Independence Day Eve and we’re loaded with stuff, from Aaron Hernandez to Tom Osborne, Yasiel Puig to Barry Collier, Husker expectations for 2013 and much more. But let’s start with a Grant Gibbs bounce pass to Doug McDermott for a layup.
Three months ago, the odds of ever seeing that combination again were about the same as Taylor Stormberg winning the NBA Slam Dunk contest.
But thanks to the NCAA’s stunning ruling Tuesday — preceded by McDermott’s decision to play one more year — it’ll be like old times at CenturyLink this winter. It’s good for McDermott. It’s great for Gibbs. It’s best for Creighton.
The Big East move is the biggest thing that’s ever happened to Bluejay basketball. But something about it would’ve felt wrong had Creighton, after winning 57 games over the past two years, showed up in rebuilding mode.
Look at it another way (and I’ll try to put this delicately): Relegating this Creighton team to the Mo Valley for another year would’ve been a crime. They deserve a big stage. They deserve national TV. They deserve to show off the two guys most responsible for putting the Jays in this position.
McDermott will probably play 10 years in the NBA, Gibbs will probably never play again — aside from the YMCA, where throwing the ball off a defender’s back won’t be so enticing when that defender is a 50-year-old shirtless, sweaty man with a sweater full of back hair.
But each has made the other significantly better. It’s fitting that one will hand the microphone to the other on Senior Day.
They came to Creighton together, they should leave together.
>> Gibbs’ return means Creighton has a chance to win the Big East in year one (though I still think the Jays’ athleticism on the wing may be exposed over an 18-game league slate.) But the real advantage of McDermott’s and Gibbs’ return will be long-term.
I think CU would’ve taken a significant step back the next three years had McDermott and Gibbs both left. The team would’ve finished toward the bottom of the Big East this season and who knows how many more.
But now, you walk in and compete right away for a conference title. And suddenly, if Greg McDermott plays his cards right, he can go out and tell recruits, “See, there’s no adjustment process to the Big East. You can win now!” I fully expect the 2014 recruiting class to be Creighton’s best (according to the rankings, at least) in a long, long time.
>> I spent Tuesday night at Central High, where Steve Warren hosted a free football camp for high school kids. About 50 showed up, including D-1 prospects Harrison Phillips and Mick Stoltenberg.
I must admit, I spent more time enjoying the interaction between the “coaches.” Listening to receivers coaches Phil Bates and Niles Paul, for instance, banter with secondary coaches Zack Bowman and Cortney Grixby after a 16-year-old receiver beat a 15-year-old DB for a touchdown was priceless.
Fifty kids for a one-night camp was fine. But next time I hope it’s 100.
(We’ll have more on Niles Paul in Thursday’s World-Herald).
>> That scene at Central High (where more than a dozen former players, most of whom played in the NFL, volunteered their evening) leads nicely into this Sally Jenkins piece. The Washington Post columnist objects to the stereotype that Aaron Hernandez represents the violent NFL culture. I couldn’t agree more. Here’s an excerpt:
“Hernandez’s example has become Exhibit A for braying commentators who have painted the entire league in stigmas as crude as snake and dagger tattoos. (Geraldo) Rivera denounced the league’s “jungle ethos” and — incredibly — described NFL players as “fatherless” products recruited from the “inner city” in need of “minders.” Actually, Hernandez was not fatherless, and he’s from middle-class Connecticut suburbs, not the inner city, and we all know what that 1970s euphemism means. It means poor and non-white and therefore brutal. Rivera was followed closely by (Rush) Limbaugh, who said, “This has the potential to blow the lid open on the NFL and gangs and the whole concept.”
“Here is a fact that you may find hard to believe after listening to them: NFL players commit crimes at a much lower rate than their peers in the general population. Around 2,700 players pass through NFL training camps every season, and 1,696 make rosters. Yes, some of them get arrested — about 2 to 3 percent a year. The national arrest rate for males aged 22 to 34? It’s 10.8 percent, according to FBI crime statistics for 2009.”
>> Michael Weinreb, one of the best writers in the business, looks back at the ’84 Orange Bowl and Tom Osborne’s epic decision to go for two. You can be proud of your football program for lots of reasons, Husker fans, but nothing ever endeared people across the country to NU as much as Osborne’s unnecessary gamble.
>> A baseball player named Homer throws 2 no-hitters in 12 months? That’s kinda like a basketball player named Shooter winning back-to-back defensive player of the year.
Bailey’s performance was thrilling — I love watching the ninth inning of a no-hitter — but arguably the bigger story in baseball Tuesday was Jonathan Papelbon’s comments about Yasiel Puig. The five-time All-Star closer said it’s a “joke” that Puig, who’s been in the majors for only a month, is being considered for an All-Star spot.
That’s foolish talk. Baseball fans clearly want to see the Dodgers rookie in New York. And I say he’s earned it with one of the hottest months in recent history — he homered again Tuesday night and is a key reason L.A. is rising in the NL West. Puig is making Mike Trout’s and Bryce Harper’s 2012 rookie seasons look downright average. If you’re trying to give your league the best chance to win the All-Star game, you have to choose Puig.
As for this idea that you have to toil in the league before receiving an All-Star honor, there are plenty of examples showing the contrary. For instance, in 2006 there was an American League closer who made the All-Star game after less than a year in the majors. He had pitched a grand total of 79 career innings. What was his name again? Oh yeah, Jonathan Papelbon.
>> In case you missed it, the story everyone in baseball was talking about Tuesday — Puig’s failed defection from Cuba, told by the Coast Guard crew that picked him up.
>> By the way, with so many cool things going on in baseball right now (Puig, Chris Davis, the Pirates), why must we devote one second of media attention to A-Rod’s rehab start in Charleston, S.C.? Please stop. Please.
>> Alex Gordon hit a Grand Slam Tuesday — the Royals still lost. But he wasn’t the only local kid to go yard. Conor Gillaspie hit his sixth bomb of the season in the White Sox’ win over Baltimore.
>> Mike Anderson returns to college baseball next year. The former Husker boss is leaving Denver high school coaching and joining the staff at Oklahoma. Unlike Doc Sadler (53), I think the 47-year-old will get another head coaching job.
>> An important story about U.S. Olympians. Too many are struggling financially.
>> Creighton isn’t the only Big East newcomer. Butler is preparing for its promotion, too. Here’s a fun marketing video, with that wild-and-crazy Barry Collier leading off.
>> Urban Meyer turned in a Florida assistant (that he hired!) for a recruiting violation. The guy doesn’t mess around.
>> Johnny Football and Kevin Sumlin have made Texas A&M the hottest program in the country, says Dan Wetzel. Obviously A&M’s surge couldn’t have happened without the SEC move. But can you imagine how intriguing the Big 12 South would’ve been with this A&M? Oklahoma, Texas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State all had it going strong at roughly the same time. A&M never did.
>> Sports fans say they want more highlights and less silly debate, but the ratings say otherwise.
>> Finally, Monday I solicited emails regarding 1) what Husker fans expect for 2013; and 2) how much you care. I’ve pasted a few responses — I’ll do a few more on Friday.
Nothing that I have seen in the Bo Pelini era leads me to believe that this will be a championship season. I think the offense will be a lot of fun to watch and be really productive. Then Taylor will scramble and try to make too much out of nothing and fumble the ball or throw a terrible back breaking interception.
The defense will allow quite a few yards and points. They will probably look pretty good against some average to poor teams and people will start saying that they are ‘progressing’ or ‘starting to mesh’ or ‘turning the corner’. Then give up like 600 yards and 50 points in a bad loss. I see a 3 loss regular season with a loss to the Buckeyes in Indianapolis.
1– I expect NU to finish 1st or 2nd in the division, jockeying for position with Michigan. Any less, and the season will be a failure. Our offense is extremely potent, and if they can cut down on turnovers and drive-killing penalties, our defense should have plenty of wiggle room to grow. If we win the division, I don’t expect to beat OSU for the B1G Championship, so maybe a BCS bowl would be in the cards. At this stage in Pelini’s career, we should be playing in BCS bowls more often than not. And my final expectation is to STOP GETTING BLOWN OUT IN BIG GAMES.
2 — Anticipation level this year is probably a 7 out of 10, as I believe we will have our best team in Pelini’s tenure, combined with a favorable schedule. However, the early schedule is preventing me from getting hyped up, as there are no HUGE games until November (sorry UCLA).
UNL grad, long time season ticket holders’ – wife and self. Frankly, I am becoming bored by Husker football. Fundamentals on defense continue to be lacking year after year. Late season melt-down and embarrassing blow-outs are a habit. This may be the last year I buy tickets, there is more to do elsewhere, and you can watch them on TV if interested.
1) I ‘expect’ what I’ve been trained to expect as a Nebraska fan during the Pelini years. 10 wins, a loss at Michigan that could submarine a truly amazing season, and a trip to the Alamo Bowl because Florida, unlike it was in the 80’s and 90’s, has not been very good to us in recent years. On New Year’s Night I will probably be half sick as the final seconds on the Rose Bowl tick down, because…
2) I have been looking forward to this season for quite some time. T-Magic is a senior. The offense should be unstoppable, except for when it stops itself (which, as we know, WILL happen). The schedule sets up an 8-0 start heading into Ann Arbor (last time we were undefeated heading into November? 2001.), providing that we can stop UCLA (which we couldn’t at all last year) and fend off a tough Northwestern squad at home, something that we couldn’t do 2 years ago. Games at Purdue and Minnesota are games that strong teams win, simple as that.
I am all in on this season, like I am for any season, but this one has a chance to be special. Very special. If Taylor can limit his turnovers to single digits (big if), and the defense can find some way to stop somebody (bigger if), we might be playing AT the Rose Bowl…but not IN the Rose Bowl.