It’s Friday! That means Ten Big stories in 10 little bites. We hit Marqise Lee and Johnny Manziel, Butch Jones and Michael Vick, Steve Pederson, Silent Night and the best coaching jobs in college football. But first, the Beatdown at the Bob.
Nebraska basketball looked Thursday night like the team we expected to see before the season.
Give the Huskers credit for playing so well against Wake Forest and USC, but they showed Thursday why it’s going to be a long, long year in the Big Ten. With Ray Gallegos out of rhythm, NU didn’t have enough offensive options to keep pace with the Jays.
Despite the blowout, the rivalry took a step in the right direction. The pre-game atmosphere at jam-packed Devaney was as good as it’s been in years.
The scene got even more interesting when Mike Peltz, the walk-on from Alliance who plays more like a wrestler than a point guard, got tied up with Avery Dingman and Grant Gibbs at mid-court. They were still wrestling for the ball 10 seconds after officials blew the whistle.
Creighton doesn’t like Nebraska and Nebraska doesn’t like Creighton. And if it were up to me, they’d play home-and-home every year. But I’ll settle for competitive basketball. That’s coming next year, I think, when Tim Miles comes at Creighton with at least six new recruits.
The only current Huskers I project in next year’s rotation are Ray Gallegos, Benny Parker and either Shavon Shields or David Rivers.
By next December, Bluejay fans will have to earn their bragging rights.
>> Creighton’s defense has now given up 38-for-109 from the field (35 percent) since the Boise State loss. That trend won’t continue forever, but it’s a good sign that CU can lock down an opponent, especially when its offense isn’t firing. Offensively, Creighton knows exactly who it is. Defensively, they may be starting to figure it out.
>> I’ve met and covered hundreds of great athletes in eight years at the World-Herald, but there are few more friendly and charming than Josh Jones. The senior from Omaha Central passed out before Thursday’s game at the Devaney Center and was sent to the hospital. I hope and pray he can rejoin his team.
>> Was that the last sellout crowd for basketball at the Devaney Center? The Huskers still host Ohio State and Michigan State in conference play, but by then they’ll be about 2-7 in Big Ten play. So Thursday night, I think, was the last time we’ll see people in the nosebleeds. It’s fun to mock Devaney and the Huskers’ meager history, but I will miss the place.
>> If every college football coaching job in the country were open today, how would coaches rank them?
Notice that’s not the same as asking you to name the best programs. For instance, in 1997, Nebraska was undoubtedly the best program in America, but it certainly wasn’t the most coveted coaching job — my guess is it would’ve been about 10th.
So looking at all the factors that coaches consider — resources, recruiting base, expectations, etc. — what’s the hierarchy? Granted, every coach and every contract is different, but for the purposes of this exercise, we’re going to assume schools with more resources (SEC, especially) will pay a little more.
Here’s my top 20:
1 — Texas
2 — Florida
3 — Alabama
4 — Ohio State
5 — USC
6 — LSU
7 — Notre Dame
8 — Oklahoma
9 — Georgia
10 — Michigan
11 — Texas A&M
12 — Florida State
13 — Oregon
14 — Tennessee
15 — Stanford
16 — Arkansas
17 — Nebraska
18 — South Carolina
19 — West Virginia
20 — UCLA
Also considered: Oklahoma State, Clemson, Auburn, Wisconsin, Virginia Tech
Now, you might say, isn’t Nebraska an easier place to win 9-10 games than Arkansas, for instance? Yes. But the best coaches in the game want to win national championships. They want to coach in the best league in the country. That’s why a middle-tier SEC job is more attractive than an upper-tier Big Ten job.
>> Tennessee fans are less than thrilled by Butch Jones. But the best SEC coaches didn’t come in with great resumes.
>> Of all the untold stories about Nebraska football I’d love to read, the REAL story of the 2003-04 coaching search would be No. 1. Unfortunately, there’s only one man who knows what all went down — Steve Pederson — and he hasn’t acknowledged a Nebraska media request in five years.
Can you imagine those 40 days in the Twitter era? It would put this Tennessee debacle to shame.
>> How strong is the Alabama brand? It’s going to win Johnny Football the Heisman.
One of the more unusual Heisman races in history will end tomorrow with Manziel thanking his friends, family and coaches. He should thank Nick Saban, too. Until Manziel lit up ‘Bama last month, he was the most prolific quarterback in the country, but not a serious candidate.
It just shows how much voters focus on “Heisman moments”. I’m not saying Manziel didn’t have a great year. Clearly, he did. But if you’re gonna hold Collin Klein’s Baylor performance against him, don’t you have to hold Manziel’s LSU performance against him? He threw three interceptions and didn’t score a touchdown.
The obvious counter-argument is the difference between Big 12 defenses and SEC defenses. But here’s the thing: Manziel didn’t face a string of great SEC defenses. He faced Florida, LSU and Alabama. And he struggled against two of them. Everyone else on the schedule was mediocre.
That’s what people overlook about the SEC. Yes, the top tier is outstanding. But the middle and bottom tiers are just like everyone else’s middle and bottom tiers.
Northwestern beat Vanderbilt. Syracuse beat Missouri. Louisiana-Monroe beat Arkansas. Western Kentucky beat Kentucky.
If I had a vote, it would come down to Manti Te’o or Marqise Lee. And based on the definition of “most outstanding,” I would lean toward Lee.
>> Before Johnny Football, here were 10 past freshmen who deserved a Heisman shot. Michael Vick is No. 1.
>> In Wednesday’s Chatter, I made a factual error I wanted to correct. I said that if Nebraska lost to Georgia, it would likely finish outside the top 25 for the third time in five years. Actually, it would be the second time. Pelini’s past finishes in the AP poll were Unranked, 14th, 20th and 24th.
>> I promised a Husker mailbag this week. Then I got sidetracked. So let’s do the emails next week. I’ll post some of the best excerpts on Husker football. Thanks for all your feedback.
>> During a painful year for the Kansas City Chiefs, this past weekend put sports in perspective. Great work from Liz Merrill.
>> 75 percent of NFL players own guns. Why? Said Thomas Jones, former running back: “People will go to any length to take what you have or harm you in some way just because they don’t have what you have. If you don’t have a firearm to protect you from situations and God forbid something happens to you, you wish you would have a firearm.”
>> Finally, the quietest tradition in sports. ”Other than a game-winning shot,” said former Indiana player and coach Dan Dakich, “I think it’s the coolest thing out there.” Very cool.
>> Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend.