It’s Friday! That means Ten Big stories in 10 little bites. We hit Andrew Luck vs. Russell Wilson, Urban Meyer vs. the Big Ten, Creighton basketball, Iowa football and the college football playoff. But first, another quiet signing day in the Metro.
In August, I wrote about the trend of Nebraska football bypassing Douglas and Sarpy Counties. There hasn’t been a single Omaha-area scholarship recruit to NU since 2010 — the previous 15 years, the yearly average was 2.5.
Worse, for the second-straight year, the Metro didn’t produce a single BCS-level scholarship player — Ohio recruit Casey Sayles was the only D-1 signee.
But this isn’t a Metro story. The whole state is in a downturn.
The following numbers represent in-state players’ BCS-level scholarships and total Division I-A scholarships over the past decade:
2004: 12/14 (5 Huskers)
2005: 7/9 (3 Huskers)
2006: 9/11 (4 Huskers)
2007: 6/14 (3 Huskers)
2008: 9/9 (5 Huskers)
2009: 4/7 (2 Huskers)
2010: 4/6 (4 Huskers)
2011: 6/9 (4 Huskers)
2012: 3/4 (1 Husker)
*2013: 3/5 (1 Husker)
*Included LSU signee Christian Lacouture, who moved to Lincoln for his senior year.
As you can see, the 2012 and ’13 numbers are the lowest of the past decade. There are all sorts of potential reasons for the slump. The most obvious: Nebraska high school football could be down. This era of spread offenses is made for kids who play football nine months a year. We simply don’t do it here.
Another factor: Nebraska could have (intentionally or not) raised the standard for giving in-state kids a scholarship. And because BCS schools rarely bother recruiting here (assuming NU will get the pick of the litter), prospects fall all the way to schools like North Dakota State.
I don’t have the complete totals before ’04, but I do have the in-state players who earned a scholarship to Nebraska. From 1984-2003, NU signed 6.1 in-state kids per year. That exceeds the total number of D-1 signees in ’12 and ’13. Pretty startling.
>> Nebraska-Colorado! OK, I’m not sure that deserves an exclamation point.
I grew up in Nebraska in the late 80s and 90s. I hated the Buffs way more than OU. But I’m not sure this “rivalry” has enough juice for four meetings, especially considering how pitiful CU is right now (that’s probably not gonna change unless they hit the coaching jackpot). Non-conference dates are precious and you really only get two good ones per year.
On the other hand, there’s a huge Husker fan base in Colorado that is starving right now. They deserve some red meat. Would I rather see a home-and-home with Stanford or Arkansas or Clemson? Of course. But this beats another 2-for-1 with Fresno State or Southern Miss, especially if NU can play one of the “road” games at Mile High.
>> Speaking of neutral-site games, I’ve written about my appetite for them, especially if NU can get one in Texas. But the more obvious option is scheduling Missouri, Oklahoma State or Kansas State at Arrowhead. That would be one tough ticket.
>> Colorado, for the record, hasn’t had a winning season since 2005. It did, however, go to a bowl game in ’07. Its opponent in the illustrious Independence Bowl? The Alabama Crimson Tide, which beat CU 30-24 (credit to 93.7 The Ticket’s Jake Bogus for digging up the tidbit). My, how things change in five years.
>> Thursday afternoon on Twitter, I posed this question to followers: You get one of these seven NFL quarterbacks for the next 10 years. Rank ‘em:
Andrew Luck (age 23)
Robert Griffin (23)
Russell Wilson (24)
Colin Kaepernick (25)
Matt Ryan (27)
Joe Flacco (28)
Aaron Rodgers (29)
Through midnight, I’d received exactly 50 votes (next time I’m hiring an intern to tally them). Here’s how the voting broke down (1 point for 1st-place vote, 2 points for 2nd-place vote, etc.):
Luck: 101 points. 23 first-place votes. Finished top-four on every ballot but one. Most common ranking: 1st
Rodgers: 126 points. 20 first-place votes, but also a few sixths and sevenths. Most common ranking: 1st
Wilson: 193 points. The most polarizing QB on the list. Check out this distribution of votes: 1st (3 votes), 2nd (12), 3rd (10), 4th (9), 5th (3), 6th (6), 7th (7).
Kaepernick: 202 points. 3 first-place votes, 2 last-place votes. Consistently in the middle on most ballots. Most common ranking: 5th
Flacco: 247 points. 1 first-place vote, only 10 votes in the top-3. Most common ranking: 6th
Griffin: 249 points. 0 first-place votes, but a smattering of everything else. Most common ranking: 5th
Ryan: 282 points. 0 first-place votes, only seven votes in the top-3. Most common ranking: 7th
To me, the only guys who don’t have a chance to be No. 1 over the next 10 years are Ryan and Flacco. If Rodgers ages as well as Tom Brady, he’s probably the safest choice. Griffin, due to his bad knees, is the wild card. Here’s my top 7:
6– Griffin (I’m a Redskins fan, but I’m a realist)
You may remember how I lobbied for RG3 to win Rookie of the Year over Wilson and Luck. I stand by that argument; Griffin had the best season. But Wilson, a blend of new-school and old-school quarterback, is the best long-term choice.
>> A few followers tweeted me and said, Where’s Cam Newton on the ballot? Hey, I only have 140 characters — I gotta cut it off somewhere. We’ll do this again in a year. Cam has until then to bolster his candidacy.
>> Urban Meyer, who finished with the No. 2 recruiting class in the country, wants to help Big Ten rivals improve their recruiting? How could his colleagues not like him?!? Mark Dantonio was asked about Meyer’s criticism and held his tongue: “No comment. When I say ‘no comment’ I always add things … I’ll just let it go.”
>> Let me get this straight. Kirk Ferentz (and BTN analyst Gerry DiNardo) are complaining about the recruiting rules changes — and how they put schools like Iowa in a financial bind.
Ferentz’s fear: “I hate to see college football or college athletics become Major League Baseball … The Yankees start in the inside lane every year. They have the biggest payroll, so they get to start on the inside lane.”
That’s Kirk Ferentz talking. The same guy who milks Iowa for 4 million bucks a year (one for each win in 2012). Something isn’t right here.
>> The Top 25 recruiters of 2013, according to ESPN, includes Rick Kaczenski.
“The Huskers’ defensive line coach reeled in juco defensive end Randy Gregory, No. 2 nationally among juco prospects. He closed strong in January, landing four defensive line commits over the past few weeks. Four-star running back Adam Taylor had offers from the likes of LSU, Oklahoma and Stanford but ultimately went with Kaczenski and the Huskers.”
ESPN’s list also includes former Husker intern, Chris Kiffin, Mississippi’s recruiting coordinator. Fox Sports Next named Kiffin its recruiter of the year. Not bad for a guy who just finished his first year as a full-time, BCS-level assistant.
>> I encourage you to spend some time this weekend — if you haven’t already — exploring the World-Herald’s recruiting coverage. We devote more resources to one football program than any newspaper in the country. It shows on Signing Day.
>> I like the sound of this college football playoff selection committee. From USA Today:
College football has traditionally been dominated by polls, which are driven by wins — and more important, losses. The selection committee will instead be charged with deeper deliberation: strength of schedule, head-to-head results, conference championships, injuries, and so on.
“I think we all anticipate a very different way of evaluating teams,” Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick said. “(Instead of) the way one loss can hurt you in the polls, a committee is really evaluating who you played, how you played and where you played. (A loss) might not have anywhere near the consequence that it does with pollsters.”
Sounds good. But we still need eight teams — not four — to make it work.
>> ESPN is committing more resources this spring to college baseball. This is very good news. Of course, if you want your Husker fix, you gotta stick to the Big Ten Network.
>> The NCAA is lagging behind in addressing concussions.
>> Grantland explores match-fixing in soccer.
>> A gay sportswriter ponders whether to thank Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo.
>> In Wednesday’s Chatter, I addressed how incredibly entertaining the Big Ten is this year. One day later, No. 1 Indiana loses in one of the most stunning buzzer-beaters you’ll ever see — a wide-open layup on an inbounds pass.
Two hours later, UCLA beats Washington on its own buzzer-beater. College basketball is on a roll.
>> South Dakota State guard Nate Wolters scored 53 points last night at IPFW. He’ll be in Omaha to face UNO on Feb. 28. That gives Derrin Hansen three weeks to perfect his box-and-1.
>> What a stink bomb of a performance from Creighton at Indiana State. The Jays’ effort was as bad as I’ve seen in at least two years. We can pick nits all day, but let’s hit a small statistic that represents a bigger issue.
Virginia Commonwealth forces a turnover on 28.7 percent of opponents’ possessions. That leads the nation. Creighton forces a turnover on 16.5 percent of possessions. That is 319th nationally — out of 347 teams. Indiana State played the first half Wednesday without a turnover. An entire half!
Creighton may have some bad shooting nights, but the biggest red flag is still perimeter defense. Indiana State guards faced zero pressure and got to the basket any time they wanted.
>> Andy Katz says Creighton fits what the Catholic 7 is looking for. Their prime competition may be Richmond.
>> Finally, Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard was kicked out of his son’s high-school basketball game for chirping at an official. Apparently, he only made one comment: “That was a horrible call.” If I ejected every reader who called my work “horrible,” Mad Chatter wouldn’t be a blog, it’d be a diary.
>> Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend.