I found it interesting that nearly every Nebraska player that spoke to the media on Friday mentioned playing for a national championship this season. First thing I thought of was the last time Nebraska players talked this way: four years ago. That was brash talk then for a team that lost the last two games of the previous season, and we all know how THAT ended. (5-7, worst defense since college football players played both offense and defense, coach and athletic director run out of town on a rail, etc.) That doesn't mean another disaster like that is in store, but by that same manner, I didn't see the 2007 Train Wreck coming either. I do think Nebraska is closer to being in position to play for a title in 2011 than they were in 2007, though by no means should Nebraska be considered a favorite either. I'd argue that last season, Nebraska should or could have won every game. Texas had a losing record, Nebraska had too many penalties and mistakes against Texas A&M and Oklahoma, and frankly didn't show up in San Diego. If Nebraska has found some answers to the self-inflicted errors of last season, don't dismiss title talk coming from Lincoln. Don't buy non-refundable plane tickets to New Orleans for January either, unless you are planning to get an early start on Mardi Gras.
One item that did catch my eye was the discussion of team chemistry and especially Taylor Martinez's role in some of the team building that occurred this summer. Last season, we heard little behind-the-scenes rumblings about Martinez's leadership (or lack thereof). I don't know how much that matters; certainly it's far below the health of Martinez's ankle or his lack of understanding of the offense as a redshirt freshman in terms of importance. But it doesn't hurt either.
Tonight on BTN, I finally got a chance to watch some of the 1995 Rose Bowl between Penn State and Oregon. I freely admit that I never actually watched that game; I was still in Fort Lauderdale, and frankly after being up half the night celebrating Nebraska's victory over Miami in the Orange Bowl, I had absolutely zero interest in watching the game. The sun was shining brightly, the air temperature was 81 and the water temperature wasn't much less than that. Meanwhile back in Omaha, it was about 90 degrees cooler...which made my decision fairly easy. I've felt all along that 1994 Nebraska would probably beat 1994 Penn State fairly easily, probably by two touchdowns. Tonight I saw nothing to change my mind, and in fact, it confirmed my suppositions. Heck, let's not forget that Oregon actually went up in the polls after that game after outgaining the Nittany Lions 501 to 430 yards.
We're down to the final week of the Bubba Starling drama. I know the common wisdom is that this is all a Scott Boras drama designed to extra every last penny the Kansas City Royals have available in their budget. It'll come down to next weekend, and by Tuesday, Starling will be off to Kansas City for a press-conference and then to the minor leagues. Well, maybe...maybe not. Keep in mind that, in the end, it comes down to what Bubba Starling wants to do. Saying no to the Kansas City Royals is not saying no to a pro baseball career; it's keeping the door open to a career in football. That baseball career will still be there, and the money might be even greater at that time. So it comes down to what Starling wants to do: football or baseball. And while Starling has been playing it cool and making it seem that he wants to play football, I get the feeling that Starling's first love is baseball. And so my guess is that Starling isn't long for Lincoln, but that's just that: a guess. We'll find out for sure on the 16th.