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Shatel: The mailbag hits Husker bowl games, Creighton's future, UNO hockey what ifs and more
FIRST DOWNS AND SECOND GUESSES

Shatel: The mailbag hits Husker bowl games, Creighton's future, UNO hockey what ifs and more

Nebraska opens spring practice this week.

Standing at the crossroads of sports seasons, it seems like a good time for a Twitter Q&A.

Should we call this “Voice From the Cyber Grandstand?”

When will Husker football win six games and go to a bowl? — Larry Podojil, aka “Indiana Husker”

This is a good place to start, with Nebraska spring drills starting Tuesday.

Larry, it can happen next season, on one not-so-simple condition.

Nebraska has matched the physicality of other Big Ten teams. There are veterans everywhere, especially on defense. The system is in place.

And the system is evolving to adapt to Big Ten power. Playmakers must be found on offense, but I believe they are there.

It comes down to this: Can anybody here play this game?

Fundamentals. Good, clean football. Entering Year 4, it’s time for Scott Frost and his staff to make this happen.

Goodbye, drive killers. Fumbles. False starts. Hello, pride in attention to detail. Doing things the right way.

Some of that has to do with confidence. Expecting to win. Player leadership. Above all, it starts with coaching.

Frost referenced it Monday. The Huskers didn’t have spring drills last year. Fundamentals top this spring’s priority list. Good football all the time.

Can the whole team get there in 15 practices? No. But major progress toward that needs to start now.

If they can get there, the wins will start and Nebraska can go bowling next year.

If not, well, it’s likely more of the same.

“What was Frost’s role in Oklahomagate and what does he say about the way it played out?” — Tim Bross

On Monday, Frost was asked specifically about his role in the idea to explore replacing OU next season.

Here’s what he said: Both he and Bill Moos talked about it. He couldn’t remember how it came up. It was done with the idea of adding a home game to offset pandemic financial losses. And he’s always been a fan of the OU series and is excited about the game.

Bottom line: We’ll never really know what happened.

My two cents: This was never about pandemic finances. It was about early-season momentum with a tough schedule. A road map to a bowl.

Moos has since said NU is looking to move its Nov. 13 nonconference game to Sept. 4. This would be a smart move for both ends of the schedule.

I wish they had just done that to begin with and left the OU game alone.

I’ve said my peace. The Nebraska-Oklahoma game is on. Can’t wait.

“How good will Creighton basketball be next year? Will it be a reloading type of year?” — Roger Krohn

It’s hard to know that right now, Roger. Does Marcus Zegarowski come back? If he does, you’re reloading. If not, there will be some rebuilding. He’s that important.

We also need to wait and see how the transfer portal and any fallout from coach Greg McDermott’s late-season comments play out.

Christian Bishop, Shereef Mitchell and Ryan Kalkbrenner form a good nucleus. Is Alex O’Connell back? Antwann Jones? Does CU go after a transfer or two?

I know fans are anxious to see a pair of four-stars, guard Rati Andronikashvili and forward Mason Miller. But they will need help.

Meanwhile, the Big East is in transition with UConn, Georgetown and St. John’s bringing back the old-school power.

I expect Creighton to be part of that transition. It could be a busy April.

“Mike Hastings (Minnesota-Mankato hockey coach) is going to the Frozen Four. Was it a mistake that UNO hockey didn’t hire him?” — Michael Messerly

Hastings is a long-time Omaha Lancers coach and local hockey favorite. He would have been a popular hire after Dean Blais retired. Everything I’ve heard is that Hastings was interested.

Trev Alberts and Mike Kemp wanted to go back to UNO’s roots and get better in the community. Mike Gabinet gave them that.

It’s hard to say Gabinet was not the right choice. He’s growing as a head coach and Mav fans have taken to him. This season, Gabinet got his team through the pandemic and into the NCAA tournament. The future is bright.

“Do you think the NCAA expands the volleyball tournament to 64 like (John) Cook and others have asked?” — David Westfall

No, I don’t at this late date. The field will be announced Sunday. But Cook and others are right. Not having 64 makes no sense. The NCAA women’s basketball tournament is 64. I don’t get it.

“Has your outlook on the Nebraska baseball team changed a little after 15 games?” — Erik Burkhart

No, only because I didn’t have an outlook. After missing last season, I didn’t know what to expect.

Will Bolt’s Huskers have been impressive, to say the least. They keep coming at you. What they did last weekend, I don’t recall happening very often in recent years.

They have a lot of answers and Max Anderson and Co. will just get better. The only problem with expectations this year: the Big Ten’s decision to not play nonconference games.

It may be hard getting more than two Big Ten teams in the NCAA tourney. So far, Nebraska looks like it will be in the conversation.

“Howard Schnellenberger made Miami into a major college football power. Was that good for the game?” — Dan Piller

Absolutely. Schnellenberger, who passed away last weekend, had a major impact on the game. With one game. He should be in the College Hall of Fame for that very reason.

We all know the game. It was the 1984 Orange Bowl, 31-30 over Tom Osborne’s Husker machine.

When that two-point try fell incomplete, college football evolved as a result. At that time, the game needed evolving. NU took one for the sport.

That opened the door to the speed and talent from the state of Florida. Meanwhile, Miami games were must-see dramas, giving the sport a built-in villain.

They weren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but the game was better because of Miami. And Howard and his pipe and helicopter.

I always wondered what would have happened had Schnellenberger stayed in Coral Gables after that national title night. He was a coaching nomad, always looking for another dream to sell. Maybe he knew he was made for that one moment.

“If/when Bill Moos decides to retire back to the Washington ranch, who do you see replacing him?” — Sean Kelly

Sean added that he would be intrigued with NU volleyball coach John Cook. I agree. The Nebraska A.D. job requires a firm handle on football. Cook would have that. And serve as a coaching guru to the coaches.

But my read on Cook is that he’s all-in on his program for the foreseeable future, probably the next four years. And Moos has said he wants to finish out his contract, which has two years left.

If and when that happens, it’s likely Ted Carter and Ronnie Green will have to look elsewhere.

Hey, do you think Barry Alvarez will be tired of playing golf in two years?

One more and I’m outta here: “If you could change the outcome of one past sporting event, what would it be?” — Don Sauberan

Well Don, as a Dodgers and Chargers fan, I’ve got a few of those. More than a few.

But for my audience’s sake, I’ll say the 2009 Big 12 championship game. Get that one second off there, and let Bo Pelini and Ndamukong Suh celebrate a conference championship win over Texas.

Why that one?

Because if that happened, I’d still be in the Big 12.

Great job, everyone. See you next time in the Cyber Grandstand.

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