Published Wednesday, May 9, 2012 AT 12:01 PM / Updated at 4:41 PM
Mad Chatter, May 9
Dirk Chatelain Omaha World-Herald

Forget the time capsule. Don’t bother buying a scrapbook. When Nebraska looks back on its first year in the Big Ten, fans might as well pretend it never happened.

Husker women’s teams did their best to make a dent in the Big Ten power structure — volleyball and women’s basketball, for instance, had big seasons. But the most prominent men’s teams are piling up disappointments.

Bo Pelini’s football team did not win the Legends Division, as expected. It did get blown out at Wisconsin in its first-ever Big Ten game.

Doc Sadler’s basketball team finished in the Big Ten cellar, failing to reach 50 points in six conference games.

And now Darin Erstad’s team, considered a Big Ten contender a month ago, is mired in a slump and might not even make the league tournament. Only the top six qualify and losing two of three at Indiana last week put NU in a tie for seventh place.

All three programs, I believe, are on solid ground. But face it, Nebraska’s rookie season in the Big Ten has been a dud.

Did we underestimate the challenge of switching conferences? Are basketball and baseball just enduring transition periods? Don’t know. But the results in 2012-13 need to be better.

* * *

>> The Huskers’ struggles this year raise an interesting question: Who is the better Nebraska AD: Bill Byrne or Tom Osborne?

Under Byrne, Nebraska hit on all cylinders. Look at the track record, taken from Lee Barfknecht’s terrific column today:

NU has five football national championships. Three came under Byrne (1994, 1995, 1997), plus there was a near miss in 1999 and a BCS title game appearance in 2001. NU has three volleyball national championships. Two came under Byrne (1995, 2000).

NU has six NCAA men’s basketball tournament appearances. Three came under Byrne (1993, 1994, 1998), along with an NIT championship (1996). NU won three other national titles during Byrne’s tenure (two in women’s bowling, one in men’s gymnastics) and claimed 60 regular-season conference titles and 16 league tourney titles.

Also, the Huskers reached what many considered an unreachable goal — the 50-mile trip to Omaha to play in the College World Series (2001).

Osborne, on the other hand, successfully steered Nebraska out of a football crisis and, without him, NU’s move to the Big Ten probably doesn’t happen. Who would you want in your AD chair: Dollar Bill or TO?

Right now, I’d say Byrne.

>> Thanks to everyone who read/commented on my Monday blog post about Ron Brown.

Many of you dropped me an email or Twitter message with your thoughts — I appreciated them very much. Many more participated in a mostly civil, respectful, healthy discussion in the comments section. Agree or disagree, I hope our opinions added something to the debate.

Now… back to less serious matters.

>> Conference realignment is becoming a hot topic again. With John Marinatto’s resignation as Big East commissioner, that league descends into greater turmoil.

Will Boise State still come to the Big East without automatic-qualifier status? What happens to Notre Dame (ACC?) and Louisville (Big 12?)… many questions must be answered.

The most interesting, to me, is if non-football schools in the Big East will break away. That could have ramifications for Creighton, who could — if things break just right — land in a western division of an all-Catholic basketball league.

>> Stewart Mandel points out that Marinatto’s departure signals how badly school presidents have messed up college sports.

>> I’m sitting in for the appendix-less Nick Bahe most of this week on Schick and Nick on 1620. (That’s why the blog is getting posted a little later than usual.) Today’s show featured an interview with BCS boss Bill Hancock. He’s a very nice man, but I agree with almost none of his college football opinions. Here’s the podcast — it’s segment 6.

>> On Tuesday’s show, we talked to Creighton coach Ed Servais about the Bluejays’ offensive struggles this year. Servais acknowledged that TD Ameritrade Park — a very large stadium by college standards — plays a factor, both physically and mentally. Not last night — CU crushed Nebraska pitching for 16 hits.

The Valley doesn’t have a dominant baseball team this year. I don’t dismiss Creighton’s chances of doing a little damage in Springfield.

>> Steve Kerr pitches a 20-year-old age limit for the NBA. He makes a lot of good points.

>> A pretty heartbreaking story about Greg Oden, who opened up about his failed career.

>> Gregg Doyel wrote about discrimination in field hockey. Seriously.

>> Josh Hamilton became the 16th player in MLB history to hit four homers. Compare that to 21 perfect pitching games. I would’ve guessed the gap would be wider. To me, four homers is a much more impressive feat.

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


  1. Brian says:

    Let’s talk about gay marriage! JK, good stuff Dirk, keep the posts coming…

  2. mosier1483 says:

    Bring ESPN Gameday to Lincoln and get NU some great exposure and a free commercial. This is a chance for fans to actually make a real difference for the program. Last day to vote, need about 8000 votes to take revenge on A&M.

  3. mosier1483 says:

    I would take Osborne without a question for the position we were and are in. Don’t think he’s the long term solution and there are probably better CEO/AD’s out there but what he’s done in a short time is remarkable and Husker Nation was extremely lucky to get him at the time.

  4. Dos Passos says:

    Dirk, it wasn’t just a “football crisis.” Pederson poisoned the air (figuratively, of course) in the entire athletic department. Turning that situation around was a greater challenge than anything Byrne ever faced.

  5. josh says:

    Would disagree on 4 homeruns > perfect game. It’s called “perfect” for a reason.

    1. Mike Caramba says:

      Yeah, I think it depends on AB. 4/4 with 4 HR is more impressive to me than a perfect game. 4/6 with 4 HR in a blowout is really, really impressive, but I think I’d give the edge to the perfect game.

  6. Matt says:

    Have you had a chance to talk to Creighton about picking up the phone and getting a deal done with Kansas?

  7. NUCORNDEVIL says:

    Osborne has twice put mediocre coaches in charge of the Husker football team, it’s apparent his money spending decisions cloud his ability decisions.
    Regardless of a coaches experience or past performance, Osborne thinks like a an old shrewd jewish woman, when it comes to making a coaching selection, Pelini was the obvious choice, since the NU defense was dumpster fire, he obviously didn’t want to make waves offensively, may cost him more.
    Osborne was clearly under paid by NU as our HC, he often split his extra income with his assistants, that admirable, very Husker like.
    Unfortunately the coaches who need to be the CEO of a football power such as NU, demand a little more coin. If NU is a ‘Destination’ gig, then i suggest the NU athletic department pay’s like it.
    If Osborne and his mentor Pearlman continue to pay mediocre wages, NU will continue to receive mediocre results.
    This is the VERY reason i promote Tom Rathman as HC for the NU football team. Tom has enough time in the game, several contacts, and a world of experience Pelini could only dream of.
    Rathman is a guy who would come into NU, accept a 1.9-2.2 million dollar contract, and would install a solid offensive, and defensive scheme kids could quickly master.
    Rathman would bring assistants from the college or Pro ranks, who understand correct player development, the days of golf pro’s, and childhood, high school, drinking buddies will be over.
    Rathman may not have a gazillion years as HC, or coordinator, but im thinking what he has learned, just in practice, while winning two SUPER BOWLS, gives him an idea of what being a champion is all about.

    1. NUCORNDEVIL says:

      I’m currently attending a ‘Fat Finger’ support group

      1. Mark Kasson says:

        NUCORNDEVIL: Could you please break down a comparison of Tom Rathman’s head coaching experience, coordinator experience, -vs- that of Bo Pelini? I am curious, and lazy. Nearest I can tell, though, Tom has a grand total of zero years coordinating either on offense or a defense. Rathman’s “contacts”… Are they better/more successful than Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll?

        While you are at it, can you actually check with Tom and ask him if he even would have an interest in being a head coach at NU? We’ve had openings, and yet somehow Tom has remained in the NFL. Funny also, that you’d speak so eloquently about Osborne underpaying the NU head coach, then in your diatribe offer your “better qualified” candidate approximately a cool million less than what Bo Pelini is being paid. And, not to be nit-picky, but what basis do you have for the premise that Tom Rathman would “install a solid offensive, and defensive scheme kids could quickly master” ??? (See the “zero” years of experience actually doing what you claim he could/would do).

        Finally, and not to be harsh, but the next sentence is equally well-supported: “Rathman would bring assistants from the college or Pro ranks, who understand correct player development…”. Care to guess at Tom’s record as a position coach? I’ll tell you… Tom inherited Garrison Hearst when he became the running backs coach at S.F. in 1997. Hearst made the Pro Bowl that year, and again in 1999 and in 2002. Charlie Garner made it in 2001. Tom Rathman wouldn’t coach another All-Pro position player (either starter or reserve), until ten years later, when Frank Gore was named a reserve following the 2011 season. (Gore was an alternate in 2010). Tom’s coaching record? 111 wins, 129 losses, for a nifty 46.25%. Yes, lets hire him as our next head coach.

        1. NUCORNDEVIL says:

          They hired Pelini, a person with limited success and other peoples recruits.
          IF the NU blue hairs are going to hire non experience, may as well hire a decorated Husker with loyalty.
          Pelini’s hired a bunch of high school coaches.

          1. CORNDEVIL says:

            Maybe if you blog every day to get Pelini fired you will scare enough recruits off to get your wish of Pelini fired and for fans to suffer through a 4-8 season to get your bromance with T.R. (Tom Rathman) going.
            For the Last Time…….
            Tom Rathman!!!
            Tom Rathman is the ‘Brady Hoke’ of Husker Football!
            Tom Rathman is the guy who you want to give 20 years, cause you know he isn’t going anywhere, Tom Rathman has forgotten more about football than Pelini will ever know.
            Tom Rathman, has been there and done that as a player, knows what CHAMPIONSHIP teams are built from. Tom Rathman has a network of HIGH quality resources. Tom Rathman knows everything Osborne does, and some

    2. CORNDEVIL says:

      Golf Pro Rich Fisher was responsible for getting Bill Belichick to visit Lincoln and for then for Fonso subsequently getting picked up by New England.

      Rich Fisher bio:

      Playing Experience: 1988-92, Colorado. Won an MNC in 1990.

      Coaching Experience: 1995-96, Oklahoma State (graduate assistant coach); 1997-98 (Colorado (graduate assistant coach); 1999-2000, Idaho (assistant coach/receivers); 2001-03, Idaho (assistant coach/linebackers); 2009-10, Rivers School, Weston, Mass. (Head Coach); 2011-present, Nebraska (assistant coach/receivers)

      According to Bill McCartney, Fisher’s former coach at Colorado, Pelini’s new hire is a 300-yard drive down the middle.

      “Kids will like him,” McCartney said. “He’s got tremendous character. He’s going to command respect. And he’s going to be genuine, sincere, authentic. I’ll bet he’ll be an outstanding recruiter.”

      1. NUCORNDEVIL says:

        Tom Rathman: 2 Superbowls, played side by side with the greatest player in Pro football.
        Took hand offs from the one of the top 3 QB’s of all time.
        Learned an offense from one of the greatest football minds in your lifetime, and executed it.
        Do you think Fisher could get Bill Belichick to call plays for the NU offense, how about call defenses for Poopich?
        Kids will Like Rathman, he can talk about Jerry Rice, and Joe Montanna, while flashing his two, earned, Superbowl rings, in the kitchens of recruits homes, something Pelini, and Osborne could never do.
        Face it, Rathman has the edge over Pelini, even if Pelini is HC for another 4 years.
        Football is football…….”Some people try to find things in this game that don’t exist but football is only two things – blocking and tackling.” -Vince Lombardi-

  8. bigredinkc says:

    Dirk, don’t worry abou the haters. Just incorporate a Chuck Liddell mentality; starting saying, “I’ll fight anyone the UFC (Omaha World Hearld) puts in front of me.”

  9. bigredinkc says:

    about*, start* staying. Fat fingers galore today.

    1. NUCORNDEVIL says:

      its a disease :)

      1. CORNDEVIL says:

        LIke waking up after dreaming about getting Pelini fired?

        Or like falling asleep dreaming about getting Tom Rathman hired?

  10. Melvin says:

    Byrne also engineered The last good golf team in nu history. Rated 14th. Tapped australia for recruits which all schools now do. TO racks up mediocrity…..

    1. Mark Kasson says:

      Yes, Melvin, the prowess of our golf team is of paramount importance. I wonder how many full scholarships our golf program is allotted? Please, lets also look up tennis and women’s rowing.

      1. Melvin says:

        congrats on winning the Osborne Award for Mediocrity! it’s about a quality AD from top to bottom. right now, we’d all settle for ONE good team. back then, there were many.

  11. The Bruce says:

    You gotta be kidding me. I can’t believe how stupid people have gotten…and the saddest part is that the mindless readers buy this tripe. You know why national championships happened under Byrne? Because Tom Osborne was head coach. Yet now, we’re going to tally that in the Byrne column, as if that somehow makes him superior to Osborne, even though Osborne was the guy solely responsible for winning the championships. Good grief. Hypocrites rejoice.

    We’d maybe have won a couple more championships without Byrne, because Tom probably would have stayed around a few more years.

    1. A Fan says:

      The point is… under Byrne, Nebraska won quite a few titles… in multiple sports. We haven’t done that under Osborne. Or Pederson.

  12. joey says:

    Dirk : It doesn’t matter WHO makes AD, HC, OC, DC. You’re NOT changing what needs to go!!! The one that needs the PERMANENT BOOT, is the CHANCELLOR of NU.. Time to end the politics. Politics did NOT get NU National Titles. Those titles NU took home because of the Blood Sweat, and Tears. From the PLAYERS, coaching staff, and even the fans.
    Now look at it… Corn Fed scandal, and EVERYONE has a great idea WHY Zac Lee was QB. If I remembered right, his Daddy was in the NFL at 1 time. Wow, like NOBODY can guess why Quack Lee made starter huh? Whatever!!!! Time to end this ” MY RICH SON SHOULD BE A STARTER CRAP “. The Chumpcellor has gotta go!!!!!!!!!

    1. Tired Husker says:

      Think you have Zac Lee confused with Taylor Martinez

      1. Tired Husker says:

        TM has the dad that is always complaining about his son starting and threatening transfer

  13. Harrisburg Husker says:

    Good lord, I can’t believe I just read that. If the guy who turned the football game day atmosphere into a circus, brought us Warren Swain…let that sink in people, he thought Warren Swain was a good hire, and left the Athletic Department swimming in Red ink was a good AD, than I’d hate to see who Dirk thinks is a bad AD.

    Let’s also talk about the logic employed here of giving credit to Bill Byrne for National Championships in football and volleyball. Who hired those coaches? Who left an indelible imprint on the football program? Had Byrne never been hired, Osborne doesn’t bail so quickly and ultimately, we don’t have to endure the Callahan era.

    Bill Byrne was one of the worst things that ever could have happened to Nebraska football. Dave Van Horn and Huskervision were his two big accomplishments.

    1. Bob says:

      TO has always said that he retired when he did because he had made a promise to an unnamed person. He also said the promise had nothing to do with his health issues at the time. the latter would seem to rule out a promise to Nancy. From all I have read, I believe the promise was made to Solich, who was actively interviewing for a HC slot. He also tried to get Solich a job at Army (after NU) which I thought was a great fit. Apparently, Solich mistakenly thought BCS HC offers would be coming and was not at all interested in the Army position.But, I am glad that he has fit in well at Ohio U. TO’s decision had nothing to do with Bill Byrne. TO also unilaterally appointed Soilch as his successor.

      Fot the record, I liked Bill Byrne. Take that. :)

  14. Tired Husker says:

    “Forget the time capsule. Don’t bother buying a scrapbook. When Nebraska looks back on its 4-loss Pellllini years at coach and Osborne years at AD, fans might as well pretend it never happened.” It’s just like the ghost of Bill Jennings is the coach, Nebraska is back to the future, the 1950′s.

    Fixed it for you Dirk

    1. CORNDEVIL says:

      Who is your hire after you fire Pelini from your keyboard?

      Bring in Matt Turman from Skutt High to get things back on track?

      1. Tired Husker says:

        Nebraska first needs a real AD and then a real FB coach that has all of the Nebraska ties that Devaney had when he came head coach at Nebraska, none. We shouldn’t limit ourselves to those with ties to the program. If that was our only criteria, Devaney would have never been hired and Osborne would have never been hired as a GA, then OC then Head Coach. Why aren’t we competing for National sought after coaches, not coaches that interview and interview and never get a job? Or Asst coaches who can only volunteer at a high school and being repeatedly fired? We hired many coaches in the30′s, 40′s and 50′s with Husker ties and how did that work out for us?

        1. CORNANGEL says:

          AD Candidates:

          HC Candidates:

          Please throw some names out.

          The fire & hope got us Billy C & left us scrambling for Houston Nutt’s services.

          1. Tired Husker says:

            It’s okay, really, you want Frank back, I understand. We can keep losing 4-6 games a year, never compete for anything, never win a Big Ten championship, and before you know it we are Minnesota, so lets keep everything the status quo, because its safer than trying. It would seem that you aren’t about trying just playing it safe with what we have, good for you.

            If we had a competent AD we would have an actual HC search. If we weren’t afraid of the future, we would have an actual AD search and hire a AD and give them a contract but we like Bill Jennings, Pete Elliott, Bill Glasford, etc. etc. Been here before and it’s where we are headed again

          2. hskrpwr13 says:

            Actually, Tired Husker, I’d be interest in seeing your answers to CornAngel’s questions.

          3. Tired Husker says:

            I don’t have candidates, that is why you hire professionals to do the search, not call up any past alumni or anyone that has a connection with the program. Maybe, just maybe Nebraska should do it like a big time program and stop acting like a lower tier school. Or will we get the excuse that it’s hard to fly here?