It’s Friday! That means Ten Big stories in 10 little bites. We hit Tim Miles and Michael Phelps, Gabby Douglas and SEC football, Tim Tebow and Coach K. But first, the biggest regret from Husker football 2011 — and how NU can learn from it.
I asked Husker tight end Ben Cotton this morning: What moment from last year do you wish you could change most? I expected Cotton to say South Carolina, maybe Wisconsin or Michigan. Those outcomes were embarrassing. Instead, he chose the Huskers’ stunning defeat after a huge win over Michigan State.
“We weren’t mentally anywhere near where we needed to be. That was a big thing for us that really showed us that we needed to change things, that if we didn’t, things like that are going to keep happening.
“You can’t have one big play and then come out and crap the next series down your leg. If you want to be the best, you have to be the best all the time.”
Fans will hear a lot about Nebraska’s personnel this month. Position battles. Offseason technical improvements. But the primary focus inside the program is mental. Finding a way to develop a sustainable edge that fosters consistency.
NU will have its hands full with Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin. But first and foremost in 2012, it needs to eliminate dumb losses like Northwestern.
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>> What jumps out from the USA Today/Coaches Top 25? The SEC occupies half the Top 10! That either means the league is better than ever, or its reputation is getting out of control. I envision a nightmare BCS scenario one of the next two years. It goes like this:
Alabama goes 12-1, with wins over Arkansas, LSU, Michigan and South Carolina. A major-conference team like Michigan State or Virginia Tech goes 13-0. ‘Bama gets the edge in the BCS standings.
Prior to now, we’ve seen undefeated teams from non-BCS leagues (Boise State, Utah, Hawaii, etc.) get dissed in favor of a one-loss major-conference team. But the perceived gap between the SEC and everybody else is so wide, it’s worth asking: Is a 12-1 season in the SEC better than a 13-0 season in the Big Ten or ACC?
>> Think life in the SEC is rough for the big boys? Look at what it’s like for a bottom-feeder. Mississippi has four conference road games in 2012: No. 2 Alabama, No. 10 Arkansas, No. 6 Georgia and No. 1 LSU. Ouch.
>> Is Iowa the toughest place to play in the Big Ten? That’s the vibe I got from Big Ten players last week at media days. I’ve never been to Kinnick Stadium for a game, but several Big Ten players noted the crazy environment and close proximity between fans and the sideline. My question: Will the Hawks be awake the morning after Thanksgiving?
>> Tim Miles doesn’t like prospects with hairy legs. He does like McDonald’s. Read this outstanding profile, by ESPN’s Jason King. Miles is a hard guy not to like. But there’s a difference between endearing and effective. Can he take advantage of his publicity and score a big recruit in the next few months?
>> ESPN’s Myron Medcalf identifies 10 basketball programs on the rise. Notice any familiar names on this list? How ‘bout Nebraska, Creighton, Oregon and Iowa State. Look at what Metcalf writes about the Jays:
The facility’s average attendance of 16,665 was good for sixth in the country last season. That number should rise as the Jays, who have won 11 Missouri Valley tournament titles, should enter this season with a Top 25 ranking. Off the court, Creighton holds its own, too. The small Jesuit school (enrollment 4,206) is one of the finest private universities in the Midwest. With its strong basketball culture and top academics, Creighton could attract more McDermott-type prospects to Omaha in the coming years.
>> NBC’s lock on Olympic coverage has rendered ESPN irrelevant this week. Even SportsCenter is useless. Sorry, Tim Tebow’s red-zone performance at Jets practice doesn’t compare to Gabby Douglas and Michael Phelps.
>> Phelps evened the score with Lochte — and reminded everyone just how good he was in 2004 and ’08, when he won a total of 14 golds. Pat Forde says both stars fell short in 2012, but give them credit for ambition.
>> Did USA basketball run up the score on Nigeria? Coach K says no way. I agree with him. What are you supposed to do, take shot-clock violations. I think the Nigerians would’ve won had Ade Dagunduro not been injured.
>> Ramadan poses a challenge for Muslim athletes at the Olympics.
>> A very cool story about New York’s failed bid at the 2012 Olympics — and how it could’ve led to a major stadium in downtown Manhattan.
>> Joe Posnanski’s 19 greatest Olympians of all-time.
>> A great graphic showing the differences in 100-meter swimming times since 1896.
>> The Big Red Bracket is down to the quarterfinals. The Walk-on program versus the Game of the Century may go down to the wire. Vote here!
>> The Husker Infamy Bracket is down to the semifinals.
No. 1 — 62-36 (won 30-21 in 3rd round)
No. 1 — “I refuse to let this program gravitate to mediocrity,” by Steve Pederson (44-7)
No. 1 — One (extra) second in Dallas (43-8)
No. 4 — Terrence Nunn’s fumble (27-24)
Vote in the comments section, or send me an email — firstname.lastname@example.org.
>> Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend.