Monday, August 30, 2010

Monday Night Beer: Husker QB Debate and UNO Arena Problems

For what it's worth, I still think Zac Lee trots on the field at quarterback for Nebraska's opening possession on Saturday night against Western Kentucky. I do admit that I don't blame Lee that much for the struggles of the offense last year; injuries and poor play by the receivers still are the responsible parties from my perspective. That being said, I do expect to see all three quarterbacks.  The first one to see the field will be Taylor Martinez, in my opinion, and likely in non-traditional roles. The more I think about it, I think Martinez could be used like Florida used Tim Tebow as a freshman.

No, I'm not saying Martinez is Tebow-like; I'm merely suggesting his role could be similar to Tebow as a freshman.  Come in for specific plays in the middle of drives to throw a new wrinkle into the offense. Maybe not even line up at quarterback, but perhaps elsewhere on the field to take advantage of his athletic ability.  Lee could be like Chris Leak, the starting quarterback who's skills don't exactly fit what Nebraska now wants to do on offense, but still doing enough to be effective.  In any event, may the best quarterback emerge.

I'll be posting my season prediction either here or at Corn Nation later this week, but let me throw one little bit out there tonight:  I'm feeling pretty optimistic about the Huskers this season.

The rumor mill coming out from UNO is not sounding very good about the proposed arena near Aksarben at Chili Greens. Namely, UNO may be seriously considering building a 7,000 seat arena as they don't feel a larger arena is viable. The devil is in the details, of course, but my initial thoughts it that if a 7,000 seat arena is all that UNO can afford to build now, they should simply shelve the project for two or three years. Last season, UNO averaged nearly 6800 fans, which leaves almost no room for UNO to grow as a program.

I understand ... and I still agree with many of the reasons for UNO to build it's own arena, but I also don't believe that UNO has really tapped into what it's potential is. We're just one year into the Dean Blais era and preparing for a switch in conferences. Expectations seem to be increasing everywhere around the program, which makes it puzzling that you'd spend millions of dollars to entrench the program where it is from an attendance perspective.

Instead, I'd suggest that UNO let Dean Blais and his program develop for two or three more years, and see where things go. Then revisit the whole question at that time. If UNO really is still only drawing 7000 fans, then go ahead and do it.  But if UNO has progressed as a program to where they are drawing much more than that, it would be a shame to slam the door on that progress because UNO built an arena that became obsolete during construction.

One of the things that we learned during Trev Alberts first year on the job is that we really don't know what UNO is capable of, and that the days of saying UNO can't do something are over.

And frankly, I don't believe that UNO is only capable of a 7000 seat arena.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Lee Barfknecht Says NU/UT at 2:30 pm; I say "Not So Fast!"

Sources suggest that a 2:30 pm kickoff time is the most likely scenario for the Nebraska/Texas football game, according to Lee Barfknecht of the Omaha World-Herald. But while I don't completely dismiss a 2:30 pm kickoff, I tend to lean against it, unless Nebraska loses to Washington or Kansas State.

Barfknecht's sources admit that ABC hasn't given any indication that they will be opening an 11 am kickoff window for October 16th, but you can read that both ways. ABC is leaving their options open, and likely won't make any decision until October...maybe not even until the Kansas State game.

Furthermore, according to the Big XII conference, "ESPN sublicenses six games from FSN, dates may be flexible and times are tentative." Three ESPN games are already set:  SMU at Texas Tech on Sunday, September 5 and two Thursday night games, Texas A&M at Oklahoma State on September 30 and Nebraska at Kansas State on October 7.  All other dates are labeled "tentative":  October 30th at 8:15 pm, November 6th at 6 pm, and November 20th at 6 pm.

But some of those dates don't have particularly compelling games that would be attractive for ESPN/ABC. October 30th has Nebraska-Missouri, A&M-Tech, Oklahoma-Colorado, Iowa State-Kansas, Kansas State-Oklahoma State, and Texas-Baylor. (NU/MU and A&M/TT look like the likely candidates for ABC and ESPN broadcasts.)  November 6th has Nebraska-Iowa State, Kansas State-Texas, Oklahoma State-Baylor, Texas A&M-Oklahoma, Texas Tech-Missouri, and Kansas-Colorado. (A&M/OU and TT/MU look like the most likely candidates.)  November 20th has Nebraska-Texas A&M, Texas Tech-Weber State, Kansas-Oklahoma State, Colorado-Kansas State, Iowa State-Missouri, Oklahoma-Baylor, and Texas-Florida Atlantic. (After NU/A&M, none look too big on the 20th.)

These dates are just placeholders, and ESPN will move them if a matchup looks more compelling as the game approaches.  Especially that November 20th window.  I do wonder if ESPN isn't eyeing Missouri at Nebraska for that October 30th 8:15 pm window.  (Uggh. I hate 8:15 kickoffs.)

I don't believe ABC wants to televise Texas at Nebraska at 2:30 pm. ABC has already scheduled Iowa at Michigan for 2:30 pm as part of the regional broadcast. With Nebraska's move to the Big Ten, there will be more interest in Big Ten country to see the Huskers, and they won't want this game on pay-per-view in Big Ten country if Nebraska and Texas are undefeated.

I still think it'll be a morning kickoff on ABC or an evening kickoff on ESPN, when all is said and done, if Nebraska is undefeated when Texas comes to town.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Twitter Turning Some Fans Into Twits

I've been using Twitter for a couple of years now, but I'm not sure I use it the same way many folks do. I only follow 81 people currently.  Some are friends, some are members of the media, and others are just things I find informative.  I don't follow a large number of people because I simply don't want to wade through hundreds (or thousands) of tweets each day.  I don't follow celebrities at all, other than a couple of Husker coaches. For the most part, I haven't found a celebrity tweet that I've found particularly interesting.  I could care less what Ashton Kutcher has to say, and furthermore, I know that with one million or so followers, there never could possibly be a conversation anyway. So why bother?

Today, much of the Husker Twittersphere was focused on a Tweet from @TaylorMartinez3 that stated that "Dreams Come True When You Work Hard and Pray! T-magic".  When I first saw it, my first thought was that this was a fake...especially after he decided to follow Tom Shatel yesterday.  Not sure why an 18 year old redshirt freshman would open up a Twitter account and start following the news media...especially when the Twitter account appears to be tied to a similar Facebook account that looks more like a amateur celebrity fan page than the Facebook account for a college student...especially when the Facebook account has no updates older than May of this year.

Sometime this evening, the Twitter account is gone; all the Tweets have disappeared without a trace. If it's the real Taylor Martinez, perhaps someone in the athletic department encouraged him to take it down.  Or more likely, the originator of the hoax got freaked out by the attention today and yanked it down before it got traced any further. At least I'm hoping it's a hoax; it would be concerning if a redshirt freshman who's never played a down of college football was going around promoting himself as "T-magic"

Some of these hoax Twitter accounts can be rather entertaining.  Have you checked out FakeTomOsborne, FakeJimDelany, or FakeDanBeebe? For the most part, they are a heck of a lot more entertaining than the real celebrities. Other than Bo Pelini's joke about the flu last October or the Go Karts tweet this week, he doesn't have much to offer. Heck, I've already dropped ChipBrownOB now that realignment talk has died down and I don't really care what misinformation he has to offer.  (I still follow FrankTheTank, who proved to be the far more reliable source on realignment.)  But when Big Mister Suh tweets about Subway sandwiches, well, that's a sign that I probably won't miss anything by not following.

Am I missing something with Twitter?  Or how do you handle following 3000 or more people on Twitter?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Huskers #8 in the Preseason AP Poll: Just Right, Too High, or "Ridiculous"

I have to say I'm not surprised that Nebraska starts the season ranked eighth in the AP writers poll. Not sure I agree with it, but it's in line with what others have been saying all preseason. I'm still keeping the Huskers at 12th on my preseason BlogPoll unless someone can talk me into moving them up or down.

Yesterday, on the CBS Preseason Football Preview special, Gary Danielsen gave his picks for the BCS title game, announcing it as "two Big Ten teams":  Ohio State vs. Nebraska. (Still not completely used to that idea yet...)  As you might expect, that got quite a response from AJ the HuskerH8er on Twitter:
you don't find these ridiculous expectations at least a tiny bit concerning?
Premature? Yes. Excessive?  Perhaps.  Ridiculous?  Not really... in fact, I'd argue that AJ's probably in a very small minority in the college football world on this one.  (Remember he's predicting 7-5 for Nebraska in 2010...)  Which brough about another response:
most 8th ranked teams have at leastsome sort of QB option to justify it. Maybe a pac10 xfer will come save u?
Last year, a team started the season ranked fifth in the country with a quarterback who had only thrown 20 passes in his career, with two touchdowns and one interception.  But hey, why let a little facts get in the way of a good Sam Keller reference. (Though truth be told, if I were a Missouri fan, I'd want to relieve 2007 over and over and over again as well...)

But speaking of quarterback play, Steve Sipple reported today that the buzz he's hearing suggests that Taylor Martinez is having a strong preseason practice and could very well be the starting quarterback for the Western Kentucky game. I think I still give the edge to Zac Lee early in the season, but I anticipate Martinez getting some playing time early and often, and making a strong bid to take over the starting job as the season evolves. Maybe it happens earlier than I expect.

In any event, people are putting too much emphasis on the quarterback question. As long as the offensive line continues to develop (and doesn't encounter any more season-ending injuries), I think the Husker offense will be fine in 2010. Not 1983 or 1995 dominant, but simply average. I think the Husker defense will be strong enough to put Nebraska in position to win every game in 2010...and that's going to be good enough to put them in position to make their case in December and January.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Preseason BlogPoll Ballot Draft

Let me start off by saying I hate preseason polls. It's all a bunch of guesswork based on what you think teams have coming back and how it translates to this season...or in other words, it's a big wild-ass guess. Which is fine, except that these preseason rankings have a way of becoming entrenched.  If teams win, but they don't look as good as you thought they would be, you'd think that pollsters would move them down...but many voters don't feel you can drop someone unless they lose.

I'm a big believer in a "power poll", and that the rankings should be based by how strong you think a team is. Last year, I caught all sorts of grief by keeping Oklahoma up there in the rankings even though they lost several squeakers in September and October. (I think the number of Sooners that were selected in the NFL Draft validates just how good the Sooners probably were, even if their won-loss record didn't reflect it.) But the problem with a "power poll" is that you have absolutely zippo to base your preseason rankings on.

So what to do? Well, take your best shot and rank the teams as you think, knowing full well that you are guessing.  Any issues will eventually work their way out, as real results will quickly overwhelm these preseason guesses.

So after throwing down these guesses, where am I out of line?  Who is too high?  Who'd I forget?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Monday Night Beer: Nebraska Just Loves a Good Quarterback Rumor

'Twas a busy weekend for myself this weekend, attempting to build a new playset for the kids.  Attempting being the operative word, as I long blew past the estimated "7-9 hours" of assembly time.  I guestimate it's about 2/3rds done after 14 hours of work.

I don't think I missed a whole lot this weekend though, as some people obsessed about the Taylor Martinez situation. About all we know at this point is that Martinez missed a practice, apparently with Bo Pelini's knowledge. Is there something more to this? Perhaps. Is it any of our business?  Unlikely. In this situation, fans start recalling Harrison Beck and Eric Crouch, and start assuming "here we go again." whether it's even remotely a similar situation. Heck, fans still criticize Crouch for going back to talk to Fred Petito, his high school coach...even though he never even missed a practice.

Speaking of players transferring, looks like Nebraska is catching former Washington tight end Kavario Middleton, who was dismissed by coach Steve Sarkisian last month for off-the-field issues. Middleton will have to grow up pretty darn fast and live by the rules Pelini lays down; if he doesn't, Middleton probably won't have a third chance to play college football at the 1-A level.

Spending the weekend outside with the power tools meant that I didn't get a chance to watch much of the PGA Championship this weekend. In fact, I didn't even know about the controversy until late last evening. Good thing for sports talk though; if Dustin Johnson hadn't handed the media this story line, they would have had to revert back to the old tired "nobody cares about golf unless Tiger Woods is in contention" storyline.

Friday night, I did get a chance to walk across the new Bob Kerrey bridge for the first time; it was a nice evening for a stroll along the river. But what struck me was the walk back into Omaha and seeing TD Ameritrade Park emerging as you reach the peak. This will be the new "money shot" ESPN uses during next year's College World Series.

Speaking of ballparks, did anybody catch former Jay Leno writer Brad Dickson's quip yesterday about the new ballpark at BFE?
The Omaha Royals held “Star Wars” Night. I heard the Royals were paying tribute to “A galaxy, far, far away” and assumed they meant Sarpy County.
I had to chuckle this morning at deposed Husker Information Minister Jim Rose's veiled reference to Bill Callahan this morning as he criticized USC coach Lane Kiffin's reference to a bowl game as just another game. This from the man who did his darndest to sell us what Callahan and Steve Pederson were trying to shove down the throats of Husker fans. So did Rose finally realize he was wrong before? Hardly. He's just got his schtick down where he'll say anything and everything that he thinks people want to hear. Four years ago, it was pumping Callahan and Pederson's clusterfool. Now relegated to being the sidekick on KFAB's morning show, he's reduced to making outrageous statements about Omaha's police and fire unions.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Jinxing Mike Smith

All that talk about depth pushing Mike Smith out of his starting spot at left tackle may have taunted the football gods this week, as Smith went down with a broken leg on Tuesday.  The "glass half full" perspective is to be grateful it happened this season rather than last season, when depth was sorely lacking. Smith might still qualify for a medical hardship and be able to play in 2011; we'll see how that works out.

Of course, the next left tackle, Jermarcus Hardrick left practice on Monday in an ambulance after suffering heat exhaustion in the ridiculous heat this week, so Nebraska is down to redshirt freshman Jeremiah Sirles at left tackle for now.  All this points out the importance of depth, as it doesn't take much to take a position of strength and turn it into a weakness.  Just look at I-back last season:  at this point, fans thought that with Roy Helu and Quentin Castille established, and Rex Burkhead coming in, I-back wasn't a problem.  And by the time the Texas Tech game came around, poof!

Today's World-Herald reports that former cornerbacks Anthony West and Anthony Blue are working their way back. West might be called on at safety, while Blue is simply getting himself back onto the field after a devastating knee injury. I guess I had long penciled in Courtney Osborne and P.J. Smith as the safeties this upcoming season, but not so fast.

An interesting read from Olin Buchanan of Rivals, where he rates each part of each team in the Big XII.  The Huskers backfield is rated fifth; somewhat surprising considering the lack of production in 2009.  Even more surprising is that the receivers were ranked sixth in the Big XII.  Buchanan expects big things from the offensive line, ranking them tops in the Big XII this season, though nobody from Nebraska makes his preseason first or second team all-Big XII list.  Go figure.

On defense, Buchanan has NU's defensive line tops, which I can see. Third at linebacker might be a bit of a stretch, and the Husker secondary is second only to Texas.  Coaching staff is ranked third behind Texas and Oklahoma.  A little-too-glowing preseason report card, I'd suggest.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Sunday Night Dessert: Preseason Hype is Just That

It's easy to overreact to the news that Nebraska is ranked #9 in the preseason coaches poll. Is it a sign that Nebraska is back?  Nope.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again.  Nebraska will truly be "back" when nobody asks about being "back".  Nebraska is better than they've been in years, but that's not saying much.  This #9 rating is more of a result of the schedule than anything else. Subtract Oklahoma, Texas Tech, and Virginia Tech from the schedule, and replace with Texas (in Lincoln minus Colt McCoy after a last second loss in Dallas last December) and two teams with a losing record in 2009. 

My favorite criticism of this is that Nebraska is ranked as highly as they are because of past history. Rock M Nation's Bill Connelly sums it up quite nicely:
If Missouri had put together the exact set of circumstances (dominant defense leads to North title, near-upset in Big 12 title game, and easy bowl win ... and loses transcendent star in offseason), they would be ranked in the #15-20 range to start the season.  But Nebraska being Nebraska, they shoot straight to, in some cases, the Top 5.
Of course, then we hear talk about Nebraska "not having beaten a top 19 team since blah blah blah". Again, what does the past (with different players and coaches) have to do with anything? Is Tom Osborne or Frank Solich coaching the Huskers? Nope.  Is Bill Callahan coaching the Huskers? Thank God he's not. So what relevance does Callahan's suckage mean to 2010?  What is relevant is Pelini's record: top ten defense in 2003 at Nebraska.  Top defense in 2004 at Oklahoma.  Great defenses at LSU in 2005 and 2006, and a National Championship defense in 2007.  A defense that improved from start to finish in 2008, and one of the best defenses in the country in 2009.  That's a relevant track record, and if Pelini says the 2010 defense could be even better, then you disregard it at your own risk.

As we go through preseason practice, we'll be treated to more stories about players stepping it up. Which is all fine and well, but it's all somewhat irrelevant until the Huskers actually play somebody.  Which likely won't be until September 18th in Seattle. Take Zac Lee.  We know he didn't have a great season in 2009. We know about the injury. We know about the lack of receivers. We know about his mistakes. As things progress, we'll see whether he's truly able to step his game up to the next level.  Or whether one of the other quarterbacks will make a bigger step up. We saw Cody Green wilt under the spotlight as a true freshman, and we simply don't know anything about Taylor Martinez other than an impressive debut in a scrimmage.

One story that I find intriguing is Barney Cotton's confidence in his offensive line. When he's talking about Mike Smith going from the starter at left tackle to being a backup at guard or center, you have to realize that something is up on the offensive line.  That change is an infusion of depth that wasn't there last year. Again, it's too early to bank on anything...but when a senior loses his starting job, that's a sign of change. Especially in a position as important as left tackle.

Want more proof about the lack of substance this time of year?  How about considering pickles as a "secret weapon"?  Not saying that it's a bad idea...but it's not really a "secret" or any sort of "weapon" either...

Wasn't it nice to see football on television tonight? Yeah, it was an exhibition, and yeah, it wasn't very good.  (3 field goals and a defensive touchdown until the closing moments.)  But at least it was a sign of better things to come, especially after a ridiculously sweltering day outside.

You know one thing that bugged me tonight? Hunter Mahan won the Bridgestone Invitational today, and was pretty much ignored.  Instead, the big story was the guy who finished in next to last place.  I mean, if playing bad golf is now newsworthy, maybe it's time for me to get my golf clubs out of storage.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Big Ten Championship Game Goes to Indy

The only surprise about today's announcement that the inaugural Big Ten championship game was going to be played in Indianapolis was the timing, just days after the Big Ten held their meetings. Indianapolis is a safe choice: modern stadium, centrally located, and indoors, so weather isn't a concern. That being said, I haven't decided whether it makes more sense to rotate the game or pick a regular home for the Big Ten championship. I like the idea of playing the game at Lambeau (but only in an afternoon timeslot, prior to the Pac-12 Championship game) occasionally.  Chicago?  More convenient for Husker fans, I suppose...but a remodeled Soldier Field doesn't have the same history as Lambeau, yet has all the negatives (grass field in a bad weather locale).  Detroit? A little to close to the Weasels, truth be told.

Cleveland or Cincinnati? Perhaps in a rotation, but again...even more negatives, and now a home game for the Buckeyes.  Philadelphia?  Might as well hold it in Jerry World; no conflicts there anymore.

Tom Shatel learned a little bit about the psyche of the Big Ten conference this week at media days in Chicago. The interesting perspective is how the Big Ten views themselves.  Big Ten folks see no issue with putting Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State in one division, with Nebraska, Iowa, and Wisconsin in the other. From their perspective, that's splitting the six big names in the conference even-steven.

Of course, to those of us outsiders, equating Iowa and Wisconsin with Michigan and Ohio State seems ludicrous.  Sure, it's the easiest way to split things, but not necessarily the most balanced. But that's the difference in the mindsets of the two conferences.

Another mindset is the importance of the Rose Bowl. I've openly mocked the Rose Bowl for years.  In the past, it was the game that you generally ignored after the rush of the early New Year's Day games (Cotton, Citrus, and Fiesta Bowls) and the big games of the day in the Sugar and Orange.  The "Irrelevent Yawner Bowl" was the perfect opportunity to step away from the television and have a holiday dinner.  Walk the dog, reload the fridge, etc. The game would be on in the background, but it was just that: background noise.

In 2002, when Nebraska played, I joined thousands of other Husker fans in Pasadena and encountered the worst-operated bowl game I've ever attended. Awesome tailgating, but that was it. Locals were upset that Nebraska wasn't a Big Ten team. The stadium was a dilapidated fire trap that wasn't prepared for 40,000 fans, let alone the 93,000 fans that had tickets.  Arrived outside the gates at 3:45 pm for a 5:20 kickoff, and barely made it to my seats as the Huskers took the field.  Others in our group missed the third quarter in a fruitless search for food from the concession stands. After the game, my wife nearly got crushed in a stampede as stadium crowd control funneled fans out of the stadium into barricaded walkways from both ends.  In the middle, the two crowds met up with the only escape route being to jump over the metal barricades.

So when I read Big Ten fans talking about the Rose Bowl being the ultimate destination for a college football season, all I have to do is roll my eyes. I suppose the parade is nice, but the Rose Bowl pales in comparison to Phoenix and the Fiesta Bowl or Miami and the Orange Bowl.  And I have to figure it pales to New Orleans and the Sugar Bowl.  Granddaddy of them all?  Well, on that particular night in early 2002, Grandpa overfilled his Depends.

But that's the mindset of the Big Ten. It's their tradition. It's how they view things. And you know what, if Nebraska fans don't share that viewpoint, well, I'm sure that's our problem, not theirs.

It's going to be a learning experience to learn this Big Ten culture over the next few years. I'm sure Nebraska will have the opportunity to suggest changes and provide a different point-of-view, but in the end, it's going to be up to Nebraska to accept much of what the Big Ten has, whether we particularly agree with it or not.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Monday Night Beer: Paying To Park In BFE & Nine Conference Games in the Big Ten?

Depending on how you want to spin it, the Omaha Royals either have continued the tradition of having free parking for fans...or have joined the rest of minor league baseball in charging you $5 to park.  Or go into the middle with $2 parking.  Confusing?  Not really... 450 of the best parking spaces will charge $5, while 900 more will cost you $2.  The furthest out 450 spots will be free.  So if you arrive late (because you got stuck in traffic driving out to BFE), you'll pay.  If you arrive early and don't mind a nice walk, you can park for free.

In fairness to the Royals, this parking is cheaper than most of the other Pacific Coast League teams.  $5-$6 parking is pretty much the standard in the PCL.  Nashville only charges $3 while Sacramento charges $8 to $10.

It'll be interesting how this works when the rest of the development around BFE takes place...or maybe I should say if, as we really haven't heard of any other development going on out there.  But hey, that's not my problem...that's the problem for the taxpayers of Sarpy County.

Turning east towards Chicago, it seems that all of the Nebraska sports media that are testing the Big Ten's media days are seeing quite a different operation.  All 11 coaches spoke to the media today, and it appears that coaches and players will meet the media again tomorrow.  The general perception seems to be that the Big Ten is more than happy to have Nebraska on board and are seeming to go out of their way to accomodate the new kids on the block. Or at least make a good impression on the media just now being introduced to the Big Ten.  Or maybe it's just that Nebraska and it's fans haven't done anything to offend the other Big Ten schools yet.

It makes me wonder what the Big Ten's media credential policy is for next year in terms of the new media.  (i.e us bloggers)  The three-day Big XII media days are simply impractical for most of us to cover; we have day jobs that pay our bills.  But a one-day trip to Chicago might be possible to swing... just something to ponder as we move forward.

Photo Courtesy Big Ten Conference
I don't think I've ever seen Tom Osborne smile as wide as he did posing with Joe Paterno and Jim Delaney in Chicago today. I'm sure someone cracked a joke to get all three beaming, but still, I get the feeling that Osborne is sincerely happy with Nebraska's move to the Big Ten.

One thing for sure is, right now, we're still in the "romance" part of the switch.  Everything is new and exciting, and everybody is saying nice things about us.

The big news of the day is that Delaney wants to play nine conference games a season, up from eight. If that happens, each team will only avoid two conference foes each season. That's the upside.  The downside is that means one less non-conference game.  With football budgets the way they are, you know the "money" games aren't going away...which means that the games that get dropped are the better matchups. I think the marquee matchups against teams like UCLA, Tennessee, and Miami are safe.  But some of the matchups against Fresno State and Southern Miss could end up getting scuttled because of the need to play that extra conference game.  In an ideal world, NU would go on the road for one non-conference game each season, but with the prospect of playing five conference games on the road every other season, finances dictate that Nebraska can only play a non-conference road game every other year.

Personally, I'd lean against the nine conference game schedule...but I have an inherent bias against it.  Nebraska is starting with a clean slate with no clear rivalries that we're hoping to keep intact.  So the idea of playing 8 conference games a year, with the prospect of playing a name BCS foe and one or two "up and coming" mid majors sounds like a good match to me.  Replacing one of those "up and coming" mid-major games with a conference opponent that we'll see in a year or two down the line anyway doesn't sound like a deal to me.

But I also see the point of, say a Wisconsin, who will see one fewer of their traditional opponents when Nebraska appears on their schedule.  Ideally, the game that gets dropped is the one against Schmuckhead State or some other Sun Belt or 1-AA team...but you know and I know that those games are played for money, and that'll be the last one dropped.