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John Rohde: Big 12 North coaches are sure their day will come

JOHN ROHDE Published: August 22, 2009
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Nebraska football coach Bo Pelini stopped the reporter in mid-question during Big 12 Media Days last month, and you could tell he didn’t like where the subject was headed.

"About the South dominating the North ..."

"Is it?" Pelini scowled. "We’ll find out what happens this year, won’t we?"

Other North coaches also were a bit edgy.

"It’s not like you can ignore the North," Colorado coach Dan Hawkins said. "You’ve still got to play those teams."

True, and let Big 12 North heads roll where they may.

Pelini freely admits the South was stout a year ago.

"They had three teams in the top 5 for a while," Pelini said of Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech. "It’s pretty hard to match up with that. Obviously, it played out (and) the South was ahead, but it’s a new year, right?"

A new year, but the same old result is anticipated in the Big 12’s civil war.

The South went 15-3 head-to-head against the North last season. The only blemishes were Baylor’s loss at Nebraska and 31-28 setback at home to Missouri, plus Texas A&M’s home loss to Kansas State.

Since the league’s inception in 1996, however, the North-South debate is closer than you think.

In the beginning, the North dominated the regular season, owning a 61-47 (.565) series advantage over the South.

Since then, the South has gone 85-41 (.675) and now leads 132-102 (.564) overall.

There was a nice to-and-fro the first eight years with the South and North alternating Big 12 titles, which included upset victories both ways.

The South has since won five straight conference crowns with OU winning four and Texas winning in 2005, the same year the Longhorns claimed the national title.

More Southern domination is envisioned this season with OU, Texas and Oklahoma State receiving lofty preseason status.

Of last season’s 30 first-team all-conference picks, 24 players hailed from South teams.

Of this year’s 26 preseason all-conference picks, 21 players come from the South.

Sooners coach Bob Stoops is 33-4 (.892) all-time against the North. Texas coach Mack Brown is 31-5 (.861).

"It’ll be a challenge," Pelini said of conquering the South, "but everybody has a chance to be good.