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Shatel: Frost, Wan'Dale, Hoiberg, Sellout Streaks and more in a Twitter mailbag
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FIRST DOWNS AND SECOND GUESSES

Shatel: Frost, Wan'Dale, Hoiberg, Sellout Streaks and more in a Twitter mailbag

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First downs and second guesses:

This week it’s time to throw a line into shark-infested waters. Otherwise known as a Twitter Q&A.

» “Would just making a bowl game in 2021 be considered a successful season? Or does there need to be more to quiet the anti-Frost folks?” — Ted Schultz.

I believe Husker fans are so hungry they would celebrate a bowl game. Remember, NU could have made a bowl this year. Not sure if that would have “counted” or not.

Look around the Big Ten West, especially now that Bret Bielema is back. Bowl seasons will be hard-earned.

And if NU goes bowling with that schedule next year, with the issues Scott Frost faces, that will be considered a tremendous season.

This maddening drought has humbled many, including a certain old scribe I know. My take: the 7-5, 8-4 and 9-3 bowl seasons should never again be under-appreciated. It’s okay to dream the big dreams, but never take winning for granted.

The old scribe would like to go back and tell a certain younger scribe all about that. Both are devilishly handsome.

» “Is 2021 make or break for Frost? What record saves/sinks him?”

No, nor should it be. Nebraska needs to get off the coaching change carousel. I get it. It’s time to win. First, Nebraska needs to build. Frost is building. It’s taking longer than anyone would like, for sure.

There has been progress. The defense has shaped up. The Huskers have matched Big Ten physicality. We need to see the whole puzzle start to come together next season, offense and special teams. And fix those darned mistakes.

Next year could be rough, with an unforgiving schedule, Frost still plugging holes and growing impatience. Make or break? Nah.

» Is Wan’Dale leaving a sign that Frost is switching to a more power offense? And is Wan’Dale leaving making that transition easier?” — Lloyd Harding.

“Do you think the offense will have more room to breathe next year without worrying about force-feeding the ball to Wan’Dale?” — Erik Sindt.

First, losing a playmaker like Robinson shouldn’t make anything easier. If it does, you have the wrong scheme or play-caller.

This is the perfect time, however, for Frost to re-assess how his roster and scheme match up. There are tight ends and receivers coming into the program. There is a fourth-year quarterback who runs it better than he throws it.

There is a quarterback behind him who runs it better than he throws it.

Given that, a move to more of a quarterback run game would make sense. Option? As a wrinkle, heck yes. At Rutgers, Adrian Martinez and Dedrick Mills were hell on wheels.

But Mills is gone. Is there anybody like him in the wings? Is Markese Stepp eligible next season? Is there a downfield threat among the receivers? Is this offense going to lean on the run game and tight ends?

Bottom line: Frost should find out what his players do best. And go do it.

» “March Madness will be in the state of Indiana this year. If Creighton is sent to Hinkle Fieldhouse for its games do you continue to see them struggle? Creighton hasn’t won at Butler since 2017.” — Michael Messerly.

No, I think Creighton will be fine. And I believe they’ll be locked in come March — and hopefully have a healthy Marcus Zegarowski.

Just in case, though, it wouldn’t hurt for Greg McDermott to bring a tape measure for the free-throw line and rim.

» “Did you know that Darian DeVries was this good?” — Dan Silvia.

I knew he could coach. I thought he would be a head coach at a mid-major level school.

Did I think he would have 58 wins halfway through his third year at Drake — a school that has struggled in the Missouri Valley? And look like a sure bet to get a major coaching job? Nope.

As DeVries got more responsibility from McDermott at CU, you heard about his growth as a coach. It was all true. The development in Mac’s program does not just extend to the players.

» “Is the Husker sellout streak in jeopardy? And if not now, when might it be? Also, where is Nebraska vs other schools in its ability to throw money at problems?” — Dean Lampman.

If Memorial Stadium is allowed to be full next season, it will be full. I promise you that. People are too hungry to get back. Plus, there’s Ohio State, Michigan, Iowa and Wisconsin coming to town.

I hear theories that the pandemic will cause some fans to stay home, because of finances or new habits. We’ll see.

I think continued losing seasons would be more of a culprit. But not next season. In 2022, the Oklahoma Sooners come to town. Anybody got any extra tickets?

As for money, NU entered this year with a nice reserve fund, around $60 million. I’m not sure how much of that was used. They are doing better than others. But they’re not throwing money around down there. And nobody wants to see another year like the last one.

» “If you could have a five-star athlete or a hard-working, grinder three-star athlete, who would you pick for your team?” — Curt Zegers.

That’s assuming five-stars don’t grind, that everything comes easy. That’s not always true. But I hear what you’re saying, Curt.

I’m more partial to the grinders who get coached up and make plays. Anyone who makes plays. A five-star with competitive drive? Even better.

» “Has anyone asked the Big Ten its rationale for no non-conference baseball games? Hoops allowed and that’s inside and closer contact.” — MoCaddyshack.

Rationale and Big Ten don't always go together. The inconsistency in allowing basketball to play noncon games is puzzling. If travel is the reason, let baseball teams schedule bus trips against regional nonconference opponents, like Kansas or Kansas State.

The SEC and Big 12 are allowing nonconference games. I don’t get it. It's not exactly going to lead to pumped-up RPIs for Big Ten teams come tournament time.

» “What ails the College Football Playoff more than anything and what is the impact on college football?” — Kendall Meade.

The CFP needs to be more inclusive. Get more teams involved. Make the league championships count.

You really want to change the CFP? Get Nick Saban to retire.

» “Derrin Hansen on the hot seat?” — Ben Egeland.

My personal opinion, no. There should be no hot seats during a pandemic season. That said, the NFL had its usual parade of openings and the Tennessee Vols are in the market for a football coach. Again.

Hansen has been very competitive in the Summit League and has played for the tourney’s NCAA bid twice. He needs to get the brass ring one of these years. This year, it’s hard to say if there will even be a conference tourney.

» “How long does the NU Hoops losing streak last?” — Bob Z.

Great question. When do the Huskers get to play again?

Fred Hoiberg tried a near-impossible feat, taking a bunch of players who had never played together and trying to find ways to win in this unforgiving league. The Big Ten is full of established programs with veteran players. I thought Indiana was one they could steal. Gotta play consistent D and make shots.

But now the COVID-19 outbreak has this developmental season on the ropes. The priority now? Get well soon, especially Hoiberg.

» “Will I be back in Memorial Stadium next fall? Better question: TD Ameritrade Park in June?” — Sean Kelly.

My best guess in January is yes, but not at full capacity. I believe football will be close to 75%. CWS? Maybe 40 or 50? So I hope you have good connections, Sean.

» “What was the greatest sporting event you have witnessed in person?” — Cory Worrell.

The 1984 British Open at St. Andrews. I was there to cover Tom Watson, going for his sixth Open title.

On Sunday, Watson was on the 17th Road Hole with a one-shot lead over Seve Ballesteros, who was playing 18. I was watching from behind the road as Watson flew the green, hit the wall and took bogey. That was when a huge roar went up on the 18th green — Seve making birdie. I can still hear that roar.

I put that just ahead of watching the first Dream Team win the 1992 Gold Medal in Barcelona. Man, I’ve been lucky.

» One more and I’m outta here: “What are the chances you’ll do a push-up contest with me? Winner buys loser a socially-distanced coffee.” — Alex Shriver.

You win. I’ll buy.

Tom Shatel's favorite stories of 2020

The drama of Big Ten football. A September day without the Huskers. These are among Tom Shatel's favorite columns of the year.

Omaha World-Herald: Big Red

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