Is Bo Pelini the beneficiary of Ohio State’s probation? Or a victim?
I’m pondering that question this week as Nebraska prepares for 7-5 Wisconsin. There is no doubt the absence of Ohio State paves the way for NU to win its first conference championship in 13 years.
Locally, Nebraska fans would recognize the Huskers as true champions. Strangers would be hugging each other in sports bars. But around the Big Ten and much of the country, there will be an unofficial asterisk next to this game. It won’t be considered legitimate.
Pelini and his seniors have worked much too hard to worry about perception. These past seven weeks have been mentally exhausting. With one more hurdle, there’s no time for “what if” scenarios.
But if given the choice of facing Ohio State or Wisconsin, I truly believe the Huskers would pick the Buckeyes. Especially considering the potential stage.
Imagine Ohio State — free of probation — entering Indianapolis 12-0 and No. 2 in the country. Imagine NU getting a chance, just like in 2009, to knock the conference giant out of the BCS championship game. Now that would be a scene.
Ohio State’s tattoos made Nebraska’s road easier. But they also robbed the Huskers of an opportunity to grab the nation’s attention — a chance to put an exclamation point on a magical winning streak and accomplish something extraordinary.
Could Nebraska have done it? It’s sad we’ll never find out.
>> Speaking of 12-0 Ohio State, on Oct. 3, I wrote this paragraph in Mad Chatter:
“If you’re a fan of Michigan or Wisconsin or even Purdue or Minnesota, the worst thing that could happen in 2012 isn’t three non-conference losses to Notre Dame or another Rose Bowl blowout. It’s Ohio State going undefeated. It’s Meyer doing a halftime interview during the Big Ten title game, fielding questions about who should be the real conference champs.”
If the Big Ten allows Meyer to have any place in Saturday’s broadcast, it’s a mistake. I recognize he’s a man viewers want to hear from. But it’s not the right time or place.
>> The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch editorial page celebrates the Buckeyes’ triumph. It goes from cheery to crazy when it praises Gene Smith’s calm amid the storm.
>> Jim Delany won’t be inviting Wake Forest to the Big Ten this year. That’s the bad news for Tim Miles. The good news? I’m not sure where to start.
Nebraska, whose seventh and eighth men are walk-ons, went on the road Tuesday night and dominated a BCS conference opponent. Andre Almeida played like Moses Malone, Ray Gallegos shot like Ray Allen and the Huskers scored on 16 of their first 19 possessions in the second half. It was stunning.
Wake is clearly one of the worst BCS-conference teams in the country. But I thought Nebraska was, too. The Huskers have much more to do before they’re competitive in the rugged Big Ten (the league is ridiculously good this year). But that’s not really the point.
Miles has shown why he turned around four programs, from Mayville State to Colorado State. Nebraska’s offensive spacing was excellent. The defense was smart. The right guys were taking shots (except that one time when Mike Peltz air-balled a 17-footer).
At the start of the season, I thought Nebraska would win eight total games. Now I’m saying 13. That’s not enough to draw big crowds to the Devaney Center. But it’s enough to create momentum for 2013-14. That’s what this season is all about.
>> The University of Arkansas has apparently offered the city of Little Rock to Les Miles if he’ll be their next football coach. The funniest 13 things about this scenario, by Clay Travis.
>> Did the University of Tennessee offer Jon Gruden the job, along with an ownership stake in the Cleveland Browns?
>> Ndamukong Suh spoke to ESPN and responded directly to his critics. Interesting stuff. I think Suh is way too smart to make such stupid mistakes, especially off the field. If he doesn’t step back, take responsibility and change, he’ll go down as one of football’s biggest busts. One of Detroit’s prominent columnists suggests the Lions should consider trading Suh.
>> Louisville beat out Connecticut and Cincinnati for an invitation to the ACC. The ACC is now free to lose another school. Then it will add UConn. And the game continues. Ironically, Stewart Mandel writes, the Louisville move is about football, not basketball.
>> Joe Posnanski examines a throwback hero, Johnny Football. I think it stinks that Manziel wasn’t available to the media until this week. But it’s actually turned into a brilliant P.R. strategy for his Heisman campaign. Had he been talking all year, he wouldn’t be getting all the publicity the week before Heisman votes are due.
>> The FBI says Tulsa’s athletic director was involved with an illegal sports betting enterprise.
>> Former Colorado coach Bill McCartney says race was a factor in Jon Embree’s termination after just two years.
>> MLB needs to change these nine rules, Tom Verducci writes.
>> The Dodgers’ new TV deal will drastically widen the gap between haves and have-nots. The Dodgers will make $1.73 million per game!
>> Did the NCAA act improperly in the USC case? According to documents, “two non-voting members of the NCAA infractions committee and (one) NCAA staffer allegedly tried to influence voting members inside the 10-person committee.”
>> The USGA and R&A have banned the belly putter. It’s big news in the pro golf world. Remember, Ernie Els, Webb Simpson and Keegan Bradley won majors the past two years with the belly putter. Here’s reaction from the golf world, including Tiger.
>> Michael Jordan is unwelcome at a swanky Miami country club because he committed a dress code violation. Seriously.