Archive for April, 2008

Woodhead Gets His Shot
Sunday, April 27, 2008

A few Huskers found NFL homes on Sunday.  Day two of the draft saw Zack Bowman, Carl Nicks and Bo Ruud get selected.  Bowman went to the Bears in the fifth round, while Nicks went in the same round to New Orleans.  Ruud was picked in the sixth round by New England.

Meanwhile, Danny Woodhead was not selected in the draft, but he did sign as a free agent, as we first told you on our Sunday 5:30pm newscast. 

Toward the end of the seventh round, the NCAA’s all-time career rushing leader from North Platte was on the phone with the New York Jets, discussing a free agent contract.  Woodhead got off the phone and said, “I’m a New York Jet, I guess.”  Family and friends who had gathered to watch the draft gave him a round of applause after he made the announcement.  Woodhead let out a sigh of relief. 

I covered Woodhead when I worked in Kearney, and was always amazed that a guy of his stature could dominate like he did at the high school level.  He was even more incredible in college competing at the division two level.  Now, he has a chance to earn his stripes at the highest level of all.

On the phone Sunday night, I said, “Danny, when I worked at NTV in Kearney, I had no idea this day would come.”    He said, “I’m sure you didn’t.”

And the irony of it all:  Woodhead will be trying to impress the man who did not give him a scholarship at Nebraska.  Bill Callahan is the run-game coordinator and assistant head coach for the Jets.

Raise some eyebrows, Danny.

Advertisements

NU-CU Renewed
Wednesday, April 23, 2008

After the first game was postponed earlier this month, we finally got to see Nebraska and Creighton hit the diamond Tuesday night. It was a decent game to watch in person, although it dragged on at times and I was unable to change the channel.

The Bluejays had every opportunity to win that game, getting the lead-off guy on, getting men in scoring position with less than two outs numerous times… but they could only muster three runs. And all of Nebraska’s runs came in the 6th inning with two outs.

And what a luxury for Nebraska, being able to throw a guy like Dan Jennings out there for a mid-week start. At most schools he’s a Friday night starter. Talk about a deep staff. He came within just three innings shy of breaking the school’s all-time consecutive scoreless innings streak (he had 30.1, record is 33.1).

Omaha Central grad Ben Kline came up with the big hit, with a 2-out 2-RBI single in the 6th inning to provide the eventual winning runs. The man of few words and minimal audibility made his presence known with the biggest hit of his young career. Imagine going to school just down the street from Creighton, then taking them to school as a freshman.

The Jays will try and even the series tonight. It’s not make-or-break time quite yet for the Jays. In fact, it might be too late for that. Barring a miraculous turnaround (which would include taking the final two games of this series), winning the Valley Tournament will be the only way this team gets into the NCAAs.

BTW:

Bo Pelini threw out the ceremonial first pitch Tuesday night. He had a lot of fun with it, shaking off a couple of signs before delivering a fastball in the dirt. You knew Pelini wouldn’t be the kind of guy to just lob it in there. Of course, I’m sure the only reason he threw it in the dirt was because he thought the dirt said something bad about him.

Jason Peter led the crowd in the “Seventh Inning Stretch” on Tuesday. I caught up with the former Husker in the pressbox about a half-inning before his “Haymarket Idol” moment. He had his cheat sheet in his hands with the words to “Take me Out to the Ballgame”. I’m not sure that would go over too well at Wrigley. I asked him if, instead of saying “Let’s get some runs!” after the song, if he was going to tell people, “Listen to my radio show from 3-to-6pm daily on ESPN 1480! And by the way I have a book coming out this summer!” He said he might even throw in a “go to jasonpeter.com!”

His book, by the way, entitled “Hero of the Underground”, comes out July 8th.

You’re welcome, Jason.

Hammerin’ Hank Sends a Message
Monday, April 21, 2008

New York Yankees co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner wants Joba Chamberlain to come out of the bullpen… for good.

From the New York Times:

“I want him as a starter and so does everyone else, including him, and that is what we are working toward and we need him there now,” Steinbrenner said Sunday by telephone. “There is no question about it, you don’t have a guy with a 100-mile-per-hour fastball and keep him as a setup guy. You just don’t do that. You have to be an idiot to do that.”

Steinbrenner said the Yankees were working on easing Chamberlain into the rotation, but he would not be specific on a timetable. The Yankees’ brain trust had wanted to limit Chamberlain’s innings by having him spend at least part of the season in the bullpen. “The mistake was already made last year switching him to the bullpen out of panic or whatever,” Steinbrenner said. “I had no say in it last year and I wouldn’t have allowed it. That was done last year, so now we have to catch up. It has to be done on a schedule so we don’t rush him.”

Sheesh, Yankees. We could’ve told you he was a starter.

Spring Game Letdown?
Sunday, April 20, 2008

The fans came out in droves.  But did they get what they paid for?  It may have been built up as a monumental moment in the Bo Pelini era, but Sunday’s scrimmage was simply that:  a scrimmage.  Nothing flashy, nothing spectacular.  Just plain ol’ football. 

Obviously there is still plenty for this team to work on.  We saw on the first play that there is some polishing up to do when it comes to running the option.  I found it ironic that Bo Pelini chose to run the glorified option on the first play, which went awry.  It brought to mind Bill Callahan’s first play from scrimmage in the 2004 Spring Game, when the offense ran multiple pre-snap shifts, followed by an incomplete deep pass which brought the crowd to its feet.  Hey, it’s just a practice, right?

Did you see what you wanted to see?   In a game that was incapable of matching its hype, Nebraska surely didn’t give anything away.

Except perhaps a little bit of hope for the upcoming season.

BOrn again
Friday, April 18, 2008

Saturday marks the return of Bo Pelini to the Nebraska sidelines. Sure, it’s not a regular season game. But quite honestly, if you dropped a guy from a third world country into Memorial Stadium on Saturday, not only would that hurt, but he would probably think a Super Bowl was taking place.

The excitement surrounding this game is unparalleled to any Spring game in the history of college football. Where else do tickets for a scrimmage go for $95? Even Ohio State fans think that’s crazy.

Why is there so much anticipation for this game? Sure, there’s a new head coach and motus operandi. Yeah, old players have been welcomed back and the steel curtain has been pulled back. But it runs deeper than that: Fans want to once again associate positive feelings with Nebraska football. Yes, they read about it in the newspaper and watch the news conferences on television. But now, after one of the worst seasons in the history of Nebraska football, Husker fans have a reason to feel good again while cheering for their team. They will leave Memorial Stadium with joyful enthusiasm instead of angered incredulism. Incredulism is not a word, but it’s the only “ism” that truly fit into that paragraph of eloquence.

I’ll never forget that image of fans filing out at halftime of the Oklahoma State game. KETV cameras on 10th and Vine capturing the downright indignation of Husker fans who were officially fed up. “I’m not going back,” said one fan. “I’m done,” said another. It was a Homecoming that turned into a Goinghome. Now, six months later, fans are busting down the doors to get back in.

All seems to be forgiven, as the bridge between the program and its fans has been mended. Now, all the team has to do is win.

The first one comes Saturday.

Spring Game: Worth the Price?
Monday, April 14, 2008

Last Friday, one of our reporters asked me, “Have you seen how much those Spring game tickets are going for on ebay?” Some were going for $30-$40 a piece.

Coming from Colorado, paying anything for a Spring game ticket is shocking to me. Afterall, the Buffs would usually draw just a few thousand for their Spring game. I remember one year it snowed, and there would’ve been no one at the stadium had I not been doing the radio play-by-play of the game in the press box.

Now, just a few days away from the annual glorified red-white scrimmage, stubhub.com has a fan selling his ducats for $148 a piece. Are we talking American money?

I know how that website works, so I’m well aware that he/she is doing the “dynamic sale” option, which allows a seller to decrease the price each day that it does not sell, eventually falling to the lowest sellable price. Still, is someone going to jump at the chance to go to the Spring game while at the same time falling into debt?

The game was declared a sellout April 9th.

Here’s a snippet from an associated press article:

In the past few days, listings for tickets have shown up on the online auction site eBay, and the phones have been ringing at Ticket Express.

“We’ve never seen anything like this before,” Ticket Express owner Chad Carr said.

Ticket Express is charging $95 for a $10 reserved seat. That is more than its customers would pay this week for a regular-season ticket to see the Huskers face New Mexico State ($69), Baylor ($85) and Colorado ($85).

It would cost only $4 more ($99) for a ticket to see the Huskers play defending Big 12 North champion Missouri.

Carr is almost apologetic about his spring game price. But he said he has had to pay more than face value for those tickets, which come from fans looking to make a buck on the secondary market.

Before the game sold out, Ticket Express was selling reserved seats for $25 to $35 to people who were willing to pay a premium for better seats.

Two years ago, the first year Ticket Express sold spring game tickets, Carr lost money. Now he’s getting $85 over face value for a reserved seat. General admission tickets, by the way, are going for $65.

“We don’t like being at that price point because we don’t feel that is a good value,” Carr said. “However, if somebody wants to pay it, we’re not going to be the judge of whether that person feels it’s a good value. For them, maybe it is.”

———————

After last season’s catastrophe, fans must be so deperate that they will pay any price just to see a guaranteed Husker win.

This should finally put to rest any notion that Nebraska’s sellout streak might one day end.  Listen, if Husker fans can sell out a meaningless practice, then they’ll fill the stadium for any regular season game no matter how poor a season Nebraska may be having.

How much are you willing to pay for a good Spring game ticket?

Update on Harlan Chamberlain
Monday, April 14, 2008

This is a statement from Joba Chamberlain, released at 4:16pm Monday afternoon.

“As many of you know, my family is dealing with a serious, personal medical condition involving my father Harlan. He is currently in critical but stable condition. We cannot express how much we appreciate the enormous amount of love and compassion that has been shown to my family by so many.

“I also want to thank my teammates and my manager for giving me so much support when I have needed it most. Their actions are the reason I was able to reach my father’s side as quickly as I did. I ask that you please afford my family the privacy that it needs to deal with my father’s condition appropriately. In turn, I will provide updates through the Yankees as they become available to me. ”

Joba and Pops Could Use a Prayer or Two
Monday, April 14, 2008

From the associated press:

NEW YORK — Yankees reliever Joba Chamberlain left the team after his father collapsed at his home in Lincoln, Neb., the Daily News reported Monday on its Web site.

Harlan Chamberlain was hospitalized Monday at St. Elizabeth Regional Medical Center in Lincoln. Hospital spokeswoman Jo Miller said the family requested that no further information be released. The Daily News said he was in critical condition, according to a nursing supervisor.

Joba Chamberlain’s sister called the Yankees during the eighth inning of New York’s 8-5 loss at Boston on Sunday night. The newspaper said the reliever spoke with his sister after the game and broke into tears, and manager Joe Girardi tried to console him. Chamberlain, the Yankees’ primary setup man, planned to return to Nebraska rather than accompany the Yankees to St. Petersburg, Fla., for a series against Tampa Bay starting Monday night.

Harlan Chamberlain had polio when he was 9 months old, and uses a motorized scooter. He is deaf in one ear and without full use of his left arm. Harlan Chamberlain raised Joba as a single dad. He attended New York’s season opener earlier this month, and was at last week’s series in Kansas City.

—————————

Joba’s relationship with his father is well-documented.  The two are as tight as a father and son could be.  Our thoughts and prayers are with Joba and his family.

Spring Game Format
Saturday, April 12, 2008

Will it be ones versus ones?  Twos versus twos?

“It seems like everybody is obsessed with that,” said Pelini. 

Welcome to Nebraska, Bo.

According to the head coach, each team will be comprised of various players of varying talent levels.  In years past we haven’t seen the top units play against each other.  This year, we may at least see some compelling matchups.

“We’re gonna split the teams equally. Red team and a white team. Not worry about ones on ones or twos on twos. We’re gonna let guys play football and get better as a group. I’m not sure how you have two teams, one offense and one defense all together. It’s gonna be more split down the middle… It’ll be kind like a draft-type thing in how we go about it and how we split the teams.”

It looks like we might just have a competitive spring game.

Finally.

Saturday Scrimmage
Saturday, April 12, 2008

One week before the spring game, the Huskers worked through more than 40 minutes of live scrimmaging.

Running back Roy Helu, who is far from a media creation, busted up the middle for a 50+ yard touchdown run, juking a defensive back in the process.  “I am seeing what I’ve seen all Spring,” said Bo Pelini.  “I am seeing a guy who is explosive.”

In other news, Pelini announced that sophomore linebacker Kyle Moore (Elkhorn) has decided to transfer to another school.  He also said that sophomore defensive tackle Seth Jensen has decided to leave the program for personal reasons.

Pelini takes a hard-line approach when it comes to making sure his players are taking care of their business, both on and off the field.  After practice, Pelini was asked if his philosophy is just a “first-year thing” or will it remain consistent throughout his tenure.

Bo did not waver.  “If you don’t want to go to class, turn pro.”