Published Monday, February 18, 2013 at 12:01 am / Updated at 1:22 am
first downs and second guesses
Shatel: NU needs a bigger tribute to Devaney

The world doesn't need another statue. But Nebraska needs a Bob Devaney statue.

Or something with the legend's name on it in Memorial Stadium, not necessarily the house that Devaney built, but one that he had remodeled a time or two.

Yes, I know there's a plaque outside the stadium honoring Devaney and Tom Osborne. But it's underwhelming, considering the stature of the man's legacy. And to be sure, there's the Devaney Center, though that was always a nod to Devaney the athletic director. And, no offense to the remaining inhabitants of the Devaney Center, but beginning next year, fewer people will go there, fewer will say or see the name.

I like the idea of a Devaney statue outside the new east stadium entrance, which will open in the fall. Or inside a concourse, or even in the football complex, anywhere where the public is allowed to go. It's not too late. Ohio State just unveiled a statue of Woody Hayes outside its football complex.

At the very least, the names Devaney and Osborne should be on the wall of fame under the video board. The man built Nebraska football. His likeness, or name, should be seen where the game is played. If there's a statue of Osborne, why not have one of Devaney?

>> Creighton realignment might happen, it might not happen. The seven Catholic presidents don't have a commissioner or a TV deal yet and many of them don't want to deal with athletics, except for their parking pass at the games. And some of them might actually believe Creighton fans go to games in a stagecoach. I'm not joking.

Here's what I believe: Catholic president/East Coast politics will play some role in the final lineup. Also, “advice” from Fox Sports will be a factor. Do Siena and Detroit make sense? No. St. John's carries the New York market, but Fox might want Detroit, although does anyone in Detroit even watch that school play? Doesn't mean it couldn't happen.

If you were putting together a basketball league, you'd grab Gonzaga, Creighton, Wichita State — New Mexico and Colorado State, too. But who knows what the presidents and TV people are thinking? Who knows if Creighton has “western” schools DePaul, Marquette, Xavier or Butler fighting for it? Maybe the presidents will want to impact just one league (the A-10) and not a second (the Valley).

Bottom line, Creightonians: Beware what you read or hear, use grains of salt. Names are often floated in realignment to gauge reaction or leverage.

>> Got an email that brightened my Monday: Steve Idelman, the owner of the Omaha Racers, says there will be a reunion this summer to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Racers' 1993 CBA championship team. Details are still being worked out, but they want to fit it around the schedules of former coach Mike Thibault (now coaching in the WNBA) and Tim Legler's job as an ESPN analyst. The event is tentatively planned for the Ralston Arena — a venue that Idelman wrote, “wish we had when we had the Racers.” He added, “I hope I don't get thrown out of the gym.” Stay tuned. This is going to be fun.

>> I'm not sure Trev Alberts knew this was going to happen, but the UNO A.D. looks smart now saying a move to the FCS level (to play the area big boy schools as a revenue source) was not the way to go. Looks like the Big Ten is going to shut down that scheduling angle. And with the move to a playoff committee, the Big 12 might do that, too. If UNO had moved to the FCS, where would the money be coming from?

>> Like the adjustment to Barney Cotton's duties. Nebraska's offensive line hasn't been the problem — or the solution, for that matter. John Garrison might be the guy to elevate the group, or at least tighten up the penalty factor. Meanwhile, Cotton knows the power run game and that could go well with Tim Beck's vision for spread and running out of it. Cotton, who did a good job as offensive coordinator at Iowa State, will have something to offer in his new role. The O-Line needed a jolt and there's chemistry on the offensive staff. Looks like a couple of good moves.

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>> Ken Clark might have been one of the most underrated, if not underappreciated, Nebraska running backs in history. And that was no small feat. Clark was overshadowed by the true stars of those 1986-88 Huskers, Steve Taylor and Broderick Thomas and Neil Smith, but he was an engine that drove that bunch. He was a relentless runner, able to bull for tough yards against the 1988 Sooners' defense or outrun the rest of the Big Eight if needed. Clark has the numbers to make him one of NU's top running backs of all time. But his greatness was found in the way he embodied the Tom Osborne era, with a classy, unassuming work ethic. That will be his legacy and it's a great one to have.

>> Most people assumed Nebraska would push to sell beer when the Pinnacle Bank Arena opens next year, but last week Shawn Eichorst intimated on his radio show that he wasn't leaning that way. That's fine. Beer doesn't fill basketball arenas, winning teams do. It's not cheap in new arenas, either. College kids might be holding a drink in one hand and a sign that says, “Mom, send more money” in the other. You might have older Husker fans asking the same of their wives.

But alcohol shouldn't taint the NU image either way. I think the idea of Nebraska morals is a fine thing, but it's also overdone. Go down to your corner bar on Friday and Saturday night and you'll see Nebraskans being Nebraskans, enjoying themselves without being embarrassing. Creighton fans don't go to games because of beer (and didn't go when they sold it at the Civic); they like a winning product and a nice place to watch the game. What CU has found out, too, is that beer provides a nice revenue stream. NU should do what's best for NU. But beer won't fill the arena. Tim Miles has to do that.

>> Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith says he expects the Buckeyes and Michigan to be in the same division when the smoke clears from the Big Ten board room in the ensuing months. That storied rivalry demands it. If you're Nebraska, you would miss Michigan in this sense: The Wolverines would make NU better. But NU doesn't need that incentive. The wolves howling at Bo Pelini after a 10-win season provide that fire.

Give me a division with Nebraska, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Northwestern, Iowa, Minnesota and Illinois. That's a place where the Huskers can grow into the Big Ten, their fans can learn to enjoy the Big Ten, and a place where NU should compete for the division title on a regular basis. Almost like being in the Big Eight, with parkas.

>> For a minute there Saturday night, I thought I was at a Kansas game at the Devaney Center. The press conference room was full to the brim for Michigan State coach Tom Izzo. Meanwhile, the Sparty fans in green took over the floor and the MSU corner of the arena after the game. There may have been more Spartan fans than I ever remember KU fans hanging out by the locker room, including an old friend, Adam Teicher, the Chiefs beat writer for the Kansas City Star and an MSU grad.

>> Thirty minutes after the loss to Michigan State, NU coach Tim Miles was still on the floor, posing for photos with fans, selling good will. He may have been avoiding the press conference, too.

>> If the NBA doesn't work out for Illinois State forward Jackie Carmichael, maybe he can try Ultimate Fighting. Either that, or audition to be the next “Karate Kid.”

>> There will be a Bob Gibson statue, and it will be unveiled on April 11 at Werner Park. The night before, the Sarpy County Sports Commission will honor Gibson at a dinner at the La Vista Embassy Suites, where Gibson will be joined by former St. Louis Cardinals teammates Tim McCarver, Joe Torre and Bill White. Tickets are $100 each or $1,000 for a table of 10 and can be purchased online at www.bobgibsonproject.org or by mail through the Sarpy County Sports Commission, 501 Olson Drive, Suite 210, Papillion, NE, 68046.

>> One more and I'm outta here: A glove bump to the Creighton baseball team, and Valley player of the week Alex Staehely, for their sweep of Dallas Baptist right out of the gate. Did somebody say it was February? The Jays scored 29 runs in their first three games. That Rasmussen Center must be something.

Contact the writer:

402-444-1025, tom.shatel@owh.com, twitter.com/tomshatelOWH

Contact the writer: Tom Shatel

tom.shatel@owh.com    |   402-444-1025    |  

Tom Shatel is a sports columnist who covers the city, regional and state scene.

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