Best Olympian of this era: Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps? We’ll get to that question in a few moments. But first, a Husker football question.
At what point will Nebraska start stacking talent in the trenches?
The absence of Ryan Klachko and Todd Peat from the 105-man roster raised eyebrows this weekend. Both were headliners in the 2011 recruiting class. Klachko is no longer with the program; Peat’s lingering back problems are only “part” of the reason he isn’t in camp, Bo Pelini said.
Recruiting is a guessing game, and sometimes coaches guess wrong. Sometimes players get hurt and sometimes players get homesick and sometimes school and prospect just aren’t a good fit.
But the only way to compete with Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin is to build quality depth on the lines. And five years into the Pelini regime, it’s still a question mark.
Nebraska has almost 30 offensive linemen on the roster. I’m a proponent of big rosters; walk-ons like Spencer Long, Seung Hoon Choi and Justin Jackson help fill the recruiting gaps. But NU can’t afford to keep missing on the high-ceiling prospects.
Since 2008, these are Pelini’s high school scholarship recruits on the offensive line:
Obviously, many of those guys are still developing. But most of the upperclassmen were misses. Freshmen and sophomores, particularly the 2011 class, need to pick up the slack. That gets a little harder without Klachko.
It’s Peat, however, who may be the bigger loss if he doesn’t pan out. This fall is the last season for Baker Steinkuhler, Cam Meredith, Joe Carter and Eric Martin.
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>> Will Taylor Martinez complete 70 percent of his passes this year? Nope. Does he need to? Nope. There’s nothing wrong with setting lofty goals, but Martinez won’t be judged by his numbers. If he’s at 60 percent, while avoiding turnovers and performing in the clutch, Nebraska fans will love him again. Heading into a season of relatively low expectations, NU’s best hope at a Big Ten title is a huge year from Martinez.
>> I’m thrilled that Omaha hosts the Cox Classic. And Ben Kohles looks like a star in the making. But it’d be nice to see players work a little harder to shoot 66 and 67. Why doesn’t the wind ever blow the first week of August? Tom Shatel wrote last week that the Cox Classic will likely move from Champions after 2013. Where could it go? To me, the best options are Shadow Ridge and Players Club. But unless they tighten fairways, trick up the greens and turn a par 5 into a par 4, I’m not sure either course presents a much more difficult test than Champions.
>> Is the Big Three in tennis now the Big Four? Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic have dominated the sport the past eight years, winning 29 of the last 30 Grand Slams. But Andy Murray’s performance Sunday — a beatdown of Fed in the same venue he lost the Wimbledon final — suggests he’s finally ready to break through the wall. Murray may actually be the favorite at the US Open.
>> Time for Olympic links:
On Michael Phelps, here’s Pat Forde.
>> A badminton story? Just read it.
>> The New York Times blasts Lolo Jones, comparing her to Anna Kournikova.
>> Has athleticism trumped artistry in gymnastics?
>> Willie Roaf’s Hall of Fame induction is a family story.
>> An Eagles reporter writes about Andy Reid and his sons.
>> Andy Staples of SI examines the relationship of college football and TV — and how it’s changing again.
>> Inside the secret negotiations that almost knocked Penn State off the football field for four years.
>> We have two showdown semifinals in the Big Red Bracket:
On one side, Blackshirts v. 60-3. On the other side, Sellout streak v. Game of the Century. Vote here.
>> The Husker Infamy Bracket, meanwhile, is down to two. Or, more accurately, three.
In one semifinal, “One (extra) second in Dallas” beat Terrence Nunn’s fumble, 23-5. But the other semifinal was a tie between “62-36” and “I refuse to let this program gravitate to mediocrity,” by Steve Pederson”.
That means we’ll use today and tomorrow to break the tie. Then we’ll start the finals Wednesday and wrap it up Friday. Vote in the comments section, or send me an email — firstname.lastname@example.org.
>> Finally, Phelps or Bolt?
When I posed the question to Twitter followers late Sunday night, almost everyone picked Phelps. For good reason. His 18 gold medals are hard to comprehend. But medals don’t tell the whole story — there’s far more hardware available in swimming.
The 100 meters is the signature event of the Summer Olympics. And Bolt has won it twice in memorable fashion. If he can take the 200 meters this week, he’ll be the face of the 2012 Olympics, at least internationally. He’ll be the only man — ever — to go back-to-back in the 100 and 200. Is that more impressive than Phelps? Perhaps not. But in measuring the “best,” you have to consider the feeling in your gut when you’re watching. The “wow” factor.
Bolt wins that race every time.