For it being a relatively slow time of year, there is a lot going on the world of Husker athletics. Things that are getting a lot of local and even national attention. Things that I have strong opinions on.
Unfortunately, my opinions on these topics tend to be too long for Twitter (damn you, 140 characters!), but not quite beefy enough for a full post of their own.
Therefore, I give you Husker Hot Takes – seven servings of delicious opinion, hopefully with no bad aftertaste.
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1. NU Baseball survives crazy road trip, but has to cancel game with Creighton.
After NU’s three game sweep at Michigan State, the Huskers had a hard time getting back to Lincoln. Cancelled flights, delayed buses, the fact that East Lansing is 725 stinkin’ miles from Lincoln. I’m guessing during their 24 hour+ trip home, they quoted every single line from Planes, Trains, & Automobiles. As a result, Nebraska’s game with Creighton had to be cancelled, and the 10,000 fans who bought tickets are likely out of luck.
Things like this make me miss the Big XII (and especially the Big 8). Why? Everything was closer in the 8 / XII. The average distance between Lincoln and the other eleven towns in the Big XII was 480.5 miles. In the current Big Ten, the average distance is 625.5 miles. When Rutgers and Maryland officially join the league this summer, that average will jump to 720.5 miles.
720 miles used to be on the long end of Big XII roadies. Only two Big XII schools (Texas and Texas A&M) were farther than the 720 mile voyage to Baylor in Waco. In a few months, that becomes the average trip, and would still leave the baseball team five miles short of completing their epic journey home.
Put it another way: in the B1G, Nebraska’s closest foe is Iowa – 301 miles away. In the Big XII, Nebraska had three conference foes less than 225 miles from home (Kansas State, Kansas, and Iowa State), with a fourth that is practically the same distance from home as Iowa (Mizzou, 319 miles).
I get that there are a billion caveats here, notably that cancelled flights, bad weather, travel delays, can (and will) happen to everyone. But I question the sanity of teams like Nebraska and Creighton travelling cross-country for baseball and other non-revenue / Olympic sports (like Cross Country). All it does it wastes money and keeps students out of class.
Ultimately, it comes back to something I’ve believed for a while: eventually, schools will belong to multiple conferences. There will be a football/basketball conference that is tied to a big TV contract and may span 1500 miles and multiple time zones. And a smaller, regional conference for Olympic and non-revenue sports. Because eventually schools will realize that there is little gain in travelling 725 – each way – to play a game, especially when there are dozens of schools within a 500 mile radius of home that would likely offer the same level of competition.
2. Taylor Martinez fails his NFL physical.
First and foremost, I’m bummed for Martinez. I don’t follow the NFL as much as I used to, but I was intrigued to see how Chip Kelly would use him in Philadelphia’s offense. Plus, I’d really like to see the kid be successful.
But clearly, I am in the minority on that.
Here is a quick sampling of some of the 200+ comments left on a Facebook post from a Omaha TV station announcing the news:
- “You have to pass a physical to be an NFL water boy?”
- “I think I can speak for all husker fans when I say that we never really trusted him at QB, let alone ever liked the guy.”
- “Hahaha haha haha haha haha haha haha haha haha haha”
- “he sucks…..lost all the big games for us….he didn’t care……good riddance……”
- “Hahahahahahahaha thank god! I hate this loser so much”
Keep in mind, these comments aren’t from the stereotypical message board guy hiding behind an anonymous screen name and avatar in his mother’s basement. These are Facebook users putting their actual names behind this garbage. Most of them had profile pictures of (presumably) themselves. Others had pictures of young children, who I assume are their kids.
Look: I’m not saying you have to love every Husker to come through the program. It’s perfectly okay to question the talent and desire of a kid, but there is a line between honest criticism (“Taylor Martinez fumbled too much”) and a cheap personal attack (“Did he call his daddy? Hahah. What a loser!”).
If you wouldn’t say it to their face, don’t post it on the internet, ya damn trolls. Next time, I’ll include your name and profile picture so more folks can see just what a great fan you are.
3. The day of the Taylor Martinez tell-all interview is getting closer.
At some point during Martinez’s senior season, I had a thought: “Some day this kid is going to do a tell-all interview where he airs ALL of his dirty laundry – the back story of how he beat out Cody Green and Zac Lee, what was said during and after that A&M game, his true feelings on Pelini, Tim Beck, his teammates, and the Nebraska fans who cheered him when he scored and booed him when he turned the ball over. And it will be EPIC.”
That interview likely will not happen while Martinez still has a chance at the NFL, or even the CFL or arena leagues, but getting cut by the Eagles puts us another step closer to Taylor taking a match to the bridge leading back to what had to be an uncomfortable (and probably unenjoyable) college career.
4. Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst says NU is “lucky to have” Bo as our coach.
Without getting to the Bo-liever / Bo-leaver partisan bickering that this sound byte provides, I’ll say this: Nebraska is lucky. NU is lucky that Bill Callahan is no longer our coach. Lucky that Frank Solich has found a good fit at Ohio. Lucky that some of the other candidates never took the job. (Houston Nutt, I’m looking directly at you).
A part of me wonders if this quote will haunt Eichort’s tenure the way “gravitating towards mediocrity” did for Pedersen. Let’s face it, I have a feeling that if 2014 is a five or six loss season, Eichorst may try to change his luck by finding a new coach.
5. The B1G moves the basketball tournament to Washington D.C., fans react with much angst.
I get it. Husker fans are getting deja vu all over again about how the Big XII tournament shifted from Kansas City to wherever the heck Texas wanted it to be played. But here’s the thing: Having the tournament in D.C. should help Nebraska. It is a simple fact that there is more hoops talent out east than in Nebraska’s back yard. Tim Miles has an assistant coach who was at Georgetown for a number of years. Nebraska can tell a recruit that mom and dad will get to watch him just down the road during the conference tournament.
Besides, raise your hand if you truly planned to travel to the B1G hoops tourney in the next few years. For most of us, we’re going to watch the event on TV. With a neutral paint job on the court, most of us would have no idea if the games are in D.C., Indianapolis, Chicago, or the Pershing Center.
6. That said, Omaha may bid on the basketball tournament.
During an interview, Eichorst said that he saw no reason why the hoops tournament couldn’t be played in Omaha from time to time. It makes perfect sense. The Century Link is an excellent venue. Downtown Omaha has lots of hotels and entertainment options for out of town fans. And Omaha has a proven track record of surpassing expectations when they host big events – both in Nebraska niceness and in attendance.
I see no reason why Omaha shouldn’t put a bid together for any Big Ten championship. And after Omaha gets done blowing the doors off of the attendance records for the Big Ten baseball tournament next week, I think they’ll have a damn good chance.
7. Josh Banderas is arrested and charged with felony theft.
If you thought the comments on the Taylor Martinez story were bad, you should take a look at what some people posted on the Journal-Star’s website. On second thought, maybe you shouldn’t. By allowing people to comment on the news story of Banderas’s arrest – something that I had never seen before on the LJS – they seem content to scrap the presumption of innocence for these young men. Josh Banderas may very well be guilty of what he has been accused of doing, but I’d prefer if his due process came in a court room instead of the comments section of the local newspaper.
Speaking of due process, I don’t expect Bo Pelini to decide on possibly suspending or dismissing Banderas until the case is further along. We can all speculate on what Bo would do in case of A, B, or C, but what I really like is the confidence I have that Nebraska’s depth a linebacker will not factor in Bo’s decision making process.