First downs and second guesses with a glorious reminder that it’s Masters week.
» The pandemic doesn’t play by any rules and sometimes it seems that way for the folks living in it, too.
This Saturday, Nebraska will host its “home opener” against Penn State. No fans will be allowed, per Big Ten order.
The same thing will be true when NU hosts Illinois the following Saturday, Nov. 21.
But then four days later, down the street from Memorial Stadium on Nov. 25, fans will be allowed to attend Nebraska basketball’s season-opening event at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
The Golden Window Classic, which features NU and seven other teams, will take place at Pinnacle Bank Arena and the Devaney Center over five days. Tickets for up to 25% capacity are being sold at PBA. But no fans are allowed at the Devaney Center.
Why are fans allowed at Husker basketball but not Husker football? This makes no sense.
Wait. Nebraska would like to have fans at its football games but the Big Ten said no. Could it be the Big Ten was inconsistent and did not make a similar ruling in basketball?
That makes sense. A sign of the pandemic times.
On Monday, here in Omaha, Creighton announced that fans will not be allowed for CU’s first home game, Dec. 1 against UNO.
Creighton Athletic Director Bruce Rasmussen told me on Monday that the school has worked with MECA officials since last summer and they came up with a good plan for a safe environment.
“The reality is, we’d rather be a little conservative and be safe, especially as the pandemic has expanded,” Rasmussen said. “We’re going to start with no fans and make sure that what we have put forth in theory does work. Then we hopefully will add fans.”
I know some folks want to get to the games, but the way the pandemic keeps picking up steam around here, I wouldn’t be in a hurry. No fans is the right call.
And yet, as I drive around Omaha and see parking lots full at restaurants and bars and stores, it seems that people are determined to live their lives.
The games will still be there one day, folks. Watching Big Ten football games, I haven’t even noticed the stadiums are empty.
OK, it could be that’s because most Big Ten games put me to sleep.
I saw the fans after Notre Dame’s thrilling win over No. 1-ranked Clemson on Saturday. All those students storming the field to engulf the players was a cringe-worthy moment.
I just hope nobody went up and hugged Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who was inexplicably at the game while having tested positive for the virus recently.
Like I said, no rules. It's long past time for the NCAA to step in and make some.
» All credit to Creighton for scheduling the game with UNO. I would not expect this to be an annual event, but with the pandemic jumbling every school’s schedule, it certainly made sense to play this year.
It’s going to be a hoot. Now let’s hope it’s on TV.
» As for Creighton-Nebraska, it’s still on hold, Rasmussen said. The Huskers’ schedule is expected to be released later this week, and Rasmussen said, “Nothing is finalized yet but we’re close.”
» I’ll say this about the gambling measure that passed last week: I don’t think it came with nearly the hoopla that would have been part of such a vote 20 or 30 years ago.
Why? Gambling, especially sports gambling, is already part of the Nebraska culture. Not saying there won’t be casinos or sports books that attract new customers.
But like most everything else in today’s society, people like doing things on their phones. I watch games with friends, average sports dads, who follow their bets on their phones as the games are played. This is the case with all ages.
This will be a game-changer, yes. But how much? It will be interesting.
» OK, let’s take some questions from Twitter:
From G Key: “What did this staff have at UCF that Nebraska doesn’t?”
Good question. A few years ago, Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Bianchi told me that Scott Frost inherited a culture of discipline and doing things right from his predecessor at UCF, George O’Leary.
Frost and his staff had no such thing waiting at Nebraska. So this staff, which was relatively young, had to build said culture without having done it before.
They know what they want. Getting the players to do it is another story.
Winning is the greatest re-enforcer of that. Which comes first, the culture or the winning? Often, the winning.
From Andy Hale: “In your (column) you said (Luke) McCaffrey has three years left after this season … wouldn’t he have four with the Covid waiver?”
Yes, good catch, Andy. McCaffrey would have four years remaining after this season.
From Doug Mellema: “What Big 8 team most identifies with where Nebraska is now? Is this what it felt like to be an Iowa State back then?”
Not sure, Doug, but it’s definitely not what it’s like to be an Iowa State fan right now.
From Chris Franks: “With fans not in the stands, a short schedule and not much to play for at this point, why not have a true rebuild year?”
I said before the season that, with the shortened schedule and the uncertainty of how many games would be played, that this fall would be like a developmental season.
Frost can’t say that. But watch how many young guys play. I believe a ton of them will.
NU still needs to win games. It needs to learn how to win games. If the Huskers can do that this fall, you’ll see a team chemistry or bond form.
I think that has to be the goal, the priority, right now. If the primary players in that chemistry are part of the young talent, that bodes well for 2021 when, hopefully, 12 games will be played.
» Alex Trebek is on my Mount Rushmore of game show hosts, including Monte Hall, Gene Rayburn and Bob Barker.
If you watched TV in the 1960s and ’70s, you watched game shows. They were everywhere. My favorite was Hall and “Let’s Make A Deal.” And Door No. 1.
There aren’t many game shows anymore. “Jeopardy” was one of the few and Trebek made that show relevant and still cool to new generations. There are some bars in Omaha that show “Jeopardy” every day and if it’s not on, the patrons will ask for it.
At least that’s what I hear.
» One more and I’m outta here: It’s a unique Masters, a football season Masters. Alabama is No. 1 so I’m going to go with a former Tide golfer this week. Justin Thomas puts on the green jacket.