Archive for August, 2006

Depth Chart: Confusion, Not Clarity
Wednesday, August 30, 2006


In theory, depth charts are supposed to provide clarity. The one released on Tuesday only added confusion… at least as far as the I-Back situation is concerned.

We’re Going to Draw Numbers Out of a Hat for This One

Marlon Lucky, Cody Glenn, Brandon Jackson and Kenny Wilson are all co-#1’s on the depth chart. I know the Associated Press reported that Lucky/Glenn were the co-#1’s, but Callahan never said that. What he said was that he couldn’t fit all four names on the top line.

In my book, this was the least surprising news of the day. He talked all camp about how there was little to no separation between the backs. And no player or coach talked about how one stood out from the rest. Bill Callahan is a coach who has his players’ best interests in mind. What better way to show that than to list them all as number one runningbacks? But these kids aren’t stupid… you can talk about how you’re going to share the ball all you want. The fact is, one guy will eventually rise to the top. I just wonder how these runningbacks feel seeing each other at the number one spot, especially after all the poundings they took during fall camp. Someone’s gotta be thinking, “Great… I’m right back where I started.” According to the coaches and players, though, these guys are all unselfish. At the same time they all want the ball. There’s gotta be a happy medium somewhere. Keeping each guy happy will be the tough part.

Gee, you think me might see a few multiple-back sets this season?

When was the last time the Huskers were this deep at I-Back? Maybe 1995? Lawrence Phillips, Damon Benning, Clinton Childs and Ahman Green? I see some parallels.

The first play of the season should be out of the wishbone. Just for old time’s sake. You tell me why not, and I’ll tell you why you’re not a fun person to be around.

Good for Bo

I was somewhat surprised to see Bo Ruud at the top of the depth chart at the WILL linebacker spot, ahead of Steve Octavien. With Bo’s late-season injury last year, and the loss of his mother last month, I thought it would all be too much to overcome. I don’t know how he’s kept his concentration on the football field. Maybe the tragedy has helped sharpen his focus… I don’t know. Sports can be a healthy distraction in tough times… but I can’t imagine going through that. I hope Bo makes the first open-field tackle of the game… and everyone cheers him with a chorus of “Ruuuuuuuuuuuds”.

I Know You Still Need Money — But We Don’t Have to Pay For This Tour, Do We?

Athletic Director Steve Pederson, Assistant Athletic Director of Facilities John Ingram, and Sports Information Director Keith Mann took the media on a special tour of the new facilities on Tuesday. We’ve talked at length about the video board. You have to see it to believe it.

Free-associative random thought: How would you like to have season-tickets in the North Endzone, and have the most-watched thing be right behind you? Imagine being in a movie theater, sitting in the front row, but facing the crowd instead of the screen. I imagine it’ll feel a lot like that.

The new weight-room facility is pretty impressive. I mean, it’s no 24-Hour Fitness, but it’ll do. There are giant windows throughout the strength complex. One of the more interesting quotes came from Ingram, who said something to the effect of, “Our student-athletes will be able to perform in this environment, with the help of this high-end equipment, and these 24-foot high windows.” Maybe that’s why I can’t get in shape… I don’t work out in front of giant pieces of glass.

The hydrotherapy room is something else. The whirlpool with a built-in treadmill was a nice touch. In a related story, I’m getting a treadmill installed in my bathtub. (Which I see as an instant failure since I only take showers).

You don’t realize just how antiquated something is until you replace it and update it. The Tom and Nancy Osborne Complex and the North Endzone expansion add so much to Memorial Stadium. Even just looking at it from the outside provides an impressive sight. Facing I-180 at the top of the North End Zone is the list of the National Championship years. And there’s plenty of room for more numbers.

Pederson was asked where the school is in terms of fundraising for the $50-million project. He wouldn’t give a number, but did say he hopes the list of donors keeps growing. Translation: send money now.

Tours for the public are this Friday night. If you go, let me know how the locker rooms are. We weren’t allowed in.

The Slacking Stops Now
Tuesday, August 29, 2006


The football season is here, game-week is upon us, and to you I make this pledge: I will post something everyday on this blog from now until the end of the football season.
(Disclaimer: unless I’m too tired or lazy)

Bill Randby Does it Everyday, So Why Can’t I?

Before the season starts, it’s time to make a few random predictions. I’ll be glad to hear some of yours. Just throw them at me, and I’ll post’em.

Here are some of mine:

1) Cody Glenn will get the first carry in the opener.
2) The Huskers will clinch the North Division before the Colorado game.
3) Nebraska will be mentioned by ESPN as a National Championship contender at some point during the season.
4) I won’t remember Nicholls State’s nickname at season’s end.
5) Sam Keller won’t play this year.
6) The Huskers will go 10-4 (including the Big 12 Title game and Bowl game).
7) Nebraska will not lose any football game by more than 11 points.
8) Kenny Wilson will be last year’s Zac Taylor (translation: “We’re so glad you came to Nebraska.”)
9) The only Nebraska losses I’m sure about will be: at USC, and at Texas A&M.
10) I’m immediately unsure of both of those.
11) More fans will watch the new video board instead of the actual game — and then, after missing a play, will have to watch the video board for the replay. It’s an endless cycle.
12) Nebraska will play the Longhorns twice this year, and beat them once.

Pictures From a Quick Trip
Monday, August 28, 2006




You only live once — and given that fact, my younger brother (Ryan) and I decided to make a quick trip to Los Angeles last week to, among other things, see a taping of the television show “The King of Queens.”

Kevin James and I go way back (we were co-stars in “Hitch”) — long story short, we got some neat pictures from the set. Here are just a couple of the photos. I didn’t want this to turn into a vacation slide-show (translation: it took too long for me to figure out how to upload these, so enjoy these two pictures).

Getting Beat Up is Worth It
Wednesday, August 23, 2006

There’s a good article by Pete Thamel in the NY Times that focuses on small schools and the appearance fees they receive for playing the big boys. The University of Buffalo and Turner Gill are talked about. Apparently, Buffalo had a contract to play the University of West Virginia. Instead, the Bulls decided to play Wisconsin instead (they say it wasn’t about the more money they’d receive from Wisconsin). Here’s the crux: West Virginia found out through the Internet that the University of Buffalo had broken its contract.

Here’s other stuff from the article:

Buffalo is just the kind of opponent some of the nation’s top-ranked teams are looking for — and are paying rapidly rising prices to play this season. The Bulls will travel this coming season to play Auburn, a national title contender, and Wisconsin, a perennial Big Ten Conference power. Although Buffalo appears destined to be humiliated, the university will receive a $600,000 appearance check for each game. NCAA

Scheduling easy victories is a tradition as timeless in college football as fight songs and homecoming. But after the NCAA approved the addition of a 12th regular-season game for the coming season, the appearance fees began climbing in a bidding war for games against college football’s flotsam and jetsam.

Buffalo became such a hot commodity in the off-season that it broke contracts with West Virginia and Rutgers because Auburn and Wisconsin were offering at least double the money. Troy State of Alabama will receive $750,000 from Nebraska to play in Lincoln this season. Louisiana-Lafayette will get the same amount from Tennessee next year.

With the weakest teams in Division I-A becoming more expensive, top programs are stooping lower for competition. Iowa, a Big Ten favorite this year, wooed Montana, a Division I-AA program, for $650,000.

“It’s all about the money — any administrator will tell you that,” said Rich Rodriguez, the head coach at West Virginia. Buffalo dropped West Virginia from its schedule, without even a courtesy phone call, to earn an extra $300,000 to play at Wisconsin. Mr. Rodriguez added: “It’s not for the excitement of college football. Let’s not kid ourselves.”

For the weaker teams, a bigger appearance check means a chance to upgrade. Buffalo Coach Turner Gill said the Bulls were able to buy new furniture for their football complex and improve their weight room with the $1.5 million from their three nonconference road games. Buffalo plays in the Mid-American Conference.


Maybe Nebraska-Omaha could take care of that budget issue afterall… with a switch to I-AA.

Here’s the bigger issue: The college presidents don’t want a playoff system because they say it’s not fair to the kids. They say that would be too many games for the student-athletes… afterall, they need to go to class, right? Meanwhile, the NCAA schedules a 12th game, meaning many lower-tier NCAA I-A and I-AA teams will be sent to the slaughter for the sake of the almighty dollar. Florida Atlantic wants to raise money, so they schedule Clemson, Kansas State, Oklahoma State and South Carolina for $1.8 million, and basically have their kids get thumped.

To me, it’s hypocritical. Especially when you have Division II and Division III football players (who actually do go to class) taking part in a three-week playoff system.

Your thoughts?

A Keller Move
Wednesday, August 23, 2006

If the reports and rumors are true, the Huskers are about to get a pre-season All-Pac-10 quarterback.

Sam Keller was entering his senior season at Arizona State. Dirk Koetter named him the starter last Friday. The very next day, he said he made a mistake and tabbed sophomore Rudy Carpenter the starter.

I’ve heard some Husker fans say, “Why do we want a guy who quit on his team? He’s another bad apple.” That’s absurd. If I was named a starter (this happened many times in college) for my senior season, and then it was taken away 24-hours later, I’d be on the first bus out of town. I’m not about to spend my senior season on the bench (although I did spend much of it on the couch).

There are reports that Rudy Carpenter threatened to transfer if he wasn’t named the starter. That’s bush-league. I couldn’t back-up a quarterback like that.

The only thing that concerns me are reports that there might be something more to this… possibly that Keller had some off-the-field issues. His father Mike was quoted as saying something to the effect of, Sure he likes to party. What college kid doesn’t? That’s not what I want to hear about my prospective starting quarterback.

Nevertheless, his talent would be a great addition. And it would provide a nice bridge between Zac Taylor and the next multi-year Nebraska starter.

We will know a lot more by week’s end.

If he enrolls at Nebraska, he has to do it by Monday.

Not So Fast

Here’s an excert from an article on ESPN.com:

Mike Keller told ESPN Tuesday night that he has spoken with Cornhuskers coach Bill Callahan, informing him that some new teams had entered the equation.

“Nebraska is excited about Sam and anybody would be excited to have him as a leader,” Mike Keller said. “Bill runs a pro style offense, some call it West Coast, and they’d love to have somebody with Sam’s experience come in. He’s mature and would be working with young quarterbacks for a season. You know, I’m not trying to play games or play schools against one another, but I can’t say it’s finalized yet.”

Time to play the waiting game.

I love that game.

You Know What? That’s a Great Idea! Why Didn’t We Think of That Before?

Oklahoma has banned its athletes from working at a car dealership where two football players — including quarterback Rhett Bomar — broke NCAA rules by accepting payment for more work than they actually performed.

In a report to the NCAA released Tuesday following an open records request by The Associated Press, the University said it banned athletes from working at Big Red Sports and Imports after Oklahoma’s compliance staff received “poor and inappropriate treatment” from the dealership’s prior management.

That’s a smart university decision.

And it only took losing their starting quarterback and a shot at a National Championship to do it.

Just Because the Huskers Aren’t Practicing…
Tuesday, August 22, 2006

That doesn’t mean there isn’t any news. On Friday, Arizona State head coach Dirk Koetter named Sam Keller as the starting quarterback. Later, Koetter said he made a mistake and named sophomore Rudy Carpenter the starter. In a related story, Keller told his coach he plans on transferring. It’s truly a mess.

There are rumors that he’s coming to Nebraska. Sam’s father Mike knows Bill Callahan from working in professional football. Sam is a senior, but has a redshirt season left. Anywhere he goes, he’ll have to sit out this season anyway.

Have you ever seen a Husker pre-season with so many quarterback subplots? Harrison Beck… Brian Hildebrand… Sam Keller… I guess that’s what happens when you have an offense predicated on stellar quarterback play.

Stay tuned…

Bad news: A Husker Off-Day.
Good news: More time to cover other things.

Nebraska-Omaha opens the season in 12 days, and has yet to name a starting quarterback. When it becomes official, it will of course be Zach Miller. It’s interesting, though, because Head Coach Pat Behrns hasn’t had to think about naming a starting quarterback in a long time. He told me today he can’t even remember having to do it (and added, “maybe that’s why I haven’t done it yet.”)

Back to Reality Tomorrow

Nebraska resumes its normal practice schedule on Tuesday. Only 11 days until opening kick-off, and then it’ll be January before you know it.

A Look at the Big 12

Mark your calendars and set your DVRs – Thursday at 7PM is our Big 12 Preview Special. A look at every team in the Big 12. And get this: there are twelve teams this year.

In the “Maybe I Was Right” Department

A few weeks ago, I said the Huskers should actively consider Metro State Head Basketball Coach Mike Dunlap for its hoops opening. According to sources in Denver, Dunlap is leaving Metro to become an assistant coach for the Denver Nuggets under George Karl. That must mean he’s a good coach or something.

It’s Coming!
Monday, August 21, 2006

The sports seasons are changing… from baseball and golf to football and… well, more football. It begins this Friday with the high school kids.

This One’s For the Kids

The Huskers practiced for a couple of hours in front of approximately 4,200 fellow students at Memorial Stadium Sunday evening. This is the second year the team as done this. When Callahan started the tradition last year, I thought it was a great move. He understands how important the students are… and also understands that many, if not most of them, won’t get to see the team play a single game. Callahan gets it… and singing the fight song after each win is just a part of that.

This team is just ready to play another team. They’ve been banging it so hard with all those full-contact scrimmages, the Huskers will have some fire in their collective eye once they see a different colored uniform on the opposing sideline.

Oops

After the practice, quarterback Zac Taylor told the students, “We’re ready for the September 3rd opener.”

Let’s hope they’re ready sooner than that.

Defensive End Adam Carriker then took the microphone, “The September 2nd opener…”.

Taylor gets paid (in scholarship money) to memorize the playbook… not the day of the week.

I’m a Colorado Alum, and I’m Shocked

Head Coach Dan Hawkins has named senior James Cox the team’s starting quarterback for the 2006 season. He announced it following Sunday’s practice.

Cox had been in a heated battle with junior Brian White since the two were tied atop the depth chart following the Buffs’ first fall scrimmage on August 14.

“It’s a razor thin deal,” Hawkins said. “I think [James] has been a little more efficient running the club in terms of how he operates and understands the offense. It’s a thin margin, but you have to make the call and he’s the guy.”

Cox has two collegiate starts under his belt—against Iowa State in 2004 and in the 2005 Champ Sports Bowl. I’m going to go out on a limb and say he won’t be the starter for the whole season (and I’m not talking about an injury). I think junior Brian White will be the guy by season’s end. It’s a surprising move.

Tiger is Decent

Tiger Woods took home the PGA Championship on Sunday, winning his 12th major. What is he, like 23 years old? He’s already in second place all alone for career majors, behind Jack Nicklaus’ 18.

Is he the greatest individual athlete of all-time?

It’s hard to argue.

Pictures to Come

It was a great 24-hour trip to Los Angeles on Friday. I left Omaha Friday morning at 7AM, and landed back in Omaha Saturday afternoon at 1:15PM… then headed straight to the KETV studio. It was a whirlwind trip, but fun.

I’ll post a few pictures in the coming week.

Quick Observations
Friday, August 18, 2006

I’ve got a 7AM flight to catch Friday morning, so I’ve gotta get to sleep. For those interested, it’s a 24-hour quick trip to Los Angeles. I’ll be there one month too soon.

Let’s Get Physical

When Olivia Newton-John wrote that lovely song, I’m sure she had tackle football in the back of her mind.

The Huskers have scrimmaged everyday this week, and it continued on Thursday. I have come to the conclusion that this team will either be the most prepared team in the country once the season starts… or the most beat-up. I’ll bank on the former.

It truly does resemble an NFL-type of camp. I was in Lincoln following Monday’s, Tuesday’s, and Wednesday’s scrimmages. After each one, many of the Huskers walked off the field like tired beasts… like they’d just played an actual game. No question they’ll tone it done in the coming days leading up to the opener.

I’m changing the practice monicker: it’s not fall camp. It’s boot camp.

Oh My God, Kenny Killed Them!

Kenny Wilson is the story in fall camp. With the way the junior college transfer is running through tackles (according to the coaches and players), it wouldn’t surprise me if he were the Huskers’ newcomer of the year at season’s end. If you’ve seen him up close, then you wouldn’t be surprised either. He’s big, he’s thick, and by all accounts, he’s tough.

Husker prediction: This will be the best rushing season for the Huskers since 2001. I haven’t looked at any stats of the last 5 years… I’m just going with it. The depth has to get you somewhere, right?

Husker Classic

Don’t forget to check out the Husker Classic this Saturday morning at 11:30AM. Nebraska vs. Oklahoma, 1978. The game, the old commercials, the ol’ ball coach… it’s all there. Sit back and enjoy it.

See You Saturday

I wasn’t lying… those were quick observations.

I’ll see you on TV on Saturday. I’m flying back Saturday morning from LA.
I may be tired… I may have bags under my eyes… but hey, that’s what the make-up is for.

More Bad News… But a Fun-Filled Day
Wednesday, August 16, 2006



Linebacker Steve Octavien was not at practice on Wednesday. He had his appendix removed, and Coach Callahan hopes he’ll back running on Friday, and in full pads on Monday. That seems a little optimistic, but that’s what the medical staff has told him. It’s just one thing after another… hopefully this is the last of it.

Larry “The Cable Guy” Makes an Appearance

While others were conducting interviews, I noticed a man dressed in a sleeveless Husker t-shirt with a camouflaged Husker hat, walking off the Memorial Stadium turf with Steve Pederson. Yep, it was Larry “The Cable Guy”.

We caught up with him after practice, and he put on a little show for us. You stick 8 microphones in his face and he’s bound to share some of his material. About 30% of it may be illegal for us to air.

He was born in Pawnee City, Nebraska. He said, “I was a C-Section baby. I was born in section C of a Waylon Jennings concert.”

He said he was more nervous addressing the football team than he was doing stand-up at Frontier Days in Cheyenne, Wyoming last week. He told us that his favorite player is Zac Taylor, because Taylor was the first person to come up to him and ask for his autograph. He said, though, that his favorite player of all time is Phil Ellis. He doesn’t know why.

I asked Bill Callahan if there were any jokes he could repeat for us. He said “No way.”

Secretary Day… Hold My Calls.

The secretaries were invited to practice today, and at the tail-end of practice, they were calling the plays during the scrimmage. According to Callahan, they were flashing signals for Coach Cosgrove. “It was a lot of fun,” said Callahan.

Larry “The Cable Guy” said he’d be a little nervous about the upcoming season if those secretaries are calling the plays. He did say, though, that the Huskers will “Git-r-done” this year. What else would you expect him to say?

Look for Larry’s comments tonight on KETV Newswatch Seven at 10.

The Streak is Broken
Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Well, I didn’t post on Monday… ending my “consecutive days blogged” streak at around 40. Eat your heart out, Ripken.

And it Continues

I’ve been down to Lincoln for three straight days (four on Wednesday). Has this team been fortunate with the weather or what? I don’t think it’s been hotter than 88 degrees out while they’ve been practicing. The first day they took off, last Wednesday, was 105 with the heat index. Sunday, their other day off, was rainy. You’d think someone is looking out for this team.

Then you remember Zack Bowman’s injury and you quickly disregard that thought.

This is the most physical training camp the Huskers have had since Bill Callahan’s arrival. And you might as well say it’s the most physical Husker training camp in, well… longer than that. These guys are banging each other around in practice. Today you could see runningback Brandon Jackson walking off the field trying to catch his breath in noticable pain. Most of the players are speechless as they walk off the field (unless, of course, they’re asked to talk to the media).

Offensive Coordinator Jay Norvell was asked why it’s been so physical. He said, “This isn’t volleyball.” It drew a good laugh. It’s true. You have to figure out what you have at certain positions, and you can’t figure that out when you’re playing two-hand touch. Bang those runningbacks around, and may the best man win. You can afford to be a little more physical when you have good depth.

Mo Size at Receiver

Maurice Purify was made available to the media after today’s practice. I like this guy. He’s 6’4″, about 210 pounds, and Jay Norvell calls him a natural pass-catcher. I asked Purify what he thought that meant. Purify said, “I have no idea.” All he does is catch the ball when it’s thrown to him.

He’ll have an immediate impact. He’s already looking forward to the third game of the season, when the Huskers head to USC. He said he loved USC growing up and always wanted to play there when he was in high school… but they didn’t offer him a scholarship. “I can’t wait to get out there and beat’em up,” he said.

I hope he knows what he’s talking about.

I Saw Mark LeFlore Catch a Pass Today

It caught me by surprise… I wasn’t expecting it, but it’s true. Mark LeFlore made a catch at Memorial Stadium today.

They were testing out the giant video board in the North endzone during practice, playing highlights from the 2005 season. Actually, they weren’t just highlights, but lowlights as well. Adrian Peterson was carrying Zac Bowman into the endzone, Kansas was running the ball up Nebraska’s large intestine… someone asked “Why are they showing those plays?” I said, “Maybe it’s so they learn not to watch it during games.”

Allow me to reiterate what’s already been said (which I think is redundant): this videoboard is pretty amazing. Although the Jayhawks’ uniforms looked a little purple, it’s an incredible picture. I feel sorry for all the season-ticket-holders in the north endzone. Maybe they can start a fundraising effort of their own to build another giant videoboard in the south endzone.

Doc Inks Two Big Recruits

The new Husker Head Basketball Coach knew that the first thing he had to do was convince Aleks Maric to stay at Nebraska. Mission accomplished. Sadler flew to Australia last week, and according to Maric, he was pretty persuasive. I don’t know what could be more persuasive than your head coach flying half-way around the world to see you, but Sadler must’ve done the trick.

Late Tuesday night, Doc told the Omaha World Herald that Jamel White has decided to stay. That is great news. If Sadler is as good at recruiting guys who arent on the team, as he is at recruiting guys are already are, Nebraska is in good hands.

The Sooners Are Favored by 3 1/2 Points. Who Do You Want?

Be sure to check out this year’s “Husker Classic” Saturday morning at 11:30AM on KETV. It’s a replay of the 1978 Nebraska vs Oklahoma matchup. We’ll have interviews with former players and the coach himself. We had Tom Osborne come into the studio to tape his interview… you could easily listen to him talk football for hours. You forget that he was feeling the heat at the time for not beating Oklahoma. That Colorado job was looking pretty good. He stayed, and the rest, as they say…

We taped an interview with John Ruud this evening. He lives in Dallas, but made some time for us. The hit that he delivered late in the game can still be felt by some Husker fans today.

Did you know that the 1978 Nebraska win over Oklahoma was the only time a Nebraska team has defeated a Number-1 Ranked team? (If you know that isn’t true, then let me know ASAP… we’re running it as a fact in the show). That could change this season. Knock on wood.

Be sure to tune in. There’s no better way to get pumped up for the 2006 campaign.

I remember that 1978 game well.

I was born the following year.