Thursday, January 31, 2008

Recruiting Update: Man Crush alert

Wow, that title is really gay-sounding.....buuuut I really don't care. I wanted to post today about a kid just starting to make some noise on the recruiting circuit (5 days left till signing day, by the way). His name is Mason Wald, and on paper, there's nothing that jumps out about the kid. He's a 5'11", 195-pound safety out of Vestavia Hills High School in Birmingham, Alabama. But if you watch his highlight tapes, it just shows how stupid judging someone on paper is. This kid is a BAMF, a Bad Ass Mother F*cker, a heat-seeking missile who really punishes the ball carrier. I'll admit, when I first read about our offer to him on Rivals, I was kinda pissed. My thought process was, "Great, another overachieving defensive back who Nebraska offered despite no other big-time programs being interested." I thought it was another reach by the Pelini coaching staff. But then, having nothing better to do at work, I decided to take a look at his video.

And I am now hoping we get this kid (whose only other offer at this point is Samford) more than I am hoping to land big-time 5 star guys. Wald is the type of player you'd expect playing for Pelini- tough, aggressive, flying to the ball. His only hang-up about the Huskers is that they are a bit farther from home, so here's to hoping that Saban doesn't decide to be a douche and offer this kid.......seriously, watch the highlight film (give them time to load, trust me, you won't regret it), and make sure to watch all 3 of them.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Watson Staying, Recruiting tidbits

Like the rest of you, I breathed a large sigh of relief when hearing that Shawn Watson is staying in Lincoln. The last thing we needed with signing day less than two weeks away is to lose one of our main recruiters and the bridge between the Callahan era and the new regime. While he stood to make more money at Alabama, I'm glad that Watson didn't turn his back on the school that stuck with him when getting rid of the rest of the old staff, or the kids that he promised he would be there for. It's a rarity in today's coaching world to see staff continuity, but that's something that NU should strive for if we are going to be consistent like we were from 1970-2003. I don't think anybody will ever the kind of staff stability we saw under T.O. where guys would be on staff for 20+ years, it's just a different world now, but it's still something to shoot for, even if it's ultimately futile.

As you may have read, much-ballyhooed linebacker recruit Will Compton reaffirmed his commitment to NU. Compton was one of the big holdovers from Callahan's recruiting class, and to lose him would have been a large psychological blow to the recruiting efforts of the Huskers. Sure, we really haven't gained anything from his announcement, after all he never even left. But as one of the top 3 guys in our class, it was important that we held onto him. I'm no recruiting expert (I don't have a degree in it....oh wait, you don't need a degree? So what makes someone a recruiting expert? Oh, anybody can do it? Hmm.....), but watching Compton's videos gives me pause. They say he's a 4.6 guy, but I'm not sure--a lot of his tackles are shoestring plays where he barely makes the play. Now, in high school, that's fine. But in college, you're not going to even make it to the guy at the speed I see Compton moving. I think he'll struggle his first year adjusting to the speed of the game. Once we get him in the Husker training program though, this kid should be a player. He reads plays extremely well, and does a great job of getting off blocks.

Meanwhile, DT Eddie Brown from Texas, who just committed on Sunday, is now apparently not sure where his heart is after being offered (finally) by his favorite, Texas A&M. He stated throughout his recruitment that AtM was the leader, but after it became apparent that he wasn't one of their priorities and that they didn't want to use a scholarship on him, he decided that NU was the place to go. A&M probably thought that his love for them would enable them to convince him to walk on and save them a scholarship. Once he accepted NU's offer though, the Aggies changed their tune and offered him. He is, as of right now, still a Nebraska commit, but there's no guarantee how long that will last. If you're Brown, don't you have to at least take into account how the Aggies jerked you around the past couple months? Isn't it pretty obvious what's going on when the school that you wanted all along takes you for granted and only offers you when you promise to go somewhere else? What I always have to remind myself of is the fact that these kids are 18 years old and are their own person. When I was 18 (and this was only 6 years ago), I was a complete dumbass who had no idea what I wanted to do. Now I'm a 24 year old dumbass who has no idea what I want to do. But the difference is that my decision-making has a lot more rationale and thought to it then it did then. When it comes to Brown, the first reaction is to be upset if he changes his mind....but then I think about this: If I were a big-time recruit and Iowa had wanted me all along, and Nebraska only offered me after I committed to the Hawkeyes, would I be swayed? When you love a school like all of us love NU (or Brown the Aggies), sometimes it doesn't matter how they've treated you. You'll always feel the pull for the childhood favorite, which is why I wouldn't be surprised at all to see Brown defect.

In other news, Bo's contract was finalized, giving us the 8th-highest paid coach in the Big 12. I may be wrong, but I don't think I'm the only one who feels like we're getting a bargain. According to the article, Pelini's income is in the same neighborhood as the head coaches at Tulsa, Hawaii, and NC State. And if he does as well as we all think he will, that's going to be a hell of a deal for NU. Of course, if he does what we all hope (win conference and national titles), that'll tack on another 800 grand. So that's a nice incentive for him. The most interesting tidbit from the article: Tom Osborne, with the 50,000 dollar incentive for winning the national title, made under $200,000 in '97. Read that again. That's less than most assistants make now. What a difference a decade makes.

This has nothing to do with football, but why in the hell does anyone live in Minnesota from November to March? If I have to walk to my car in many more 25-below days, I'm going to kill myself. Or, more likely, move to Arizona (extra points for any place where cheerleaders endorse usage of the SHOCKER) or Costa Rica. For those of you not in MN, you really have no idea just how miserable the populace is up here- between every sports team being terrible and the weather, this city is PISSED. I'd give anything for even a 40 degree day.

Monday, January 21, 2008

All Quiet on the Mid-Western Front.....

Not a whole lot going on lately, which is the reason for no recent posts. I initially thought that I'd have a bevy of commitments to talk about after the past couple weekends, but alas, we've only had a few guys re-affirm their previous commitments. I'm really hoping that stud LB prospect Will Compton sticks with his commitment to us, but he's a Mizzou kid and it sounds like Blaine Gabbert is getting in his ear in an attempt to steal him away.

From what I've been told, it sounds like Gabbert is doing more damage than most coaches can do, which is a shame. I don't dislike the kid for reneging on his commitment and going to Mizzou, it's his right, and it sounds like his commitment was more to Callahan than Nebraska. But that doesn't mean the punk has to go and talk a bunch of our recruits out of their commitments to the Big Red. But I guess that's the way recruiting is these days, nothing is sacred. To be honest, I don't even care about the de-commits, as far as I'm concerned, if you don't want to be a part of something special like Nebraska football, you can go to Mizzou and contribute to them returning to earth (which is going to happen, maybe not this year, but in the next 2-3 years).

Right now the countdown to signing day is on, and hopefully the Huskers rally and at least pick up a few sleepers. I don't care near as much about top-10 classes anymore after watching them produce horrible results on the field the past couple of years. As long as we get kids who care about the program and who want to be coached, I'm confident that Pelini and his guys will coach them up and get them to compete. Still, my greedy side wouldn't mind seeing two or three more 4/5 star guys become Huskers......

Quick Hits-

-I hope that the proposed night spring game comes to fruition. A later start time means more beer drinking....and that's always a good thing ...It sounds like I may be headed to Lincoln for this, so I'll keep everyone posted....

-Sam Keller and other Husker seniors are participating in all-star games the next month or so.....more info on that later this week (who is in what game, when the games are on, etc.)

- Pretty disappointed that the Packers didn't make it to the Super Bowl. Part of it stems from my Brett Favre man-crush (I think about 90% of guys have one), but mostly from my desire to see Brandon Jackson make it to the Super Bowl. In case you were wondering how I determine which NFL team to support, I count the number of Huskers on each squad. Plus, I just don't like Eli and the Giants.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

More Cowbell

From here on out, instead of calling these postings with assorted ramblings and thoughts by a different name every time, they will simply be titled "More Cowbell", in homage to the infamous Saturday Night Live skit starring Will Ferrell and Christopher Walken in which Walken has a fever and the only prescription is, of course, more cowbell. I'd put a video up, but for whatever reason (copyright stuff?), there isn't a copy of the original skit on Youtube, just a bunch of terrible remakes by college kids with too little to do.

So, here we go with the newly-named, inaugural More Cowbell.

Way to go, Bo!

I can't remember the last time I cheered on a team other than the Huskers with the same intensity that I did watching LSU dismantle Ohio State on Monday night. It was satisfying for me for several reasons, the most obvious one being that our head coach was on the sidelines for LSU. I derived nearly as much pleasure, however, from seeing the Big 10 champ get their teeth kicked in for the second year in a row. I'll get back to the Big 10 later in this post, but Bo's night in the spotlight is what I want to talk about first. I can't remember a time when the defensive coordinator of any team was shown on TV more than Bo was on Monday night. Throughout the game (particularly in the 2nd and 3rd quarters when OSU looked as overmatched as a virgin on a date with Jenna Jameson), the analysts repeatedly complimented Bo on his calls. In addition to that, they discussed his new position as NU's coach several times, particularly after his Gatorade bath at the end of the game. While I can't remember what was said verbatim, I do recall it was something along these lines: "What a job by Bo Pelini tonight.....If you're a player at Nebraska, you should be excited to play for this guy the next couple of years, he's going to do a great job up there..."

It continued in the post-game coverage on ESPN, where Lee Corso (who had been critical of coaches pulling double duty) said to Les Miles, "I was wrong (about Pelini) trying to do both jobs, he did an incredible job calling the game tonight." Now, obviously I'm not spot-on with these quotes, but you get the idea. The game could not have gone better for Pelini and NU, as they were the most-mentioned program behind the two teams playing. Aside from the 65-yard run by Wells for the opening score and the 44-yard pass that set up the field goal that gave them a 10-0 lead, the Buckeyes were completely manhandled by the Tiger defense.

What stood out most to me (and this is stuff everybody already knows, but it's different when you actually sit down and watch a game in it's entirety) is that the Tigers NEVER took their foot off the gas, they were always going for the throat. The safety blitz that forced Boeckman to throw his first interception was a thing of beauty, and watching it unfold, I allowed myself to daydream about Thenarse doing it next year on a regular basis. In addition to the great calls, Bo's personnel groupings was something I was encouraged by. With Cosgrove, we'd throw the same guys out there for every situation, no matter what the down and distance or the tendencies of the other team. Last year, come hell or high water, the same unit was going to be out there, no matter how bad they were playing (which most times was......well, let's just say it rhymes with "schmucking berrible"). We won't be seeing that next year. Pelini understands the importance of matching personnel with certain situations and the opposing team's tendencies, whereas Cosgrove apparently was content to bend over and grab his ankles every time his "defense" took the field.

The Big 10 Blows Goats....I have proof..

For those of you who don't know, the above header is a reference to Wayne's World. Obviously, the Big 10 conference doesn't really blow goats.....they just really suck at playing football, that's all. After the dust had settled, the conference posted a 3-5 record in the bowl season, with one of the wins being an unimpressive 51-48 victory by Purdue over Central Michigan. I'll give Michigan credit, they beat a defending national champion with a Heisman winner at QB. The other win was a Penn State defeat of the Aggies, which can hardly be called an accomplishment in light of the fact that A&M had a coaching turnover at the end of the season and was in a state of disarray. The thing that brings me delight is that finally, after a little bit of it last year, the distaste for the conference on a national level has finally reached a fever pitch. Nobody trusts the validity of any of the "good" teams from the conference. Illinois was unmasked as a product of a weak schedule, and Ohio State probably won't get invited back to a national title game for another 10 years after their second embarrassing NC loss in as many years.

And things don't appear to look any rosier for the conference next year either. Michigan lost it's two stud recievers early to the draft, and their quarterback, Ryan Mallett, is transferring after both his OC and position coach both left after the Rodriguez hiring. This is in addition to Henne, Hart, and Long graduating. Of course, that probably won't stop the Wolverines from running roughshod over Northwestern, Minnesota, and the other 1-AA teams they play.....although, after Appalachian State, they probly won't repeat that mistake again...Illinios might be viewed as an up-and-comer, but I still doubt Juice Williams' ability to be a consistent QB.......and the Buckeyes? It depends on how many defenders turn pro, but they have the talent to do well next year, even though everybody will be burned out on them getting their ass kicked in bowl games.

Big 12....Some stumbles, but some strides too.....

Obviously, the Oklahoma loss was disappointing on many levels. In a game they were heavily favored to beat, they were embarrassed in the Fiesta Bowl for the 2nd year in a row. Unlike last year, where the loss was overlooked because of Boise State's Cinderella theatrics, this year's defeat was just a head-scratching embarrassment. I thought that OU's defense could handle White and Slaton, but maybe Reggie Smith being out was more of a factor than anyone could foresee. OU's stumble aside, it was a pretty good bowl season for the conference. Texas Tech came back in dramatic fashion to beat a solid Virginia team, the Longhorns dismantled a 10-2 Arizona State squad, and Okie State beat an overmatched Indiana team.

While those wins were good, even better were the performances by Missouri and Kansas. The Tigers demolished the Darren McFadden-led Arkansas Razorbacks, beating them by 31 points in the Cotton Bowl, while KU completed a 1-loss season in style, beating the ACC champion Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl. Obviously, this was a banner year for the Big 12 north (despite NU's faceplant), and it should continue next year, as both KU and Mizzou return a the bulk of their starters, including nearly all of their offensive skill players. While that obviously doesn't bode well for Nebraska, at least we will have a coach who might be able to slow them down.

Despite name, Trojans can't protect themselves from everything.....

The condom squad, while enjoying their complimentary media BJ's (They would have won if they were healthy! They're the hottest team in the country!), have got to be worried about the news that Pete Carroll is interested in the Atlanta Falcons head coaching position. It has long been speculated that the USC coach, who possesses the highest winning percentage of any active coach, could be lured back to the League by being offered full control of personnel decisions. Apparently the reeling Falcons are willing to offer him that. The question is, can Carroll leave behind a dream job where the best talent in the country breaks down his door on an annual basis? The Trojans don't even have to recruit, the job gets done for them. To leave it behind for the grind of the NFL (particularly the Falcons) is something I think that Carroll would be hard-pressed to do. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out and if the Trojan "Dynasty" could continue it's run....

Speaking of the "Dynasty", the clock is winding down on the Reggie Bush investigation countdown. A new book, "Tarnished Heisman", is coming out on January 15th, and it reportedly details the illegal benefits that Bush received during his career at USC, benefits that would force USC to possibly forfeit all games that he played in, meaning their 2004 title (the one that Auburn should have at least shared) would be lost, as well as Reggie's Heisman. I for one am waiting for the findings with great anticipation. Who knew that all those USC bandwagon jumpers were actually witnessing a three year losing streak?

Back next week for a look at the recruiting scene and other Husker tidbits....

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The USC/Georgia Issue

I just wanted to check in and make a look around after the slate of New Years Day bowls, but before I get to the rest of the games, I wanted to focus on the two BCS drubbings that took place last night in Pasadena and New Orleans.

In the Rose Bowl, the media-darling USC Trojans pillaged an over-matched and overrated Illinois team that shouldn't have been there in the first place to the tune of 49-17. This of course has led to roughly 6,000 articles this morning trumpeting the Trojans as the nation's best team and the one who should be playing in the NC game on January 7th, which only proves how big of dumbasses that most mainstream media writers are. I don't deny that lately USC has been playing extremely well since their loss to then-#5 Oregon (a team that has since been proven to be completely pedestrian without Dennis Dixon). To do so would be shortsighted on my part and unfair to the Trojans. But take a look at the Trojans schedule during that run, and to some extent, the wins they had in the non-conference slate as well. After the Oregon game, the Trojans defeated:

Oregon State (9-4)
Cal (7-6)
ASU (10-3)
UCLA (6-7)
Illinois (9-4)

Oregon State is a good team, and that's a nice win for the Trojans. But Cal obviously isn't the team they were publicized to be. ASU has lost 3 of their last 5. And Illinois benefited from playing in a conference that has only one standout team (Ohio State) and 6 high school squads. And the combined record of the Trojan's non-conference teams (Idaho and Nebraska)? 6-18. Oh, and let's not forget about the loss to 4-8 Stanford. Look, we all know I'm not a Trojan fan, but that doesn't mean that I can't recognize their incredible run the past 5 or 6 years. But the great thing about college football is that the regular season matters. You can't lose 6 or 7 games and still get into the playoffs, every game is a must-win if you want to be in NC contention at the end. And when you lose to a 41-point underdog AT HOME and your most impressive win is over a team that was proven to be a one-man show (Oregon), then doesn't that pretty much negate any right to bitch and moan? Sure, maybe if Booty hadn't injured his hand there for a couple games, you might have one less loss. But if you use that excuse, one could say maybe LSU wouldn't have been burned by McFadden if Glenn Dorsey was healthy the last three games. The fact of the matter is, whether or not you are playing like the best team in the country right now, it doesn't mean you deserve to be in the national title game. You have to look at the whole body of work and the manner in which you lost. That said, I'm legitimately terrified of this team next year if Sanchez can step in and play to expectations.

When looking at Georgia, there are a lot of similarities to USC. They've been hot lately, and they come from the most powerful conference in the country. Their two losses are to South Carolina and Tennessee, who finished the season 6-6 and 10-4, respectively. It's a shame that Georgia never played LSU, because then we wouldn't even be discussing this, but unfortunately the Bulldogs and Tigers never met, so we are left to debate the national title merits of a team who didn't even win their own division, let alone their conference. And after the beating the Huskers took from Miami back in '01 when they didn't win the Big 12 North, I think that winning your conference is a necessity if you are going to be playing in the national title game. How can you be the best team in the country if you weren't even the best in your conference? That being said, in my opinion the Bulldogs' case has more merit than the Trojans, with wins over Florida and Auburn (both 9-4), as well as an 8-5 Kentucky squad. Maybe if they had played someone better in their bowl game (Hawaii was unmasked as the fraud they are), we'd have a better idea as to just how good Georgia is.

Unfortunately, due to the Rose Bowl's outdated insistence on taking shitty Big 10 teams over more intriguing matchups, we'll never know what would have happened if the Bulldogs and Trojans had faced each other. I want to take this opportunity to thank Jim Delaney and Thomas Hansen, the commissioners of the Big 10 and Pac 10, for continuing to rob college football fans of better games because they still think it's 1902. Until they pull their heads out of each other's rectums, we'll continue to be subjected to USC beatdowns of inferior Big 10 teams and the subsequent Trojan media glorification that always results from them. Thanks guys, we really appreciate it.

One more personal comment about the Sugar Bowl: I can't think of the last time I enjoyed seeing a player get abused like Colt Brennan did at the hands of the ferocious Bulldog defense. I got so sick of seeing the puff pieces from ESPN on him and the island culture they have on Hawaii. The douche was always wearing a lei (even to the Heisman presentation), and his statistics are inflated from playing teams whose defense was on par with the Huskers'. Seeing the sack/fumble/touchdown recovery by Marcus Howard made me positively giddy, and the ferocity of the hit was fantastic.

Looking around the Big 12, the conference is currently 4-2 in the bowl season with two more games to go (Oklahoma vs. West Virginia in the Fiesta, Kansas vs. Va Tech in the Orange). The most impressive victory was Mizzou's drubbing of Arkansas in what was supposed to be one of the marquee bowl games but instead turned into a showcase for a BCS-snubbed team. What a season for the Tigers. We knew they'd be good this season, but if someone had told you before the season that they'd go 12-2 and beat an SEC team in a New Year's Day bowl game, would you have believed them? Nice job Tigers. Just don't get too comfortable with your division title, we'll be taking it back sometime in the next couple of years.

Meanwhile, the Big 10 is 3-4 with their supposed 2nd-best team getting annihilated by USC and their conference champion facing the same fate when they play LSU in less than a week. My hatred for the conference aside, give credit to Lloyd Carr and Michigan for their impressive victory over the Florida Gators in the Capital One bowl. This team probably should have won more games during the season, but it was still a nice moment for a guy who received way too much hatred and criticism following the Wolverines' 0-2 start. As much as I dislike Michigan, that was a great moment to see him carried off the field.

Back for more later this week after some more bowl games are played. Hope everyone had a fantastic New Years.