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Friday, March 30, 2007

Zack Bowman's Knees Refuse to Cooperate

I already touched on this briefly on the FanHouse, but didn't really expand on my thoughts.

I really, really hoped I would be writing Thursday about a bruise or a sprain, or anything, but a major ligament or tendon. Give me some more time to sit with this, to decide if I can write something unselfish about the loss.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Kenny Wilson's Hopes and Femur Crushed by TV

Unbelievable. A week ago I joked that an ACME safe was going to fall on Sam Keller's head. Instead an effing TV somehow takes out Kenny Wilson. Damn that Wyle E. Coyote!!

Zack Bowman is also reportedly injured, but I don't even want to think about that at this point.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Spring Practice Stuff

Well with spring practices pretty much closed to the media, we aren’t left with much to talk about. I’ll try to hit on a few things, however.

· Larry Asante appears determined to wind up as the starter at strong safety.
“I’m all about perfection,” said Asante, a transfer from Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College. “I want to know everything. When I’m out there on the field, I don’t want to have to think — just read and react to everything. If I know everything like the back of my hand, I’ll be good to go.”
He’s also been sending text messages to defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove. I can only imagine what those must look like.
hA Coz, itz Larry A. XLNT practiS 2day. R U watchN film? I 4get, wot iz my role n Robber 11. Also do I roL my coverage agAnst dbL tights? By d way I jst saw Ricky T. & he sed he h8z U. J/K. LOL. c U l8r.
· Sticking with the defense, Zach Potter wants us to know that he’s no Adam Carriker.
"Everyone's like, 'Well, why can't Zach Potter be 6-7, 300 pounds just like Adam Carriker?' Everyone's different," said Potter…Carriker was "a freak of nature," he said. "I mean, you can ask anybody on our team. He's a special guy. So there might be a little drop-off there, just in that."
I like Zach’s honesty and I personally don’t expect him to “replace” Carriker. I just hope he, or Pierre Allen or Joseph Townsend or somebody can shed blocks against the run and put some pressure on the QB on passing downs.

· The Major Culbert move to RB is looking at least semi-permanent at this point. Some fans are already making comparisons to the way in which the coaching staff handled Leon Jackson, and I can’t say I blame them. I’m sure Major would love to have this settled, but his versatility certainly comes in handy. If nothing else you have to love the guy’s attitude.
“Doesn’t matter,” the 6-foot, 207-pound Culbert said. “Safety. Running back. I just want to get on the field…I was predominantly a running back in high school. I love safety. It don’t matter. I want to play safety, but there’s no preference.”
· Huskers is also reporting that QB guru Bob Johnson is on campus this week to watch Nebraska’s practices and visit with its coaching staff. Johnson is recognized as arguably the nation’s top QB instructor. His son is Rob Johnson the former USC QB who also played for Callahan for a year in Oakland. I don’t know what this means for the development of our quarterbacks, but it is nice to see folks like this hanging around our practices. I don’t seem to remember much of this during the Osborne/Solich eras, but I could be wrong.

· Lastly, I’ve been spending more and more time at the Big 12 FanHouse. Any of you guys made your way over there at all? If so, do you have any feedback? I’d love to get your thoughts on how we can improve it.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Big Red Roundtable - Pre-spring Edition

This month's Big Red Roundtable is being hosted by Husker Mike. It includes the usual cast of characters as well as new faces Midwest Coast Bias and Husker H8ter, AJ (really?). Welcome to the table fellas.

1. The coaching staff says the quarterback race is wide open between Sam Keller, Joe Ganz, Beau Davis, and Patrick Witt. What is your expectation as how this will turn out next season?

I’ve mentioned this already, but I actually like the QBs sharing snaps in the spring. It gives all four a chance to show the coaches what they can do and should do little to negatively impact the progress of the offense come fall. That being said, I believe it is a two-man race between Ganz and Keller. Ganz knows the offense and is as gritty as they come. While he doesn’t have the physical tools of Keller he should be comfortable in the system and might benefit from low expectations. Keller will wind up the starter, but he better not expect guys like Ganz to lay down for him. Keller has the weight of Husker Nation on his shoulders and will have to be prepared to deal with the pressure. Here’s to hoping that the parking incident wasn’t a sign of chinks in his mental armor. If he stays healthy and lives up to even the most modest of expectations, he could leave with a bevy of school records all-conference honors to boot.

2. Besides quarterback, what positions will have the biggest battles and how do you expect them to work out?

I think one of the biggest battles will occur at the safety positions. Right now we have newcomer Larry Asante battling Ricky Thenarse at SS and Tierre Green and Anthony West fighting for the FS spot. With the way things are lined up back there, I’m wondering if the spring is a battle for the SS spot with a chance for the loser of that fight to slide over and compete at FS in the fall. The only reason I’m thinking this is that Thenarse and Asante could very well be our two best safeties. What good does it do us to keep one of them off the field?

I also think we will have a good battle at BDE between Zach Potter and Pierre Allen. Allen is getting all the spring publicity after gaining 40 pounds during his redshirt year, but Potter could benefit from knowing the defense a little better. With a completely re-tooled defensive line, the battle at BDE will be important to our overall defensive success at 2007.

3. Two years ago, the 2005 recruiting class was touted as one of the nation's best. Only a few players from this group have made an impact thus far; who do you expect to emerge this spring?

The 2005 class has certainly had its share of disappointments and is unlikely to ever match the promise that year’s Signing Day. Most fans penciled the bulk of that group in as immediate starters and impact players. While we see a bunch of contributors and a few certified stars (Zac Taylor, Zack Bowman), there is quite a glaring list of washouts.

When looking at who could breakout in 2007, I think Ndamukong Suh has to top the list. Coaches drooled over his NFL-body as a high school star and a few years under Dave Kennedy could not have hurt. With the DT spots wide-open and Coach Callahan claiming Suh to have “all-conference” potential, I expect big things from Ndamukong in 2007. Phillip Dillard is another player that I believe could emerge in 2007. From what I saw from Dillard prior to his injury in 2006, he looked like the prototypical MIKE backer. He’s a little bigger than McKeon and if he comes back healthy could push for time and might actually force Cosgrove to figure out a way to get four linebackers on the field at the same time.

4. In the 1990's, Coach Osborne started matching up the #1 offense against the #1 defense in the spring game. Bill Callahan switched this around and put the #1 offense and defense on the same team, playing against the reserves. Do you prefer a format?

As a fan, I obviously prefer to watch a spring game that pits #1s against #1s. I was in Lincoln for last year’s spring game and found it boring to watch for the most part. I know Osborne stole the idea of #1s against #1s from Bobby Bowden who attributed his team’s in-season progress to matching up the speed of his #1 defense against his #1 offense at least three days per week. The problem with this can be that starters may be more likely to be injured. I mean do we really want to lose Marlon Lucky for the year due to a spring collision with Steve Octavian or Corey McKeon? One thing that I think could help our team overall is that we seem to be developing more depth at many positions. This year it is possible that the reserve secondary facing Keller or Ganz could include Andre Jones, Armando Murillo, Ricky Thenarse and Anthony West. That is quite an upgrade over years past and the offense should benefit from competing against improved depth on the defensive side of the ball.

You can check out the other responses from:
Husker Mike
Midwest Coast Bias Podcast (If you can't listen to the whole show, fast forward about 38 minutes in; their response goes for the last 20 minutes or so)
Corn Nation
Big Red Network

Friday, March 23, 2007

Erin Andrews Picture of the Week

My Nebraska Spring Preview is up at the FanHouse.

Sam Keller Will Pop a Cup in Your Ass

Yikes, Sam Keller was apparently cited for Disturbing the Peace after throwing a plastic cup and yelling obscenities at a female UNL student who outmaneuvered him for a parking spot. I wouldn’t have thought this to be a huge story, but then I remembered what qualifies for news in Nebraska. ESPN, however, also deems the story newsworthy, as does the FanHouse.

When I was at UNL, parking was atrocious. And after over a decade as a college student at three fairly large universities I can honestly say that I had more trouble finding spots at UNL than at any other school. I don’t want to condone Keller’s actions, but there are principles that guide parking lot etiquette and if you break those rules, you do so at your own risk.

This whole thing sounds a bit fishy to me and I can’t help but wonder whether Joe Ganz might have a sister on campus.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Press Conference Tidbits

Coach Callahan spoke with the media yesterday, but failed to disclose anything new or particularly meaningful. I'll recap some portions just the same, however.

On the players’ work in the off-season:
“They’ve worked hard, not only in conditioning, but in video review. They’ve had an opportunity to go back and to review their video and their plays and their performance from last year. I thought that was extremely productive for them, as individuals as well as a team and as a unit. Just to get back into football, to refine their techniques, and to refine themselves.”
I like that the players are spending some time critiquing their play via game film. Research indicates that in almost all fields, people tend to improve by watching both their successes and their failures. While I’m sure this is nothing new, it felt good to read about it here.

A lot was discussed concerning the quarterback situation and Callahan did his best to reiterate that it was a wide-open race.
“I think that people naturally look at this as a two-horse race, and it certainly isn’t even that. I think that Beau Davis has a lot of great attributes that have really been kept in the dark the past two seasons. His performance in his rookie year was really an unfair performance because it was really too soon. He has talent, he has mobility, and a good arm, and has been in this system going on his fourth year, so I think that has some merit. If you look at the successful quarterbacks around the country that have performed at a high level, it usually takes awhile to get to that level. So I don’t want to discount any of the guys in the quarterback race.”
The spring is a perfect time to really evaluate the talent and depth that we have at the QB position. That is why I have no problem with dividing the snaps amongst 3-4 guys. I don’t really expect Beau Davis to do much more than carry a clipboard or signal in plays, but if he earns the spot, so be it. Besides, given our recent luck I half expect an ACME safe to fall on Sam Keller some time in the next few months anyway.

Two questions on Tuesday pertained directly to Mr. Keller concerning whether the job was his to lose and what he brings to the offense. Here is the question I would like to have seen answered:
Coach, I assume you traded your soul to the devil himself in return for Sam Keller. Any regrets? And a follow up – had Sam Keller not found his way to Lincoln, is it safe to say that your house would be on the market right now?
Callahan also addressed concerns about the defensive line:
“We graduated some outstanding players, and that’s not to say that the upcoming players will not be outstanding. I think (sophomore defensive lineman Ndamukong) Suh has a chance to be an all-league performer, I think (junior defensive lineman Ty) Steinkuhler is coming into his own. I look at our end position, and unfortunately (junior defensive end) Barry Turner will be out this spring, but he is a top end when compared with other guys around the country. I think (junior linebacker) Clayton Sievers moving positions should provide us some depth and intrigue in regards to what he can do with a full-time position. And of course (junior defensive end) Zach Potter is a guy that has been around for a couple of years and has only gotten bigger and stronger, so we’re changing him really from a base-five technique to a base-six technique, so that should really tie in to his strengths as a player.”
I guess I didn’t expect a miracle here, but part of me was hoping Callahan had some Jared Tomich clone that he was keeping under wraps until the spring. I think we may have some talent on the D-line, but Buddy Wyatt is certainly going to have to earn his paycheck in 2007.

So with that let's hit the field fellas. Wait, you want an inspirational pre-game speech. Hey, why not. Take it away Coach Coronary-Embolism

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

One More Day

One more day until the beginning of spring practice and hopefully the end of my writer's block. Until then here is a pretty good set of highlights from the 2006 season.

In addition, my first piece at FanHouse should also be up sometime today.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Erin Andrews Picture of the Week - March Madness

Wow, I just had my worst first day ever in an NCAA pick'em. How bad was it? My fiancé, completing her first bracket ever(!) has a two game advantage over me. I went an abysmal 11/16 (even after picking VCU over Duke), while the GWFJHIL is an incredible 13/16. The bet is that GWFJHIL gets a new pair of shoes should she beat me. The bottom line - never underestimate the power of Jimmy Choo!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Another Look at Nebraska's Third Downs in 2006

To piggy-back on yesterday's work, I thought I would take another look at Nebraska's third down conversions last season. In 2006 the Huskers converted 45.2% of their third down chances. This was a vast improvement over 2005 when Nebraska's third down conversion percentage was just 33%.

Yesterday we compared Nebraska to the rest of the NCAA with regards to 3rd down conversions. Another useful comparison is that of the expected percentages in the NFL. I have posted this before, but this is the expected success ratio that has been identified by Brian Billick in Developing an Offensive Gameplan:
3rd and Long (7+ yards) 20-25%
3rd and Medium (4-6 yards) 45-50%
3rd and Short (1-3 yards) 75-85%
Again that just provides us with some more context and is important given Coach Callahan's coaching background.

Today, I thought we would look more at the third down playcalling of the 2006 Huskers. Let's start with third and short situations (1-3 yards to go). Last season Nebraska faced this situation around 4.5 times/game. Given that I would expect that Callahan has eight to ten plays in his offensive game plan for this situation.

According to Brian Billick there are two schools of thought regarding third and short situations: get the first down (duh!), or take a shot at a big play. A "big play" in this situation is one with definite touchdown potential or at least a large, meaningful gain. Running a play to get a first down, on the other hand, would look more like Callahan's three-tight-end, smash-mouth formation or a simple QB sneak. With that said, let's look at Nebraska's third and short play-calling breakdown.

Here we see 35 run/29 pass split. This is a pretty even split given the short yardage involved. Most would probably expect a heavier dose of runs. This is also an area in which Callahan seems to really work hard to go against common tendencies. Or he just doesn't have faith in our running game to pick up the yardage on the ground. What you'll see, however, is a slightly higher success rate on third and short when we run rather than when we pass. This is unfortunately, pretty good support for all those who bashed Callahan's decision to pass on 3rd and 1 late in the Texas game.

The second important third down situation is third and medium (4-6 yards to go). This breakdown is covered in the same chart. Third and medium success is important to a coach's overall game plan. If he feels that his team can convert in this situation, his first and second down calls take on an additional dimension. This may allow more deep throws on first down, or more aggressive "big play" type calls on second and medium when you are confident in your third and medium chances. You'll notice that Nebraska enjoyed amazing success in 2006 when facing this situation. I would attribute much of this success to the success of Nebraska's play-action passing game and to the development of the middle screen to Brandon Jackson and Marlon Lucky that was successful several times on third and medium. Another reason Callahan seems to have success in this situation is his use of shifts and motion and running plays that have not been used earlier in the game. Both of these help keep the defense off-balance.

The next area is third down and long which refers to any situation where the team faces 3rd and 7+ yards to go. You can see Nebraska's 2006 breakdown below:

Obviously you'll notice we don't run a lot on third and long for obvious reasons. While it is worth a shot occasionally, it is generally not in the team's best interest. In the NFL, teams average just 11 runs per year when faced with 3rd and long, and they typically convert just two of these rushing attempts per season.

Yesterday's graphs indicated that Nebraska converted at a higher percentage than the national average when facing situations between 3rd and 7, and 3rd and 13 yards to go. Much of this again can likely be attributed to Callahan's scripted plays for facing this type of situation. These plays should be designed to meet at least one of the following three objectives:

1. Given the right rotation by the secondary, presents you with an opportunity for a deep throw down the field for a substantial gain.

2. If given the right one-on-one match up, allows your receiver to run a good route whereby the catch should, at a minimum gain the yards needed for the first down.

3. Provides the quarterback, by way of a dump-off to a primary receiver, with a receiver who has a chance to make an easy catch, allowing him to try to make a move that will enable him to gain the distance needed after the catch.

By scripting plays with these objectives in mind, and having the players in place to make the plays, Callahan has helped the team to improve immensely on third and long. This has also gone a long ways toward improving the team's overall success on third down. Next up will be spending time working on improving the team's overall success on third and short. Knowing that, fans should not be surprised that another big back like Quentin Castille was signed this February.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A Look at Nebraska's Third Downs in 2006

All of the work and the graphs come courtesy of the indomitable Brian at MGoBlog. This is an amazing accomplishment to have put this together for all Division I teams. Unbelievable. This is the reason he is considered one of the 20 Most Influential Sports Bloggers.

Anyway let’s take a look and see what we find for Nebraska.


The first graph shows, third down efficiency. According to Brian - the thick line in the center is the NCAA average (e.g., approximately 68% of third and ones were converted last year). There is a second line that represents an individual team's third down efficiency. Where there is a gap between the lines that gap is filled in with either red or green depending on whether it is "good" or "bad". Being above the line is good for offenses--you convert more often. Being above the line is bad for defenses--you are converted upon more often. You want to see a lot of green in these graphs.

Overall, the majority of the graph depicts good news for Nebraska fans. We see a lot of green, which is great. Our third down conversion rate was above the national average from about 3 yards out, to about 14 yards out. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that we finished the season ranked 17th nationally in third down conversion percentage (45.2%). What might be surprising, perhaps, is the red we see on the left end of the graph. This indicates that we converted third downs from between 1 and 3 yards out at a clip that was below the national average. I'm not sure what to attribute this to. The lack of a power running game against stacked defenses is one possibility and injuries to Cody Glenn are another. Interestingly, the lack of conversions on 3rd and short led us to to go-for-it on fourth down 23 times in 2006. This was more 4th down attempts than all but 18 other Division I teams.

This second graph illustrates third down distance distribution. Again, the line in the center is the NCAA average and the thinner line is the individual team's. Green is just "above"; red just "below," since there's no clear distinction on good or bad based solely on what side of the line you're on.

Here we see lots of green on the left hand side of the graph. This indicates that we have more third downs of distances between 1 and 5 yards than the national average. This is good thing at first blush. It means our first down efficiency is putting us in third and short situations. Unfortunately when you couple this graph with the first one, we see a bit of a problem. We are having more third and short situations, but that is one major area we convert at a level below the national average. I can only imagine this is the type of stuff that keeps Coach Callahan up at night.


Now we are looking at the defensive side of the ball. Here we want to be green and below the thick line, which is indicative of third down efficiency defense that is better than the national average. You'll notice that we look good on third short and third and long. Where you see the Huskers struggle is on third and medium defense. I'm a little surprised by these findings. I truly thought we would be worse than the national average on third and long. How many times did it seem like teams completed a big pass on third and long? We all of course remember the third and long OU faced backed up to their goal line in the Big 12 Championship Game. Apparently this is a bit of an abberation and we find ourselves attending more to third and long conversions by our opponent, than the times our defense gets a stop. Or perhaps the conversions on third and long just come at inopportune times.

This graph again shows the distribution of third downs that the Nebraska defense faced. Not much really jumps out here to me, except for the big green spike at the 3rd and 10 yards-to-go mark. Did we really hold our opponents to no yards on first and second down that frequently? It is definitely well above the national average and I find that extremely interesting. I have absolutely no idea what to make of it, however.

I once again want to reiterate that none of this is original work and you can check out graphs for every team on MGoBlog. This is more of the amazing work that is being done by CFB bloggers. For those of you that pay for Nebraska football sites ask yourself what you are paying for? If you're reading the MSM outlets in Nebraska - why don't/can't they do this? I belong to several pay-sites and read both major papers daily, and I've never come away with any information that was half this meaningful. Here it is being produced and openly distributed for free. See why many folks truly believe that blogging and its off-shoots are the future of sports coverage?

Friday, March 09, 2007

Patrick to Enter Supplemental Draft

In a move no one saw coming, LT Chris Patrick has decided to enter the NFL's Supplemental Draft. Said Patrick:
"I put a lot of thought into it," Patrick said Thursday night. "A lot of people asked me why I didn’t go into April’s draft but it took time making this decision. Looking back I should have entered the April draft but the supplemental draft is there and I’ll have a good opportunity to demonstrate my skills and will get more individual attention from teams. My timing could have been better but I’m not too worried about that now."
I really have no idea what to make of this. I just mentioned to my Dad that he was still listed on the official roster, which seemed to indicate the possibility of his return. I guess not.

On the one hand, this certainly hurts the depth on the O-line. On the other hand, it could mean two less false-starts/game next year. I kid, I kid.

Anyway, good luck Chris and may all your supplemental draft day dreams come true.

Erin Andrews Picture of the Week - Spring Break Edition

Well, I wish that meant bikinis or body shots from the guest of honor, but alas it's not to be.

Nebraska's Biggest Pass Play?

In a fit of randomness I started thinking about the most important/memorable/historic pass in Nebraska football history. I mean we have several runs that could qualify – Tagge’s goal line plunge, Rozier’s sideline-to-sideline, or Frazier’s signature jaunt. But what is the biggest pass play in our history? Off the top of my head, I can only come up with two possible candidates:

Stuntz to Crouch (OU 2001)
Gill to Jeff Smith (Miami 1984)

Not much of a list. One was thrown by a backup and caught by a Heisman-winning QB known more for his legs and the other was an incompletion.

I don’t know, it struck me as an interesting topic. If you’re so inclined please help me add to the list.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Jeffie Husker Sells Out

Ok, so I have some news for my loyal readers. I have recently accepted a position to write for AOL’s NCAA Football FanHouse. I will be covering the Big 12 and should begin to do so shortly. This is a great opportunity for me for several reasons. First off, it means that I will now be paid for my efforts. As a terminal graduate student this is good news for my budget. Secondly, the FanHouse will put my work in front of many more eyes. The FanHouse site recorded 7.3 million page views in January alone (DXP had 6,200), which makes it the most-trafficked sports blog on the web.

So, what does this mean for you and for this site? Right now I plan on keeping DXP going. The way I look at it covering the Big 12 will broaden the brush with which I cover Nebraska football. However, because I will be busy with all 12 conference teams at FanHouse I would like to keep DXP so that I can focus more closely on the Huskers. I’m not positive how this is going to work. Because it is the off-season I may spend more time on FanHouse. Once the season starts, however, I hope to bring my Big Red analysis back here more frequently. There may also be some cross-posting or at least cross-linking at times. I know that Brian at MGoBlog currently writes for FanHouse while keeping his blog alive as well. Last I heard though, he was also scraping out a living as a professional blogger, while I am not.

Lastly, I want to thank all of you for your continued support of DXP. The AOL gig is not a job that I applied for; instead I was “discovered,” (for lack of a better term) here by an AOL producer. I have no doubt that it was word-of-mouth that brought him here. So for anyone who ever told a friend about the site, emailed a link to a particular post or linked to DXP on your own site, I am forever grateful.

You can check out FanHouse’s Big 12 page here. Be sure and bookmark it and make it part of your daily CFB routine. I have some final paperwork to complete, but my tenure should begin shortly. I hope to see all of you join me there (and here) and to continue to comment and share your opinions.

Thanks again. Now listen to Deion Sanders tell it like it is.

Monday, March 05, 2007

The Quick Fix for Husker Nation

As I’ve previously discussed, things are pretty sordid around Husker Nation these days. When Trev Alberts, Jim Rose and Tom Shatel all chime in, however, the end times are upon us lamenting has officially “jumped the shark.”

I still feel that a 10-win (or better) season will be a cure for all that ails the Big Red collective. Unfortunately it’s March and spring practice hasn’t even started. Thus, it’s clear that a quicker fix is necessary.

Callahan and Pederson are trying their best to cut dead weight bring new energy into the athletic department, with their removal of Doak Ostergard. Right idea guys, but wrong office. The fat that truly needs to be trimmed is of the puffy, inflatable, vinyl variety.

That’s right, I’m saying it, folks – FIRE LIL’ RED!!!!

With one swipe of box cutter, one stab of a jailhouse shank, Pederson could retool his PR image and finally bring about Pax Lincolna.

I can hear the detractors already.
“But, Lil’ Red has been around since 1993. He was there for all three national titles in the 90s. He’s another connection to the Osborne and Solich eras. We can’t force out yet another link to our Big Red roots. It’s just not the Nebraska way.”
All valid points. I’ve compiled a list of grievances, however, to make my case for firing Lil’ Red with the UNL Human Resources Department. After reading these, there can be no uncertainty surrounding the reasons for his dismissal.

1. Lil’ Red vigorously humped former HuskerVision production specialist Rick Schwieger at the 1999 Homecoming “Tailgate on the Turf” pep rally. Yes, I know Tom Green was inside the costume during this event, but perhaps Lil’ Red should be a little more choosy about who he lets inside him.

2. Lil’ Red wears nothing but red and also sports his hat turned to the right. Both of these are known symbols of the Bloods. Lincoln has enough of a meth problem as it is. Do we really need to add gangs into the mix?

3. Lil’ Red finished third behind the Stanford Tree and “Other” in an online “Which is the worst mascot” poll. I disagree with these results. While the Stanford Tree is indeed a worse mascot than he, Lil’ Red is far worse than “Other”.

4. The boys at EDSBS have this to say about Lil’ Red:
“Why couldn’t they have stabbed Lil’ Red? His palsied gait haunts our dreams.”
And why should we listen to the opinions of a couple of Florida bloggers? Well check out the number of awards they have won in their sidebar. The world would be a better place if more people listened to EDSBS.

5. Lil’ Red made the list of “Eight Mascots that Need to Die.”
“Suggested method of death: Cross the streams from your proton packs. Watch as the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man Cornhusker mascot melts.”
6. In 1997, Lil Red took part in the National Cheerleaders Association National Championships in Daytona Beach, Florida. Despite being blessed with an uncanny ability to bounce on his head, Lil’ Red could muster just a second place finish. Finishing second is one thing, but losing to the Virginia Tech mascot – Frank Beamer’s neck scar the Hokey Bird, is completely unacceptable.

7. According to this article, the Lil’ Red costume includes, “a battery strapped onto one hip and a blower attached to the other hip.” A “blower” attached to the hip? Is this really the kind of image we want serving as a mini-ambassador for the university, the city and the state? Oh, and I’m almost positive that “blower” is not the preferred nomenclature for an orally-adventurous coed.

8. I’m pretty sure Lil’ Red stole my soul in 1997 by staring directly into my eyes during a timeout at a Nebraska vs. Kansas basketball game. I’d really like it back ASAP.

9. The name Lil’ Red requires the use of the apostrophe. Utilizing it in this context is just one of three misunderstood uses of the apostrophe. The apostrophe is also a right pinky keystroke which irritates my budding carpal tunnel syndrome. Laugh if you will, but this is a far greater personal annoyance than getting past security at the Nebraska athletic department.

10. I like cheerleaders. The Nebraska cheerleaders are facing financial cutbacks. Lil’ Red costumes cost $5000 apiece. We already have Herbie Husker. I think you know where I’m going with this.

So there you have it. An easy way of righting the ship and pacifying Husker Nation can be accomplished by firing the “Round Mound of Nightmares Abound”. Hell, he already looks dead and bloated. Let’s just go ahead and put him out of his misery.

Big Red Roundtable - Other Sports

This edition of the Big Red Roundtable is being hosted by Corn Nation. With the Husker softball and baseball seasons having started, and the men and women's basketball teams headed to the conference tournament, it is a good time to give some attention to the Huskers’ “other sports”. This is a good exercise for DXP as I’ve given no love to sports outside of football. I wanted to put a bit more time into this post, but outside responsibilities got the best of me this weekend. Anywho, here’s my stab at the questions.

What's your interest in the 'other' Nebraska sports those beyond Husker football?

At this point in my life, I have a passing interest at best in other sports. I grew up with season tickets to basketball games, and was a big fan for much of my youth. At some point after Danny Nee left, my interest waned. I still follow the team somewhat, but do not schedule my life around the games, nor do I analyze or really think about the team’s success or lack thereof.

I started following the baseball team during the Dave Van Horn era, which I guess makes me a prototypical “bandwagon” fan. As a child I made yearly trips to the CWS and always imagined what it might be like should Nebraska ever make it. With the team’s eventual trips to Omaha my interest reached all-time highs. At times I wish I could better follow college baseball and Nebraska in particular, but the coverage of this sport continues to lag behind that of football and basketball. While living out of state, I’ve found enjoying Big Red baseball somewhat difficult to manage.

I have never followed the more minor sports like wrestling, track or swimming. The same could be said of women’s sports. I enjoy the success of the volleyball team and find the level of play incredible to watch. Unfortunately, I don’t watch it very often.

In which sport besides football would you like Nebraska to succeed most and why?

I would love to see Nebraska have more success in basketball. With an athletic budget of $63,695,480 (approximately 5% of which goes toward NU hoops), I guess I’ve never really figured out what holds us back from becoming more of a basketball school. Perhaps that explains why I hold out hope. There is really no excuse for our performance on the hardwood over the last 25 years. How can we have just one conference title and five NCAA appearances over that time period? If we can’t have true basketball success, I would hope we could at least become more fun to watch. By the end of Collier’s tenure we had become just plain painful to follow. I don’t enjoy watching teams walk the ball up the court or see halfcourt possessions end with an expired shot-clock. I think Doc Sadler looks like the type of coach who can bring some intensity to the team and might just get us over the proverbial hump.

Some Husker fans have the attitude that former athletic director Bill Byrne focused too much on 'other' sports which hurt the success of the football team. Do you agree with that statement?

I do feel like Byrne’s pursuit of the Director's Cup had an indirect effect on the success of the football program. The football facilities certainly slid toward mediocrity under Byrne’s watch. With the new arms race that has developed in the Big 12, I think we are seeing more and more evidence of the importance of facility upgrades to overall program success. While some would argue that this is a case of “keeping up with the Joneses,” I assume there is a direct correlation between spending and success. I don’t fault Byrne, however, for attempting to build up the other sports programs. That seems to fall directly in line with the duty of an athletic director. My guess is that Byrne simply overestimated the type of spending that would or could take place in a state like Nebraska. I imagine he will have far greater success with this type of pursuit at a place like Texas A&M.

And as a follow up to the previous question, do you think that the 'other sports' detract from or complement Husker football?

I feel the other sports are definitely a complement to Husker football. It may be cynical, but success in any sport means increased athletic department revenues. As previously postulated, increased revenues should then breed further success.

Keep your eyes open for Big Red Roundtable posts at:
Corn Nation
Big Red Network
Husker Mike

Saturday, March 03, 2007

For True Husker Nuts

Certainly no Husker Room can be complete without this Offical 1996 Fiesta Bowl Nebraska Jock Strap which is currently available on eBay. It is an absolute steal as the bidding had reached just $22.50 when I stumbled across it. If someone wants to cough up the cash, I can promise to wear it each and every football Saturday come this fall. And who knows, maybe I'll even throw up a picture for all the ladies.

HT - Deadspin

Friday, March 02, 2007

The Borders of Husker Nation

This has truly become the off-season of our discontent.

The fibers of Husker Nation have been tattered, if not torn by a bleak mid-winter of scandal, change and scorn.

Philosopher and consciousness expert Ken Wilber postulates that every decision we make, every action we take is based on the construction, (whether conscious or unconscious) of boundaries. Boundaries between you and I, between us and them, between similar and dissimilar, between war and peace, between life and death. Existence, then, as we know it is a process of drawing boundaries. At first blush this act seems both inevitable and harmless. Unfortunately, a natural consequence of this is the creation of opposites.

Expectations or recollections. Solich or Callahan. Privacy or Disclosure. Pederson or Shatel. The Past or the Future.

Husker Nation must now recognize that each of these boundary lines also becomes a potential battle line. Every hire and every fire arms the divergent sides. Every coming and every going strengthens conflicting opinions. The new reality is that to draw a boundary, is to prepare oneself for conflict.

The problems facing Husker Nation are problems of boundaries and the opposites they create. Our usual way of solving these problems is to attempt to eliminate one of the opposites. We handle the problem of good vs. evil, by trying to exterminate evil. We handle the problem of change by gripping tightly to the status quo. The point is that we treat the boundary as real and then manipulate the opposites created by this boundary. We never question the existence of the boundary itself. Because we then believe the boundary to be real, we steadfastly imagine that the opposites are irreconcilable, separate, forever set apart.

But what if the boundaries aren’t real? What if by seeking to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative, we have forgotten entirely that the positive is defined only in terms of the negative? In other words, while the opposites might indeed be as different as night and day, we must recognize that without night we would not even be able to recognize something called day. Without Nebraska football’s past, its future would be unimaginable. Without Devaney, there is no Osborne. Without Osborne, no Solich. Without Solich, no Callahan.

However vividly the differences between these opposites may strike us, they nevertheless remain completely inseparable and mutually interdependent, for the simple reason that the one could not exist without the other. There is no inside without an outside, no up without down, no win without loss, no pleasure without pain, no life without death. This is what Nicholas of Cusa called the coincidentia oppositorum – “the coincidence of opposites”. What we thought were totally separate and irreconcilable opposites turn out to be complimentary aspects of one and the same reality.

Thus, to destroy the negative is, at the same time to destroy all possibilities of enjoying the positive.

Like it or not Nebraska football’s past and its future, like all opposites are fated to intimately embrace one another for all time.

The point is not to separate the opposites and make progress, but rather to unify and harmonize the opposites, both positive and negative, by discovering a ground which transcends and encompasses them both. This common ground refers to an ultimate reality that is a union of the opposites.

What then will serve as Husker Nation’s union of opposites? Firing Callahan? Firing Steve Pederson? Tom Osborne as A.D? The easy answer is winning. Win enough and the opposites will be realized as one. With a sixth national title, the past will become the future. Discord will melt into concord. Battles will become celebrations, and old enemies will become allies. Then, and perhaps only then, will we find ourselves in a position to make friends with all of Husker Nation, and not just one half of it.

*Special mention needs to be made of the work of Ken Wilber, without this I would have been unable to illustrate these points.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Huff Out...Patrick Too?

News of out of Lincoln is that junior guard Mike Huff will miss at least the spring after tearing his achilles tendon. This is not a pretty injury and my irrational fear of suffering said ailment keeps my ass planted firmly on the couch. Anyway, Huff was expected to push for a starting spot in 2007, but now will spend the near future recovering and rehabbing from surgery. Although his bio on gives no indication of this, it seems as though Huff has battled injuries before. Maybe a shoulder injury last spring or something?

The loss of Huff could have further repercussions following the apparent, but unverified dismissal of Chris Patrick. As the LJS points out both Patrick and Callahan have refused to comment on the speculation surrounding the starter’s future with the team. This sounds like it might involve the dreaded “violation of team rules”. According to the boys at EDSBS this generally means one of three things:

1. Skipped class.
2. Smoked weed and tested positive.
3. Tackled, upended, and then devoured a Geo Metro whole after a raucous off-campus party.

Given the presence of random, but mandatory off-season drug-testing perhaps we can narrow down the list. Number 3, however, would make for a much better story.