Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Summer of 2007 better for UNO

What a difference a year least for UNO. Last year, UNO athletics was reeling from a triple shot of the NCC's demise, budget deficits, and graft and corruption by the chancellor and vice chancellor.

A year later, UNO finds their division 2 programs in the MIAA. The football team is getting a new look with improved uniforms. The hockey program is making an aggressive push to grow the ticket base. And all new management has taken over, with a new athletic director serious about righting the wrongs of the past few years.

Specifically, he has a five point plan to restore UNO hockey as the flagship of the Maverick athletic department:
  1. Re-engage members of the Blue Line Club. Reach out to current members and lapsed members to get membership back to the 2,000 member level.
  2. Engage Aksarben Knights ticketholders and sponsors by enlisting the Knights organization.
  3. Engage the Media -- print, TV, and radio.
  4. Create and enhance the collegiate game atmosphere. Enlist the students and Red Army, and regular fans. He met with the Band Director and the band will have a different look, sound, and location this year.
  5. Improve in the ticket office, marketing, and sports information office.
Yes, at this point, it's all talk. But it's positive talk, and all good ideas to revitalize the hockey program, which will serve as a foundation for all of the other sports at UNO.

Other news from the Mavs is the departure of assistant Doc Delcastillo as Alaska-Fairbanks new head coach and the hiring of Nick Fohr as replacement. I have mixed emotions on the departure of Delcastillo. On one hand, Doc helped bring some great talent to UNO. Guys like all-American Scott Parse (who apparantly is going to sign any day now with the LA Kings, much to my surprise) and Bill Thomas of the Phoenix Coyotes. But at the same time, while UNO has been a speedy offensive powerhouse, they've found themselves undersized and been overpowered by teams like Boston University. Furthermore, you've gotten a feeling that something just wasn't right with the Mavs in recent years. AJ points towards Mike Kemp, but the whispers around the program pointed more towards disatisfaction towards Delcastillo.

The promotion of Nick Fohr looks like a winner at this point. Fohr skated for the Mavs from 1998 to 2002, and has spent the last three years as director of hockey operations. I don't know whether Fohr is ok, decent, or great coach at this point. What it does bring is a sense of tradition to a young program. When you look at Nebraska football, the tradition of former players contributing to the program meant a sense of continuity, bringing a passion to the program. Now UNO hockey now can follow that tradition.

I don't know what caused UNO to play out-of-sync the last couple of years, or whether Delcastillo should shoulder any of the blame. But Fohr's promotion has the opportunity to breath new life into the program, much like the new administration seems to be breathing new life into the athletic department.

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