Thursday, May 31, 2007

Trev Puts Callahan on the "Hot Seat"

Trev Alberts, now of Westwood One radio and CSTV, turns to Bill Callahan first when speaking about coaches on the hot seat:
I think Bill Callahan is on the hot seat at Nebraska. They haven't beat anyone of substance. His record in three years is just not good. They've become a bad road team and lost to unranked teams. Callahan needs to produce a big year. He needs to win the Big 12 North. I think a step backward could be the end of his regime.
Naturally folks on both sides of the great Husker divide are focusing on the first sentence (or five sentences), rather than the last couple of sentences or the rest of what Alberts said:
I don't see anyone in imminent danger of being fired if they lose some early games. But if Callahan and Nebraska, playing at home, lose to USC, 50-7, that changes the complexion of the seat.
Quite a bit different context, and one I generally agree with. Remember where opinions were in November 2005 after Callahan's squad was rolled by a mediocre Kansas squad 40-15? 3 weeks later, Callahan turned the corner against Colorado, then Michigoon, then had a much improved season in 2006. Definitely progress over the first 20 games. That progress has silenced much of the criticism.

By that same token, Nebraska still hasn't improved from 2003, which had a Sagarin rating of 82.02 versus 2006's 81.64. We're now in year #4, and it's time for Callahan's squad to take things to the next level. The excuses of the past shouldn't apply anymore; most of the players are his and all should be familiar with his system.

Continue to show progress and the talk of "hot seat" can be dismissed as idle, irrelevant off-season chatter. Progress means being competitive against the likes of Texas and USC, not to mention competing for the Big XII championship. Progress means not blowing a big lead and getting outscored 41-7 down the stretch against a middle-of-the-road conference opponent. Progress probably means winning at least 9 and preferably more games in 2007.

I get a feeling from many of optimism for 2007...that's why talk of a hot seat seems so out of line. But a failure to meet those expectations will put Bill Callahan on the hot seat.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Florida to propose College Football Playoff

ESPN reports that the president of the University of Florida is planning to push the SEC to move to ditch the BCS for a playoff. No word as to whether he is thinking "Plus-1" where 2 of the New Year's Day bowls become playoff games or a full 8 or 16 team playoff. Personally, I still prefer the idea of the 8 or 16 game playoff, as the revenues generated from playing playoff games at 80,000+ capacity campus stadiums is going to provide much more revenue than the bowl system ever will. (And the bowl system could still remain for the non-qualifiers...)

The idea about doing this outside the scope of the NCAA is intriguing...though I figure that if this idea starts to gain any traction, the NCAA will jump all over it as if it were their idea to ensure they continue to get their cut and remain in charge.

Looking to find out more, I thought I'd head over to the most well-known Florida blog out there, but alas, all they want to do this week is remind me of the flu-ridden 1996 Big XII championship game. Ahh well, that's why they call this the offseason...

Friday, May 25, 2007

Big XII Disses the Civic - Time to Blow It Up?

This week's news featured two body shots to Omaha's Civic Auditorium. First, the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights confirmed that they are folding and moving to the Quad Cities. Then, the Big XII conference rejected Omaha as a host for the Big XII basketball tournaments, citing the Civic Auditorium being unsuitable.

The Knights situation closes a sad (but thankfully brief) chapter in Omaha hockey history. In the end, the Knights finally realized one of the truths of fandom when Calgary Flames President Ken King said yesterday:
"There are a lot of loyalties to a lot of different sports here. And when you're the last of three hockey teams to enter the market, it's really tough."
The word "fan" is a derivative of the word fanatic...a word that in turn implies an emotional attachment that sometimes defies logic. Some people will talk about the AHL as being the "second best hockey in the world" and seem amazed that Omaha's didn't embrace it. But many Omaha hockey fans chose to remain loyal to "their" team, whether it was the Omaha Lancers or the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks. Fans stay loyal to their teams no matter what. I may think Steve Pederson is a ego-driven used car salesman, but I still donate to the program, buy tickets, and support the team. UNO's ousted administration may have guilty of graft, misconduct, and gross mismanagement, but I still support the Mavs.

Apparantly Calgary somehow thought that they could get more Omaha hockey fans to dump the other hockey teams. They paraded out their "Best! Best! Best!" campaign as their opening game approached, and immediately started their downward spiral. Too bad they didn't try to grow the Omaha hockey audience instead. So there goes one of the anchor tenants in the Civic, who were given a sweetheart deal to keep the place occupied.

The Big XII's decision on the Civic Auditorium was rather curious when they somehow determined that the capacity of the Civic was 7980 instead of the actual capacity of 9300. Where did that 7980 figure come from? My guess is that they used the estimated capacity of Council Bluffs Mid-America Center, which in light of the questionable future of the Civic, was suggested as an alternative venue for women's basketball. My guess is that the Big XII was responding to the underlying premise of many...Omaha's Civic Auditorium is essentially obsolete at this point. The Big XII apparantly didn't even seriously consider the Civic, using excuses of lack of capacity (getting the figures wrong) and claiming they didn't want to play on someone else's home court (then putting 2 out of 3 women's championships on Missouri-Kansas City's home court). The Big XII just didn't want to come out and say "the Civic is a dump". We haven't heard the results of the feasibility study of the Auditorium, but the events of this week seem to indicate that the Civic's days are numbered.

Here's my take...Omaha still needs a secondary arena like the Civic. Not everything requires an 18,000 seat arena like the Qwest Center. High schools and colleges still need a place to hold graduations, not all concerts draw 18K. Meanwhile, the infrastructure of the Civic is aging and contains obsolete exhibition space underneath the arena that will be a money pit. In the near future, we'll find out that while the needs for the Civic still exists, it's going to cost more to maintain than it's worth. If Omaha is going to compete with the likes of Kansas City for championship events, then Omaha is going to need a facility to match. The Civic isn't that place...but a new UNO Coliseum near the old Ak-Sar-Ben complex just might be.

Some people locally might scoff at the idea of Omaha challenging the likes of Kansas City and Dallas for Big XII championships...but certainly others around the Big XII took Omaha seriously. If Omaha can find a way to replace the obsolete Civic Auditorium, they very well might find themselves as a future player for Big XII basketball.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

ESPN to carry 4 or 5 Big XII games in 2007

The rumored deal for ESPN to televise some of the Big XII football games previously carried by TBS was confirmed and announced today. Here are the dates and the games for those dates, with my guesses as to who will televise:

September 15th: Florida State @ Colorado (confirmed)

October 6th: Oklahoma vs. Texas (certainly on ABC), Nebraska @ Missouri (ABC or ESPN), Oklahoma State @ Texas A&M (ESPN or FSN), Kansas @ Kansas State (FSN?), Colorado @ Baylor, Iowa State @ Texas Tech.

October 13th: (ESPN option to carry a game) Missouri @ Oklahoma (likely ABC), Oklahoma State @ Nebraska (ABC or ESPN/FSN), Texas A&M @ Texas Tech (ABC or ESPN/FSN), Texas @ Iowa State (FSN?), Colorado @ Kansas State, Baylor @ Kansas

October 20th: Texas A&M @ Nebraska (likely ABC), Texas Tech @ Missouri (ABC or ESPN/FSN), Kansas State @ Oklahoma State (FSN?), Texas @ Baylor (FSN?), Oklahoma @ Iowa State, Kansas @ Colorado

November 3rd: Texas A&M @ Oklahoma (ABC or ESPN), Texas @ Oklahoma State (ABC or ESPN), Nebraska @ Kansas (FSN?), Missouri @ Colorado (FSN?), Texas Tech @ Baylor (FSN?), Kansas State @ Iowa State

ESPN can place these games on either ESPN or ESPN2...not sure if it's a big deal; either is better than FSN.

I think Missouri vs. Nebraska has a great chance to be an ABC prime time game, as Texas/Oklahoma is a lock for an afternoon ABC telecast since they don't want to play a night game at the Cotton Bowl. If ESPN chooses to carry a Big XII game on October 13th, I think they'll take the Huskers vs. the Cowboys. If the Huskers don't get on ESPN the first couple of weeks of October, no Husker games could end up on ESPN or ESPN2.

Update: Most of these games will end up with 8 pm kickoffs, according to today's World-Herald. That's going to be an issue for Husker fans who have to drive long distances, as games won't conclude until nearly midnight. Good for TV, bad for ticketholders...

Monday, May 21, 2007

More Weekend Wrap

Not wanting to be completely negative on Steve Pederson's interview with Tom Shatel this weekend, there was one answer that I thought was very good:
"We have the best academic program in the country. What we don’t have is the facility to match that. That’s our next priority. It would be an academic center, an expansion of what we’re doing in the Hewitt Center. (It was built) in 1983. It’s time to expand that and catch up to the way students study now."
Definitely a refreshing answer in this age of escalating athletic facilities. I was half expecting him to mention the proposed Lincoln Haymarket Arena as a potential home for Husker basketball. While the Devaney Center is still in fine shape, it doesn't have the suites or the amenities of Omaha's Qwest Center. If Doc Sadler continues to rebuild Husker hoops, the Devaney Center will begin selling out, making a new larger arena very viable for Husker athletics.

Last Wednesday, someone emailed me for my reaction to Gabbert, and I had to scramble to figure out what they were talking about. Was it one of the Huskers that played poorly in a 9-2 loss to Creighton the night before? Nope. Finally I realized that it was the latest recruitnik obsession, quarterback Blaine Gabbert. So what's my take on Gabbert? Well, he sounds fine, but let's hold off on evaluating him, at least until after the 2009 spring game. Why so long? Let's remember the recent history of hot-shot quarterback recruits. Curt Dukes (redshirted as a freshman, then transferred to Duke, where he quit football after his junior year), Joe Dailey (now playing wide receiver for North Carolina), Jordan Adams (only played QB in one game in junior college, then had his spleen removed, essentially ending his career), Harrison Beck (last seen completing 7 of 26 passes in the spring game at North Carolina State), and Josh Freeman. Then remember the sagas of Zac Taylor (originally committed to Oklahoma State, enrolled at Wake Forest, and then transferred to Butler Community before arriving in Lincoln) and Sam Keller (3 years at Arizona State). What's the moral of the story? Simple...don't rush to any sort of judgement. There's a good chance that he too won't be wearing Husker red in 5-6 years...

Speaking of Joe Dailey, profiled him as he prepares under his fifth offensive coordinator in college (Barney Cotton, Jay Norvell, Gary Tranquill, Frank Cignetti, and John Shoop). Many fans will point to his struggles as a quarterback, but imagine how you would do in your job if you got a new boss every year who had a different way for you to do your job. In any event, Dailey is taking the lemons of his career and trying to make lemonade in his senior season. He was the leading receiver in the spring game, and is once again a leader of his team (remember, he was named a captain at Nebraska). He's preparing for life after playing football...this time as a coach.

A big bronx cheer to NBC for cutting away from Saturday's Ottawa-Buffalo game at the end of regulation to start the hour and a half Preakness prerace preview. Yeah, the game resumed on Versus, albeit not in HD. But come on...cutting away from a live sporting event to preview a horse race? Gimme a break.

Anybody else getting depressed everytime they pass by the gas station and see the price up another dime? We're now getting dangerously close to prices doubling since the end of January. Of course, now that has fubared beyond usefulness, there aren't any useful tools left for consumers. was nice while it lasted.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Pederson Finally Talks to Shatel

This past week, Tom Shatel of the Omaha World-Herald finally got an interview with Steve Pederson. Once again, I'd love to post a link to it, but the World-Herald no longer publishes Shatel's columns online. So, I'll paraphrase a bit.

First question was the state of fundraising. Current total is $31 million pledged, of which $24 million has been received. Compare that with the $15 million pledged in the first month. Pederson claims that he didn't announce the total previously because "you generally (don't) boast about how you're doing." Except that Pederson did announce they had raised $15 million at the end of 2003, and that they had raised $20 million in the spring of 2004. I guess that's like Pederson's policy about not commenting about coaches before their season is over.

Speaking of which, he flip-flopped on that policy once again in discussing baseball, saying that "we have the right guy coaching. Mike (Anderson) is tremendous on all fronts. I feel like we have a nucleus of a good baseball team. Sometimes you just don't play as well." Hmmm... all sorts of possibities with that statement, but let's not go there. In any event, Pederson isn't going to be firing Mike Anderson anytime in the near future.

Last month, I suggested that Pederson come clean once and for all about Houston Nutt, but once again, he denies the whole case, saying that the idea that Houston Nutt was offered the head coaching job was "ridiculous." Pederson prefaced his remarks by calling the whole Nutt case a "source of irritation" which is very true on both sides of the divide.

Pederson did admit that he would have done a few things differently in the coaching search, namely not trying to do it in secret, thus letting the rumor mill run amok, plus also by stating a timeframe instead of saying the coaching search would begin immediately. Pe.derson also wouldn't go into details over his dealings with Tom Osborne over the coaching change, other than to say that "I respect his opinion."

Pederson went on to say that that while Osborne has a "standing offer to be here anytime he wants", he also respects Osborne's decision to not look over the shoulder at Solich and now Bill Callahan, much like Bob Devaney didn't look over Osborne's shoulder after leaving coaching. Which is an interesting observation...though remember, Devaney was still involved with Nebraska for over 20 years after he stepped down as coach. I still believe that there has to be an opportunity for Tom Osborne inside the athletic department.

Suffice it to say, while it was good for Pederson to finally open up to someone other than Jim do have to wonder just how much he actually opened up. But's a start.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Good Knight and Good Luck

The Omaha World-Herald is reporting that the Calgary Flames are finally pulling the plug on the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights. Sad news for Omaha hockey? To some extent...yes. Loss of a hockey team is never something to be celebrated. But by that same measure, it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. Three hockey teams area is overkill for a market the size of Omaha. This isn't a black mark on Omaha as much as it is a black mark on the Flames and the city fathers who backed this boondoggle.

AJ the Huskerh8er called this right from the start. (Warning: profanity laden tirade) They got off on the wrong foot, and then proceeded to step all over themselves for most of their time in Omaha, leaving their few fans to wonder what went went wrong. MavRick wrote a nice essay last summer about the situation which sums it up quite nicely.

Back in February, I called May 6th in the OAK's death pool, so I'm not surprised by today's news. Some might think I'm taking pleasure in the end of the Knights, which isn't correct. The end of the Knights doesn't automatically make the Mavericks and Lancers more successful. But it does make Omaha a better community for one or both of the remaining teams to hopefully thrive. And thriving is what counts.

The dedicated Knights fans, though few in number, have the right to mourn the passing of the franchise to the Quad Cities. They'll say a few spiteful things towards fans of the other hockey teams, trying to pass the blame from the OAK's management. That's ok...they're angry about the loss of professional sports.

With the departure of the Knights, does this change the financial situation of the Civic Auditorium, perhaps freeing up resources for the oft-discussed Coliseum near Chili Greens? The DLR study on the viability of the Auditorium complex was due "mid-May", so we should be hearing about this any day know. Did this impact the Flames decision to pull the plug?

Monday, May 14, 2007

A Rebound Weekend

One of the "joys" of parenthood is all of the viruses your kids bring home from daycare. Last week was no exception, as the latest bug not only cleared out half of the room on Friday, but also inflicted most of the parents over the weekend...including yours truly... As Buddy Ryan would say..."But I'm feeling MUCH better now!"

The Big 1011 conference is forming their own TV network, with coverage of football, basketball, and other sports. Good idea or not? I lean towards not. On one hand, increasing coverage of sports is good for fans...but at what cost? Many cable systems are at capacity as new channels come on line, forcing networks to make decisions as to which channels to carry. As long as existing coverage isn't affected, it's not such a problem. But if games move from existing broadcast or cable outlets to a new network, much like the NFL is doing with the NFL Network, that's a problem for fans and consumers. There is only some much capacity on cable systems and so much programming to go around. Now comes the idea of each Big XII school forming their own TV network. This might make sense in Texas, where the Longhorns can sell this package in Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio easily. What about Nebraska? Sure, our cable systems will pick it up, but the Omaha and Lincoln markets aren't going to pay the bills. And is it really realistic to expect cable systems in Phoenix or New York to add a bunch of Big XII networks to their cable systems? Heck, will the satellite providers even have the capacity to carry these networks? Probably not in the near future, but it will take a new model for broadcasting television to make these types of networks feasible. In the case of Nebraska, it will probably evolve from the existing Husker N-side package combined with a device such as AppleTV to use the internet to broadcast games. The technology is getting there...but we're still a way away from it. We probably won't ever have a 24x7 Husker network...but many of these cable networks might not exist in a few years anyway.

That same article from the San Antonio Express also reminds recruitniks of the folly of their obsession:
Players like former Nebraska DE Adam Carriker are a reason why recruiting lists should be taken with a grain of salt. Carriker was listed as a two-star recruit and was listed as the nation’s 46th best strong-side defensive end prospect by when he graduated from Kennewick (Wash.) High School in 2002.
Carriker will be laughing at the so-called recruiting experts all the way to the bank.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are in the conference finals now with a couple of gems over the weekend. Saturday night, Daniel Briere scored with under 6 seconds left in regulation for Buffalo to send the game into overtime, where Ottawa won it in double overtime 3-2. Tonight, Ottawa pulled within one game of playing for the Cup by shutting out Buffalo (and former Sparty goalie Ryan Miller). In the other series, the Niedermeyer brothers teamed up in another overtime contest to give Anaheim the victory over Detroit.

I will admit that I could not care less about the Not Basketball Association...but the story about Derek Fisher of the Utah Jazz proves that not all is wrong with the NBA. Fisher's 10 month old daughter was diagnosed with cancer in her eye a couple of weeks ago. Fisher took leave from the team to find the best specialists, who proposed an experimental chemotherapy treatment to treat the cancer and hopefully save the eye. Rather than delay the treatment for basketball, his daughter's health took top priority. Once cleared by the doctors, the family raced back to Salt Lake City on the Jazz private jet, making it back in the 2nd half for a playoff game against Golden State. He runs into the locker room, dresses, and sprints straight into the game. Hits a clutch shot in overtime to give the Jazz the victory in overtime.

Kind of puts a little stomach flu into perspective, doesn't it?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

ESPN to replace TBS for Big XII TV games?

Today's San Antonio Express reports that Fox is negotiating with ESPN to carry the 6 Big XII footbal games that used to be carried by TBS. Good news? Very likely...depending on the time and network the games appear on. ESPN already has a rather full schedule of college football with Big Televen, ACC, Big East, and SEC games on at various times during the day. In recent years, ESPN2 has carried SEC games with 9 pm kickoffs locally. While folks at home wouldn't necessarily mind a late kickoff for TV, fans who have to drive hours to return home may have different opinions. (Especially when you consider the lack of hotel rooms on football Saturdays in Lincoln...)

Also, no word on which of the ESPN networks these games would end up on. ESPN? Great! ESPN2? Still better than FSN. ESPN-U? Uh, oh. Heck, these games might end up getting bumped all the way to the Ocho.

If this contract happens, look for games to get squeezed into the existing ESPN schedule, mostly on afternoons and evenings. If that happens and the games end up on ESPN and ESPN2, it's an improvement over TBS and FSN. The Fox TV network would have been even better, but apparantly ABC has the exclusive rights to broadcast coverage of Big XII football, meaning that these games must remain on cable TV.

If ESPN does pick up the games, hopefully they'll assign Ron Franklin to all Big XII football games like they assign him to Big XII basketball. Franklin and CBS' Verne Lundquist are the two best college football announcers around for my money.

The same reporter from the San Antonio Express-News took a shot last week at Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman for calling Thursday night games a "disaster". From a pure fan and University standpoint, Perlman's position was reasonable. When NU-Rice had to be moved after 9/11, it forced classes to be cancelled and was certainly inconvenient for fans. In the grand scheme of things, cancelling classes one evening pales to the event that caused the game to be rescheduled in the first place. Chalk up yet another PR gaffe for the Pederson/Perlman cabal.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Weekend Wrap: Huskers Behaving Badly

Big news out of Lincoln this weekend was Maurice Purify's arrest and Ryan Wehrle's dismissal from the baseball program. Neither event should have come as a huge surprise. Purify showed his temper on the field as he got flagged for several personal fouls last season. Some fans are trying to justify Purify's actions by suggesting that the bouncer that Purify allegedly assaulted was out to get him, but that's not a justification for assaulting. If he's guilty, he needs to be suspended next season. In fact, this incident damages Purify on the field as well. All throughout the Big XII, cornerbacks are quickly learning that you can get under Purify's skin and get him to react, looking for personal fouls and offensive interference calls.

Sadly, that's 7 points for the Huskers in the Fulmer Cup standings, brought to you by Every Day Should Be Saturday.

Meanwhile on the diamond, preseason All-American Ryan Wehrle was dismissed from the Nebraska baseball team, the final straw being not running out a fly ball Friday night. That makes 4 players dismissed from the team in the last year, with 4 more suspended at some point this season. When you combine this with the Huskers lackluster record on the field this season, the boo-birds are out on Mike Anderson, asking if Anderson is the right guy to coach the Huskers. Certainly the expectation-meter for Husker baseball has been set to football levels. Years ago, Nebraska fans would have been ecstatic to be in the running for an NCAA berth. Now, merely doing that is grounds for firing.

KETV-channel 7's Matt Schick reports that negative vibes around the Nebraska clubhouse are affecting the team on the field, and that this dismissal could be an attempt to divert attention from deeper problems. It's mostly speculation at this point, but it's sometimes hard to pull a team out of the ditch midseason. By that same token, dismissing a clubhouse cancer can improve a team. Locally we've seen this with UNO hockey's Joe Grimaldi and Husker basketball's Joe McCray.

Meanwhile in Omaha, reaction to the idea of replacing Rosenblatt Stadium with a new stadium in North Downtown is fast and furious. I understand the nostalgia with Rosenblatt, and it's really not a bad stadium. But by that same token, if the NCAA is now suggesting that Rosenblatt needs replacing, Omaha needs to take this idea seriously. The College World-Series is one of Omaha's biggest events, and Omaha can ill afford to lose the series. If the NCAA says jump, Omaha's response should be "how high", as the NCAA won't hesitate to move the series. Is that an idle threat? I don't think Omaha can afford to find out.

Over at UNO, things seem to be falling in place after last summer's fallout that resulted in the resignations of Nancy Belck, Jim Buck, and David Herbster. Buzz is building over the new hockey ticket plans, featuring $99 season tickets around the Red Army. John Christensen was named new chancellor today, and former SMU associate AD David Miller is likely to be named athletic director sometime in the next couple of weeks.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

A New Stadium for the College World-Series & Royals?

Today's Omaha World-Herald discusses a new Omaha baseball stadium in a copyright article by their own Odd Couple: political writer C. David Kotok and sports columnist Tom Shatel. Certainly an interesting and groundbreaking idea...but is it a good idea?

First of all, how feasible is it to build a stadium that triples in size with temporary seating? The infastructure needs to support 25,000 fans, not 9,000. Will the stadium still be appealing on national television for a College World Series game, yet still be appealing to fans desiring a more intimate experience for a Royals game?

I'm skeptical that a new stadium is going to solve the Royals problems. Certainly if the Royals feel that it's tough to convince fans to buy tickets, I don't see how a move downtown which requires fans to pay $6 to park is going to help them. The Qwest Center recently surveyed Omaha area residents and 46% of respondents mentioned parking as the biggest problem with the new arena.

On the other hand, Rosenblatt is going to need some serious infrastructure improvents to continue to support the College World Series. It may make sense to start over from scratch rather than try to piecemeal improvements during the offseason. Downtown may prove to be a better location to hold the can walk from hotels to restaurants to the stadium. And vacating Rosenblatt might provide Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo with room to expand this tourist attraction, much like replacing the decaying Civic Auditorium with a new UNO Coliseum near Ak-Sar-Ben would open prime downtown real estate for economic expansion.

In my opinion, the needs of the Omaha Royals are the least important in this project. The needs of the College World-Series and the Henry Doorly Zoo are much more important. If the Royals can benefit without harming the CWS, the Zoo, or the taxpayers of Omaha, that's great.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

2009 Football Schedule: Hokies & 3 Sun-Belt Turkeys

Last week, I lamented the 2008 Husker football non-conference schedule that featured 4 home games with Virginia Tech, San Jose State, New Mexico State, and Western Michigan. Today, Steve Pederson proudly announced the 2009 schedule: a return trip to Virginia Tech and home games against Florida Atlantic (featuring head coach Helicopter Howie Schnellenberger), Louisiana-Lafayette (formerly Southwestern Louisiana), and Arkansas State (haven't we dealt enough with this state?).


Three home games against the Sun Belt conference? Will we see the refs from the 2005 Alamo Bowl again?

Nevertheless, 'ol Smiley Jones was mighty proud of himself as he e-mailed fans the big news today:
“The additional games we have added complement the Virginia Tech series very well. With the permanent 12-game schedule, we have talked regularly about trying to play eight home games on occasion and we are excited the 2008 season will present us that opportunity.”
Uh, no they don't. If I'm a television network, I'm looking at this schedule and shaking my head in disgust. Virginia Tech-Nebraska will get snapped up by ABC, likely in prime time. But the rest of the games are headed straight to pay-per-view. 6 home games against Schmuckhead State is not attractive to anybody.

Wait, that's not entirely fair. Western Michigan did go to a bowl game last year. And San Jose State isn't exactly dreadful. But the Sun Belt Conference is the worst 1-A conference in football, and last season, #115 Arkansas State, #124 Louisiana Lafayette, and #130 Florida Atlantic were worse in the 2006 Sagarin rankings than many 1-AA teams, such as #109 Maine.

In other words, the 2009 schedule is simply horrible.

Some will justify this schedule by pointing out teams like Ohio State, who play Youngstown State, Akron, Washington, and Kent State in 2007. But other's misbehavior doesn't justify your own misbehavior. The Weasels of Michigoon have Oregon and Notre Dame on their 2007 schedule. Last season, Oklahoma played Washington and Oregon.

Bottom line is that Nebraska should strive to play 2 home and home series each season, one with a matchup that will attract a national television audience and ESPN GameDay, and another against a BCS conference opponent. Steve Pederson has done an excellent job on the first point, with series scheduled against Virginia Tech, UCLA, and Washington. So far, he's generally failed on the second point except with the scheduling of Wake Forest. (Raise your hands if you thought 2 years ago that Wake Forest would win the ACC championship in football when this series was scheduled.)

In fairness to Pederson, he told the Journal-Star he's tried to schedule home-and-homes with BCS schools and hasn't found any takers:
"A lot of teams say their conference schedule is tough enough. That’s what it comes down to most of the time."
Which is a shame...because schedules like 2009 hurt college football. This might have been the only option, but that doesn't make it right. These schedules are nothing to be proud of.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Shatel on Callahan, and Big XII to Omaha?

I'd like to post a link to Tom Shatel's interview with Bill Callahan in Sunday's World-Herald, but the daily Fishwrap has decided not to post Shatel's columns online. But I will post a few quotes that I did like: (For what it's worth, AJ the HuskerH8r didn't like 'em...)
"We need more depth. We have more competition, across the board. I respected what Frank (Solich) did, what Tom (Osborne) did. I have great admiration for what they achieved. But when you have a different system, ev­erybody has a profile for what they want in their system. I’m not critical of that. I’m just trying to go out and find the players who can fit what we do. If we don’t, we try to work around it. That’s coaching."
"The players wouldn’t need you if they were that good. I remember sitting in a draft room, and we were saying this guy can’t do this, he can’t do that. Al Davis turned around and said, “Well why do we need you then? Why did we hire you?”
Q. How comfortable are you as a college coach at Nebraska?
A. On a scale of 1 to 10? Ten. I enjoy it. I have a passion for this. I take that as a great responsibil­ity every day I wake up. Right next to my mirror in the bath­room, I have (a photo) that Big 12 championship trophy looking at me right in the eye.

Q. What does your wife think about that?
A. She’s fine with it. I don’t know if she looks at it or not. But I look at it.
Q. Some people assume you have a burning desire to get back to the NFL. True?
A. I’m trying to stay here. I think that’s a general perception. Just because you come from that league, people automatically as­sume that you want to go back. I get a chuckle out of it as I watch Pete Carroll go through this. I can’t tell you how many times people have him going to the NFL, and there he is, he’s still sit­ting there, in Southern Califor­nia. It’s natural, if you win big.
I’m happy. I hope this is it. I want to be here. I said that from day one, I’d like to finish my ca­reer at Nebraska. I hope we have the good fortune to do that. But in order to do that, you have to pro­duce. It’s a production business, let’s face it.
Overall, it was a pretty good interview. Although I disagree with some of Callahan's answers, he was forthcoming and the interview is a good start towards healing the divisions in Husker Nation.

One answer did disappoint me greatly:
Q. How often do you talk to Coach Osborne? He’s at Creigh­ton now. Would you like to have him here?
A. I wrote him shortly after re­cruiting and corresponded that he is always welcome to come here, to a practice, to come up­stairs and visit. We want the door open to him and the former play­ers. I’ve done a lot to open the avenues to our former players. You know, it’s amazing to me, a guy is on the radio one day (blast­ing Callahan), and the next day he’s touring our facility.
You don't have your secretary write Tom Osborne a letter. You personally call him, and personally ask him to come in and ask him for his input. That doesn't mean that you have to do everything that Tom Osborne thinks you should do, but you should actively seek out his opinion on things and use him as a sounding board.

The former players aren't dumb; they recognize the half-hearted attempt.

More interesting news this week is the chance of the Big XII basketball tournament coming to Omaha in a future year. Likely? Probably not. While Omaha's facilities are probably acceptable, I think there won't be the political capital in the Big XII to bring the tournament to Omaha outside of Lincoln and maybe Ames.

The bad part of this bid is that it might conflict with the UNO Mavericks during the CCHA playoffs, which might force the Mavs on the road if they make the 2nd round. Perhaps there is a way to tweak the schedule to fit the games in around the Big XII tournament; playing in the morning or early afternoon on Saturday at the Civic, Sunday evening at the Civic or Qwest Center, and then a 3rd game on Monday. Probably not good for UNO hockey fans, but getting Big XII basketball would be a great get for Omaha.

Speaking of the Mavs, they are announcing new plans for season tickets for next hockey season, featuring a $99 season ticket for some seats. That's downright cheap, and a great value for families. Props to whomever came up with this plan. I'm excited about the possibilities for next season.