Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sunday Night Dessert: The Offseason Begins

Nebraska baseball ended a disappointing season with a surprising sweep of Texas Tech - the only conference series they won this season. Good way to finish out the season, but what good does it do? Nothing for 2010; that season is dead and buried. But it gives the Huskers a little bit of a bright spot going into this offseason. Many Husker fans were disappointed that Tom Osborne made the decision to retain Mike Anderson, but when you look past the bottom line of wins and losses, you can see a little bit of a reason to be optimistic that this program could still turn it around. Namely, a lineup full of freshmen and sophomores. They lose Adam Bailey, D.J. Belfont, and Tyler Faust as seniors, and probably top starter Michael Mariot as a draftable junior.

Sports is typically looked at as a "bottom-line" business: did you win or not? So I understand why some fans want to see Anderson let go. But I'm a guy who looks at the extenuating circumstances. Firing a guy doesn't necessarily mean things will get better. A lot of Nebraska fans wanted Frank Solich fired in 2002 and 2003, but his replacement certainly failed to even match Solich's level of success. From my perspective, I'm usually guilty of accepting excuses over bottom-line results if it looks like things could improve. It's only when it doesn't look like things are going to improve (see Bill Callahan in 2007, for example) that I think a coaching change is required.

That doesn't mean Mike Anderson gets a free pass on an ongoing basis. In the next year or two, Nebraska's got to start making some baseball noise in June

With that, the summer offseason begins. While some people can't wait for football season to  get here, I'm not one of them. Football season will be here soon enough, and there is still so much to enjoy in the coming weeks. The College World Series and the Stanley Cup next month. All of the summer family activities too. Football season will be here soon enough; for now, I'll enjoy the trip.

It never fails that during the summer, something comes up to keep things interesting. In 2006, we had the never ending adventures of mismanagement in UNO's athletic department.  2007 and 2008, we had the stadium battles.  2009, it was the renaissance of UNO's athletic department with Trev Alberts and Dean Blais.

So in 2010, what will the story line be? My bet is that despite the denials from the Big Ten conference, conference expansion is going to be the talk of the summer....or at least for the next 5 weeks. (Penalties apply if things drag on past July 1st....  And I do believe there is too much smoke for there not to be any substance lurking underneath. I don't believe Missouri (and Nebraska, for that matter) would be taking the stands that they are without having received solid feelers, if not informal invitations.  (Or at least assurances that an invitation is forthcoming.) It's all a matter of waiting to see how it all develops, but my instinct is that one day, Tom Osborne will show up at a press conference in Chicago to announce that Nebraska is joining the Big Ten, and up until that press conference, people will still be denying it's happening.

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