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Shatel: Nebraska gets company with Big Ten beef; Creighton, UNO prepare to welcome fans
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FIRST DOWNS AND SECOND GUESSES

Shatel: Nebraska gets company with Big Ten beef; Creighton, UNO prepare to welcome fans

Dedrick Mills has a huge game for Nebraska.

First downs and second guesses, featuring As The Big Ten Turns:

You think the Big Ten has it in for you, Nebraska? Stand in line.

The good folks of Indiana are furious with Commissioner Kevin Warren and the Big Ten office after feeling snubbed by a New Year’s Six bowl game.

IU (6-1) finished at No. 11 in the final College Football Playoff rankings, one spot behind Iowa State (9-3). The Hoosiers, whose only loss was a seven-point defeat at No. 3 Ohio State, are mad about finishing behind a three-loss Cyclone team.

The Hoosiers wanted that Fiesta Bowl spot that was awarded to Iowa State. Or the Peach Bowl berth given to No. 9 Georgia (7-2).

But in this case, their ire is directed at Chicago, not the CFP headquarters in Dallas. IU officials and fans think the Big Ten purposely didn’t campaign for the Hoosiers during their historic season.

Former IU Athletic Director Fred Glass told the Indianapolis Star that the Hoosiers were “done in by the good-old-boy Big Ten football power structure.”

Glass was just getting warmed up.

“There are influential people who don’t want Indiana to be good in football,” Glass said. “They’re used to coming into our state and poaching our best high school players and counting us as a W on their schedules. That’s why they don’t advocate for us.”

The Hoosiers didn’t play in the Big Ten championship game but were the second-highest Big Ten team in the final CFP rankings.

When asked about the Cyclones and Hoosiers, CFP committee chair Gary Barta explained that ISU had better wins (Oklahoma and Texas) than IU.

Barta, by the way, is the athletic director at Iowa. Looking forward to the next Indiana-Iowa game.

Pass the popcorn.

» Anybody else have zero interest in this College Football Playoff? I know how this movie ends.

» Can’t believe there’s going to be great ratings for this year’s games, especially another Bama-Clemson tilt. I’d be in favor of expansion to six or eight, anything that rewards the conference champions with a playoff berth.

Guess what? It makes the regular season more interesting and the conference title games a lot more compelling.

Now make sure the highest ranked Group of Five (Cincinnati) team gets in. The playoff needs new blood. It needs more inclusion. Otherwise, make it a Power Five national title and let the other conferences have their own playoff.

Me? I like the underdog in the NCAA basketball tournament. Let’s get that element in football. We might still end up with Bama-Clemson, but it will be a lot more fun to watch.

» Expansion, of course, would mean another game. We just proved this season that you can play football in the middle of December. So cut the regular season back down to 11 games. Put a playoff game on campus sites.

This is a recording. Just like the College Football Playoff.

» Creighton Athletic Director Bruce Rasmussen told me Wednesday’s home game against Xavier with fans is a “one-game experiment” with no promise of more.

Rasmussen said CU and MECA want to see how it goes, having 1,800 fans in the 18,000-seat arena. The fans will be seated socially distanced around the lower bowl. Some concession stands will be open (not the club). Masks must be worn unless eating or drinking.

Now, who gets tickets?

Rasmussen said CU went by its “priority point system” for donors and season-ticket holders. The top level got access to four tickets, the second level two tickets. If there were any left after that, they went to public sale.

The top donor level will get first shot at other Jays games, with the levels below going on a rotating basis “so that the majority of our fans will get access to some games.”

I wonder how many headaches this will cause for CU officials. Keep the aspirin handy, Rass.

» UNO is also allowing fans to attend home hockey and basketball games in January. If all goes well, the school will let fans in for February games too.

Athletic Director Trev Alberts said the school will allow 1,500 fans for both sports. Tickets are available to the general public online. Season ticket holders were given refunds.

Both the NCHC and Summit League went to doubleheaders this winter. For instance, instead of a home-and-home with North Dakota State basketball, UNO will host two games with NDSU. Then spend a weekend on the road at another Summit League team. Same for hockey.

Alberts said UNO hasn’t decided where fans will sit or if concessions will be open. I wasn't aware that you could have hockey without beer.

» Alberts said the NCHC was thrilled with how the Omaha hockey pod went this month. He said every game was played and there were no positive tests for any of the players.

“Everybody came together to make it happen,” Alberts said. “It was so Omaha.”

» The hockey Mavs, by the way, finished the 10-game pod 6-3-1 and in second place in the NCHC.

Think we can get the entire NCAA hockey tourney at Baxter Arena?

» Agree with our Sam McKewon on Nebraska’s ground game identity going forward. If you’re going to recruit quarterbacks who are more proficient at running than throwing, it makes sense. But can Scott Frost get the running backs? That’s the question.

» I’m no NBA scout, I just watch TNT. But if I were an NBA team, I would take a chance on Damien Jefferson. The senior is CU’s Swiss Army knife, versatile in any job you need, including scoring. That’s a very handy trait for a young basketball player. NBA roster spots are hard to get. The more you can do, the higher your value to a team. DJ is good at everything.

» This column has been hard on Major League Baseball for a myriad of bad moves. Well, it’s time to say well done.

Last week MLB announced it is going to recognize all stats from the Negro Leagues. Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson and Co. will be added to the official records.

A big part of this is Omaha’s own Dan Hirsch, who has worked hard on the website Seamheads.com that provides a database of Negro Leagues records. Hirsch, a passionate baseball historian, was awarded the SABR Baseball Research award in 2012.

I’ll have more from Hirsch as we get close to baseball season. Is it spring yet?

» One more and I’m outta here: Feel good for Iowa State fans. Feel bad that they finally make the Fiesta Bowl and won’t be able to attend. Cruel year. Cruel irony.

But the way Matt Campbell is going, I have a feeling this won’t be their only chance.

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.

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