Husker Hot Takes – 2/5/15

Come bask in the warmth of the hot takes…

Mike Riley and friends can recruit a little bit.

I’ll preface this with a big disclaimer:  I don’t follow recruiting very closely.  I understand the importance, but watching highlight films and tracking the whims of 17-year-old kids doesn’t do it for me.  That said, it certainly looks to me like Mike Riley and his staff will be a recruiting force.  For a new staff coming in with less than two months to go in the recruiting season, they did an excellent job of keeping almost all of the recruits the previous staff assembled as well as filling the remaining spots with guys heavy on talent and upside.

There is a lot to like about how Riley’s staff is going to handle recruiting.  Notably, I’m a big fan of having the recruiting process led by guys who do not have on-field coaching duties.  That should really help with in-season recruiting, which tended to tail off in most years.  The use of social media with the “Paint the Nation Red” maps and tweets by the entire coaching staff is big not only for recruits, but for Husker fans who passionately follow the program 24/7/365.  It’s reassuring to know the coaches are out there working hard to ensure the #HuskersJustGotBetter.

But mostly, I’m very impressed by the final weekend before Signing Day.  The Huskers received verbal commitments from four prospects who live in Florida, Mississippi, Southern California, and Las Vegas on a weekend with a winter storm that dumped over six inches of snow.  If they can pull that off, I’m excited to see what they can do with a full recruiting cycle.

Long snappers are people too.

One of the last recruits in this class was long snapper Jordan Ober.  During his official visit, I heard a couple of local radio hosts questioning if Nebraska should “waste” a scholarship on a long snapper.  Their argument centered on the idea that the staff – especially Special Teams Coordinator Bruce Read – should be able to take an existing player on the roster and develop them into a long snapper.

I couldn’t disagree with this more.

Sure, I’ll concede that a coach at a Power 5 program should be able to identify and develop a respectable long snapper out of 85 scholarship players, but is that how you want to run your program?  Every week, games are won and lost due to miscues in special teams.  So many bad things can happen with a bad snap:  blocked punts, rushed kicks, shanks, turnovers, or quick points for the opposition.  Why would you risk that with a player who long snaps as a side job?  Would you rather recruit an “athlete” to play quarterback, or would you prefer to recruit a true quarterback?  The same logic applies here.

Much like a good referee, you shouldn’t notice when a long snapper does his job at a high level.  For almost 10 years, Nebraska has enjoyed a strong run at the position.  T.J. O’Leary, P.J. Mangieri, and Gabe Miller were excellent performers, but Miller’s career-ending back injury almost meant using Nate Gerry as the long snapper.  Instead of risking field position and turnovers, Nebraska is wisely finding somebody with the talent and ability to do the job full-time for (hopefully) the next four years.

Considering that scholarship probably would have otherwise gone to some two star prospect who may only contribute for a year or two, I think Ober’s scholarship is a wise move.

Go Big Red goes (Gretna) green.

Two of the preferred walk-ons in the 2015 class are from Gretna High School:  linebacker Jared Brugmann and fullback Austin Hemphill.  This brings the number of Dragons on the NU roster to five (TE Jared Blum, FB Andy Janovich, and DE Mick Stoltenberg are the others).  The five Gretna Dragons ties Lincoln Southeast Knights for the school with the most players on the roster (side note:  the only other school with more than two players at NU is Edna Karr H.S. in New Orleans with three).

As an unabashed lover of fullbacks, the only thing better than a walk-on fullback is a walk-on fullback from your alma mater.  Here’s hoping that offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf has a double fullback formation for the fall.

Give ’em hell, Dragons!

Gymnasts are messing with perfection

The #7 Nebraska Women’s Gymnastics team is off to an impressive start.  Coming off of a Super Six final appearance in 2014, they are 5-1 this year, with the lone loss at #4 Michigan.

But one of the highlights of this season has been sophomore Ashley Lambert, who has recorded a perfect 10.0 on the vault.


The Huskers have a strong lineup with All-America caliber performers in every event.  Plus, every gymnast will “throw the bones” at some point during her floor routine, which I enjoy.

Their next meet is this Saturday (February 6) at 6 pm against Iowa at Devaney.  My family has become big fans of this program over the past few years, as it is cheap entertainment (free admission with a popcorn box top), the team is fun to watch, and they are pretty damn good.

Baseball weather is here

If there is eight inches of snow on the ground in February, it can only mean one thing:  Nebraska Baseball is starting their season soon.

Sure enough, the season starts next weekend (February 13) at UNLV.  Hopefully, the snow will be all gone when the Huskers have their home opener on March 10.


Husker Hot Takes – 11/15/14

The weather is cold, but the takes are hot:

A teenage boy makes grown men lose their minds.
There has been much hand-wringing over a certain high-profile running back recruit potentially decommitting from Nebraska.  One report said it was a done deal.  Another said not so fast.  A third said “beats me, I have no clue”.

All of this uncertainty, left those who passionately follow recruiting twisting in the wind.  Sadly, the reactions were predictable:  When it appeared as if this kid was not going to honor his verbal pledge to Nebraska he was trashed on message boards and Twitter.  Who needs him?  Then when word came out that he was not necessarily leaving, folks backtracked and started proclaiming him the heir apparent for Ameer Abdullah.

But the worst happened Friday night.  Reports came out that this young man suffered a “leg injury” in his high school game.  I saw more than one grown man suggest that his injury (the severity of which was not immediately known) was – and I quote – “karma” for being less than 110% certain where he wants to spend the next four years of his life.

I find this absolutely disgusting.

If you want to be disappointed that a potential difference-making player may not end up in Lincoln, that’s fine*.

*Although you probably should remind yourself that of the three running backs NU signed a few years ago, Ameer Abdullah was the least touted of the bunch.

But when you find some sort of sick satisfaction in a high school kid getting injured, that is reprehensible – and it’s not what Nebraska is about.  Even worse, are the grown-a__ men who feel the need to tweet or message their frustrations to a kid because they feel like a spurned lover.  Nebraska’s compliance department had to issue a reminder that it is a NCAA violation for fans to have direct contact with recruits.  Besides, it’s creepy and gross.

You probably noticed that I’ve gone out of my way to not name the kid in the middle of this brouhaha.  Why?  If he’s as talented as advertised, I’d like for him to end up at Nebraska.  But would you go (or want your son to go) to a place where the fans will turn on you at the drop of a hat?  Since I believe that most kids (as well as most adults) do search for and read things written about them, I’m not going to help bring this crap to his attention.  The less people outside our fan base know about this, the better.

The Committee hates Nebraska.
Nebraska dropped three spots in the latest College Football Playoff poll, despite a) not playing a game and b) multiple teams ranked ahead of NU losing last week.  As one might expect, this news was met with confusion, anger, and accusations that the Committee (containing a bunch of very respected football minds) is stupid, biased, or is conspiring against Nebraska.

Certainly, there is confusion throughout the nation on what the Committee wants to see and will reward.  “Quality” wins over ranked teams certainly seems to be something they value.  Without getting into a team-by-team scheduling breakdown, Nebraska is lacking.  Their best win (Miami) was almost two months ago.  Since then, NU has beaten who they should beat and lost to the only ranked team they played.

The answer here is simple:  We should ditch this stupid playoff and go back to the BCS.

Or, and this may be even crazier, Nebraska should only worry about winning games.  If NU wins out, I’m confident they will be rewarded for their efforts.  But if NU loses to Wisconsin, Minnesota, or Iowa, then where they were ranked on Veteran’s Day won’t matter at all.

Screw Freedom.  Let’s battle for the right to wear a red shirt.
Since the announcement of the new Freedom Trophy (ugh), fans of Wisconsin and Nebraska have pushed for different stakes on the budding Wisconsin-Nebraska rivalry:  Instead of some generic (and rather ugly) trophy, let the two teams find out who the “real” Big Red is.  They propose that the winner gets to wear their red jerseys next year (home or away).

For those of you pushing this idea, I like where your head is at.  It would be a concept unique to college football (to my knowledge) and it certainly is better than the Freedom Trophy*

*Of course, many of the rejected trophy ideas are better than the Freedom Trophy…

But my fellow Husker fans, let’s be honest with ourselves:  say this winner wears red idea take effect, would you really proclaim any school other than Dear Old Nebraska U as the “real” Big Red?  Given the back story of Wisconsin’s rise (inspired by Nebraska’s success, and led by a NU alumnus), as well as Nebraska’s credentials (five titles, three Heismans, top five in all time wins, etc.) wouldn’t you ALWAYS consider Nebraska as the “real” Big Red, even if they happen to lose the occasional game to the Badgers?  I know I would.

In my opinion, a big part of the fun of these trophy games is seeing the winning team race to the opposing sideline to reclaim the trophy before parading it around the stadium.  How would that work here?  If Nebraska losses this year, but wins in 2015 would they change into red jerseys on the sideline after the game?  Run over to the Wisconsin sideline and force the Badgers to remove their red jerseys?  Waiting until next year for the reward is anti-climatic.

Besides, if Nebraska is going to play for something other than a true trophy, I still like the idea that the winner of the Northwestern series gets sole use of “NU” for the following year.

The Huskers hit the gym.
CornFedSports put out a very amusing video showing several Nebraska football players* taking part in a training session with the Nebraska Women’s Gymnastics team.

*Specifically, Jake Cotton, Derek Foster, Jack Gangwish, Andy Janovich, Alex Lewis, Josh Mitchell, and Johnny Stanton.  All of them are good sports for being filmed.

If for no other reason, you should watch it to see Jake Cotton’s floor routine*.

*Sadly, Cotton does not incorporate his Michigan State false start move into a reverse somersault or back hand spring.  Such a missed opportunity.  But he does maintain the Women’s Gym tradition of “throwing the bones” during the floor routine.  

Believe it or not, you’ll see the bones thrown more often at a Nebraska gymnastics meet than any Husker football game since Jason Peter graduated.

As a fan of both programs, I really enjoyed this video.  The stereotype is that the football players are supremely conditioned athletes, capable of excelling in just about any athletic endeavor, while the gymnasts are the little pixies who do cartwheels and flips.  The video does a great job of showing that these ladies are just as tough and strong as their classmates on the football field (as Jack Gangwish’s bloody hands will attest).

Of course, since turnabout is fair play, there is a second video showing some of the gymnasts taking part in football drills.  Let’s just say that Drew Brown and Josh Mitchell do not need to worry about anybody taking their jobs.



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