Archive for December, 2007

Greetings from Denver
Friday, December 28, 2007

Happy Holidays from Colorado!

We got about eight inches of snow on Thursday, the third big snowfall they’ve received this month. It’s actually the sixth-snowiest December in Denver history, with 20.9 inches of the white stuff. Nothing like a mountain snow during the holiday season.

It’s been a nice stay so far… I’m supposed to see Melo and the Nuggets Sunday night. My brother will be the guest “ball boy”. If you watch the game and you see someone who looks a little like me near the bench, it’s not me. Trust me.

I’ll be back to Omaha on Monday.

By the way, I hope you enjoyed our “Christmas Bowl” Tuesday night. We simulated Nebraska vs UNO on Playstation3, with the Mavericks winning 12-0. Pat Behrns received the Gatorade bath and Bill Callahan shared his dissatisfaction over the outcome. We received a few emails from people saying how much they enjoyed it (possibly UNO fans). I did , however, receive a nasty email calling it the “dummest” thing ever. If there’s one word you don’t want to misspell in an email, it’s “dummest.” That can damage your credibility.

Have a great rest of 2007. I’ll try and post again before the end of the year.

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My Letter to Santa
Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Dear Santa,

I’m sorry I couldn’t be there tonight when you arrive at your scheduled time of 12:30AM. Working until 10:45pm on Christmas Eve, followed by a late-night church service can make getting to bed on time somewhat difficult. Please, leave the gifts under the three-foot-high fake tree bearing plastic ornaments. Since I’m sure you’ll need more room, there’s plenty of extra space in the garage.

I’m only asking for a few things this Christmas. I hope you can come through for me.

1) At least one college basketball team from the state of Nebraska playing in the NCAA Tournament. Let’s face it Santa, March can be pretty boring if you don’t have a team to cover. If you can only allow one team in, I’ll be sure to cover Creighton as thoroughly as possible.

2) Have the Nebraska football team play well, and at the very least make it to a bowl. Santa, you have it so easy. All you have to do is deliver presents to six billion people in one night. Imagine trying to cover a bad football team! You wouldn’t believe the negative comments I get on my blog.

3) Please allow Norad to offer its services for tracking booster airplanes.

4) Remove the words “commitment” and “contract” from the sports lexicon.

5) Let me know if I used the word “lexicon” correctly.

Wow… that was a simple list. Obviously you won’t be able to stick those under the tree. The point of my list is to make Christmas last the entire year. Whether or not that happens is up to you.

There are cookies on my kitchen counter, with milk in the fridge. The milk may be a tad expired. You may want to give it a whiff. If it’s not to your liking, just give it to the reindeer.

Thanks Santa.

Merry Christmas.

Matt

Merry Christmas
Tuesday, December 25, 2007

To all of my devoted readers (especially those who honor me with a bookmark), I wish you a Merry Christmas.

May the Lord, the original Christmas gift, bless you and your family this holiday season.

Random Thoughts Before Christmas
Saturday, December 22, 2007

One of our photographers (Steve) asked me Friday night, “Hey Schick, when are you going to update your blog? You good-for-nothing, glasses-wearing fool.” I added that last sentence for dramatic effect. He never said it.

Here goes:

  • More than 30 Florida State players will be suspended from the Music City Bowl for an academic cheating scandal. Improprieties at FSU? Wait a second… I gotta sit down.
  • Bill Randby is a Florida State grad. Interesting….
  • Proponents of the BCS system argue that a college football playoff would diminish the importance of the bowl games. As I write this I realize I’m missing the 3rd quarter of the New Orleans Bowl. I’d better make this quick.
  • This past week, more than a half-dozen high school football players decommitted from Nebraska. You have to wonder if Bill Callahan was selling kids on the staff, or the school.
  • Nebraska will most likely finish outside the top-25 in recruiting, according to recruiting websites. That’s tough to hear, especially since those rankings are always spot on.
  • How did the Huskers do in the three seasons following that top-5 class in 2005? Oh.
  • The Wolverines finally got their coach this week, hiring Rich Rodriguez. Somewhere, Steve Pederson was privately hoping that Michigan’s month-long search would go into 2008.
  • A lot of major league players who were mentioned in the Mitchell Report have said they only used steroids “once or twice”, and did it “to heal.” Oh, then that’s okay guys. Why didn’t you say that in the first place? You’re forgiven.
  • You know what else holds water? “I committed infidelity, but it was only once, and it was only because I was really mad my wife.” Way to go, fellas.
  • My New Year’s resolution will be to blog more often.
  • That being said, it’s still 2007 and I’m not going to worry about that just yet.

Creighton Cruises
Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Creighton and Houston Baptist traded baskets for most of the night.

Then, following the pregame shootaround, the game began. Or should I call it the “open practice.”

The Jays beat the Huskies 110-73 in the most decisive win in the brief history of the Qwest Center, the fourth-largest offensive output in school history. Ten players scored eight or more points in the game.

The only guy who should be upset is Dustin Sitzmann. The junior guard was the only player not to score, as Dana Altman had the Jays hold the ball for the final 35 seconds despite Sitzmann being wide open for a three-pointer. Altman did apologize to Sitzmann from the bench as the final seconds ticked off.

Well, if you’re going to play a cupcake, you might as well play three in one week. The Jays will host North Carolina Central on Thursday (which by all accounts is worse than Baptist), then Arkansas-Little Rock on Saturday. The competition won’t be close, but playing three games in five days should help them get ready for the grind of conference play.

If you just mumble the last words of each team’s name, it sounds like a daunting week of games. Houston baptist. North Carolina central. Arkansas Little Rock. That’s one tough stretch.

Pelini Announces Staff
Monday, December 17, 2007

As expected, Bo Pelini announced his staff via news release on Monday, sans running backs coach. Pelini has said he has hired a running backs coach, but will announce it after the bowl season, as the coach’s team is playing in a bowl.

Here is a portion of the release:

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Nebraska Head Football Coach Bo Pelini announced Monday that he has completed the process of hiring his first Husker coaching staff. Eight of the assistant coaches have been announced, with all of those having previous coaching experience in the Big 12 Conference, including six coaches who have spent time at Nebraska.

Pelini finalized his staff over the weekend with the addition of a running backs coach. However, Pelini said the announcement of that individual will come in early January, after that coach has finished his work in a bowl game with his current school.

The offensive staff includes Barney Cotton as associate head coach/offensive line coach; Shawn Watson as offensive coordinator/quarterbacks; Ted Gilmore as assistant head coach/receivers coach/recruiting coordinator; and Ron Brown as tight ends coach. Watson and Gilmore were retained from the previous Nebraska coaching staff.

On the defensive side, the Husker staff will include Carl Pelini as defensive coordinator/defensive line coach, Mike Ekeler as linebackers coach, John Papuchis as defensive ends coach and Marvin Sanders as secondary coach.

Pelini also announced that former Husker player and assistant coach Jeff Jamrog will serve as Assistant Athletic Director for Football Operations for the Nebraska football program.

Pelini said the coaching staff he has hired brings the overall characteristics he was looking for in Nebraska assistants.

“I was asked about the qualities I look for in assistant coaches, and I mentioned teachers, communicators and high-energy people,” Pelini said. “I think this group of coaches will be great teachers for the young men in our program, and they are a good fit for Nebraska football.”

Pelini said Cotton and Gilmore will assist him in a variety of roles in their positions as associate and assistant head coach, respectively.

“In addition to coaching the offensive line, Barney will assist me in a number of key administrative duties within our program,” Pelini said. “Ted will continue as our receivers coach and recruiting coordinator, and he will also play a key role in the overall direction of our program.”

The offensive staff will be led by Watson, who directed the Nebraska offense this season. The Huskers ranked eighth nationally in passing offense and 11th in total offense, and Pelini is excited to build on that success.

“Offensively, there has been good success here recently,” Pelini said. “I think we can add some wrinkles to what has worked well the past few years. Coach Watson is a proven offensive coordinator in the Big 12 Conference, and our offensive assistants have extensive collegiate experience, specifically in the Big 12 North.”

Defensively, Pelini said he will be involved in all aspects of the preparation and expects his defensive staff to operate as one cohesive unit.

“Our defensive coaches will all have equal input on what we are doing, regardless of titles or positions,” Pelini said. “Our defensive coaches are outstanding teachers who will bring great energy to the practice field. I have worked with each of them during my career and have great confidence in this group. This staff plans to build on the tradition of hard-nosed Blackshirt defenses at Nebraska.”

Here is a brief capsule on the members of the 2008 Husker staff.

Offensive Staff

Shawn Watson—Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks
Watson will be entering his third season at Nebraska in 2008 and his second as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. In 2007, Nebraska threw for a school-record 3,886 yards, including the top three passing days in school history. Watson’s offense averaged 468.2 yards per game, 11th in the country and the best season average at Nebraska since 1997.

Watson coached the Nebraska tight ends and was the recruiting coordinator in 2006, before being promoted to his current post last January.

Watson has a total of seven seasons of experience as an offensive coordinator in the Big 12, serving in the same role at Colorado from 2000 to 2005. Watson was on the staff of four Colorado teams that won the Big 12 North Division, including a conference championship in 2001. He also has head coaching experience, leading the Southern Illinois program from 1994 to 1996.

Ron Brown—Tight Ends
Brown rejoins the Nebraska coaching staff for the 2008 season, after serving as the Huskers’ receivers coach for 17 seasons from 1987 to 2003. During the first 16 of those years, Brown also coached the tight ends, and he was the most veteran member of Frank Solich’s final Nebraska coaching staff in 2003.

Brown has spent the past four years serving as the Nebraska State Director of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He also has served as the national spokesman for the FCA and is a regular columnist for the FCA magazine “Sharing the Victory”. Brown and former Husker Stan Parker are co-founders and co-directors of a statewide Christian ministry called Mission Nebraska.

Under Brown, Husker receivers were known for their tenacity and downfield blocking in Nebraska’s run-oriented attack. His receivers helped Nebraska lead the nation in rushing nine times in his 17 seasons. At Nebraska, Brown coached two academic All-Americans, had 12 players picked in the NFL Draft and 14 others who signed professional contracts.

Brown also served as an assistant coach for three seasons (1984-86) at Brown, his alma mater, and was the head freshman coach at the school in 1983.

Barney Cotton—Associate Head Coach/Offensive Line
Cotton will be in his second stint on the Nebraska coaching staff. He served as Nebraska’s offensive coordinator and offensive line coach on Frank Solich’s staff in 2003, helping Nebraska to a 10-3 record and a victory in the Alamo Bowl. Most recently, Cotton spent three seasons at Iowa State as the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. With the Cyclones, Cotton directed a potent ISU offensive attack led by quarterback Bret Meyer and record-setting receiver Todd Blythe. He helped guide the Cyclones to an appearance in the 2004 Independence Bowl and the 2005 Houston Bowl.

Before arriving at Nebraska in 2003, Cotton was the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator for six seasons at New Mexico State (1997-2002). He also served as an assistant at St. Cloud State for six seasons and was the head coach at Hastings College in 1995 and 1996.

Cotton played for Nebraska from 1975-78, starting on both the offensive and defensive lines during his Husker career. He played four seasons in the National Football League with St. Louis and Cincinnati.

Ted Gilmore—Assistant Head Coach/Wide Receivers/Recruiting Coordinator
Gilmore has served on the Husker staff each of the past three years as the Huskers’ receivers coach and in 2007, he also handled the role of recruiting coordinator. Gilmore’s receivers have posted record-setting numbers under his direction.

Seniors Terrence Nunn and Maurice Purify finished their eligibility as the No. 2 and No. 5 career receivers at Nebraska. Nate Swift will enter his senior season in 2008 as Nebraska’s No. 4 all-time receiver. Gilmore’s receiving corps played a key role in the Huskers ranking eighth nationally in passing offense and 11th in total offense in 2007.

Gilmore has been a collegiate assistant for 11 seasons, also serving in stints at Wyoming, Kansas, Houston, Purdue and Colorado.

Defensive Staff

Carl Pelini—Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Line
Carl Pelini, the older brother of Head Coach Bo Pelini, comes to Nebraska after three seasons as the defensive line coach for Frank Solich at Ohio University. Pelini also has experience at Nebraska, serving as the defensive graduate assistant for the Huskers in 2003, when NU set a school record for takeaways and ranked 11th nationally in total defense.

At Ohio, Pelini played a key role in the resurgence of the Bobcat program. Ohio’s recent success was highlighted by the 2006 season, when the Bobcats won the Mid-American Conference Eastern Division and played in the GMAC Bowl against Southern Miss. The bowl appearance was the first by the Bobcats since 1968. The 2006 defense ranked in the top 30 nationally in scoring and total defense. This season, Ohio finished with a 6-6 record and senior defensive tackle Landon Cohen earned second-team All-MAC honors for the second straight season.

Pelini spent the 2004 season as the defensive coordinator at Minnesota State on the staff of former Husker player and assistant Jeff Jamrog. Pelini was an accomplished high school coach prior to his first stint at Nebraska. He was the head coach at Fitch High School in Ohio for three seasons, after serving as the head coach and athletic director at Winnetonka High School in Kansas City for five years. He also served as a graduate assistant at Kansas State in 1989 and 1990, and as a restricted earnings coach for the Wildcats in 1991. He played two seasons at Columbia University.

Mike Ekeler—Linebackers
A native Nebraskan, Mike Ekeler joins the Husker defensive staff after spending the past three seasons on the LSU football staff. Ekeler spent the 2005 and 2006 seasons as a graduate assistant coach working for Pelini and the Tiger defense. In 2007, Ekeler worked as an intern for the LSU program.

Ekeler brings an extensive knowledge of the state of Nebraska and the Big 12 Conference to the Husker staff. Before his recent time with Pelini at LSU, Ekeler was a defensive graduate assistant on Bob Stoops’ Oklahoma staff in 2003 and 2004. He helped the Sooners play in back-to-back BCS national championship games and earn a Big 12 title in 2004.

Before his time with the Sooners, Ekeler spent five seasons as a high school coach in Nebraska and Kansas. He spent time coaching at Omaha Skutt High School and Manhattan (Kan.) High School, before getting back into the college game at Oklahoma in 2003.

After graduating from Blair High School, Ekeler played four seasons under Bill Snyder at Kansas State, lettering from 1991 to 1994. He was a special teams standout and was part of two Wildcat teams that played in bowl games.

John Papuchis—Defensive Ends Coach
John Papuchis comes to Nebraska after spending the past four seasons on the football staff at LSU. While with the Tigers, Papuchis worked as a defensive intern, assisting in every aspect of the defensive game plan for the Tigers.

Papuchis first joined the LSU staff under Nick Saban and over the past three seasons has helped the Tigers rank third nationally in total defense each season. In 2007, the Tiger defense featured a pair of consensus All-Americans in defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey and safety Craig Steltz.

Papuchis joined the Tigers prior to the 2004 season after a three-year stint with Kansas. In 2001, he worked with the Jayhawk secondary and then assisted with the linebackers in Kansas’ 2003 Tangerine Bowl season.

Papuchis graduated from Virginia Tech in 2001 and earned his master’s degree from Kansas in 2003

Marvin Sanders—Secondary Coach
Marvin Sanders returns to the Husker staff after serving as the defensive backs coach in 2003. In Sanders’ lone season on the defensive staff with Pelini, Nebraska recorded 47 takeaways, including a school-record 32 interceptions and led the nation in pass efficiency defense. In 2003, safety Josh Bullocks recorded a school-record 10 interceptions and became just the second NU sophomore in school history to earn All-America honors.

After his year at Nebraska, Sanders served for three seasons as the defensive coordinator at North Carolina. He helped the Tar Heels reach the Continental Tire Bowl in 2004. Prior to joining the Nebraska staff in 2003, Sanders had assistant coaching stops at Nebraska Wesleyan, Minnesota-Morris, Nebraska-Omaha, New Mexico State and Colorado State. While on coach Sonny Lubick’s CSU staff, he helped the Rams to appearances in the New Orleans Bowl in 2001 and the Liberty Bowl in 2002.

Sanders earned three letters as a defensive back at Nebraska from 1987 to 1989, playing for Tom Osborne and secondary coach George Darlington. He was a starter as a senior in 1989 and earned honorable-mention All-Big Eight honors for a Nebraska team that reached the Fiesta Bowl.

Assistant Athletic Director for Football Operations
Jeff Jamrog
Jeff Jamrog joins Pelini’s staff as Assistant Athletic Director for Football Operations, following four seasons as the head coach at Minnesota State in Mankato, Minn. Jamrog is one of three former Nebraska players on Pelini’s staff and one of five members of the staff who return to Nebraska after having previous Husker coaching experience.

Jamrog led Minnesota State to a 17-27 record in four years, including a 6-5 mark in 2004, the program’s first winning season since 1994. Several Mavericks earned honors under Jamrog’s direction, including two-time Academic All-American Spencer Dickinson.

Before leaving for Minnesota State, Jamrog was an assistant coach at Nebraska for four seasons from 2000 to 2003, when he coached the NU defensive line. The Huskers finished in the top 12 nationally in rush defense twice in that stretch. Jamrog was a three-year letterman at Nebraska where he was a starting outside linebacker in 1987. He was a first-team Academic All-American in 1987 and an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship recipient.

Roddick Rock-n-Racquets
Saturday, December 15, 2007

I had a chance to meet Andy Roddick for the first time on Friday. The Omaha native returned home for “Rock-n-Racquets”, an annual tennis exhibition held in Nebraska for the first time.

We attended the afternoon clinic hosted by he and Serena Williams. Seeing two of the best players in the world at Qwest Center was pretty neat. After the clinic I asked him about the important thing: Nebraska football.

His opinion of Bo Pelini:

“I think everyone’s a big fan (of Nebraska football) now. He understands the tradition, things like the walk-on program.”

I asked him if he took a lot of flack this past season on the tour for being a Husker fan.

“I took a lot of flack because I talk a lot when they’re good. I guess I deserved it.”

As for the event itself, Roddick told me he was glad to finally play in Omaha, something he’d never done. He said he doesn’t get back to Omaha as often as he’d like to.

Friday night’s show was pretty impressive. You can’t get an appreciation for just how hard these players hit unless you see it in person. In fact, I got an up-close taste. Roddick’s opponent, Sam Querry, served (read: crushed) the ball wide. I literally had just sat down courtside (a big money seat) with a camera when the serve bounced wide and hit me in the chest, going roughly 120 mph. Thank God for big winter coats.

Roddick put on a show, even busting out the John McEnroe impersonation during a point. It was spot-on. He played to the crowd most of the night, running out wearing a Nebraska football helmet. He responded to cheers and requests, including one fan who asked him to serve as hard as he could on Roddick’s first serve of the night. “Right now?” asked Roddick. The gun read 146 mph.

I’m Pretty Good with a Bo Staff
Wednesday, December 12, 2007

We’ve been waiting for roughly ten days to get confirmation on Bo Pelini’s new staff. An official announcement should be coming very soon.

Tuesday night in Lincoln, I spoke with someone close to the situation (I’ve always wanted to use that phrase) who told me that Bo has been going about it the right way (read: waiting to unveil the staff until all positions are filled) but that he probably can’t wait much longer. He said the university may simply confirm the eight filled positions and then announce the ninth (running backs coach) when Pelini finally hires someone.

This staff is definitely the worst kept secret in Husker athletics. It’s funny, though: with Tom Osborne as the athletic director, no one is throwing a fit in anticipation of a formal announcement. People trust TO, and they trust BP.

Don’t expect a press conference of any sort regarding the “Bo Staff”. Since recruiting is still intensive (a dead period begins December 17th) the coaches don’t have time to stand and take questions in a formal setting.

I anticipate a news release from the University to enter my inbox any minute now.


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While Surfing the ‘Net

I just stumbled upon this picture from January 2004. This is the day Solich’s revamped staff was introduced. There’s my big dome, peering through the lense of an NTV camera, back when I worked in Kearney.

Look at that great form. What terrific posture.

A Time to Remember
Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Wednesday marks the one-week anniversary of the shooting at Westroads.

As a remembrance, I would like to see all television and radio stations in the Omaha market which aren’t broadcasting a memorial, to go dark for at least 30 seconds at 1:42pm. That was the time of the first call to 911.

Church bells tolling eight or nine times would also be appropriate.

Whatever you do, be sure to take time out of your day to remember the victims, and pray for healing in the hearts of the loved ones they leave behind.

Cookie Crumbled
Tuesday, December 11, 2007

This wasn’t supposed to happen to Nebraska. Not in a year that saw the Huskers ranked atop the charts for most of the season. The Big Red lost to the Cal Bears Saturday night, swept on the Madison court.

On Monday I went to Lincoln to talk with coach John Cook. This was my first time in his office. It used to be Bob Devaney’s. Although, I’m not sure Devaney had a 56-inch plasma television hanging above his desk.

Cook is always open and honest, and this day was no different. We aired the story Monday night. Here’s the full transcript:

==============================================

Schick:  How does this loss sit with you?

Cook: It doesn't sit very well. I'm still in shock at what happened, how
we played. Of course as a coach, for the last 48 hours all I'm trying to do
is figure out what could we have done different, where did we go wrong,
what happened... That's coaching, it drives you nuts. That's the
exciting part of it. I told the team that once the disappointment of
how we played this weekend wears off, they're gonna have some great
things to reflect on. Even this season was a great season even for
Nebraska. We won a lot of big matches, sold out Devaney, played in
front of huge crowds at Qwest Center, this group of seniors has been
ranked number one longer than any other college team. The thing that
gives you a warm glow is that this team represents the state well...
We had three academic all-americans on that 6-member team.
Right now everyone is dwelling on what happened Saturday night.


Schick: You say you think about what you would've done differently.
Would you have done anything differently over the last month? Or the last week?

Cook: That's what's so hard about this. I knew what our issues would be, what our challenges were.
We started last January. We worked at it all year, getting ready for that regional. The regionals
is were you feel the most pressure. As much as we tried to prepare to not play afraid in fear...
Some fear got in the way. Carrying around the expectations that were placed on this team and then
trying to live up to that. It was a heavy load besides playing Cal Saturday night.
It really effected our play Saturday night.


Schick: But you had a lot of pressure last season and finished with a national championship.
Were you surprised they weren't able to handle it this time around, especially with four
talented seniors?

Cook: You have to remember, last year we lost two All-Americans and the national player of
the year. There was a great desire to get to Omaha, and they also didn't want to go through
what they went through against Washington. Two big factors working (for) us. This year there
was only one thing to do, that was to win a national championship. Even though we worked hard
in making it a great journey, and trying to enjoy it, it's still a heavy load of those
expectations. That's why they say it's so hard to repeat championships. The quote I come back
with is Anthony Robbins says people will do anything to avoid pain or failure, feeling that again.
But to seek pleasure sometimes they're not as driven. That Washington match really set with us.
This year there was really no pain we were carrying around. We were trying to seek something
pretty special. We worked hard. But again, a lot of interference got in the way, and Cal took
advantage of it.


Schick: As a coach, how do you deal with this loss?


Cook: I don't know how most head coaches go through. But I just know how I respond. It's
probably not very healthy. It's almost like experiencing the stages of going through somebody dying.
You deny it, you don't believe it, then there's depression part of it... Today I'm just
ready to work, but I really don't know what to work on. The thing that I always go back to...
I had to do a great job coaching after that match, to put it in perspective Saturday night.
In sports, you have the highest of highs and lowest of lows and that's what makes it so great.
It also makes it so humbling. Saturday night was very humbling for our team and staff. That's sports.
It teaches you great things about life. It's always not gonna work out like you want or plan for.
But there are years it will work out, like last year. That team really did some amazing things.
That's why you play those matches. It's very humbling... It puts things in perspective and again it
makes you look in that mirror and think what can you do better.


Schick: After the loss to Washington in 2005, you told the team "there's no reason why we can't
win this thing next year." What did you tell your team after this one?


Cook: We were all in shock. Against Washington it was the end. We (realized) can do this.
This was more of I had to bring these guys back to reality and get them ready for the press conference.
We had to be humble in victory and defeat. I also reminded them that this is all about the
journey. This was just one moment of the journey. When the pain goes away, they'll remember the
relationships, the journey, those seniors will remember all of the accomplishments, the love affair
that the state of Nebraska has with this team, the big matches in the Qwest Center, selling out Devaney,
the win streak at the Coliseum, senior night. They will never forget that. That's what's gonna stay
with you. It's gonna hurt with you.


Schick: Did this team underachieve?


Cook: Yeah. I had high expectations. I thought we were gonna win the national championship.
So certainly when you don't achieve your goals of what you expect of your team, I'm gonna feel that...
I went over and saw Coach Osborne today. He had called me yesterday and left a message and I wanted to
thank him for thinking of me. He's a coach, he understands, he started telling me about games he went
through and how he felt afterward. That's part of coaching. You're gonna have teams that overachieve,
and teams that maybe don't max out. That was the hard thing. We don't feel like we maxed out. But you
only get so many opportunities to do it. The defining moment was that Cal regional. We had our chances.
We lost two 2-point games. The Cal Bears were going for it. They were playing fearless. We normally won
those two-point games and we tightened up.


Schick: It was mainly about attitude?


Cook: I think we were playing tentative, playing not to lose. When you get in against a good team... In a
regional final, that's exactly what will happen. The question is how do you keep a team from doing that?
That's the magical question. You're carrying around that gorilla. It happened back in 2005. I knew before
that match, Washington had nothing to lose, we were the... King Kong of college volleyball. Washington threw
that on their bulletin board. If we didn't win it we were gonna be the ones that failed. Washington was the
underdog. How do you create an underdog mentality with a team that has won everything? That was a challenge,
and we missed.


Schick: Is this loss doubly tough because of the group of departing seniors?


Cook: These seniors leaving... this has been four years with these guys. There's gonna be a definite void that
happens. I'm already feeling that as a coach. But I'm also trusting in our program and in our recruiting and in
our younger players. It happens every year that new players will emerge to take their spots. That's gonna be the
exciting thing. Next year's team will be young, and it will on an innocent climb. They're not gonna have the
expectations that this year's team had. Those senior will be missed not just because they're great volleyball
players, but they really represented what Nebraska is all about. Giving back to the community, great role models.
What more could you ask for? That's gonna be tough to replace. The entire package. Our staff and this state
needs to feel blessed and privileged to have had those seniors in our program.


Cook: This is good therapy for me.


Schick: This is $100 an hour by the way.... How should this team be remembered?


Cook: This particular team, I think was a great team. At times I think played as high a level of volleyball as any
team at Nebraska has ever played. In their defining moment, they didn't get it done and we didn't get it done. You
have to evaluate: Did they do the right things? Did they work at it? Did they put everything they could into it?
From that perspective, they were great. If you factor in again the academic success, athletic success, community
involvement, this has to go down as one of the greatest senior classes. This year's team will rank up there with any
team Nebraska has ever had.

======================================

Director's Cut

Cook said that during his visit with Osborne, TO's phone kept ringing.
Said Cook, "He's got the most obnoxious, high-tech mission impossible ring tone.
I wanted to say, coach you gotta change that. He probably doesn't know how.
I should get one of my players to
get a rap song on there. Get some
Tony Bennett, some Frank Sinatra. He's got this high tech, electronic ring... It's intense."


That will be my next story: 70-year old athletic director has a super-annoying ring tone.