Published Friday, January 11, 2013 AT 11:45 AM / Updated at 12:29 PM
Mad Chatter, Jan. 11
Dirk Chatelain Omaha World-Herald

It’s Friday! That means Ten Big stories in 10 little bites. We hit Creighton, Nebraska and UNO hoops, Dana Altman and Colin Kaepernick, Roger Federer and Johnny Manziel, even a little Tom Osborne. But first, a legend is about to get one more high-profile job.

Monte Kiffin, age 72, is reportedly the leading contender to replace Rob Ryan in Dallas. One of the greatest defensive minds in NFL history gets a chance to turn around America’s team.

Here’s my question: What if Bo Pelini had offered Kiffin a spot on the Nebraska staff? Co-defensive coordinator. Kiffin doesn’t need the money or the glory. And he loves Nebraska. A few years ago, Monte even came to town to study Bo’s scheme. Isn’t he just the kind of experienced mind that would give Bo a different perspective on the defense? What better way to wrap up an incredible career.

Of course, there would be challenges. Kiffin is a generation older than everyone on the defensive staff — he’s almost 40 years older than John Papuchis. He struggled to adapt to the college game. And who knows if he and Bo could work together.

But what a story it would be.

>> I’m not sure Tim Beck had a good enough year to get his salary doubled. But Nebraska’s offensive coordinator has done a very good job in two years. And considering the status of the defense right now and the importance of 2013, Bo Pelini couldn’t afford to lose Beck. If it took $700,000 to keep his play-caller, Bo had no choice.

>> In today’s World-Herald, I wrote a column suggesting Creighton and Nebraska switch conferences the rest of the season. It was meant for good fun. But the feedback has been more entertaining than the column. I projected CU to finish fourth or fifth in the Big Ten. And NU to finish fourth or fifth in the Valley.

Nebraska fans are emailing me saying there’s no way the Jays would finish that high in the Big Ten. And Creighton fans are emailing me saying there’s no way Nebraska would finish that high in the Valley.

I don’t really care whether the Huskers are better or worse than Evansville. But I’d love to see where Creighton would land in the Big Ten. These are the top six teams in the Big Ten, according to the AP poll:

Michigan
Indiana
Minnesota
Illinois
Ohio State
Michigan State

>> UNO basketball got its second Summit League win last night — I took my 2-year-old. It was a back-and-forth contest with lots of offense. And in the end, two Omaha kids made the difference. John Karhoff and C.J. Carter played great, combining for 39 points.

Many have wondered the past few years if the Mavs could build around in-state kids, specifically Metro products. Are they good enough? Time will tell, but I’m impressed by Karhoff’s and Carter’s development.

>> Speaking of the Ralston Arena, SI profiled the NBA D League this week. There’s really no reason Omaha couldn’t make it work.

>> Dana Altman’s program stagnated at Creighton. But there has never been a doubt about his coaching ability. His Oregon Ducks upset Arizona last night, moving to 13-2 on  the year. He’s a lock for the NCAA tournament. Altman was about the sixth choice in Eugene. He may end up building a Pac-12 power anyway.

>> Last week, I went 4-0 on NFL playoff picks. Of course, I took all the favorites. This week, give me the Patriots, Broncos, Falcons and — in the best matchup of the weekend — Green Bay over San Francisco. I don’t trust Colin Kaepernick yet.

By the way, this is my favorite NFL weekend of the year. The wild card pretenders are gone and there’s still four games. Doesn’t get much better.

>> Interesting stat on the Patriots. They had a regular-season point-differential of +226. According to Soren Petro of 810 WHB in Kansas City, the last five teams with point differentials of +200 DIDN’T win the Super Bowl.

The ’07 Patriots (+315) lost the Super Bowl. The ’01 Rams (+230) lost the Super Bowl. The ’11 Saints (+208) lost in the divisional round. The ’10 Patriots (+205) lost in the divisional round. And the ’11 Packers (+201) lost in the divisional round.

What’s it mean? Maybe nothing. But to make it all the way through the playoffs, I think it helps to be well-trained in close games.

>> Roger Federer got a brutal draw in the Aussie Open. Novak Djokovic, on the other hand, is a near-lock to get to the finals.

>> A great writer, Richard Ben Cramer, died this week. ESPN’s Ryan McGee, a NASCAR specialist who also wrote a book about the College World Series, pays tribute to Cramer. Beautiful work.

>> College football administrators want to change the bowl system. Hallelujah.

>> Johnny Manziel’s 47 touchdowns, all on an 8-minute video. I knew of Manziel’s numbers, but I had no idea he had SO MANY jaw-dropping plays.

>> Alabama’s Eddie Lacy, Dee Milliner and D.J. Fluker are leaving early for the NFL. Which obviously means the Tide has a talent problem…oh, never mind.

>> I’ve seen a lot of buzzer beaters. I haven’t seen one like this.

>> Finally, with all this Husker dynasty talk this week, I went back and read Sports Illustrated’s game story from Tom Osborne’s first national championship, by S.L. Price. What a great piece.

>> Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend.

About Dirk Chatelain

Dirk Chatelain is a staff writer for The Omaha World-Herald and covers Nebraska football and general assignments. You can follow Dirk on Twitter (@dirkchatelain) or email him at dchatelain@owh.com