Good thing Wisconsin doesn’t play baseball.
In Monday’s Chatter, I had a little fun with Iowa fans in regard to Nebraska’s domination of the Hawkeyes. But in terms of sheer embarrassment, the Badgers’ recent Husker whippings stand alone.
Not only did Wisconsin football rudely welcome Nebraska to the Big Ten a year ago, 48-17. Not only did the Badgers embarrass Big Red in December’s Big Ten title game. (If not for the third quarter in September, the football rivalry would really look ugly). But in four UW/NU basketball games over the past 14 months, the Huskers have scored 40, 45, 41 and 44 points.
Even Moe Iba thinks that’s bad.
In last night’s game, Nebraska went on an 8-0 run. And later, a 7-0 run. And later, a 10-2 run.
Unfortunately, Wisconsin’s runs were just a tad bit bigger: 24-2 and later, 29-5. Actually, depending on your point of view, you could argue the Badgers started the game on a 64-26 run.
That’s dangerously close to 70-31.
At that point — I was listening to Kent Pavelka, who sounded like a man whose dog had just peed on the carpet again — my first thought was, What did Nebraska ever do to make Wisconsin mad? And my second thought was, How the heck did Creighton score 80 on these guys?
On nights like last, it’s hard to imagine Nebraska basketball ever climbing out of the dungeon. How do you go .500 in the best hoops conference in America? You can beat Penn State and Rutgers every year. Maybe Iowa, Minnesota and Purdue. But then who? They take their basketball pretty seriously in Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin.
Yet every time I think it’s not possible, I remember 1991. From ‘91-94, a span of four seasons, the Big 8 included these legendary coaches: Roy Williams, Norm Stewart, Eddie Sutton, Billy Tubbs and Johnny Orr. And Nebraska made the NCAA tournament four times. Their seeds: 3, 9, 10, 6.
Can Tim Miles make that kind of run? I think so. He can start by scoring 50 on Wisconsin.
>> I don’t mean to sound old-fashioned here, but let me put on my Angry Old Man hat.
How can Dylan Moses possibly get through high school with his head on straight? Moses is an 8th grader in Alabama, who was recently invited to Nick Saban’s Junior Day — apparently “junior” means “youthful”, not a student in his third year of high school. Then Saban offered the kid a scholarship, which is one year later than Les Miles made the same offer. That’s troubling enough, right?
But now that the NCAA has turned recruiting into the Wild West, Moses could be inundated with Facebook messages and Fatheads the next four years. Four! Forget whether the kid ever pans out on the football field — that’s no cinch, by the way. How is he supposed to pan out as a normal teenager?
When a kid has a Signing Day ceremony — choosing between five hats on national TV — people point fingers at the kid. Where’s his humility? Where’s his good sense? Truth is, he thinks he’s a big deal because he’s been told he’s a big deal. Not by his family and teachers, but by college coaches (and to a lesser extent, the recruiting media).
Now we’re going to hand over his address and phone number to new SEC recruiting offices? To people whose job demands that they yield no recruiting edge to rival schools? Don’t let anyone contact that kid more than us!
Phone calls will still be regulated, but electronic communication and recruiting materials may not be. Which means we’re going to allow Kevin Steele and other “directors of player personnel” — whatever that means — to tweet a 14-year-old hundreds a time per week, stroking his ego with the most absurd small talk you’ve ever heard: Hey, I heard you beat your buddies in dodgeball at P.E. yesterday! … Tell me about your new dirt bike.
You want to deregulate recruiting? You want to stop writing rules you can’t enforce? Maybe that works for a senior. But who’s going to protect Dylan Moses from Nick Saban?
>> I went on a Twitter rant last night after everyone had gone to bed. The subject: Joe Lunardi and Bracketology.
I love bracket projections. You may have seen me do it over the years at The World-Herald. What boggles my mind isn’t ESPN’s effort to present Lunardi as knowledgeable; I have nothing against him personally. No, it’s ESPN’s implication that Lunardi’s opinion has any bearing on the actual bracket. When his bracket changes, ESPN presents it as a news development. They even run his bracket on the ticker.
You want to hire someone to compare Kentucky’s profile to Iowa State’s? Fine. You want to hire someone who tells us what it’s like in the committee room — what they look for, what they don’t look for, etc. Fine.
But it serves no purpose to put Lunardi’s picks on the screen every night — last 4 in, first 4 out, No. 1 seeds, etc., when he has no knowledge of what the committee members actually think. They haven’t even met yet! (Never mind that this fact makes it impossible for Lunardi to be wrong.)
Mel Kiper presents a “Big Board” every year before the NFL Draft. But as draft day closes in, ESPN doesn’t treat his big board as news. They base their coverage — and their mock drafts — on what teams are actually thinking and saying.
How crazy would it be to have Kiper, in the hours leading up to the draft, trumpeting his big board: “I moved Manti Te’o from 28th to 27th based on my film study last night.” Nobody would care because he’s not the one drafting! Yet for some reason people care when Lunardi bumps a team from 67th to 69th.
ESPN does a lot of great things and a lot of bad things. Nothing is sillier than beating us over the head with Joe Lunardi.
>> World-Herald colleague Jon Nyatawa tweeted this yesterday: “Forget the Shrine Bowl. Nebraska should put together an all-star team of high school football players for an annual matchup vs Iowa’s best.”
I agree wholeheartedly. The Shrine Bowl is a wonderful event with a rich tradition, but it’s lost some of its shine. Pitting Nebraska against Iowa (or even Kansas) would restore the game to its old glory.
>> What can we learn by tracking football players’ movements and speeds? We’re about to find out. Interesting stuff.
>> Look at LeBron James’ stat line last night: 40 points, 16 assists, 8 rebounds, 2 turnovers. He wouldn’t get half that much with Jeff Hornacek guarding him. Right, MJ?
>> How big heads became part of college basketball student sections.
>> Marlins owner Jeffery Loria deserves all the criticism he gets.
>> Does Tom Crean coach his players to flop?
>> Sports on Earth profiles Missy Franklin, the best high school swimmer in Colorado. (I hear she could make it big someday).
>> Is Alex Smith the guy who nearly piloted the 49ers to the Super Bowl? Or another Matt Cassel? We don’t know, but I like Andy Reid’s trade to bring Smith to Kansas City. And two second-rounders isn’t too much to give away. There just wasn’t enough quarterback talent in this year’s draft to spend an early pick on a project. Smith makes the Chiefs competitive immediately.
>> Finally, if you watch one recruiting highlight film in your life, make it this one. Trust me.