It’s Friday! That means Ten Big stories in 10 little bites. We hit Creighton hoops and the Pro Bowl, Johnny Football and the Ta’o of Deception, Steve Spurrier and Shawn Eichorst.
But first, a pop quiz.
As you may have heard, Nebraska holds the longest streak for having an ex-player in the Super Bowl. Twenty straight years. (Hey, when you haven’t won a conference title this century, you gotta hang your hat on something, right?)
Hopefully you brought your thinking caps, because it’s time for a 20-question exam on ex-Huskers who played in Super Bowls, dating all the way back to Super Bowl II. Don’t get cocky if you get off to a fast start, the questions get harder as you go. (Answers are at the bottom of the Chatter).
1. The only No. 1 overall draft pick in Nebraska history caught 851 passes in his NFL career. In Super Bowl XX, he caught two, including an 8-yard touchdown.
2. In Super Bowl XLIII, this former Blackshirt, a four-year starter in Lincoln, was inches away from deflecting Ben Roethlisberger’s game-winning touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes.
3. The only Husker quarterback to start a Super Bowl, Vince Ferragamo was thrust into the spotlight at age 25 with just eight career starts under his wing. What quarterback opposed Ferragamo in Super Bowl XIV?
4. Only one ex-Husker has won three Super Bowl rings. The versatile running back compiled a remarkable 410 total yards and four touchdowns in Super Bowls XIX, XXIII and XXIV. He got a little help from Joe Montana.
5. In 1994 and ’95, he won national championships at Nebraska. In his rookie year in Green Bay, this cornerback continued his streak, picking up another ring with the Packers. He played in the next Super Bowl, too, but lost.
6. Three ex-Huskers — Pat Fischer, Ron McDole and Ted Vactor — played for the same team in Super Bowl VII. They were beaten by the unbeaten Miami Dolphins, 14-7. Who did they play for?
7. This center from Lexington, Neb., who graduated from NU the year before Bob Devaney arrived, holds the record for most Super Bowl appearances by an ex-Husker. Unfortunately, the five-time, first-team All-Pro never won one.
8. Speaking of centers, this Lincoln native filled in for Barret Robbins after the Raiders starter went AWOL two nights before Super Bowl XXXVII. He has never publicly accused Bill Callahan of sabotage.
9. Sam Koch will be the first ex-Husker to punt in a Super Bowl. Who’s the only place-kicker? Hint: The franchise that beat him in Super Bowl XL is the same franchise he knocked out of playoff contention with a game-winning field goal this past December.
10. A native of Broken Bow, this Oakland cornerback — who held the 200-meter Nebraska high school record for 51 years — was first-team All-Pro in his Super Bowl season, 1967. Bonus point if you can name the other ex-Husker in the Oakland secondary who intercepted six passes that season.
11. Two ex-Huskers who played in Super Bowls eventually got their first college coaching opportunities from Bo Pelini at Nebraska. They were teammates on the ’94 national championship team.
12. A seventh-round draft pick in 1982, defensive tackle Henry Waechter’s claim to Super Bowl fame came in New Orleans when he sacked Steve Grogan for a safety to cap a blowout. What famous defense did Waechter play for?
13. This quarterback, who threw for 5,000 yards at Nebraska, started just one game in his NFL career. But backing up Ken Stabler and then Jim Plunkett, he won two Super Bowl rings (XI and XVIII) with the Raiders.
14. Only two ex-Huskers have ever won a Super Bowl in the same season that Nebraska won a national championship. They were former Blackshirts and teammates on the ’97 Broncos.
15. The record for ex-Huskers in a single Super Bowl is four. It happened twice, in 1977 (Raiders-Vikings) and 1990 (49ers-Broncos). Name the four Huskers in the ’90 game.
16. How unusual is it to make it to multiple Super Bowls with different franchises? Only two ex-Huskers have done it. Both were standout defensive linemen for NU in the 1990s. But in the biggest game in sports, they were a combined 1-4.
17. Nebraska’s run of 20 straight Super Bowls started in 1993 with this Husker wingback, a Chicago native who played running back for the Buffalo Bills. He did not see action in Super Bowl XXVIII.
18. This former Pro Bowler, who died in 2006, blocked for Jarvis Redwine and I.M. Hipp at Nebraska before rushing for 700 yards three consecutive years for the Miami Dolphins. He had 16 carries for 49 yards in Super Bowl XVII.
19. Russ Hochstein won two Super Bowls with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. But there was another ex-Husker who joined Hochstein on the Pats’ 16-0 team in 2007. In the thrilling loss to the Giants, he did not have an interception or a fumble.
20. Fifty-three former Huskers have played in the Super Bowl. Nine of those 53 represented which NFL franchise?
>> The Pro Bowl is Sunday. Try to contain your excitement. My suggestion for the game is similar to my pitch for Nebraska’s spring game. Scrap most of the actual competition. Replace it with entertainment.
Let us see the top quarterbacks play a version of HORSE — what throws can you make? Let us hear the top defenders get together and talk about offensive trends in the game. Put $1 million up and hold a 60-yard dash (in which guys run against each other) to name the fastest player in the NFL. It’d be like the NBA’s version of All-Star weekend, only fresh.
If these players aren’t going to try to win the Pro Bowl — and they clearly don’t — then give us something different.
>> Stumbling upon the Bill Walsh Coaching Bible. Fascinating story.
>> When you’re the best shooting team in America, you’re not going to have many cold nights. Creighton was hitting 51 percent of its 3s through seven conference games. Fifty-one!
But Wednesday at Drake, the Jays hit just 5 of 21 from long range. When that happens and Gregory Echenique is in foul trouble, they are limited. With the defense still run-of-the-mill, CU can’t afford to struggle offensively, even for a half.
I think the Jays will shake the losing streak Sunday at Southern Illinois. And I think they’re still capable — with the right draw — of making a long run in the NCAA tournament. But the past week has exposed some flaws that are hard to fix. Physical toughness, especially on the perimeter. Guard depth. Playmaking ability off the dribble.
>> The good news for Creighton this week? Eleven of the Top 25 teams have lost since Monday. The Jays lost ground to Wichita State, but they’re not the only ones watching game films with a scowl.
>> My fascination with Manti Te’o has waned as I’ve come to realize we may never know the truth. But one of the hardest things to understand is why, why, why someone would devote so much time to deceiving him. What’s the motive? And how could it possibly be worth hundreds of hours on the phone?
I believe that whomever Te’o was talking to all those nights — whether it was Ronaiah Tuiasosopo disguising his voice or (more likely) a girl we don’t yet know — did indeed have true feelings for him, even if he/she was lying about car accidents and leukemia. Not even the most diabolical person wastes that much time if there aren’t real emotions involved.
>> Strange request: If you have access to the Nebraska-Idaho State game on DVR (or tape), shoot me an email or drop me a message on Twitter. I’m working on a little project about the Huskers’ turnover problems in 2012. I’ve collected all the game films but Idaho State.
>> How ‘bout a few leftovers from my Shawn Eichorst notes? Here’s the Husker AD on Steve Spurrier, whom he oversaw at South Carolina:
“One of the most intense competitors I’ve ever been around. But he’s so much different behind the scenes than what the public makes him out to be. He’s funny, he’s gracious, his players absolutely love playing for him.
“He’s pretty active, so he doesn’t like to sit around much. He likes to play golf fast, he likes to talk fast, he likes to coach fast. So you better be prepared: You’re going to get about two seconds to tell him what you need to tell him and then he’s on to the next thing. And if you don’t play good golf, you don’t get a chance to keep playing with him.”
>> Some profile subjects are so entertaining, the anecdotes and one-liners basically fall out of the sky. Not Eichorst, who’s made his reputation with intellect, not personality.
Ask a confidant for his favorite Eichorst story and the phone goes quiet for 15 seconds. “No, nothing particularly comes to mind,” said one colleague.
Ask another friend who hung out with him socially. Did he ever cut loose? “Not really. Eick’s a pretty serious cat.”
A third source gave me a quote so vague and long-winded, I had to transcribe it out of amusement. The question is about Eichorst’s biggest accomplishments at Wisconsin.
“What Shawn brought to the table engendered a confidence that things were being well-managed, that the appropriate kinds of consultation were taking place in timely fashion with you name it — boosters, coaches, players, administration. It’s hard to attend to all those constituencies and do it well. I felt he was conscientious about the need to take that seriously and to create the mechanisms that allowed the department to engage in those different relationships with multiple constituencies in a way that had both credibility and integrity. I think that’s a huge contribution.”
Everybody still awake?
>> I’ll say this about Johnny Football. He knows how to have a good time. He joined the Dude Perfect crew for some football trick shots. The highlight comes at about 4:15.
>> My interest in tennis is somewhat subdued until the semifinals of a Grand Slam. That’s when the Big Four crank it up. I’ll do almost anything to watch to watch Djokovic, Federer, Murray and Nadal (who’s injured) battle each other. Including stay up for a match that starts at 2:30 a.m.
This is what Andre Agassi said last night about the Big Four:
“It’s just a different standard of tennis. It’s different rules of engagement when guys can do what these guys can do. I don’t recognize it from a standpoint of strategy, because I counted on getting somebody behind in a point and then slowly smothering them. But nobody’s behind in a point. You never know when they’re behind in a point. …
“You know, Fed raised (the bar). Nadal matched and raised it. Djokovic, for that intense little period of time, even raised it. It seemed like last year settled down a bit, and now all of a sudden Murray is in the equation of where is he going to go.
“But when I see those top three guys, I see what history will say is the golden age of tennis. You’re talking about arguably the three best guys.”
>> The tragic story of Southwest Minnesota State basketball coach (and Tim Miles’ former point guard) Brad Bigler. I caution you, it’s extremely hard to read.
>> The NBA’s Kings are moving again. Deadspin reminisces on how Kansas City lost the franchise in the 80s.
>> A man in a wheelchair was about to get crushed during a floor storming at North Carolina State. Then something amazing happened.
>> Finally, your answers to the Super Bowl quiz. (Here’s the full list of ex-Huskers in Super Bowls).
1. Irving Fryar
2. Ralph Brown
3. Terry Bradshaw
4. Roger Craig
5. Tyrone Williams
6. Washington Redskins
7. Mick Tingelhoff
8. Adam Treu
9. Josh Brown
10. Kent McCloughan and Warren Powers
11. Brendan Stai and Doug Colman
12. ’85 Bears
13. David Humm
14. Neil Smith and Tony Veland
15. Roger Craig, Tom Rathman, Jamie Williams and Marc Munford.
16. Grant Wistrom and John Parrella
17. Nate Turner
18. Andra Franklin
19. Le Kevin Smith
My grading system?
100 percent: You’re qualified to call a play next year against Michigan
90: You’re qualified to call a play against South Dakota State
70: You’re qualified to call talk-radio shows and rant after a Husker loss
60: You’re qualified to write anonymously on a message board
50: You’re qualified to write a weekly column called Mad Chatter.
>> Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend.