The Omaha Royals announced today that they are considering alternatives to playing in the new downtown ballpark. That's not "they won't play downtown"...but certainly a big step in that direction. (For the record, I predicted that the Royals would play downtown, and I may have to eat my hat over that prediction...) Does that mean Chalco moves into the lead? Well, Royals President Alan Stein told KETV-channel 7 that he wants to keep the team in Nebraska. Only problem is that Sarpy County is still studying the feasibility of a stadium, and the clock is ticking.
Right now, I'd have to say that the odds are getting better that the Royals will be leaving the Omaha area entirely. The scheduling issue might be enough to force the Royals to leave town entirely, as the Royals will likely find it undesirable to schedule games in Chalco at the same time the College World Series is underway downtown.
That doesn't necessarily mean Omaha is going to go without professional baseball, as Omaha still has a backup plan. It's very likely that MECA will be pursuing an independent league team to play downtown, and would probably be a better scheduling fit if Creighton is also using the stadium. Lincoln's Haymarket Park handles both the Lincoln Saltdogs and the Huskers, since the schedules don't overlap until the end of May/early June. Of course, that's probably dependent on the Royals leaving the metro area completely, and not just heading 20 miles west on I-80.
Bo Pelini says "I'm not a psychologist"...but he does have a plan for the team to put 2007 behind them. Call me crazy, call me a crackhead, call me whatever, but I still believe that the Huskers mental approach was the final straw that turned a bad season into something that looked apocoloyptic at times (Okie State up 38-0 at halftime, Kansas hanging 76, etc.). The whole approach is based on teaching the system, build comfort with that system, which leads to confidence in the system, which leads to success on the field. It's a marked difference from the previous regime, which essentially threw as much as they could at the players and hope some of it stuck. Which rarely happened, leading to player frustration and a loss of composure. And thus...the weekly meltdowns.
Larry Asante even said that Pelini told the team "The sky's the limit. The championship is out there to go and grab." Bold words after last season...especially when you remember that last August, the team chanted "National Championship!" Of course, Pelini didn't say what championship he was talking about: National, Big XII, Big XII North Division, or Weed-Eater Independence Bowl. After last season, fans can't exactly be picky.
Anthony Blue isn't on the pre-season practice roster because his knee still isn't healed. Personally, I hope that the staff is strongly considering a redshirt year for Blue. Dr. James Andrews, the famed othropedic surgeon says that nine months after surgery, the knee still only has about 80% to 85% of it's original strength. It seems like whenever you look at football players following an ACL injury, they don't return to form for another year or so. There's no need to rush a player back prematurely.
Speaking of players having troubles returning from injury, it looks like Kenny Wilson's career might be over. He's currently acting as a student volunteer coach.
Shawn Watson still says Marlon Lucky is the top I-back for Nebraska. But Roy Helu continues to impress, and more importantly, Lucky is taking on a mentoring role. And don't count out Quentin Castille... he's dropped a few pounds. Now if Tim Beck can help him work on securing the ball...
The Peter Brothers (Christian and Jason) are giving Ndamakong Suh a lesson in leadership. Say what you will about the Peter brothers problems off-the-field, but I don't think Nebraska football has ever seen stronger team leaders in the locker room than those two.