Bo Pelini did one thing his first week that his predecessor never did; take on Jim Rome. Never have been a huge fan of Rome, but one thing I've learned is that it pays to be on his good side. Appear on his show, and "Jungle Karma" helps ensure you get positive vibrations from Rome and his Clones. Refuse to appear, and Rome takes advantage of every opportunity to ridicule you. Bill Callahan became Beau Bridges to the Jungle, and Nebraska was ridiculed throughout the Pederson/Callahan error. A little positive spin can't hurt.
The more interesting items from Pelini's interview were that it appears that Shawn Watson appears in line to become the true offensive coordinator for the Huskers next year. Yeah, he had that title last season, but really, Bill Callahan was in charge. Former offensive line coach Dennis Wagner voiced some frustration with Callahan at the final Big Red Breakfast:
And Pelini implies that Watson will put his own "flavor" on the offense...implying that it probably will be "de-Callihanized." Too what extent? Hard to say, except to say that you have to remember that players have been recruited and coached (to some extent) in this offense, so it's probably best to work from what's in place if you want to have any sort of success in 2008. (See 2004 Nebraska as an example of what happens when you try to use square pegs in round holes...)
"He is the head coach. If he says this is what you do, this is what you do. If you don't, then you have problems within your group. It isn't always that you want to do it that way, but it's the way you're supposed to do it. That's just part of doing the things you're asked to do by the person who hired you."
Pelini definitely intends to try to win in 2008, telling Rome that Nebraska's problems in 2007 may be more of a result of culture and lack of belief in the coaches than in the systems:
“There’s never a quick fix. Things have to be developed and a culture has to be built, but there’s talent here. And we just need to build on that talent and keep recruiting the right way — get the kids buying in and believing again.
You start going through some tough times and people forget what it takes to win and how to win and a bit of doubt starts creeping in their minds. We have to remove that doubt and get believing again.”
Strong words? Perhaps. But one thing is clear...if Nebraska could have been remotely average on defense in 2007, they probably could have won two or three more games. Maybe even four. Probably still would have lost to Kansas and Missouri in all likelihood. But that would have put Nebraska in an ok bowl game. And for some reason, I think Bo Pelini and his staff is enough to convert Nebraska into at least an average defensive team by itself.
“I don’t think (we’re) that far off. I think we’ll be significantly better next year. How that equates in wins and losses, I don’t know yet.”
Haven't talked much about UNO Hockey lately...mostly because I'm still not quite sure where things are going. To be fair, they've had a tough schedule, playing #1 Miami, #3 Michigoon, and #6 Notre Dame in the opening weeks. 0-6 is certainly understandable, and UNO had some chances in those games. In the rest of the games, it's been a mixed bag. A sweep of Ohio State was a high point. Only getting two ties against last place Lake Superior State this weekend might be a low point. Mike Kemp told the World-Herald what a lot of Mav fans have been grumbling about:
Yep, UNO is playing a lot of freshmen. OK, I get it. But I had hoped that the changes in coaching staff would have addressed the underperforming performances by now. Yes, it's still early in the season. But I'd like to see the Mavs at least over .500 at this point in the season. A positive sign this weekend was some good goaltending from Jerad Kaufman.
"The way we're playing right now is not acceptable. I know we're better than what our stats show, but we need to prove it."
Did catch bits and pieces of Doc Sadler's Husker hoops team this past week on TV. A disappointing overtime loss to Western Kentucky (who actually isn't a bad basketball team) and a win today against Rutgers, who'll probably be fighting to stay out of the cellar in the Big East. The big test comes this weekend when 7-1 Oregon comes to Omaha. Will the BrieJay fans continue to be silent about the Huskers playing in "their building"?