Archive for February, 2009

Witt: No Interviews
Monday, February 23, 2009

Patrick Witt’s sudden departure from the football team is a big jolt to the quarterback race and the program as a whole.  Considering Witt was called upon to relieve Joe Ganz for a play in the Gator Bowl, you would’ve had to consider him the odds-on favorite to take over the starting job in 2009.

Now, you have to tab Zac Lee the front-runner.  Redshirt freshman Kody Spano and freshman Cody Green will throw their hats in the ring, but Lee is the only one to take a college snap.

In a correspondence on Monday, Witt told me he will not be doing any interviews about his departure.  He may decide to talk once he’s made a decision on where he will transfer.

Witt is a good kid who obviously had to make a tough decision.  We don’t know the full details behind that decision, but the Huskers will now have to move forward. 

The quarterback position hasn’t been extremely unkind to Nebraska in the past few years.  Harrison Beck transferred, Josh Freeman and Blaine Gabbert never showed up, Sam Keller failed to live up to expectations and now Patrick Witt is leaving.  Since he only saw limited action, it’s hard to know what kind of impact Witt would’ve had. 

I’ve heard some in the media comment that Witt wasn’t the right fit since the Huskers are moving more toward mobile quarterbacks.  Perhaps he wasn’t a great option quarterback.   Although… when did we ever see him run the option?   What kind of opinions can you really draw on a kid who we rarely saw play?  We did see him run into the endzone on a 16-yard touchdown dash at the end of the Oklahoma game.  To call him a statue is ridiculous.

With spring practice beginning in a month, the timing is not good.  But it would’ve been much worse had he made this decision after spring ball.  Now the Nebraska staff knows what it has to work with.

The most intriguing aspect about this:  Cody Green has one less obstacle to make an impact in 2009.

Click on “responses” above and submit your thoughts.

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At Witt’s End
Sunday, February 22, 2009

Quarterback Patrick Witt is leaving the Nebraska football program.

From Nebraska Sports Information Sunday night:
Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini issued the following statement Sunday evening regarding the status of sophomore quarterback Patrick Witt.
 
“Patrick has decided that it is in his best interest to continue his college career at another school. Patrick is a great kid from a great family and I appreciate the contributions he has made to our football program. I wish him nothing but the best in the future and know he will be a success wherever he goes.”

Pelini Pipes Up
Friday, February 20, 2009

On Friday’s edition of ESPN’s College Football Live, Husker head coach Bo Pelini was interviewed via telephone. The interviewee, Dari Nowkhah, has a background with Nebraska. He covered the Huskers when he worked for KLKN in Lincoln from 2000-02.

There was nothing revelatory in the interview.

Key to spring ball this year?

“Just to continue on what we’ve started. The work ethic, the discipline…” said Bo. “We’ve got a long way to go… we need to stay focused on the process to keep this going in the right direction.”

On the Husker defense:

“We’re not gonna be satisfied until we’re up there at the top. We made some progress on the defensive side of the ball. We ahead some good games and we also played some games where we got our tails kicked. We don’t want to have any of those. We’ve made progress. Our kids are understanding more of what this system entails and how to play within this system. But we still have a long way to go to get to the standard that we want to play defense at and that’s at the highest, highest level there is.”

On more than 80,000 coming to the spring game:

“I don’t know if any other place in the country will get that. Our fans are excited. Within the first twelve hours we sold over 45,000 seats for that game. It just shows how passionate our fans are, and how supportive. You bring in kids to recruit, kids come in here and they see that kind of atmosphere and they see that kind of passion associated with your program and it makes them want to be a part of it.”

The best part about the segment was the analysis from the talking heads. In the words of Rod Gilmore, “The one guy coming back from their offense is Roy Hah-lu.”

Seems Roy didn’t do well enough in 2008 to get his name pronounced properly.

The Huskers begin spring practice March 25th.

Dancing Jays?
Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I’ve been asked a bunch over the last few days: what will it take to get Creighton to the NCAA Tournament?

I assume that next week Dana Altman will begin answering those types of questions. I would also assume his answer will sound something like this: “Well, I don’t know. All we can do is take care of us. If we don’t, none of that other stuff matters.”

Creighton will finish in the top-two of the league. They’ve got an RPI of 53. Unfortunately, the Missouri Valley Conference is 10th when it comes to league RPIs. Just ahead of the Horizon League. The Valley may have to get lucky to get two bids. But if The Bluejays win out, they’ll be 25-6 heading into the Valley Tournament. If they get past the first round, you’d be hard-pressed to exclude a 26-win Creighton team. It would help if Northern Iowa didn’t win the conference tournament.  No team in the last decade has gotten bypassed by the selection committee with 26 wins and a top-100 RPI.

Losing by 22 to Illinois State, along with double-digit losses to both Wichita State and Drake won’t help Creighton’s cause. But I still think the Bluejays will make it to the Tournament and nab a 12-seed, barring any unforeseen collapse in these final few games.

Bluejays Up, Huskers Down
Monday, February 16, 2009

The Creighton Bluejays are on a roll. Sometimes you have to specify which team you’re talking about, men or women. In this case it doesn’t matter.

The men have won six in a row, thanks to a 22-point beat-down of Southern Illinois. It was Creighton’s first win in Carbondale since 2001. Booker Woodfox led the way with 15 points, while the Jays raced out to a 42-19 halftime lead. They shot 67-percent from the floor in the second half. Coupled with a Northern Iowa loss to Wichita State, the Bluejays are now just one game out of first place in the Valley.

Staying in the “bad weekend for SIU athletics” department, the Creighton women drubbed the Salukis for their eleventh consecutive win. All eleven wins have come in conference play, marking the school’s longest Valley win streak since joining the league. The women are also one game out of first place in the Valley.

Meanwhile, Doc Sadler’s Huskers took a 23-point whoopin’ on the road. Make no mistake, the Missouri Tigers may in fact be one of the top-ten teams in the country. But Nebraska was exposed as an undersized team that has trouble scoring. The Huskers simply ran out of gas and man power in Columbia.

The Huskers are now 15-8 overall, 5-5 in the Big 12, good for sixth place.

The Bluejays are 21-6 overall, 11-4 in the MVC, all alone in second place.

I said it last week and I’ll say it again: Creighton will make the NCAA Tournament. The Huskers will make the NIT.  Those aren’t bold statements, but I do think some fans got a little ahead of themselves after Nebraska defeated Texas.  There’s a lot of season left.

What’s your call?

Bye Brett. Again.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Brett Favre has decided to hang it up. Again. After 18 seasons, the future hall-of-famer says he will not play again. It’s sad to see him leave. Again.

The key question: Do I need to get him another retirement gift after getting him one last year? Someone suggested to me that the appropriate gifts are as follows:

Retirement #1: Gift.

Retirement #2: Card.

Perhaps I should have just played it safe and bought him a gift card the first time as a precaution.

Are you glad he’s leaving? 22 touchdowns and 22 interceptions tells me that most Jets fans are relieved.

Let’s just hope it’s officially over. We don’t need another sequel. They only get worse.

The “Back to the Future” series should’ve stopped after part two.

What Becomes of Kemp?
Tuesday, February 10, 2009

It’s the nature of sports. One team wins, one team loses.

Except in hockey, where ties are a part of the game.

They say a tie is like kissing your sister. Right now, nearly every sister of the UNO Mavericks has received a smooch.

The Mavs are winless in their last nine games, with four ties during that stretch and only one shootout win. They have only one win in their last twelve games, the program’s longest winless streak in five seasons.

With apologies to Obama, this crisis could turn into a catastrophe.

At the center of it all is Mike Kemp. He’s in his twelfth season as head coach of the Mavs, the only coach the program has ever seen. He directed the club hockey team in 1975 and was tabbed as the school’s first varsity coach in 1996. He led UNO to its first-ever NCAA playoff berth ten years later.

But in year twelve, it’s tough for fans to see a program seemingly regress.

On Monday, I asked the coach if he was concerned about his future. “In this job you’re always under the microscope.  Do I let it bother me or keep me  up at night?  Absolutely not.  The only thing that I really worry about is my team, my players and the games we have up ahead,” said Kemp.  “Life takes care of itself.  I’m a man of deep faith.  Whatever will happen will happen.  I know I’ll be taken care of.”

Mike Kemp is a class act who does things the right way. He is one of the easiest coaches to root for. Unfortunately, this is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately society. And as we have seen in the world of sports, nobody’s job is safe. Not Mike Shanahan’s, not Mike Kemp’s.

His contract is up in June 2010. Will he last that long? Maybe more importantly, can this team turn it around this season?

The Mavs face a road series at #4 Michigan this weekend. Then a home series against #2 Notre Dame to wrap up the regular season.

After that… who knows?

Ade to Remember
Saturday, February 7, 2009

Heading into Saturday’s game with Texas, the Huskers had all the momentum.  They had won back-to-back games while the 16th-ranked Longhorns had lost back-to-back games.  Those streaks are now at three.

Behind a gutsy effort from Ade Dagunduro, the Huskers defeated Texas 58-55 in Lincoln, sending the Big Red faithful home happy (and many of them onto the court).  Dagunduro had 17 points, but none were larger than the three he poured in from 22 feet on the left wing with 52 seconds left to give Nebraska a 56-52 lead.

The win brought Doc Sadler to tears on ESPN’s taped postgame interview.  “It took everything I had,” said an emotional Sadler. 

Someone please give Doc Sadler a tissue.  And some heart medication.  Four of the last five games have been decided by six points or less.  It was the third straight home game decided by six points or less.  It was the sixth straight game that had a margin of five points or less with 3:30 to go in regulation. 

The law of averages finally kicked in for Nebraska.  After losing back-to-back home games by the narrowest of margins, Sadler and company got the big win they were looking for.

Is there a college basketball coach in America that gets more out of his team than Doc Sadler?  They have one player who measures 6’8″, yet lead the Big 12 in scoring defense and sit in fourth place in the conference.

Move over Hickory Huskers.

Phelps Baked
Tuesday, February 3, 2009

He won the hearts of Omahans during the swim trials. He won eight gold medals at the Summer Olympics. Now, Michael Phelps has screwed up his image in a manner of 24 hours.

We thought he was a fish. Turns out he’s actually human.

Photos surfaced over the weekend which showed Phelps burying his lips in a pipe. Phelps admitted to the “regrettable” behavior and apologized for his actions.

Now we know why he was on a 15,000 calorie/day diet.

In this day and age of cell phones, web logs and facebook, Phelps can’t be putting himself in this position. He needs to be smarter than this.

There’s no money in swimming. There is money in endorsements. And Phelps is putting a lot of that at risk by this latest embarrassment.

Phelps and the Swim Trials return to Omaha in 2012.

Does his act of indiscretion change your opinion of him?

Six Pack
Monday, February 2, 2009

The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Arizona Cardinals 27-23 for their sixth Super Bowl championship. It was quite possibly the greatest Super Bowl ever played.

I just missed on my prediction. A few posts below, I nailed the score 27-23 and should be showered with praise. I missed on the teams, though, and should be thusly booed.

You likely watched the game, so there won’t be any recaps here. Just a few thoughts.

Were you as unimpressed with Pittsburgh’s offense as I was? The Steelers had 215 yards of offense before that final game-winning drive.  Arizona dominated on both sides of the football for the better part of three quarters.

If I’m an Arizona fan, I am calling in sick on Monday. Is there a more heart-breaking way to lose a game? The Cardinals rally to take the lead with less than three minutes left. The Steelers then drive down the field, chewing up 78 yards of offense. If you’re a Cards fan you’re thinking, “Hey, let’s just hold them to a field goal and go to overtime.” But to give up a touchdown? That is arguably worse than wide right as a Bills fan watching Super Bowl XXV.

The last two possessions felt similar to last year’s Super Bowl. Larry Fitzgerald (Randy Moss) scores the go-ahead touchdown with 2:32 (2:42) left in the game. Then the Steelers (Giants) drive back down the field and score the game-winner on a touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes (Plaxico Burress) with :35 left (:35). The similarities are striking.

How is that final Kurt Warner fumble not reviewed? After Warner lost the football and Pittsburgh recovered, NBC hardly mentioned the fact that the play should be reviewed. A couple of replays showed that it was a close call. Lamarr Woodley then took his helmet off to celebrate, which cost Pittsburgh 15 yards. If the play is reviewed and is overturned, the Cardinals will have the ball at the Pittsburgh 34-yard line with one last play. Was it a fumble? Probably. But to not get a booth review it in the Super Bowl is unforgivable.

This will go down as one of the best Super Bowls of all time.

In your opinion, was it THE best?