Archive for June, 2007

Following the Green
Wednesday, June 27, 2007

On Tuesday we caught up with Ahman Green. The former Husker is in Omaha for his annual youth football camp. When we showed up, he was showing people his signature car, complete with Green’s stats on the hemi and Memorial Stadium in the trunk. Look for that “automotive tour” on Sunday night.

As for our conversation, here are some highlights:
Schick: I know that giving back to the community is important to you…

Ahman: I was one of [those] kids thirteen years ago… I would hear a professional banker or head coach trying to preach to us, what we needed to do to get to where we wanted to be. I listened to a lot of that. I also said if I did get there, I would do something with it… I’m doing something with my stardom. I’m coming back where I grew up. Being here and LA where I grew up I gotta basically give back, teaching, talking about it, showing the kids that it’s gonna take a lot, but it’s not that far away. I tell’em to listen to your parents, coaches, or anybody that’s trying to tell you to go in the right direction.

Schick: Did you ever think you’d leave Green Bay?

Ahman: Nobody — this time last year you couldn’t pay me to say I’d be anything else, a Texan, a Bronco, whatever. I was hard-bent on being a Packer. The way things are, things happen different ways. From that point you just gotta roll with it. Things happened in April and March so fast. I can’t believe I’m a Texan, but I’m enjoying it. New teammates, new coaches, they’re all excited.

Schick: It’s a great story about how you were able to keep your number thirty. Tell that story.

Ahman: Jason Simmons wore thirty. After I signed the contract, I asked around the locker-room who wears 30. They said it was a guy going into his tenth year, a defensive back. They said he’s a great guy. I got his number as they were taking me back to the airport. I called him and he said ‘good to have you on the squad.’ He was going golfing. I said ‘I wanted to talk to you about the jersey thing.’ He said ‘I figured that.’ I called him the next morning. He said ‘I know what you’re asking for… The answer is yes,’ He said ‘this is what I want you to do.’ I didn’t know if it was going to be a watch, to a car or just a check. He said ‘I’m gonna start a foundation, and I want to give a single parent family a home.’ He said, ‘I want your check to me not to go to me, to go to this family as a down payment to pay for this home.’ I said that’s it? I said I’m all on board, sign me up, you let me know and I’m there. Since that day, we got ahold of all the organizations like habitat that builds homes for families effected by Katrina, Rita a couple years ago. We’ll get it done before training camp starts (July 26). The home is already built, now we just gotta pick the family… On the list of refugees from people effected by the storm on the gulf coast.

Schick: What was your reaction to the Packers taking Brandon Jackson in the draft? Were you excited to see another Husker take your spot?

Ahman: I kinda opened the door for him. When I came out, there was a wrap on Nebraska runningbacks from off-the field stuff like Lawrence [Phillips] went through… But on the field, they said we can’t catch, don’t have good vision, we’re not tough… All this can’t. You tell me I can’t, I’m gonna go do it. I opened the door, and they’ve kept their eyes on Nebraska. They’ve been watching Nebraska, seeing other players, too. They have other good runners down there now… Glenn, Lucky. But seeing that, it put a smile on my face when Green Bay took him in the second round.
Schick: What’s your take on how Nebraska is going to do this year?

Ahman: From what I know who’s returning, offensively and defensively… they’re gonna be good. The addition of my nephew, Niles Paul… with my cousin and nephew, Tierre Green and Niles Paul. From a family standpoint I’m feeling pretty good (laughs). My cousin starting, my nephew in the lineup, from a family standpoint I feel good. From a team standpoint, two bowl games in last three years, it’s good to see that. They got a good transfer from ASU, we needed a solid quarterback… got that, and with the receiving corps this year, hopefully we could be in the Big 12 championship game at the end of the year.

Schick: There’ve been some former Huskers complaining about the way the athletic department is run, with some saying they’ve been closed off. I take it you don’t feel that way?

Ahman: I heard about that. I’ve talked to a couple of my buddies, Steve Warren who lives here. Other players, like Jamel Williams… I read that in the paper — I get articles emailed to me. Players can’t go here, or go there. That’s a little different; it was open when [Tom Osborne] was there, fans could come in, and older players were welcome. I’m a different breed. I hope if it is anything like that, where the older players are having problems, I hope it changes. That’s what makes Miami so good. The older players come back and hang out with the guys, talk to them about the NFL, or about college life. When I’m down there I got a smile on my face, I’m saying ‘hi’ to the players, saying let’s keep this train going.

Schick: Do you still take a lot of flack in the NFL for your Husker ties?

Ahman: The past couple years it hasn’t been too bad. When I first got drafted in 1998, until 2002, before Callahan came in… I took a lot of flack. We beat up on everybody. We were the bully back then. Bitter feelings don’t heal quick. A lot of guys either I played against or who played for A&M or Kansas or K-State, we put 50-60 points up, 35 points in the first quarter… Or 50 points in the first half. They remember those games. I run into a ton of guys that played at Missouri. All they do is look at me and say, “He kicked the ball, you know that right?” I say, “Yeah, it’s obvious! (laughs) I can’t do nothing about it now.” I run into a bunch of guys who don’t like the Cornhuskers.
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Championship Weekend
Saturday, June 23, 2007

The CWS will be decided Sunday or Monday — with the first championship rematch in more than 30 years. That’s pretty impressive considering how many teams are in this tournament.

What’s More Difficult to Do: Win the NCAA Basketball Tournament, or the Baseball Tournament?


I used to think that taking home the hardwood hardware was more challenging. Heck, winning six consecutive games over top teams is tough. But while the top-overall seed entering the tournament has won the national championship only five times since 1978, it should be noted that at least one of the number one seeds almost always advances to the Final Four. Since seeding of all teams began in 1979, only twice has there been a Final Four without a number one seed.

Since the top-8 national seeds were first handed out in 1999, only once has the top overall seed won the baseball championship (Miami, 1999). In fact, in each of the past three seasons the national champion was not one of the top-8 seeds. And this year, five of the top-8 national seeds didn’t even get out of the regional round. That’d be like an NCAA basketball tournament without a #1 or #2 seed in the Sweet Sixteen.

With the number of games these guys have to play, the mini-tournaments these teams have to win to even get to the College World Series (four-team regionals, two-team super regionals), the fact that they have to win upwards of seven games once they even get to Omaha, and the fact that anything can happen on the diamond (you never hear anyone say, “Hey… that’s basketball.”), I’ll say that winning the NCAA Division I Baseball Championship is the tougher of the two.

In fact, I’ll go a step further: The NCAA Division I Baseball Championship is the toughest to win in all of college sports.

Quick Prediction

North Carolina over Oregon State in 3 Games.

(* note, added Monday, 6/25*)

Why would I pick against Oregon State? Stupid. It looked like a two-game sweep before it even began. My heart simply got in the way… I wanted a series stretching to Monday with a changing of the guard. Note to self: never bet against Beaver Ball.

Observations from the CWS
Wednesday, June 20, 2007

We’re more than halfway through the College World Series, and it’s been quite a ride so far. A top dog has fallen, the Owls have risen, and the Anteaters are winning the hearts of Omaha.

UC Irvine — KETV’s Team

I told you before the CWS began that we had officially adopted UC Irvine as KETV’s team. Coach Dave Serrano let our cameras on the team bus as it headed to Rosenblatt Stadium for a surprise drive-by Tuesday morning, and as I wrote earlier, watching their first practice that morning was one of the most entertaining times I’ve ever had watching any practice in any sport. These guys know how to have fun and they rally around each other.

View From the Dugout

I would venture to guess that most media members aren’t aware of this, but our media passes for this event allow us into the dugout during the games. Obviously you can’t sit on the bench and rub elbows with the players (even ESPN’s Erin Andrews can’t impose), but you can stand on the end. Whenever the action gets good (or if I’m extremely bored in the media room, which happens a lot) I head for the dugout. Sunday I sat in a chair near the step of the Rice dugout for a couple of innings as the Owls poured it on the Tar Heels. Tuesday night I hung out with the Anteaters for the dramatic 9th inning. When Matt Morris smacked the double off the right-center field wall, the dugout went into a frenzy. When Cody Cipriano was called out for accidentally touching third base coach Greg Bergeron while trying to put on the skids, the Anteaters were miffed. When Cipriano walked into the dugout he said, “Why did he tell me to stop? I had already rounded the base!” (by the way, when you’re the third base coach, you never want the announcers to mention your name… it can never be good).

Watching from the dugout steps as pitcher Scott Gorgen did his thing on the mound was pretty special. He kept talking in the dugout how he was so fired up, how he could keep going if he needed to. I was there as ESPN’s Erin Andrews mentioned that the Anteaters might be tired after having just played a four and a half hour game the day before. Coach Dave Serrano passed by her and said, “We can go five more hours.”

This is my fourth College World Series, and in my brief history of covering the event, Tuesday night’s Irvine/Arizona State game was the best I’ve seen. It had everything you could ever want.

Monday with Murphy

With Arizona State gone, the media will have to cover the rest of the College World Series without Pat Murphy. The Sun Devils coach is a reporter’s dream. He can offer a serious sound-bite one minute, and a hilarious anecdote the next.

Monday night, while we all waited for the Irvine/Fullerton marathon to end, Pat Murphy came into the Hall of Fame Room (where the television media holes up for the CWS) to watch the rest of the game (his Sun Devils were getting ready to face Oregon State in the nightcap). Dressed in full uniform, he carried an ice cream waffle cone (which I’m sure he purchased at a concession stand) and looked on while shooting the breeze with the gathered media. Not surprisingly, the media gathered around Murphy like he was the Good Shepherd, listening to every word he said, laughing hysterically at anything that remotely resembled an attempt at humor, trying to buddy-up to the sound-bite machine.

After the game, Murphy remarked in his post-game news conference that his team had to wait around too long, and the waiting took a lot out of his players, causing them to lose focus. I wanted to ask him, “Coach, what flavor of ice cream were you eating before the game in the media room? I can’t remember.”


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Huskers Hosting Ducks at the Q


We knew about this for a while, Tuesday it simply became official. Nebrasketball will play Oregon at Qwest Center Omaha on December 15th. After the Huskers played the Ducks at Rose Garden (home of the Trailblazers) last year, they needed a neutral court for the back end. Qwest fit the bill, even if it is the home of the Jays.

I’ve heard some Creighton fans voice their displeasure over the last couple of days. “How can Nebraska play on Creighton’s home court?!” “This is a disgrace!” Take a Pepsi along with a couple of deep breaths and relax. There’s no reason to get upset about this. It was the only choice for this series, and it obviously didn’t bother the Creighton coaches. Could they have played in Grand Island? Sure. But come on. The building does not belong to Creighton. It’s not even on CU’s campus. The Jays are tenants, and have been since 2003. If Creighton had been playing there for 30 years and the Huskers came along with this request, then I could possibly understand some Bluejay misgivings. But seriously… four seasons and you’re willing to die on this hill?

Thanks for a Great (Quick) Series

Not only does KETV Newswatch 7 at Ten become KETV Newswatch 7 at 10:40ish when the NBA Finals are on, but we’re all forced to watch it. Here’s the good news: there’s only one game left, and we won’t have any late nights at the College World Series.

Call off the Dogs

A few days ago I posted about John Daly’s face… how his wife allegedly cut it while attacking him with a steak knife. Apparently, it was a false alarm. His wife says he lied about it… that he actually assaulted her and tried to cover it up by scratching his own face.

So, obviously it’s a non-story.

They’re gonna be just fine.

Let the College World Series Coverage Begin!
Tuesday, June 12, 2007


The Series doesn’t start until Friday, but our coverage is in full swing.

Meet UC Irvine

We spent Tuesday morning with the UC Irvine baseball team. We met them at their hotel, and joined them on the bus ride to practice at Bellevue East. However, Coach Dave Serrano wanted the trip to be special, and took a side-tour to Rosenblatt Stadium.

We’ll have the story tonight at 6pm, as the Anteaters got their first glimpse of the home of the College World Series.

We’ve got more stuff from the boys from Irvine for later this week. I may not be Sports Director of KETV, but I am officially adopting UC Irvine as our station’s team (okay fine, I’ll check with Schuetz). These guys are absolutely hilarious and they know how to have fun. During one drill at Tuesday’s practice, the infielders take batting practice at the same time. So, the rest of the team has to play the infield. Including the catchers, in full gear. It was hysterical to see these guys diving for balls at second and third, wearing their masks and pads. And have you ever seen a left-handed shortstop? You would’ve had you been at practice, watching centerfielder Ollie Linton man the position. One psuedo first baseman made a diving stop and got the front of his jersey all dirty. He said, ” I’m going to Chesto’s!”

These guys were laughing the whole time. The season is such a grind that you have to enjoy yourselves along the way. Watching Nebraska play ball this year, it looked more like a chore. The Anteaters make it look like a game.

As it should be.

Maurice Trips Up Again
Saturday, June 9, 2007

A little more than one month after being arrested outside a Lincoln bar, Maurice Purify is in trouble with the law again. Early Friday morning (12:25AM) after being pulled over for going 53 in a 40 MPH zone and failing to use a turn signal, the Husker receiver was arrested for driving while intoxicated.

Coach Bill Callahan released a statement on Friday:

” We are aware of Maurice’s situation and we take it very seriously. I met with Maurice today and explained to him that he is indefinitely suspended from the team. At this point his future status with our team is uncertain.”

After his initial arrest on May 5, Callahan wanted to wait until the legal process was complete until he handed down the discipline. This latest incident expedited that.

The problem for Maurice now (among others) is that he had been offered a pretrial diversion program for his earlier offenses, which, if completed, would’ve wiped those charges out. He had yet to decide if he was going to follow through with that diversion program when this latest incident occurred. A situation like this can prevent someone from being accepted into a pretrial diversion program.

Callahan won’t kick Purify off of the team, but I believe that Mo should be sat down for a minimum of four games. If he misses the entire non-conference season, that would be more than appropriate. If he misses the first conference game against Iowa State, that would be more than understandable. While this latest incident is arguably less serious than the first offense, the fact that Purify put himself in yet another precarious position with another poor decision makes you wonder if he’ll ever get it together.

How committed is this guy to the football team? It doesn’t seem like he’s committed at all.

What do you think should be done with Mo?

Should be a Super Weekend
Friday, June 8, 2007

Not only with the weather, but the sports scene isn’t too bad either.

Super Regionals — Who’s Coming Back?

Should be an interesting round of college baseball. I for one am hoping we don’t see too many returnees from last year’s CWS. The more new faces the better. That being said, I think Rice makes it two straight, among others.

Here’s my CWS field:

Oregon State
Cal State Fullerton
Arizona State
UC Irvine
Rice
Louisville
Mississippi State
North Carolina

That’d be four teams from last year’s CWS.

FYI: Since national seeds were first handed out in 1999, the fewest number of national seeds to make it to Omaha was four. We only have three left (ASU, Rice, UNC) and we still have the supers to finish.

NBA Finals: Can Lebron Make This a Series?

If you watched Game 1, you probably think this series is already over. Not just yet. Detroit led Cleveland 2-0 before the Cavs wheeled off four straight. San Antonio is a different monster, but all it takes is one Lebron-takeover to make this a series. But if it doesn’t happen Sunday night ( 8PM on KETV thank you very much ) Lebron will be hard-pressed to beat the Spurs four of the next five games.

The series is full of stars… or, maybe star: Lebron. But the star factor isn’t pulling in the ratings. Game 1 of the NBA finals drew the lowest rating ever for an opening-game in prime time, dropping 19 percent from last year. It earned a 6.3 rating and 11 share on ABC. The previous low was a 6.4/11 in 2003.

Talk about a strong lead-in for the local news.
Thank you, NBA.

Note to Self: Don’t get Married to a Psychopath

Have you heard about John Daly? The PGA golfer showed up to the Stanford St. Jude Championship with scratches on his face… he told authorities that his wife attacked him with a steak knife.

Daly has hit for the cycle when it comes to off-the-course issues: alcohol rehab, excessive gambling, suspensions, trashed hotel rooms… and now the one thing every man tries to avoid: the steak knife attack.

Even if that did happen, wouldn’t you just make something up?
Possible alibis:

“Dude, what happened to your face?”
” Oh… I was climbing a tree and lost my footing. I slipped down it and scratched my face pretty good on the trunk.”

Or
“Dude, what happened to your face?”
” Oh… I forgot how to shave.”

Never:
“Dude, what happened to your face?”
” Oh… my wife attacked me with a steak knife. What’s new with you?”

Daly had to know something like this would happen. From ESPN.com:

Daly met Sherrie at this tournament in 2001, and they married seven weeks later. Their son, John Patrick, was born a week before she and her parents were indicted in Mississippi on charges stemming from what authorities said was a drug ring and an illegal gambling operation.

In my book, that’s known as a “red flag”. That’s why you date for more than seven weeks before tying the knot; you need to make sure you’re marrying the right person. She may have different religious beliefs… she may be a messy person… she may be tough to get along with… or she may be part of a drug ring and an illegal gambling operation.

This Just In… Early Husker Schedule Isn’t Easy
Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Rivals.com ranks Nebraska’s non-conference schedule as the toughest in the Big 12.

From Olin Buchanan of rivals:

Nebraska schedule
Date
Sept. 1
Sept. 8
Sept. 15
Sept. 22
Sept. 29
Oct. 6
Oct. 13
Oct. 20
Oct. 27
Nov. 3
Nov. 10
Nov. 23
Opponent
Nevada
at Wake Forest
USC
Ball State
Iowa State
at Missouri
Oklahoma State
Texas A&M
at Texas
at Kansas
Kansas State
at Colorado

Why: While some Big 12 teams prefer to schedule Division I-AA opponents, the Cornhuskers’ non-league foes include Southern California, Wake Forest and Nevada – all played in bowl games last season. They also play Ball State, which threw a scare into Michigan late last year. Road trips to Texas and Missouri highlight the conference itinerary.

Toughest game: Seemingly everyone’s preseason No. 1 is Southern California, which has a Heisman Trophy contender in quarterback John David Booty and a talented, experienced defense. The Trojans’ trip to Lincoln on Sept. 15 is their first legitimate chance to prove they’re as good as anticipated.

Cakewalk: Iowa State’s pass defense was among the weakest in the country in 2006, while Nebraska’s passing combination of quarterback Sam Keller and receiver Maurice Purify could be outstanding.

Trap game: Normally, an opponent coming off an 11-victory year can’t set a trap. But Nebraska defeated Wake Forest 31-3 in 2005. The Huskers might not believe the Demon Deacons can duplicate the magic of a year ago. More likely, though, Nebraska has to be careful not to look ahead to USC the following week.

Changes from last season: Coach Bill Callahan must be wondering who he angered? Louisiana Tech, Troy and Division I-AA Nicholls State are off the slate. Nevada, Ball State and Wake Forest were added. Southern California is the only non-conference opponent that was also on last year’s schedule.

———————————————–

Couple of thoughts:

Ball State at home won’t be as challenging as he thinks. Ball State “scared” Michigan in the Wolverines’ last home game before their trip to Ohio State. Trap.

That being said, if there IS a trap game, it’s Ball State, not Wake Forest. In my book, road games are rarely trap games.

Coach Callahan didn’t anger anybody. The Wake Forest and USC games were announced years ago. But I get the point.

My take:
Husker fans should gladly take a 3-1 non-conference record.

Second Thoughts…
Monday, June 4, 2007

From ESPN.com’s Andy Katz:

Billy Donovan informed the Magic and the University of Florida over the weekend that he had second thoughts about agreeing to be Orlando’s head coach, but it’s unclear whether the NBA team will let him go.

Orlando has a signed contract from Donovan and is making a decision as to whether to let him out of the five-year, $27.5 million deal that he signed on Friday, multiple sources told ESPN.com on Sunday. If the Magic do let Donovan out of the deal, they have to decide whether to enforce a financial penalty.

Both sides aren’t talking publicly because there are legal issues involved in such a decision. Multiple sources said the decision now rests in the hands of the Magic. A source told ESPN.com late Sunday night that Magic ownership was out of the country and didn’t arrive back until late Sunday night, delaying the team’s response until sometime on Monday.

Donovan’s hiring Thursday prompted the sale of 200 Magic season tickets by Friday afternoon. Magic communications director Joel Glass confirmed that number after Friday’s news conference introducing Donovan to a standing ovation from the entire on-site Magic organization at the RDV Sportsplex in Orlando. Losing Donovan as coach likely would be a public relations hit to a franchise that needed a pop.

On Friday, Donovan was emphatic about why he ultimately made the choice. He said he wanted a new challenge and saw the proximity to his home in Gainesville and the young stars on the Magic roster, such as Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson as well as $10-13 million in salary cap space as a primary reason for jumping at this job. “My initial reaction was to stay,” Donovan said Friday. “But then I asked myself why? And [staying] was easier. If I don’t take this job, then I don’t have to talk to Jeremy Foley and the players. I was going to get paid a good salary and had a good life there. I just went back and forth. “But then I asked myself, ‘What do I really want?’ I do want the challenge. That’s what I wanted to do in my heart.”

I f Donovan had a change of heart, it wouldn’t be the first in college basketball. Creighton coach Dana Altman was introduced as Arkansas’ new basketball coach earlier this spring, then decided two days later to return to Creighton. Altman’s reversal was not without precedent.

In 1993, Bobby Cremins accepted the South Carolina job, then reneged two days later and returned to Georgia Tech. And in June 2006, Charleston hired Winthrop’s Gregg Marshall, but Marshall told the Cougars one day later that he was returning to Winthrop.

————————————————————–

This would make Dana Altman’s change of heart look like choosing to stay with decaf instead of caffeinated.

Honestly, when I watched Billy Donovan’s news conference on television, I said to myself, “I wonder if he really believes what he’s saying? I wonder if he feels good about this decision? I wonder if he regrets it? I wonder if he’ll stay?”

Sometimes you don’t know how a decision will sit with you until after you’ve made it. Donovan and Altman were both intrigued, and both stepped into the unknown. Unfortunately, they didn’t like how it felt on the other side. Sometimes when the world is telling you that you should want something, you start wondering if something is wrong with yourself. So then you muster up the motivation to finally take the jump……. and you realize you didn’t want it afterall.

When Altman returned to Creighton I asked him if he was sure it wasn’t just a case of buyer’s remorse. He told me he knew for sure it was much deeper than that. Donovan must feel the same way.

It just goes to show you: don’t mess with happy.