Wow, talk about perfect timing. Creighton loses two in a row and Bruce Rasmussen is named to the NCAA Division I Basketball Committee.
Sorry, Rasmussen joins the “Selection Committee” next year.
And even then, he'll have to leave the room when the committee discusses Creighton or anyone else in the Missouri Valley Conference.
But this was huge news at Creighton on Monday. This is the most famous and prestigious NCAA committee, if not the most powerful. Fans don't pay attention to committees, but for NCAA and college hoops officials, this is akin to CU making the Sweet 16 or Final Four. A group of Catholic Seven presidents may take note, too.
Consider, too, that Rasmussen is only the second committee member ever from the Missouri Valley Conference (Commissioner Doug Elgin) and the first Valley athletic director.
The NCAA has been on a losing streak lately, but it got this one right. Rasmussen is recognized as one of the smartest A.D.s in the country. His connections and relationship with the NCAA during the College World Series served him well, along with serving on the NCAA's competition committee. He deserves it. He'll be great.
He'll be asked to keep tabs on two or three conferences but also every other bubble team in the country. He'll watch twice as many games on TV. He'll get a “Nitty-Gritty” packet and a big binder with his name on it and everything. He'll travel more. He'll be accused of bias by fans of teams who get left out. He'll have a great seat at the Final Four (scorer's table).
“It's a position that a lot of people covet,” Rasmussen said. “I'm humbled and honored to be on it. I found out last week during the Indiana State game, so it was hard to get excited. I would have traded it for a few baskets.”
Congrats, Bruce. Oh, and you have two calls holding. Line two is Gregg Marshall, line three is John Calipari.
>> I asked Rasmussen to play committee member this year. Are his Bluejays in the NCAA tourney now?
“If we were selecting the teams today, I'd say we're in,” Rasmussen said. “Our nonconference schedule is looking better than people thought. The committee looks at good wins and bad losses. Right now we have a couple bad losses, but I think at the end Illinois State is not going to look like a bad loss.
“Can we lose again? Yes. But I don't think we can lose a lot more games.”
I agree. But the Jays are trending toward the bubble. This week's games are must-win if only because losses to Northern Iowa and Evansville would be devastating. Jerry Palm of CBSSports.com has three Valley teams in right now. I'll believe it when I see it. Mid-majors don't get “credit” for league losses like a Big 12 or Big Ten school. And now schools like Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Illinois are making runs. I see one of the three getting left out. We'll know more about the Jays' status next week.
>> The Big Ten football coaches met on Monday. No word yet if Urban Meyer was locked out of the room.
Meyer, who took the league's coaches to task for their recruiting effort last week, might have had some impact. The coaches said they support either nine- or 10-game conference schedules (eight is off the table), won't stand in the way of evening games in November and want the NCAA to reconsider the new recruiting structure of unlimited access to high school players.
The Ohio State coach may have swayed the group to consider evening games in November, which aren't fan-friendly but make it easier to get recruits to the game — and prime-time TV serves as a recruiter, too. I could see Meyer embracing the new NCAA unlimited access plan for recruiting, though the Big Ten coaches took a stand against recruiting insanity. I don't think it will change the NCAA's mind. The NCAA can't keep a finger on what schools do now in recruiting and it has no interest in trying anymore. I feel bad for the coaches who have to keep up with the schools (SEC) who will pour millions of dollars and manpower into recruiting. I feel worse for the high school studs and their parents. If I were them, I'd get unlisted numbers.
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>> I'm a fan of nine conference games. Ten? That severely limits your nonconference options, and Nebraska has traditionally played some compelling intersectional games. Ten games apparently make for a balanced number of home and away conference games, but it also makes it harder for schools to have the desired seven home games per fall. I say play a league game in September, too. Would NU consider having a Big Ten game for its opener?
>> Most of the complaints I heard after Saturday's “Battles On Ice” hockey games at TD Ameritrade Park were about the ticket prices. According to a UNO official, the Omaha Sports Commission set them. I thought they were a little high. Hockey is still a blue-collar sport in this town. There are going to be those who want the club level experience. But if the idea is to grow the game, and attract new fans, make it affordable. UNO coach Dean Blais says he's interested in doing it again. Officials might consider doing it in December or January and making it a nonconference opponent. You want your league games where fans can pound on the glass, not where the zamboni has to come in from the bullpen.
>> Some people called the hockey event a disaster. Not by Pat Lawlor's standards. The owner of Lawlor's reported that his store did $37,000 in sales on Saturday, as fans scooped up stocking caps, pucks, scarves, horns, bells and hoodies. Lawlor said that was double what he sold at UNO's opening game back in 1997. Just think if they had sold North Dakota gear.
>> If you wrote off Omaha Central recently, I hope you used pencil. Nobody remembers the Eagles' recent losses after their legacy win over Oak Hill Academy in front of a fired-up, partisan Nebraska crowd in Grand Island on Saturday night. Good for the fans for rooting for the Nebraska kids. Good for Eric Behrens' bunch for landing a blow for Nebraska high school basketball. The Eagles' season is now back on schedule, with the goal of a fourth consecutive state title clearly in sight.
>> Congrats to the folks of Grand Island for their hospitality to the Oak Hill team. It's not hard to find a good steak in Grand Island.
>> We'll know more in the next couple years, but Bo Pelini's recruiting class appeared to be a success because 1) it looked to fill needs on the roster, which has always been a Nebraska tradition in February, and 2) it appeared to build depth. Yes, development is important. But depth helps development because depth promotes competition on the roster. Nebraska's program will get better with more competition from quality players pushing each other to get on the field. That's a fact.
>> I say Husker Hoops wins two more games down the stretch, both of them at home. That's from Michigan State, Iowa and Minnesota. You only rush the floor for beating one of those. I'll let you figure out which one.
>> Gee, look who's in this week's Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue — none other than Katherine Webb, the former Miss Alabama and the object of Brent Musburger's admiration during the BCS championship. Should SI apologize, too? Better question: Will Brent buy a copy?
>> One more and I'm outta here: Please join me for lunch today at the Omaha Press Club with special guest Sean Callahan, of HuskerOnline.com, KFAB and KETV. Callahan will discuss Nebraska's recent recruiting class, the state of football recruiting in the future and the unique task of covering recruiting full-time. You can send Sean as many texts as you want. See you at noon.
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