It’s Friday! That means 10 big stories in 10 little bites. Marshall Faulk talks about Tom Osborne and an old 49er remembers Bo Pelini. There’s Les Miles and Urban Meyer, Doc Sadler and Connie Yori and, yes, a Super Bowl pick. But first, football’s version of Barnum and Bailey…
So I’m walking through an alley with David Feherty the other day. That’s not the start of a joke, it’s true. En route to a very thorough security check at Super Bowl media day, I find myself just ahead of Feherty.
He’s brainstorming questions for Bill Belichick or Tom Brady — I’m not sure which. Anyway, Feherty says (in his rather famous Irish accent), “Do you think there was there a moment when Tim Tebow realized YOU were God?”
It only got stranger from there. “Reporters” at media day ranged from Hollywood starlets to a guy wearing a 1920s football uniform. From this to this. In one direction, Mark Herzlich was speaking at length about beating cancer. In another direction, a Mexican camera crew challenged Prince Amukamara to an iPad version of Simon Says.
Is this a great country or what?
>> In Indy, I also caught up with Eric Davis, a former all-Pro with the 49ers in the 1990s. Why? Because Davis was in San Francisco when Bo Pelini was getting his start in pro football. Pelini, who spent three years in San Fran, started out holding cards on the sideline, Davis said.
“Tim (McDonald) and I would come in at like 6 o’clock in the morning. Bo started showing up…He was like an assistant to an assistant or something like that.”
Davis remembers how inquisitive Pelini was. Always asking why.
“As he was learning it upstairs from a coach’s perspective, he was also sitting in the classroom with us learning from a player’s perspective. I think that has helped him tremendously.”
>> I also asked Davis about Prince Amukamara, who is featured in today’s World-Herald. Davis elaborated on the challenges of playing corner as a rookie.
“The difference between being a good corner in college and a good corner in the NFL is understanding that guys are always open,” Davis said. “The ball is going to be thrown regardless and you have to make a play. In college at some point, quarterbacks will leave you alone. And you get bad throws. You don’t get that in the NFL. That’s the thing you have to learn. You never, ever get to take a moment off.”
>> How ‘bout Les Miles ripping Gunner Kiel? Kiel originally committed to Indiana, then reneged in favor of LSU, then changed his mind again and enrolled at Notre Dame. Miles addressed the situation Wednesday:
“There was a gentleman from Indiana that thought about coming to the Bayou state,” Miles said. “He did not necessarily have the chest and the ability to lead a program, so you know.”
Something tells me his chest would’ve been just fine had he signed with LSU. Stay classy, Coach.
>> Then there’s Urban Meyer, who’s ruffling feathers in the Big Ten. Meyer fired back at Michigan State and Wisconsin, who complained about his aggressive recruitment of committed prospects.
Said Meyer: “You’re pissed because we went after a committed guy? Guess what, we got 9 guys who better go do it again. Do it a little harder next time.”
>> A few more good recruiting reads. First, Andy Staples goes inside Vanderbilt’s recruiting surge. Then, Stewart Mandel on Meyer’s superhuman salesmanship at Ohio State. Last but not least, Mitch Sherman (a World-Herald alumnus) details how the recruiting battles for assistant coaches can be more intense than the competition for actual prospects.
>> Khiry Cooper, whose baseball career at Nebraska is over, will go down as a cautionary tale for kids wanting to play two sports in college. No, Cooper didn’t hurt his foot because he wanted to play football and baseball. But 3 1/2 years after he turned down the LA Angels, who made him a fifth-round pick, Cooper never came close to his potential in either sport. I feel bad for him. I hope he gets healthy and gives it one more shot.
>> This dunk actually happened in a Division I basketball game. Wow.
>> The Missouri Valley Conference is so top-heavy (Creighton and Wichita State are the only teams with winning league records) it’s hard to say the Bluejays have many tough games left. But Saturday’s road game at Northern Iowa is one of them. If Creighton gets by UNI, it will have only three true road games the rest of the year — Evansville, Southern Illinois and Indiana State. The Jays have the potential to accomplish some big things, but a 9-0 record in conference road games would be high on the list. My gut tells me they get beat Saturday. What say you, Creighton fan?
>> The Big Ten office interviewed fans about the division names — Legends and Leaders — and found that people actually liked them. Huh?
>> Brian Johnson is the new offensive coordinator at Utah. He is 24 years old. Three years ago, he was leading Utah to a perfect season. At this rate, Johnson will break Joe Paterno’s all-time wins record before he accepts a social security check. Johnson has his work cut out, though. The play-callers in the Pac-12 include Chip Kelly, Lane Kiffin, Mike Leach and Rich Rodriguez.
>> Nebraska fans love a winner. Which is why the bandwagon will start filling up — just like 2010 — for Connie Yori’s team, which scored a huge win Thursday night at Purdue. Meanwhile, Doc Sadler’s team continued its topsy-turvy conference season Thursday night at Northwestern. The last seven Nebraska games went like this: loss, win, loss, win, loss, win, loss. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Husker women out-draw the Husker men at the Devaney Center in February.
>> In Tuesday’s Bites, I wrote that Marshall Faulk was close to choosing Nebraska coming out of high school. Twenty years ago, Faulk, a New Orleans native, raved about NU in published reports. I spoke to him in Indianapolis this week and asked him about Nebraska. How close was it?
Faulk: “I wasn’t close at all. It was cold.”
But you visited, right?
But you said you loved it.
Faulk: “No, I didn’t love it, it was cold.”
They wanted to make you a defensive back, right?
Faulk: “Tom Osborne told me his vision for me was at defensive back. So I shook his hand and said, thanks for sharing your thoughts with me, Coach.”
On one hand, it’s nice to know Nebraska didn’t miss on Marshall Faulk because he didn’t get to play running back. On the other hand, it underscores the obstacle Nebraska faces with so many kids from the Sun Belt. Northern prospects will happily go south. A lot of southern kids won’t even consider going north.
>> Finally, my Super Bowl pick. Brady and Belichick are tough to beat, but the Giants are a deeper team. More important, just like four years ago, the Giants have the best pass rush in football — and Brady struggles against pressure. If the New England defense was stronger, I would take the Pats. But it’s not.
Giants 34, Patriots 31
>> Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend.