Tuesday afternoon, I checked ESPN.com (you know, for fantasy football advice) and saw Taylor Martinez featured on the home page, alongside two other Big Ten quarterbacks. Here’s the story.
A few hours later, I checked SI. On the homepage was another a bigger photo of another Husker, Ciante Evans. That story was about which schools had to replace superstars.
This morning, I turn on ESPN and there’s Nebraska again. On First Take (nobody knows more about the Huskers than Skip Bayless, obviously).
What struck me is not the content of these pieces. (There isn’t much you didn’t know). What struck me is that Nebraska is back in the national spotlight.
At least once a day, I see Nebraska featured on a national website. Sometimes it’s really big — like Jared Crick’s picture in SI. Sometimes it’s small, like a mention of NU-Wisconsin in the nation’s hottest tickets for 2011.
For decades we took for granted that Nebraska was one of the five or 10 schools most often mentioned in college football discussions. Then, all of a sudden, it wasn’t that way anymore.
The local obsession with the Huskers never waned. In fact, it heightened. But for most of the past decade (this is my 10th year covering the program), nobody outside the borders really cared. I didn’t see national writers in the press box. I didn’t see Nebraska news on the sports tickers.
And as a result, Husker football — at times — felt a little bit fraudulent. Did this program really deserve all the fuss?
I don’t root for Nebraska to win or lose. I root for Nebraska to matter. I think we all do. Not just locally, but nationally. It makes all of our work — and all of your attention — feel worth it.
So yes, seeing Crick on the SI cover was kinda cool. And seeing Martinez columns on ESPN.com is nice. But frankly, I don’t think much of it. Why? Around here, we’re getting used to the attention again.
Bo Pelini hasn’t won a championship. He hasn’t even won a really big game yet. But give him (and Tom Osborne credit). They did bring Nebraska back to the national map. That’s where it belongs.
>> I put out a Twitter poll Tuesday: Who is the better Husker quarterback? Zac Taylor or Joe Ganz?
Taylor, of course, won Big 12 offensive player of the year in 2006, a down year for the league. In 2008, Ganz didn’t win that honor — he wasn’t even one of the top five quarterbacks in the Big 12. But his senior-season numbers were better than Taylor’s.
Ganz: 3,826 total yards. Passer rating of 153 — 25 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
Taylor: 3,165 total yards. Passer rating of 146 — 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions. (Taylor played one more game)
The Twitter vote tallies:
I’m not sure that’s right. Yes, Ganz was more prolific and more mobile. But Taylor was a better decision-maker. And 2008 was the year the Big 12 forgot how to play defense, which evens out the statistical differences.
I give the edge to Zac. Barely.
>> I intended to write about the nostalgia for Jammal Lord today, which I teased Tuesday on Twitter. Instead, I’m going to do it tomorrow. Check back.
>> The news of Pat Summitt’s diagnosis of early-onset dementia is terribly sad. And hopefully it prompts people who aren’t fans of the women’s game to learn more about the game’s most important figure.
Ten years ago, a friend and colleague, the World-Herald’s Matthew Hansen, wrote a thought-provoking column about the potential of Summitt leading a men’s Division I program.
Would her leadership translate to college men? How effectively could she recruit? It would’ve been one of the great experiments in sports. I consider it a missed opportunity.
Tell me what you think, could Summitt have succeeded in the men’s game?
>> Mark Ingram’s car got drilled by an 18-wheeler … and the idea may have hatched on an Auburn message board. Only in SEC country.
>> Tonight, the multi-talented Matt Schick and (less-talented) me launch a new Wednesday radio show, “Husker Insider.” The location: The Loose Moose on 120th and Fort Streets. The time: 6-7 p.m. Station: 1620 AM.
We’ll talk Huskers and Big Ten. We’ll give away stuff. We’ll have a great time. We’d love to have you there. It’ll be a blast.