Another crazy weekend inspires another massive Chatter. We’ll get to Creighton and Husker hoops, Te’o's mea culpa and Frost’s promotion. But let’s start with the humble beginnings of a superstar.
The redshirt freshman quarterback entered his first college game with 13:32 left. Fans inside Memorial Stadium had never heard of him; I certainly hadn’t. It was the 2007 season opener and Nebraska led Nevada 45-10.
Colin Kaepernick was 6-5, 170 pounds as a high school senior. He received one Division I scholarship offer. Nevada coach Chris Ault hadn’t even seen him play, but an assistant reportedly marveled at his basketball abilty and figured he was worth a shot.
Before a Sea of Red on Sept. 1, 2007, Kaepernick took his first snap and handed off for a 2-yard gain. He got two possessions. Six snaps. Didn’t record a first down. He was 1-for-3 passing for minus-1 yards and didn’t rush once. Not exactly a promising start.
But by midseason, Kaepernick had jumped to No. 1 on the depth chart. In his first start, he had 420 total yards and five touchdowns. Nevada pushed Boise State to four overtimes (69-67 was the final) on the blue turf.
What were the odds that only five years later, that gangly kid would lead the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl? And what are the odds that his counterpart would be Joe Flacco, who also played one possession against NU in 2004.
Flacco was a freshman at Pittsburgh. He had one rush for 3 yards, then got sacked for a loss of 8. Then, on third-and-23 from the Pitt 20, he quick-kicked 25 yards. (Sam Koch, he isn’t). Nebraska beat Pitt 24-17 — Bill Callahan’s first respectable win. Flacco, of course, transferred to Delaware and developed into a first-round draft pick.
Just goes to show we have no clue how 18-year-old kids are going to develop, nor do we have any idea where tomorrow’s NFL stars are coming from.
I do know this: If one of these head coaches doesn’t hire Kevin Cosgrove as a Super Bowl consultant, they’re crazy.
>> Kaepernick’s coach has a little experience with Nebraska, too. The Huskers ran into Jim Harbaugh at the ’86 Fiesta Bowl.
Michigan won 27-23. That’s the day Nebraska led 14-3 at half, but melted down in the third quarter, getting outscored 24-0. Steve Taylor replaced McCathorn Clayton, ushering in a new era at quarterback. Harbaugh went just 6-for-15 for 63 yards.
“You have to give Nebraska a lot of credit,” Harbaugh said afterward. “I don’t go into a game trying to think about completing 80 percent of my passes, hitting three touchdown passes or whatever. I try to do whatever it takes to win. My dad gave me that advice. It was never so true than out there today. You just keep fighting and some way or another it comes your way.”
One Husker from that game, Tom Rathman, is now Harbaugh’s running backs coach in San Francisco.
>> Is Creighton tough enough to beat teams like Wichita State? I’m not talking about grit or moxie or poise. In that area, the Jays are better than most. I’m talking about physical toughness. Athleticism. Strength. Bulk.
Creighton lost too many loose balls Saturday. Too often it got pushed around in the paint. The Shockers are supposed to do that to an extent — the Jays are supposed to counter with elite shooting. But it raises concerns about what other physical teams might do to CU in March.
I think Creighton is better than last year. And I don’t think a Final Four run is out of the question. I just wish Greg McDermott had a Justin Carter or Nick Porter available on nights when it’s no-blood, no-foul.
>> The second-half flagrant foul against Grant Gibbs was a bad call. The last-minute flagrant against Brandon Ubel was even worse. Officials may simply be enforcing a flawed rule. But there’s no way Penn State should’ve been allowed to steal the ball and draw a foul, then also get free throws for Ubel’s elbow five seconds earlier. Ubel would’ve been better off kneeing the defender in the groin; at least officials would’ve stopped play.
>> Shavon Shields’ emergence is one of the biggest reasons to watch Nebraska basketball down the stretch. A month ago, I didn’t know if Shields would have a role next year, when Tim Miles overhauls the roster. Now it looks like he might develop into NU’s best returning player in 2013-14. The Huskers are going to be small, but they should have plenty of depth on the perimeter.
>> Sitting courtside Saturday at Penn State was Graham Spanier, the now-infamous former president at NU and Penn State. I’ll have more on Spanier’s time at Nebraska later this week in the blog.
Here’s Eichorst boiled down to three quotes, none of which made it into the profile.
Lance Leipold, former teammate and current football coach at Wisconsin-Whitewater: “Shawn is usually the smartest guy in the room, but he never lets anyone think that. He’s always listening. He takes it all in. He doesn’t want to be in the forefront of things.”
Sandy Nusbaum, Miami booster: “Internally, I think he did a lot of good things. Externally, a lot of people didn’t feel like he did much. … Some ADs will basically walk around like politicians shaking hands and kissing babies. That wasn’t Shawn’s style.”
Jim Morris, Miami baseball coach: “He’s a game-face guy. He takes everything pretty serious. If you ask him a question, you may not get an answer for a day or two. He’ll think about it, but he make sure he gives you the right answer.”
>> Will Bo Pelini rue the day he didn’t hire Scott Frost? I believe Frost will succeed as Oregon’s offensive coordinator and get plenty of face time as the Ducks contend for a national title next year. But that doesn’t mean he was the best option for offensive coordinator two years ago, when Frost and Pelini discussed the job — Bo already had his mind set on Tim Beck.
Frost would’ve been a great fit on this staff from a schematic standpoint — a lot of what Beck does resembles Oregon’s offense. But his biggest contribution may have been in recruiting, where Frost has been a key asset — Lane Kiffin tried to hire him two years ago, too.
Frost’s chances of ever coordinating Nebraska’s offense are slipping. But his chances of one day becoming the head coach in Lincoln are increasing.
>> “I think Brady can be removed from being the greatest quarterback ever now. I don’t think that’s possible for him given losing two Super Bowls and given that in the last 14 playoff games he’s played in, he’s 7-7.”
That was Cris Carter this morning on Mike and Mike. I can dispute that statement from several different angles. In last year’s Super Bowl, Wes Welker dropped a pass that would’ve secured Brady’s fourth ring. Last night, Welker dropped another ball on the opening drive of the third quarter that would’ve set up the Pats to hold a two-score lead.
But here’s what I find most interesting about the Brady narrative. What if his career unfolded in reverse? What if he went 7-7 in postseason games, including two Super Bowl losses, then finished with a flurry of three Super Bowl wins? He’d be the equivalent of John Elway, but with one more ring.
I don’t know if Brady is the best ever — in this age of mobile quarterbacks, his lack of mobility bugs me sometimes. But c’mon, last night’s loss shouldn’t remove him from the GOAT (greatest of all-time) discussion.
>> Dan Wetzel from a boisterous Ravens locker room, where Terrelle Suggs called the Patriots “arrogant &#^$@.”
>> Michael Rosenberg last year wrote the definitive piece on the Harbaughs.
>> The Manti Te’o story is one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen. But it’s not exactly important. As a result, I’m getting tired of it. Here’s Stewart Mandel on Te’o’s Friday night interview with ESPN, which explained little. Two Pulitzer-prize winners discuss journalists’ role in the Te’o story.
>> Big recruiting changes in college football over the weekend. They’re good for the phone companies.
>> Sports on Earth recaps a wild day in college hoops. The Gonzaga-Butler clash, which I watched on DVR at midnight, was riveting.
>> Novak Djokovic almost went down Saturday in the Round of 16. But with Djokovic, the gap beating almost losing and losing is vast. He’s a hard man to knock out.
>> Lincoln native Jack Sock had a painful Australian Open. Very painful.
>> Adam Kramer takes a look at the 2013 national championship odds. Where’s the best value? I like Alabama at 3/1. I really like Stanford at 25/1.
>> Bruce Feldman says Mark Helfrich is the right guy to succeed Chip Kelly.
>> Finally, Luke Hochevar isn’t just coming back to Kansas City this season. He’s getting a raise! You’re trying to change the culture, so you bring back the worst starter in the major leagues?