“A New Era of Nebraska Football” Is Now Underway

Nebraska Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst introduced the biggest coach he’s ever hired this morning. I like what Eichorst had to say. He said we’re going to win championships the right way, “with class, sportsmanship and integrity.”

He added, “We will win with young men and women who want to earn their degrees and who will represent us the Nebraska way.” It’s a condemnation of what went before and also a strong statement about what it means to be a Husker today.

Coach Riley mentioned that the Nebraska job was the right opportunity at the right time. I can’t help but note that it’s also quite likely Riley’s dream job, and one it took him four decades to land.

While Riley didn’t take the job for money, he did get a $1.2 million raise to $2.7 million per year, according to The Omaha World Herald. An extra $100K a month is one heck of a bonus, especially in a market where it is hard to find a home priced over $1 million.

Riley is a young 61. He drives a Prius…when he drives. He prefers to ride his bike to work. He’s an energetic, but low key guy who happens to be an elite football coach. In Lincoln, he can be both of these things, which is one more indication that this is a genius hire by Eichorst.

Oregonians and Nebraskans share many commonalities. Both reside in agricultural states where “salt of the Earth” residents are the norm. I am sure the Riley family will miss living in the cozy hamlet of Corvallis. But, I also believe Mike and Dee Riley will soon learn to love Lincoln, and that Husker Nation will learn to love them back.

Huskers Now Living The Life of Riley

Former Oregon State head coach, Mike Riley, 61, has been hired by Nebraska Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst to lead the Huskers back to gridiron glory.

Coach Mike Riley

Riley is a native of Wallace, Idaho, and the son of a football coach. He played QB at Corvallis High School in Oregon, before moving to defensive back under Paul “Bear” Bryant at Alabama.

Riley is 93-80 as a college coach, which may fail to excite over-eager Nebraska fans. But that negative point of view is shortsighted and foolhardy. The naysayers are failing to see Riley’s work at Oregon State as a masterpiece.

I live in Oregon. Allow me to explain. Corvallis, Oregon is a small town. One of only two small towns in the Pac 12 conference. Perhaps, more importantly Corvallis is not Eugene, which is another way of saying Oregon State is not flashy and not the place five star recruits are hoping to land.

Coach Riley does a lot with a little, and now that he’s at the helm of a storied program with unlimited resources, he’s in a position to do amazing things.

I am thrilled with this hire. After more than a decade of football fiascos, Nebraska badly needs a professional, a proven leader and a man of character. Coach Riley is this man.

Go Big Red.

HuskerZone is no more

Hey folks. As I previously mentioned, I was attempting to sell the HuskerZone.com website and related accounts.

I had a sale lined up, but it fell through at the last minute. As of now, Huskerzone.com is no more and don’t see myself adding much content to the site in future other than the updates to the football schedule. I am still open to selling the site, or managing the site if someone wanted to try their hand and writing content. See the previous link on sales details or contact me to write.

However, I will still be active on Twitter so follow me at @HuskerZone,

HuskerZone.com is For Sale

Hey friends, just a quick note that HuskerZone.com is for sale. If you’ve ever considered becoming a sports blogger, purchasing HuskerZone.com can give you a shortcut to relatively stable web traffic and a decent social media profile (Twitter & Facebook) and a little bit of ad revenue.

Sale would include the domain name, Twitter account, Facebook Page, a free-tier Google Apps account (Google no longer offers a free tier, this is grandfathered in), all content and hosting until such time as the new owner can move it to his/her own server or August 31st 2014 (whichever comes first).

The site has over 600 pages of content, averages about 1000 pageviews/day during football season (in conjunction with new content being created), around 300/day during the rest of the season (also in conjunction with new content). The Twitter account has 3600+ followers (all organically grown) and over 1800 Facebook fans.

Ad revenue opportunities exist. The site has made anywhere from $500/year to over $5000/year depending on how active and motivated one is to selling ads and seeking revenue opportunities.

Reason for sale: Mostly due to time commitments. I run a small advertising agency, own a web hosting & security company and recently acquired another company. Combine that with 2 kids in sports, a wife, a dog, and a golf league…and there isn’t a whole lot of free time at the moment.

Asking price: $3,000 or best offer. If no sale takes place. The site will cease to exist on August 31, 2014.

Interested parties can email me at [email protected]

Stewart Mandel Lambastes Pelini (again)

Sports Illustrated’s Stewart Mandel once again went on his critique of Huskers coach Bo Pelini in today’s mailbag column on si.com (you might have to manually jump to the second page). One of his readers sent in a question about the statistical importance of Bo Pelini’s career, mainly the one about him being one of an elite handful of coaches who won nine games in his first five season.

“I’m baffled as to how Pelini remains in charge in Lincoln, mostly because I can’t believe how far Nebraska’s standards have fallen. This is a program that once considered national titles and top-10 rankings as its birthrights. Now, the Cornhuskers are just tickled to beat an 8-4 SEC foe in the Gator Bowl.”
Sports Illustrated’s Stewart Mandel.

It seems like much of the vocal heat from the public has died down, but I wonder if the continued criticism from the national press will fan the flames once again in this football blackhole of few headlines.

Fixing Nebrasketball

A few short nights ago Nebraska looked like they may be ready to turn the corner and realize some basketball success after knocking off #17 Ohio State. But then, the last decade of Husker woes reared its ugly head as they lose a 4-point lead in the final two minutes as Penn State goes on a 11-3 run to walk away with the win 58-54.

Coach Miles is in his second year of coaching the Huskers, obviously a young team, but sitting one loss worse than they at this point last year and 11th in the Big 12. They are playing in a glamorous new arena, and have the commitment from the administration to support the basketball team.

I freely admit, I sit on the basketball sidelines. When I was a student, I was in attendance for most home games. After graduation (and moving to Omaha), I still managed to get down at least a half a dozen times a year for games. But in the last five or six years, I’m lucky to get down more than once a year. It isn’t that I’m a fair weather fan, I’m simply not much of a basketball fan in general. I do have tickets to 4 upcoming home games. I have watched more games on TV this year, and I have tickets to 4 upcoming home games. I’ve also been playing in a fantasy basketball league on FanDuel. So I am making a better effort to get back in to the game.

So what does it take to win in Lincoln? I know this season had higher expectations, and every now and then, they seem to be on the verge of turning the corner. Only to implode, and typically in the second half of games. To my self-described amateur eye, this is what I see that is missing.

First off, a lack of fundamentals. I see a lot of raw talent and steps to harness that with the fundamentals, but as soon as they face a bit of adversity, they seem to lose their confidence and fall back to the raw talent and sloppy play. A lot of guys trying to be the play-maker.

A big guy. Nebraska crashes the boards as good as anyone in the league, but they don’t have dominant in-the-paint player. Sure they could do without – as they have been – but they to improve the shot-making from the outside.

They need some speed on offense. The Huskers are a strong defensive team that plays at a slow tempo. I think this breaks their rhythm on offense. The strong, slow defensive ball game works as long as the opponents are making mistakes. But as soon as they break through and hit a string of shots, the Huskers are trying to shift tempos and play catch-up. I think they put too much pressure on themselves.

Like I said, I’m a casual fan. What do you think it will take to win in Lincoln?

Shawn Eichorst & Bo Pelini’s Statements

In case you were hiding under a rock on Saturday, which I know a few of you were…here are the statements from Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst and Football Coach Bo Pelini.

Here is Shawn Eichorst’s statement released Saturday morning:

‘My approach has always been to not comment publicly about our coaches until their full seasons are complete, as I strongly believe it is unfair and counter to best practices. However, given the volume of unfounded speculation and conjecture about our head football coach, I want to reaffirm what I have said many times since I have arrived at the University of Nebraska ‘ that I positively respect, appreciate and support our football student-athletes, coaches and staff, as we do everyone in the Husker family. We very much look forward to our upcoming bowl game and Coach Pelini continuing to lead our program in the future.’

Here was Pelini’s statement released Saturday evening:

‘I want to thank our administration and Shawn Eichorst in particular, for his continued and full support that he has given me and our football program since his arrival on campus. I am honored to represent this university and its great fans and I’m proud to lead this program into the future.

I apologize for reacting emotionally yesterday and for showing frustration both with the game officials and the media. I fully understand and respect their difficult jobs, and I regret any and all actions or words which may have shed a negative light on our program and university. Accountability is a core belief throughout our program, and as the head coach, I must set and maintain a high standard.

Our football staff is hitting recruiting full throttle and looking forward to the upcoming bowl game. We are committed to working with Shawn and our entire department staff to continue to build this program and bring championships back to Nebraska.’

What are your thoughts?

Husker Fans

Nebraska 17 – Iowa 38

Where to start? If you needed to pick one game to say it was most representative of a Bo Pelini train wreck, I think today’s game fits the bill about as perfectly as you could find. Even the setting of Black Friday played in to the doom and gloom.

Ron Kellogg tossed a pair of interceptions, Ameer Abdullah lost a fumble. Special teams was head-scratchingly abysmal – even after last week’s total disregard to blocking the opposition to set up a punt return. Jordan ‘Stache’ Westerkamp let a punt go that he should have caught, and then called for a fair catch on a punt he should have let go.

At the half, a visible disgruntled Bo Pelini choose to the question the questions being asked by an ABC Reporter.

And then things went downhill. Bo Pelini nearly accosted a human zebra and received a 15 yard sideline unsportsmanlike conduct flag after a questionable flag on the field.

Enough bodies littered the field that legendary wrestling announcer Jim Ross would have lost his voice with the number of times he would have needed to exclami “Good God almighty! That killed him! As God as my witness, he is broken in half!” Ron Kellog was on the receiving end of a blitz beat down numerous times. Ameer Abdullah left a couple times to injury. But all-in-all, they still managed to get back up and keep fighting.

But the Huskers simply couldn’t play a mistake-riddled came and hope to come out on a top against an Iowa team that may have played their best game of the season.

The Hawkeyes walk away with their first win in Lincoln since Germany occupied France way back WWII.

The frustrations continued on to the post game press conference, where Pelini dropped an expletive-based description of the penalties, dared “them” to fire him.