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Shatel: Cyclones brew up a big win; is Nebraska ready to do the same?

Shatel: Cyclones brew up a big win; is Nebraska ready to do the same?

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First downs and second guesses with bonus Bob Gibson stories:

» Heard from a reader who wanted to know how Nebraska would do against Iowa State. Well, let’s find out.

» Here’s my pitch: Match Nebraska against Iowa State and Creighton against Iowa. One day doubleheader at the CHI Health Center. Gotta think Fred Hoiberg would agree to play his old school. Would the Cy’s play Fred?

» Oh, you meant football? I don’t know what brand of Nebraska football we’re going to see starting on Oct. 24. But you’d have to consider Matt Campbell’s group a favorite for such a game.

The Cyclones are fundamentally sound, have a play-making quarterback and running back, good offensive line, physical defense with decent speed and beat Oklahoma with the help of a long kickoff return. They play with an attitude.

We’ll never know how that game would turn out, but that’s not the comparison I have in mind anyway.

Iowa State beat Oklahoma in Ames for the first time since 1960. The Cy’s had won in Norman in 2017, but this felt different. The celebration in the locker room looked different. It felt like a moment for the program.

The Cyclones, 2-0 in the Big 12, have not won a conference title in football since tying Nebraska for the Missouri Valley title in 1912. The two did not play that season.

And Cubs fans thought they had a drought.

Iowa State still has a lot of work left and a pandemic to maneuver. But that’s the kind of win that can change attitudes and programs.

How close is Nebraska to getting to that moment?

If there’s a comparable game to ISU-OU, it would be NU’s series with Wisconsin. You feel like Nebraska won’t be a serious threat to win the Big Ten until the Huskers take down the Badgers.

Could that be this year?

The Badgers, already replacing All-American running back Jonathan Taylor, have now lost veteran quarterback Jack Coan for several weeks with a foot injury.

Wisconsin comes to Lincoln the second week of the season. No matter what happens to NU in Columbus, Ohio, the week before, there will be an expectation of improvement for the second game.

The problem with this theory is Wisconsin Coach Paul Chryst, one of the top three coaches in the Big Ten. And everything else the Badgers return. And the fact that NU just can’t seem to figure out this game.

It’s going to happen sometime, if you keep knocking on the door and make plays. The Huskers’ old Big 12 neighbors showed them that.

» One thing was missing after that Iowa State game: students storming the field and going for the goal posts. The reason is obvious. But I wonder, will those kinds of celebrations ever happen again in football or basketball? It would be OK with this old scribe if they didn’t.

» One more on ISU: The Cyclones played the game in all black alternate uniforms. Cool, yes. But I’d rather see the big win take place with traditional uniforms. Why? The Cyclones might think they have to wear special uniforms to get that type of win.

» The NCAA reportedly is considering granting winter sports athletes an extra year of eligibility for the 2021-22 season.

This would seem to benefit Nebraska more than Creighton.

In Year 2 of his NU program, Hoiberg has a roster full of new players. Transfers, guys who sat out last year, etc. There’s no telling how many will be around next year. But the extra year might entice many to hang around.

Creighton has an older team, and while the idea of this group coming back for an encore next year sounds great, the reality is the core of Greg McDermott’s team is going to be ready to move on.

If the NCAA does grant the extra year, that’s an interesting wrinkle. College hoopers don’t hang around long, whether it’s turning pro or jumping into the transfer portal.

Since the extra year seems based on players not getting a full season in 2020-21, I say make it contingent that if a player takes the extra year, that year must take place in his current program.

I realize these things are meant to benefit the player, but let’s take time to benefit the college game, too.

» One more and I’m outta here: Actually, a bunch more. Several readers reached out with personal stories of interactions with Bob Gibson that offer a glimpse of Omaha’s private legend.

From Joe Lipsey: Joe grew up in Omaha. His mother, Shirley, was part of a civic group with Gibson’s first wife, Charline. They were good friends. So the families became friends.

In 1968, when Lipsey was 14, he went to St. Louis with his father to see a Cardinals game. Gibson picked them up at their hotel and drove them to the game. Already seated in the car were Tim McCarver and Ray Washburn.

Gibson took Joe and his dad into the Cardinals clubhouse, where he met all of the big names. Joe remembers seeing Roger Maris’ glove and trying it on. He and his dad sat behind home plate, courtesy of Gibson. And this was in the middle of Gibson’s historic year.

From James Hunter: James was a student at NU in the summer of 1983. On Saturdays, he and his friends wanted to watch baseball, so they would drive to Bob Gibson’s sports grill, near downtown Omaha, because it had cable.

“We did so hoping Gibson would come by the bar,” wrote James. “He often did. He was a huge man. So nice. He’d call me 'Catfish.’ “

Baseball fans of Gibson’s generation would get that.

From Chad McClellan: Chad relayed a story from an old friend, who was 9 years old when her brother was born in 1980.

Her house needed some work done to make room for the baby. A friend of her mom offered to help and finished the attic to make another room.

The friend did all of his own framing, drywall, painting and flooring. And even made a bed, couch and desk for the room.

That friend was Bob Gibson.

From Bill Whitley: Bill and his wife became friends with Gibson while members at Platteview Country Club. Golf, Bill reports, was “the only thing in life Gibson was terrible at.”

Bill took Gibson to a charity golf event at Champions Run one time. Afterwards, the wine flowed. And Gibson entertained a room of golfers with stories. Bill said, “We all became 10-year-olds. It was priceless.”

Speaking of prices, Bill once asked Gibson about the $25,000 fine for the fist fight with the motorist off Interstate-80. Was it worth it? Bill asked. “Every penny of it,” Gibson said.

Finally, Bill’s wife was in Kansas City during the 2013 All-Star game. Gibson was there, too. They arranged to meet for dinner. Gibson brought along some friends.

Bill says when he asked his wife who was at dinner she reported “Joe Torre, Alex Rodriguez, Ozzie Smith and Derek Jeter.” But she didn't know who they were.

Says Bill, “I told her people would pay $10,000-$20,000 at an auction to have dinner with that group. But that’s why Bob invited my wife. She liked Bob for being Bob and he appreciated that.”


Photos: Bob Gibson through the years

Omaha World-Herald: Big Red

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