Penn State President Graham Spanier has “been in on the discussion'' of how the Big Ten Conference will split into two divisions with next season's addition of Nebraska.
Part of that involvement includes not speculating publicly on how those divisions might look.
But Spanier, who from 1991 to 1995 was chancellor at Nebraska, has one idea he's willing to share.
“The Penn State community loves the Nebraska community,'' he said by phone from State College, Pa. “I think we would certainly want very much to play Nebraska as often as we could.
“We think that would be a great game. We've already had a couple in the last decade.''
Though Penn State and Nebraska have played football only 13 times, the schools have some notable history together.
In 1982, a controversial in-bounds ruling on a completed pass late in the game helped No. 8 Penn State upset No. 2 Nebraska. That was the Huskers' only loss in a season in which they finished No. 3, while Penn State claimed the national title.
In 1983, the two schools were paired in the first college football Kickoff Classic in East Rutherford, N.J. Nebraska routed PSU 44-6.
Though no games were played in the 1990s, the Huskers and Nittany Lions were linked long and loudly in 1994.
Penn State finished 12-0 after beating Oregon in the Rose Bowl. Coach Joe Paterno openly lobbied for voters to pick the Nittany Lions over undefeated Nebraska. But the 13-0 Huskers won the Orange Bowl and were voted No. 1 in both polls.
The most recent games were in 2002 and 2003. Penn State won 40-7 at home in 2002. Nebraska won 18-10 at home in 2003.
Spanier repeated what Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said at the league's media days about geography being on a lower rung of consideration in creating divisions.
“It almost certainly won't be a rigid straightforward geographical line as in North vs. South or East vs. West,'' Spanier said. “But geography will be taken into account.''
Competitive balance and preserving historical rivalries are the top priorities.
“And that doesn't mean all historical rivals will be in the same division,'' Spanier said. “It might mean every year you play the teams in your division. But you also might play a historical rival every year outside your division.''
Spanier said Delany and the league's athletic directors are working toward a proposal to send to the league's CEOs for approval.
“We're getting close,'' Spanier said. “We're narrowing it down.''
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