Archive for September, 2006

As the Sports World Turns
Thursday, September 28, 2006


Everything is ho-hum for Kansas week. But outside the state, the biggest sports story seems to be no story at all, at least as far as Terrell Owens is concerned.

TOO Much TO

According to a police report, the Dallas Cowboys wide receiver tried to harm himself by taking too many painkillers. Owens said it was a big misunderstanding. His entire career has been one big misunderstanding. There isn’t one thing he’s said or done that I’ve been able to understand.

The way the sports world stopped because of the TO situation was pretty impressive, but I don’t blame the media at all for the non-stop coverage. Let’s face it, Terrell Owens is a huge star who makes a lot of money, and the possibility that he attempted suicide is a huge story.

The most ridiculous person involved with the circus was Owens’ publicist, Kim Etheredge. Lil’ Kim ended her portion of the press conference in a big way. Said Etheredge, “Terrell has 25 million reasons why he should be alive.” (referring to his 25-million-dollar contract with the Cowboys). Because, as we all know, people who make millions of dollars are never depressed.

If her statement of money vs. desire to live is correct, then I have about 30 reasons to be alive.

That’s a terrific publicist.

Back in Colorado for a Couple of Days
Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Every couple of months I get a chance to fly home and spend a couple of days with the fam. Since Wednesday and Thursday are my days off, I’m technically spending a weekend in Colorado. I fly back Friday morning.

The Big 12 Season Begins

Except for Iowa State and Texas, the Big 12 season begins this Saturday. Or, as I call it, “The prelude to Nebraska – Texas II”.

The Huskers seemed pretty loose at Tuesday’s press conference. Maybe it’s because they’ve checked the point spread for their Big 12 opener. Nebraska is listed as a 20.5 point favorite. If Kansas is still in the game by the fourth quarter, I’ll be shocked.

Prediction:

Nebraska 38
Kansas 13

Flipping Through the Rocky Mountain News

There’s an article about Colorado’s upcoming game with Missouri, focusing on MU QB Chase Daniel. He’s 4-0 in his first season as a starter, and, when you combine his high school record as a starter, he’s 51-1. That’s not terrible.

The Buffs are a pretty loose bunch for being 0-4. They ended Tuesday’s practice with a water -balloon fight. Now all Dan Hawkins needs to do is give his players some after-practice popsicles, and he’s the second coming of Rick Neuheisel (except that Neuheisel is still alive, so that doesn’t make much sense).

One More Note on Colorado

The Buffs could conceivably go 5-3 in Big 12 play, win the North, win the Big 12 Championship Game, and play in a BCS bowl with a 6-7 record.

Okay, it won’t happen.

But it’d be hilarious if it did.

Check out KETV NewsWatch 7 at 10pm

As long as there’s no big breaking sports news, we’ve got a Nebraska football story scheduled to air tonight about how the players use the giant video-board in their spare time. If you’re a video game buff, I think you’ll get a kick out of it.

The Mark of a Good Team
Sunday, September 24, 2006

The 2004 version… maybe even the 2005 team, would’ve had a hard time getting out of the box on Saturday following last week’s loss at USC. The 2006 version of the Big Red is different. A 56-0 win over Troy tells you as much.

“One Game at a Time”

I hate the cliche. But at least when the Huskers say it, they mean it. When they set foot on the Memorial Stadium turf on Saturday, it was as if the game at USC never happened. It was 14-0 before they flipped the coin. This team has a one-week-at-a-time focus that I haven’t seen in the past five years. They treated Troy like a champion, and brought a champion effort. Coming off a loss, they rebounded. You have to like what you saw if you’re a Husker fan, especially heading into conference play. There will be some bumps along the Big 12 Road… but this team will be able to overcome them.

Oh, and another mark of a good team? Not just beating teams you should beat, but blowing them out. Nebraska has done that in all three of their wins.

He’s Lucky and Good

Each night I lay awake, trying to figure out a new play-on-words for Marlon Lucky. I used “he’s Lucky and good” in Saturday night’s Big Red Zone highlights. I’ve used “Lucky” (said like Napolean Dynamite). I think I’ve run out. Send me your suggestions.

Marlon Lucky’s touchdown runs of 34, 45, and 51 yards were a sight to see. His view must’ve been even better… thanks to the offensive line, I’m not sure he saw one tackler on his way to the endzone.

Fans (and media) have been waiting for those big plays in the West Coast Offense. Saturday, Callahan and company delivered, with 8 plays of 20+ yards in the first half, including a 67-yard pass from Zac Taylor to Terrence Nunn, the longest play from scrimmage this season.

Where Was This Last Week?

I’m sure that crossed your mind as it did mine. The Huskers had the same exact personnel available to them against Troy as they did last week against USC. This time, they opened up the play-calling. I know it’s a different opponent… but come on. Was it just me, or could you hear the crowd jeering “yaaaayyyyyy” when Maurice Purify caught that 35-yard pass over the middle in the second quarter. That’s translated into “finally!!!” in fan-speak. I’m hip to that noise.

How ‘Bout Them Blackshirts

Troy was held to 140 total yards of offense. And it felt like a lot less than that. Carriker and company were all over the backfield. Kevin Cosgrove gets his first defensive shutout as Nebraska’s defensive coordinator. You know it’s been a good season for the defense when Kevin Cosgrove isn’t talking to the media much. I’m sure he’d like to keep it that way.

To put the yardage in perspective, Troy had 140 total yards. Nebraska had only 71 more yards than that last week against the other Trojans.

Two Straight Weeks, No Cody Glenn

This time with good reason. The sophomore I-back tweaked his hamstring this week, and was held out of the Troy game.

No Revenge Here

The Kansas Jayhawks put a hurtin’ on the Huskers last season, 40-15, snapping their 36-year losing streak to Nebraska. The Huskers will downplay the revenge factor all week. But you know what? I’ll believe’em. Afterall, they’re taking it one game at a time.

If You’re Going to Beat Me, Just Crush Me

That’s how I’ve always felt as a sports fan. If my team is going to lose, then just let it be quick and painless. 56-to-0 would’ve been fine with me between the hedges. But 14-to-13, losing in the final minute? Who’s writing these scripts?

Eight consecutive losses and counting…

I Should’ve Checked my Voicemail…
Thursday, September 21, 2006

Lebron James was in Omaha last week, and had lunch with billionaire Warren Buffet at the Crescent Moon Ale House. The two met over milkshakes. It was only this morning that I listened to Lebron’s message on my phone telling me he’d be in town… if only I’d checked it sooner.

According to the Associated Press:

James, who signed a three-year, $60 million contract extension with the Cavaliers in July, may have been seeking some off-the-court business advice from Buffett, the self-made billionaire investor.

Last year, in an interview with The Associated Press, James said one of his primary goals was to “be the richest man in the world.” James, who will turn 22 in December, already has endorsement deals worth an estimated $150 million.

The Omaha World-Herald reported that Buffett wore a Cavaliers’ jersey with “Buffett” on the back during his one-hour lunch at the Crescent Moon Ale House with James and others. The group also enjoyed milkshakes that were brought in by one of Buffett’s assistants.

Could you imagine sitting in the Crescent Moon Ale House, and seeing those two walk in? It’d be more than a double-take.

In January, Buffett stopped by the restaurant with New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez.

Note to self: Start hanging out at the Crescent Moon Ale House.

Thursday Rain
Thursday, September 21, 2006

Let’s hope the weather clears up in time for Friday night. Mother Nature had her moment to shine (with lightning) last week, ruining high school football and threatening Operation Football. Plus, the last thing I want while battling head/throat congestion is standing out in the chilly, rainy Nebraska air. (“Operation Football” sounds tough… but I’m definitely not a soldier).

Beware of These Trojans

At last check, the Huskers are a 23-point favorite over Troy. That’s somewhat surprising, seeing as how the Trojans lost by seven points at No. 9 Florida State, and lost by 15 at Georgia Tech. Will the third time be the charm?

On Wednesday, we aired a comment by Troy Head Coach Larry Blakeney, where he said something to the effect of, “Those Husker fans are so nice. I’d just like to beat their team and then we’ll see how nice they are.”

Actually, Larry, there isn’t much of a difference.

Knight Time to Chime in

Texas Tech Head Coach Bobby Knight is weighing in on the Oklahoma/Oregon travishamockery. And he isn’t feeling any Sooner sympathy.

Here’s a snippet from the Associated Press story:

Knight called for Oklahoma to forfeit its basketball game with Tech on Jan. 20, 2003, when the Sooners won 69-64 in overtime at Norman after two clock controversies in the final seconds of regulation. Video replay later showed the game clock started late after OU in-bounded the ball on the game-tying drive.

“Maybe now those people at Oklahoma understand what I was talking about,” Knight told The Oklahoman.

“Had Oklahoma forfeited that game against us like I suggested, they would have gotten far more positive publicity out of that than if they had gone to the Final Four that year. Now I guess the ‘duck’ is swimming in the other pond.”

Now, here’s my question: Did The Oklahoman contact Bob Knight? Or did Knight call the newspaper to vent?

The greatest mistake in the on-sides kick review wasn’t the fact that Oregon touched the ball before it traveled the required 10 yards. It was the fact that Oklahoma recovered the football.
http://www.newsok.com/video/39145

How the refs declared it was Oregon’s ball in the first place is beyond me. But, that’s why coaches teach their players to point like they have the football for any “loose-ball” situation. Sometimes that can confuse the refs. And sometimes the refs confuse themselves.

Here’s another question: What if Oklahoma wins the Big 12 Championship and ends the pre-bowl season with just one loss? Will the voters treat them like an undefeated team, knowing what we know now? Will they get a shot at a National Championship? Probably not. No doubt that the NCAA (and Pac-10 officials) are hoping the Sooners lose at least one more time.

When the Saints go Marching in… Not Everyone Will Get to See Them.

Monday night’s game between New Orleans and Atlanta is sold out (as are all of the Saints’ home games). And Saints players are getting phone calls up the wazoo.

Reggie Bush has taken a bunch of calls from people requesting tickets.

His best offer?

“My massage therapist told me she’d trade some massages for tickets. We’ll work that out,” said Bush.

It’s always amazing to me when people offer freebies to people who could afford to buy a gazillion of what your offering. That’d be like telling Donald Trump that if he lets you try out for “The Apprentice”, you’ll buy him a McValue Meal. Thanks.

For Pete’s Sake, Try to Win
Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Husker fans aren’t the only ones who don’t think Nebraska was trying to beat USC.

Check this out from the USC-Rivals website, in talking about Head Coach Pete Carroll’s Monday Morning Quarterback Luncheon (with fans/boosters in attendance):

“Turning to the game Carroll, like most of us, thought it was odd. He mentioned about the Huskers just playing to keep it close and not really going out there trying to win. He compared the defense to the 9-on-7 drills they do in practice, where most of the plays are runs.”

Wow.

I still like the Husker gameplan. But hearing an opposing coach say those things isn’t good. And Carroll had a better view than any of us watching on television.

Bill Callahan has said that the gameplan was to keep it close until the fourth quarter. It seems that was pretty obvious.

Tuesday Round-up
Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Before Tuesday’s Husker press conference forces us all into Husker-mode again, a quick look at other happenings in the wide world of deportes.

I’m Sorry… is this North America? Or South America?

You wanna know when we start taking sports a little too seriously? When we start threatening instant replay officials.

Gordon Riese was the Pac-10 instant replay official up in the booth for the Oklahoma/Oregon game. He admittedly blew the on-sides kick call during the game, giving Oregon the ball and new life. The Ducks won, scoring 14 points in 72 seconds to beat the Sooners. Now Riese doesn’t know if he’ll ever return to his job.

“I’m struggling with it,” Riese said in an interview at his home. “I feel so bad I missed that call, it’s driving me crazy.”

“I can’t sleep, I can’t eat, my blood pressure is skyrocketing,” Riese said, looking haggard and worn as he sat on the front porch of his house.

His wife is a registered nurse, and has been checking his blood pressure every four hours, he said. Riese said he has stopped answering the phone, and police are investigating the threatening calls while keeping an eye on his neighborhood.

“They not only threatened me, they threatened my wife and kids,” Riese said.

If Riese were an instant replay official in, let’s say, Venezuela, he’d already be dead.

I’d love to meet the fan or fans that have made those threatening phone calls. What must their home lives be like? Maybe something like this:

The following is a dinner conversation in said fan’s home:

Wife: “So, how was your day at work?”
Husband: “Good, good. Made a couple of sales. Talked to some distributors. Threatened that replay official.”
Wife: “You what?”
Husband: “That guy who botched the on-sides kick call in the Oklahoma game. I called him up and threatened his life.”
Wife: “Oh…”
Husband: “Could you pass the salt, honey?”

I mean, what kind of wonderful human being gets so incensed by a football game that he feels he needs to ruin someone’s life so he can get on with his.

I remember watching the “Music City Miracle” as my Buffalo Bills were eliminated from the playoffs on what I still believe was a bogus call. Do you think I wanted to kill referee Phil Luckett, (who ruled it a lateral even though it wasn’t) who had just ruined my day, tortured my soul, and ended my team’s season?

Wait… yes I did.

Nevermind.

Poor T.O.

Dallas Cowboys receiver Terrell Owens broke his finger in Sunday night’s game, and had a plate screwed into the bone attached to his right ring finger during an operation Monday evening.

He screwed the Eagles last year. You knew it’d come back around.

Finally, an Apology in Writing

Pete Rose signed a bunch of baseballs for his friends, which had the inscription, “I’m sorry I bet on baseball” on them. Nice touch by Rose. Problem is, a memorabilia collector got ahold of some of them, and then he died in December. Now the balls are up for auction. A New Jersey auction house plans to put 30 such balls up for bid in April, unsure how much they’ll fetch.

The baseballs say “I’m sorry I bet on baseball” in block letters, with Rose’s autograph directly below. Rose’s business agent says he didn’t know who suggested the inscription.

I think I do. His name was Bart Giamatti. But his idea was to have the inscription on a sheet of paper. I suppose a baseball will do.

I’ve heard that he’ll sign anything. I’m going to send Rose a baseball with the inscription: “I’m sorry I took the over on the Pittsburgh/Jacksonville Monday Night game.”

Do you think that’s too wordy?

Patience is a Virtue

You’re not supposed to lose 3 games in the span of two years at the University of Miami. Head Coach Larry Coker has already lost two games this season. His boss, though, is backing his coach.

”Larry Coker is the head coach of the team, and we’re looking forward to the rest of the season,” Miami AD Paul Dee told The Miami Herald by phone Sunday night. “It’s our hope we can rise to a great level of success this year with an opportunity go win our ACC Coastal Division and perhaps play in the league championship game.”

Translation: Is Butch Davis still available?

After the 2002 Rose Bowl, Nebraska and Miami went into steady declines. Nebraska’s was more noticeable. The Hurricanes are seeing theirs now.



Upon Further Review…
Monday, September 18, 2006

After watching the game again (most of it, anyway), it’s become more clear to me that this Nebraska football team doesn’t have a lot of weaknesses. USC is just a very good team.

Thanks for the Newsflash About USC, Matt.

You’re welcome, ________ (your name here).

It took a couple of viewings of the game-film, but the more I watched, the more I liked Nebraska’s game-plan against the Trojans. Had Zac Taylor been a little more on-target, or had a little more protection on a couple of plays early on, the Huskers would’ve opened it up more. Running the ball was the only way to keep USC’s offense off the field, while keeping Nebraska in the game (and keeping Zac Taylor consistently on his feet).

Marlon Lucky’s (or Taylor’s… blame whoever you want) fumble was essentially the nail in the coffin. Up until that point, the Huskers were limiting USC’s time of possession, and field position. But let’s face it, Nebraska was still in this game in the fourth quarter… that was an accomplishment in itself after the terrible turnover.

The Big Difference…

… was that USC played better in the fourth quarter than Nebraska did. That’s the bottom line. The Trojans officially ended the game on that 80+ yard touchdown drive immediately following Nebraska’s lone touchdown. Although the defense played great, it could not come up with the stops late in the game when it mattered most. USC did what it wanted to, when it needed to. It was almost as if it was able to flip the “okay, we need to take over now” switch. That’s the mark of a championship team.

Like I said, the gameplan was a decent one. You can’t fumble the football inside your own 35, and you can’t drop interceptions against championship teams. If they hold onto the football and make one of those interceptions, all of a sudden we have a close game and Bill Callahan is once again a genius.

This game will serve Nebraska well. The outcome should do nothing to impact your expectations about the Huskers winning the North. And oddly enough, I still like their chances against Texas at home.

And against the Trojans next year.

And against the Trojans next weekend.

LA Fall-Out
Sunday, September 17, 2006


The Huskers lose 28-to-10, but it wasn’t the loss that has Husker fans asking questions, it’s the way they lost.

I Left My West Coast Offense in Lincoln

Stewart Bradley told me this week that “bigtime players make bigtime plays in bigtime situations”. In a bigtime situation Saturday, the bigtime Huskers were not put in enough positions to make bigtime plays. I thought I was going to see a nice dose of Matt Herian and Maurice Purify. Instead, I saw the pair combine for one catch and a non-factor.

Fans are wondering if Bill Callahan’s plan was to not get blown out. I don’t think so. I understood the gameplan. At 14-to-3 at half, I understood it. At 21-to-10, I understood it. I also understood what separates Nebraska from USC: being able to capitalize on opportunities that present themselves.

The Huskers lost this football game in the first 3 minutes of the second half. Cortney Grixby drops a pick-six. Andre Jones drops an interception. Then, following a USC 3-and-out, Marlon Lucky can’t handle the exchange from Zac Taylor, and Nebraska turns the ball over immediately. You can’t gift-wrap field position for a National Championship-caliber team.

I would’ve loved to have seen Zac Taylor throw the ball a dozen more times than he did. Maybe I was reading into the subtext, but it looked to me like Taylor had frustration written all over his face… this was a chance for him to air it out, but the coaching staff decided to pound it out. Here’s the funny thing: it worked. It was an 11-point game at the start of the 4th quarter. USC then showed why they’re USC, driving 80+ yards while eating up 6 minutes of clock, for the clinching touchdown.

Taylor did not get off to a good start. He short-armed a pass to Terrence Nunn on the first series… the offense had such a hard time getting out of the gate that Callahan had to call a fake-punt to get it jump-started. And even after that, the Huskers got 2 whole yards on the next three plays, and were forced to punt (for real this time) again. And following Nunn’s long 31-yard punt-return (which was the Husker high-point), Kenny Wilson rushed for 2 yards, followed by two consecutive Zac Taylor incompletions. It just seemed to show that no matter the field position, it was not going to be the Huskers’ night. And when the Huskers did get deep into USC territory in the 2nd quarter on a 15-yard Lucky run, Josh Mueller was called for a holding (watching the tape, it was literally a tackle), which negated the play, and stalled the drive. That was a killer.

At the same time, at least some of the players have to be somewhat frustrated that they weren’t able to go out there and try to snag a victory. This offense is so creative, and so ingenious. They didn’t showcase much of it. Jon Schuetz asked Corey McKeon about that on the air during a live interview in our post-game show, and McKeon responded, “You’ll have to ask the coaching staff.” You wonder if some players might lose a little confidence in their coaching staff for not allowing them to show their stuff.

How Far Off is Nebraska?

It’s hard to tell. I’m not sure the point-differential is indicative of where Nebraska is. The story could be worse than the final differential. If Nebraska had run the offense the way it actually wanted to (a little more passing), this game may have gotten even more out of hand.

Am I the only one who had flashbacks of the 2004 Oklahoma game in Norman? That’s all I could think about during this game. Remember how Nebraska just pounded the rock with Cory Ross, and threw him to the wolves in that game? That was done to control the tempo, and seemingly limit the damage. I felt that’s what Nebraska was doing with the run-game.

This was supposed to be a measuring stick game for Nebraska. But they were so focused on the run-game, it’s hard to get a gauge on just how good this team is. Defensively, you still have to like what you see.

Zac Taylor said this week that if the Huskers didn’t turn the ball over, they’d be in the game at the end. I believe that would’ve been the case. Marlon Lucky’s turnover early in the 3rd-quarter was the game-clincher. If Nebraska marched down and put up a touchdown, imagine how that would’ve changed the game? And Grixby and Jones missing out on their INT opportunities hurt. If Grixby picks it off and runs it in, it’s 14-to-10, and the momentum has shifted.

Nebraska will be a great team in the coming years. They’re not a National-Championship team yet. That’s pretty obvious.

What bothered you most when you watched this game? What positives are you holding onto?

Has Kenny Wilson Taken the Driver’s Seat?

Will we see another shake-up in the backfield? After Lucky’s costly fumble, we didn’t see much of him the rest of the way. I know he was hurt, but he was cleared. Kenny Wilson came on strong, with 19 carries for 46 yards (he ran better than his stats).

Television is a Fickle Friend

It was an eventful Saturday for KETV. We were supposed to hit the airwaves at 6PM with our one-hour-long pregame show. Oklahoma’s ineptness turned that into a half-hour pregame show, as we hit the air at roughly 6:30PM. There is so much prep time that goes into an hour-long show… too bad we couldn’t show you all of it.

The game ended at 10:10PM, and we went right on the air with our highlights. The rain, though, interfered with our satellite feed from Los Angeles, forcing us to “play-it-by-ear” or “fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants” (whichever you prefer). The minute Bill Callahan sat at the podium, we immediately went to it. Luckily, the satellite feed was clean (translation: rain stopped). Fortunately, we were able to air the entire Callahan post-game press conference. There’s a lot of effort that goes into the technical side of television… our guys in LA made it happen.

The Calm Before the Storm
Friday, September 15, 2006

I’ve been thinking about this game a lot… unlike the Huskers, while they were playing Louisiana Tech and Nicholls State, I was focused on USC.

The Prediction

Before I make my prediction, let me say this: I believe the Huskers are one year away from being a National Championship contender. Heading into 2007, they will be one of the top 10 teams with a shot at coming away with the title. That being said, if they are just one year away, then logically in my mind I cannot see them getting blown out in this game. Far from it. I felt before the season began that both Texas and USC were ranked too high because of who they lost.

I’m calling the shot.

Nebraska 27
USC 24

I may change the prediction at halftime, but as for now, it stands.

Travel Tip for Those Heading West

I was in Los Angeles about a month ago, and all I can say is make sure you leave time to get from A to B. That especially goes for when you have a flight to catch on Sunday. The security lines at LAX are crazy. Just to be safe, show up 2 hours before your flight leaves. You’ll thank me later.

For Those of You Staying at Home, Like Me

Be sure to catch KETV on Saturday for our one-hour pregame show at 6PM. Actually, just leave it on KETV from morning to night. We’ve got live reports from Brandi Petersen at the Coliseum at 7AM on First News Saturday (and considering the time-difference, it’s going to be very dark, and she’s going to be very tired), then Schuetz joins her for the 11AM newscast, then the pregame show. In-between, you’ve got Oregon vs Oklahoma. Is there a better day for college football than Saturday?

Following the game, we’ll have live post-game coverage. Our newscast is supposed to begin at 10PM. If you tune in at that time, and there’s a football game going on, don’t panic.