Two hours before Nebraska-Penn State and the Haymarket Area is already filling up.
1. I’m extremely grateful that Creighton has brought relevant basketball to our burg. It makes my job more fun. If Nebraska men’s basketball became relevant, that would double the fun. Call me a Jay-Sker. I want Nebraska and Creighton to make the NCAA tournament every year. Hasn’t happened since March, 1991. I was covering golf in Dallas then.
2. So what I’m saying is, I don’t care which fans are more into basketball or own what town. There’s enough for everyone.
3. I do know two things. One, Creighton isn’t going away after this season. That fan base is entrenched. A monster has been created and must be fed. Big East opponents will handle some of that. But winning must be continued. I believe it will. I believe Greg McDermott and his staff will recruit to the Big East in time. This season is not the end. It’s only the beginning.
4. The other thing I know is that there are people in Omaha — and throughout Nebraska’s byways — who are Nebraska basketball fans and don’t know it yet. When the Huskers become relevant, the basketball fan base will multiply. Your average sports fan will join in the fun. And I believe most of those average sports fans wear red as a dominant color.
5. Tonight’s game is big for momentum, but I don’t see it as a must-win for the program. When I looked at this roster before the season, I didn’t see an NIT team. If NU falls short of the NCAA, but still makes the NIT, that’s more practice time, more chance to build chemistry for next year. But as long as they’re in this position, why wait? Do it now.
6. What struck me about Creighton’s win at Marquette last night was how this team doesn’t get rattled by much. The Eagles’ physical style. The choppy game called by the refs. And when MU made their run, the Jays didn’t panic, didn’t change how they played, just kept running their stuff. That’s a veteran team. That will bode well in March. Now keep winning. Avoid that No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the second round.
7. There’s been some discussion about the new assistant AD who will serve football at NU and why this exists. Why should the AD at Nebraska need a go-between between he and his head football coach? I had a long talk with Nebraska AD Shawn Eichorst at the Gator Bowl, and here’s the thing: he’s going to do it his way and he strongly believes in that way.
Eichorst’s style is to give the Nebraska coaches everything they need to do their jobs and stay out of their way. That way does not include a lot of casual chit-chat. Eichorst does not believe any of his coaches needs their hand held or constant feedback from him. This is true for the football coach to the bowling coach.
This is not a Bo Pelini thing, not because of the situation last fall. This is how Eichorst is all the time. That doesn’t mean the boss is hiding in his office. He does make appearances. He made one last week with Pelini in Arizona. Eichorst wrote about it in a letter to NU boosters. In that letter, he made it clear how much support the football program was getting from the athletic department for recruiting. So Pelini got private jets. Now, he’s got a go-between to Eichorst. More importantly, he’s got Miami, Fla., Michigan State, Wisconsin and Iowa next year. Win all those, and I’m sure the go-between guy will be very happy.