Man, that Bo Pelini gets all the breaks. That's what a reader pointed out in my email bin after Nebraska's win over Michigan.
Braxton Miller left the Ohio State game last year with an injury. Now, Denard Robinson tweaks a nerve injury in his arm and never returns.
Ohio State and Penn State are ineligible to play in the Big Ten championship game. So if the Huskers get there, they could see a Wisconsin team that just lost quarterback Joel Stave for the season. Unless it's Indiana.
Montee Ball has been injured. Minnesota is starting a true freshman at quarterback. And Iowa has Greg Davis calling plays.
Hmm. I wonder if this reader is a Hawkeye fan.
After pointing out that Ball played in NU's 30-27 win over the Badgers this year and neither Wisconsin quarterback really did much to scare NU, I had a simple reply to the reader.
Pelini has some breaks coming.
The one second in the Big 12 championship game. Zebra Night in College Station, Texas. The Big 12's wonderful rematch with Washington in the Holiday Bowl. The Big Ten rolling out a welcome mat of an Ohio State-Wisconsin rotation the first two seasons of league play.
It's true, some of Nebraska's problems have been self-inflicted. But Pelini hasn't exactly had a rose-covered path in five years. If he makes it to Pasadena, he will have pulled a few thorns out of his side along the way.
>> Doug McDermott is the first Associated Press preseason All-American from the Missouri Valley Conference. That's a mouthful. And that's hard to believe. Larry Bird, anyone? Xavier McDaniel?
That note came from Creighton's own Rob Anderson, the school's sports information director and minister of Jays and Valley hoops factoids. Anderson told me on Monday that he researched the note himself, going through various NCAA record books and school websites dating back to 1986, the first year the AP named a preseason All-America team (Bird and the X Man played before then).
D-Mac had the second-largest number of votes for preseason Player of the Year, behind Indiana's Cody Zeller. With these types of things rolling in, CU feels less and less like a mid-major.
>> The Jays were voted the favorite to win the Valley regular-season title. According to Anderson, that's the ninth time CU has had the “honor.” Of the previous eight years the Jays were picked to win, they won it three times and finished second five times, including last season. In six of those eight years, CU made the NCAA tournament.
Makes sense. Teams picked to win their league are usually, um, pretty good.
>> Jeff Jamrog, NU's assistant athletic director for football, said the school sent the Big Ten office tapes of the two penalties for targeting on Saturday night against Michigan. That's not unusual. Schools regularly ask the league's director of officials for explanations for specific penalties during a game.
In this case, the info could be helpful. A defender “targeting” a ball carrier with his helmet is a rule that is subjective and needs clarification. When does an official call it? When can he be certain of intent?
NU will argue that P.J. Smith and Josh Mitchell were not leading with their helmets but with their shoulders. The plays happen fast. The official might think that he sees the helmet first. And the ref might have a better angle than anyone else.
You could replay every penalty. Bad idea. But this is a case, with a stern 15-yard penalty, where replay would be a good idea. Pelini agreed, but added, “I doubt that they ever do that.”
>> Creighton and Nebraska had closed-door scrimmages with Iowa and Iowa State, respectively, over the weekend. Media and fans aren't allowed to watch. And coaches can speak only in general terms about what happened.
I'm all for full disclosure, but this isn't a bad idea. Mostly, because it's not exactly a game. In many cases, each coach will request the other to run a certain press or defense or offense so that his team can work on something.
Sometimes the scrimmages resemble games. Other times, it's simulated to work on certain structures. Something to keep in mind for those hearing certain reports about how CU and NU looked.
Here's a better idea: Let's play Creighton-Iowa and NU-ISU in December, for real.
>> I attended the Lancers opener at Ralston Arena on Friday night. The area's newest facility is compact but very impressive. Fans are close to the action and not far from one of four concession stands, not counting the individual stands in the corners. It's a full-service arena, including PlayStation games in the concourse's end zone. There wasn't a lot of noise on Friday night, thanks to Tri-City shutting down Omaha, but it's easy to see that the brand new cracker box will get rocking.
Among the fans I ran into on Friday were Ted Baer, the former Lancers owner, and Greg Shea, Tri-City's president (and formerly of the Omaha Racers), both old vets of the Ak-Sar-Ben Coliseum. Both compared the Ralston Arena to a “small CenturyLink Center.” Kudos to Ralston officials. They did it right.
>> Nebraska volleyball coach John Cook wouldn't rank Sunday's epic win over Penn State among the greatest games in the NU Coliseum. He said it was “too soon.”
But Cook allowed that the game was on top on the “loudness scale.”
The question is, can Husker volleyball and its fans transfer that atmosphere to the Devaney Center next year? Cook and Terry Pettit worked for years to develop a unique atmosphere at the Coliseum, one that has played a part in more than a few big wins.
According to Cook, there is a plan to put “25 percent more seats in the lower bowl” at the Devaney Center, than currently exist, which should amp up the volume.
“I've been at the Devaney Center when they had 13,000 fans and it was loud,” Cook said. “But it wasn't as loud as 4,000 in the Coliseum. We'd like to make it louder over there.”
>> Can we please have the four-team playoff this year? The debate has already begun on who has the tougher schedule among K-State, Oregon and Notre Dame — the latter of whom both play USC (and Oregon might play USC twice). Assuming those two beat USC, the Trojans will have at least four losses. Meanwhile, Oklahoma, a K-State and ND prize, might end up with three losses. Good luck separating that bunch. Anyone get the feeling that Bama could lose?
>> Is this a good time to mention that I picked the Giants over the Tigers in the World Series a few weeks ago? If not, I can always come back and do it another time. Wish I had been real smart and said Pablo Sandoval was going to go Reggie Jackson on the Tigers. The last time I saw a third baseman that big, he almost knocked me into the keg as I was rounding third base on a Sunday Night Softball League many moons ago.
>> If you'd like to listen to the smartest man in the room, join me next Tuesday, Nov. 6, for my lunch series at the Omaha Press Club at noon. The smart guy would be my guest, Creighton Athletic Director Bruce Rasmussen, the architect of the Jays' athletic machine and a guy who has a building named after him.
>> One more and I'm outta here: A salute to the friends of Budge Porter who contributed funds and their time to build Porter's new barrier-free home in west Omaha. Porter, who was paralyzed in an injury during Nebraska spring practice in 1976, now has a house in which he can visit every room in his wheelchair. The Porters, and all of their friends, are a class act.
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