Published Wednesday, August 24, 2011 AT 10:43 AM / Updated at 1:09 PM
Dirk’s Brunch Bites — Aug. 24
Dirk Chatelain Omaha World-Herald

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.

Finally.

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:
Ganz 26
Taylor 19

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.

Here’s a great place to start.

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.

About Dirk Chatelain

Dirk Chatelain is a staff writer for The Omaha World-Herald and covers Nebraska football and general assignments. You can follow Dirk on Twitter (@dirkchatelain) or email him at dchatelain@owh.com

Comments

  1. Willis says:

    Perhaps some of the NU stuff you’re seeing on ESPN.com is due to geo-targeting via your computer’s internet (IP) address, rather than NU being the center of the national scene. For example, if you start typing “Italian Restaurant” into Google, it pops up with suggestions for “Italian Restaurant Omaha” because it can tell from your IP address that you’re likely to be in the Omaha area. Similarly, perhaps the story about players you saw would show Malliciah Goodman instead of Ciante Evans for people accessing the site from Clemson, South Carolina.

    1. Travis says:

      I would argue that this is not the case as I am a huge Huskers fan currently living in Washington D.C. and I have seen all of the same articles and features on the Huskers. It does my heart good to finally see NU in the spotlight as it has been difficult to follow them on a consistent basis since I moved out here in 2000.

  2. randy says:

    I always blamed the big 12 for trying to push us under the national radar!! We didn’t help ourselfs of course with a power hungry ad and a bad head coach for a couple years there but the powers to be in the big 12 couldn’t stand lil ole NEBRASKIE kicking ass for so long even Oklahoma was afraid to play us every year when it was first formed!! Anyway love being in the over rated B1G the stars are finally lining up for us again!!! GOOOOO BIIIIG REEEED!!!!!!

  3. Husker Hank says:

    Thanks for the loosely based stats class you presented there Sooner Steve. Oh, and thanks for visiting a Nebraska newspaper’s website, entitled Big Red Today. We appreciate that you care about the Huskers enough to devote your time to what Nebraska has to offer.

  4. Andrew says:

    If you take a look at the last 25 years or so in the non-confrence Oklahoma lost more non-confrence games in the 90′s then Nebraska has lost since 85 for what it’s worth since you came on a Nebraska papers site about a Nebraska story.

  5. Sooner Steve says:

    Huskerhank–Not loosely based, just the facts. Nobody and I mean nobody circles the wagons and refuses to play anybody like the Huskers.

  6. Sooner Steve says:

    Andrew, of course OU has lost more nononference games than the Big Pink. When you are regularly competing for Sun Belt championships in your nonconference you don`t tend to lose many. Schools that choose to play D-1 teams in their nonconference schedules obviously have a little better chance at losing some non-conference games.

  7. Jake says:

    NU could move the needle even more if it was facing another top tier program (Penn State) at the end of the regular season instead of Iowa.

    1. Scott McClurg says:

      oh yeah, that’s why Iowa beats PSU every year right?

      1. Jake says:

        Few people outside of Iowa pay attention to Iowa football. Penn State is a national powerhouse like Nebraska and would be the best opponent for NU when Joe Pa leaves.

        By the way, great job racking up the wins against an octogenarian.

        1. Frost says:

          Hmmmm Penn State gets its recognition cuz Joe Pa got slammed in practice…. thats about all ive heard about them so far… national powerhouse? Id take NW over Penn this season, let alone Iowa.