With Nebraska basketball, it was the best of times this week --- and the worst of times. The Huskers upset of ranked Indiana was thrilling, but the beat-down by Ohio State was disappointing. (Some might call it appalling.) I've been a defender of Doc Sadler for years, but in year six, the excuses are starting to wear thin. No doubt in my mind that Sadler inherited a mess from Barry Collier, and Sadler has improved things. His late hiring meant that his first couple of recruiting classes were haphazard. So I've always looked the other way towards the talent shortage . . . up to now.
Sadler's teams generally have always played hard with solid defense. I have no doubt that Sadler is a good gameday coach in my mind. But in year six, there still are no playmakers on this roster, and really haven't been since Aleks Maric graduated. And Sadler doesn't really get credit for Maric; Maric was a holdover from Collier. Bo Spencer sometimes makes plays, as do Dylan Talley and Toney McCray - but none are players you can go to down the stretch. Would Andre Almeida have been that guy this season? Maybe, if he was healthy. But that's probably relying on hope more than anything
Sadler's best playmaker to date has been Christian Standhardinger, who showed great promise on the court yet found a way to continually stay in Sadler's doghouse. He tried to transfer to LaSalle before finally enrolling at Hawai'i last fall. Looking over the Nebraska roster, I don't see any redshirting players to give me hope that things are going to get better. I don't follow recruiting, so I'm not sure if Sadler is pursuing any difference makers. At some point, Sadler has to get some players into the program. Facilities aren't an issue anymore; people rave about the new Hendricks practice facility and the new Haymarket Arena should be a draw as well.
I just don't want to pull the plug on Doc Sadler yet... but the excuses are starting to become tiring.
Thanks to a kids birthday party, I missed today's AFC Championship game, but did get to see the end of NFC title game. Kyle Williams is going to have a rough offseason in the Bay Area after muffing one punt then fumbling another in overtime. It was an awkward position for Williams, who was filling in for the injured Ted Ginn on punt return detail. It kind of reminds me why Bill Callahan put Santino Panico back to return punts in 2004; he wasn't going to make plays, but he wasn't going to turn the ball over either.
So now we've got another Boston versus New York championship. So glad I've pulled the plug on sports talk radio this month. First thing I thought of was former Omaha sports talk host Matt Perrault's famous claim that no Manning would ever win a Super Bowl. Then both Mannings went on to win the next two Super Bowl MVP awards. I get why Perrault made that prediction: he's a Boston homer and in losing a ratings battle, he wanted to draw attention to himself. Back in the mid 90's, a local reporter asked ESPN's Mike Tirico about some of the outrageous things that had been said on College Gameday that season. Tirico responded by reminding the reporter that Gameday was an entertainment show; outrageous comments get people to watch and respond.
Perrault tried the "outrageous" approach in Omaha; it failed, and he bounced to Des Moines before returning to the east coast. He lost that battle to KOZN's Kevin Kugler and Mike'l Severe at that time, and AM 590 folded their tent. Dropped all their local programming, and the ratings approached 0. Things changed a year ago. ESPN switched their radio affiliation to AM 590, and KOZN-AM 1620 picked up Fox Sports Radio. 590 added a new afternoon show, and their ratings are improving at the expense of 1620. And 1620 seems to be playing the outrageous game...or at least they did earlier this month. Sadly, I pulled the plug for a while to see if it blows over.
And with another Boston/New York matchup, it's not worth taking another chance on sports radio for a few more weeks.
The World-Herald reports that I-back Collins Okafor will graduate this spring and bypass his senior season. Not surprising in that Okafor never seemed to crack the depth chart. He had an outstanding high school career, but it never seemed to translate to the next level...even when depth at I-back was an issue, he still didn't see the field. Best wishes to Okafor though as he moves on with his life.