

86 ....... Nebraska 62, Florida 24 1996 Fiesta Bowl

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