Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Tuesday Night Beer: Second Thoughts on Sadler and Woodhead

It was a bad weekend for the local teams.  Start with Husker basketball, who dropped another winnable home game - this time against Minnesota. Adding injury to insult, it sounds like Brian Jorge Diaz's foot problems may be terminal.  All the while, you get the sense that Doc Sadler is "dead coach walking."

I'm not sure Sadler should be fired.  I'm less sure that Sadler should be back next season.  We know one thing: barring legal or NCAA issues, Sadler will finish the season.  Tom Osborne would never fire a coach during the season; what would the point be, other than appeasing the boo-birds? But should Sadler return?  I offer one option, and only one option.  And that is that Sadler needs to identify a plan to recruit higher caliber talent to Lincoln. I don't know that Sadler can do it himself. He needs a recruiter, plain and simple. Maybe someone like Scott Spinelli, perhaps?

If Sadler doesn't have a plan, then it's probably time to cut him loose.  He's a good man, but Nebraska is investing too much in basketball to get this type of return.

Then there is UNO Maverick hockey, which lost three of four points to Bemidji State.  Bemidji seems to be Dean Blais' kryptonite; they are undefeated in the last six games in Omaha.  It's not talent; it's a style of hockey that runs completely counter to Blais' style, and seemingly in every game, the Beavers somehow manage to pull off the win.

It's frustrating as heck for UNO fans, who now seem to be resigning themselves to a lackluster end of the season, what with games remaining against Michigan Tech, Minnesota, and Denver.  It's going to take take quite a push by the Mavs to retain home ice for the playoffs.  What's even more concerning is Blais' postgame comments on Saturday night:
“What I see right now is a little bit of a team coming apart at the seams — when you play like that."
 But let's put this into perspective.  UNO is feeling the pain of turning the roster in the transition from Mike Kemp to Blais.  The youngsters that Blais recruited are freshmen and sophomores.  There aren't many juniors and seniors left on this team; it's a team that sorely needs leadership.  That may come in time, but it may not be in the cards for this season.  This year's UNO team could sure use a player like Alex Hudson from last year.  I get that this year's version of Hudson wasn't the same as last year's; the point isn't so much that Hudson shouldn't have been bounced from the team, but rather this team could have used Hudson to have provided the leadership and not get tossed.

Twitter was all abuzz on Sunday night about North Platte's Danny Woodhead.  We all know the story.  The guy that couldn't get a D-1 scholarship offer goes to Chadron, puts up big numbers, goes to the NFL and gets cut by the Jets only to become a star with New England.  But why didn't Nebraska offer a scholarship?  Who's fault is it?  Couldn't Nebraska have used a player like Woodhead?  Absolutely.  But let's put it into perspective.  Nobody else in D-1 offered him a scholarship either. Should Nebraska have?  Neither Frank Solich or Bill Callahan did, though for different reasons.  Woodhead probably wouldn't have fit Callahan's system, and it's clear that recruiting coordinator Scott Downing didn't think much of Woodhead.

But Solich had the first opportunity to offer Woodhead.  It's his mistake, right?  In hindsight, yes.  But put yourself in Solich's shoes.  You have an in-state player who hasn't received a single offer from anybody else.  You are being criticized for recruiting too many Nebraska kids and not enough Rivals "star" players.  Your new boss makes it clear he wants the program to go in a different direction.  And you have a kid that bleeds Nebraska red.  So Solich asks him to walk on to live the dream, and save the scholarship for somebody else.  There's a limited number of scholarships available, and every scholarship you offer to a kid from Nebraska is a scholarship you can't offer to somebody else.

That being said, it was all over once Solich was fired.  I get this feeling that there still was a chance that a scholarship offer from Nebraska might still have been available in late January, depending on how recruiting was going. I look at it like the Bronson Marsh situation; Nebraska couldn't offer early, but might have had room for him late in the recruiting process.

I do know this.  Solich was under a lot of criticism from recruitniks in 2003.  Offering Woodhead a scholarship would have had them up in arms at that time.

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