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.
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>> 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.