Archive for the ‘Dr. D’ Category

Dr. D – Good, Bad and the Ugly #6

October 17, 2006

The Good

Two consecutive conference road wins for the first time since 2003. We put a beat down on a clearly inferior team. I thought that Callahan’s Husker road show would continue to pound the ball just like we did in Ames. It would have been nice to put them away in the 3rd quarter with another sustained drive or two, but the game was never in doubt. KSU played hard, but our big boys up front just manhandled the overmatched (and much lighter) defensive front. The Blackshirts also came after Freeman with a vengeance in the second half. I took great pride in seeing him roughed up a bit. We got the better of him this time, but unfortunately, I think he’ll be a good one over the next 3 years …

Bold Texas week predictions: After having stated last week that nobody has a clue what the RB rotation will look like, I will boldly predict the return of Kenny Wilson in the Texas game. Callahan leaned heavily on Wilson against the speedy Trojan defense, stating that Wilson’s speed to the corner gave us the best chance to pick up yards against a fast defense. I look for the same this week. After not carrying the ball the last 2 games, look for Wilson to be showcased early in the game. And if those plays bring yards, Callahan has shown that he will ride the hot hand all afternoon …

The Bad

Ndamukong Suh. As in badass. The dude is just a killer. I think he’s already our best interior lineman as a sophomore. He has some of the biggest arms I’ve seen in a Husker uniform. On Saturday, he showed us that the only way to impress a classless kid like Freeman is to buy him two tickets to the gunshow, and see if he likes the goods. Check out this picture of Suh introducing himself to Mr. Freeman, courtesy of the Omaha World Herald.

The Ugly

Need more reasons to get pumped up to kill the Horns this week? For starters, we’ve only beaten the Horns once since the inception of the conference. Throw in the fact that the late Yasser Arafat and Satanists all appear to fancy the obnoxious and gratuitous “Hook ‘em Horns” gesture, and I don’t need any more proof. If I have to hear the “Eyes of Texas” more than 3 times on Saturday, I might lose it.

I hate that goddamn thing…I’m still stinging from the trip Jeffie Husker and I took to the beatdown in Austin in 2003.

Down with the axis of evil: Hamas, the PLO and Texas’ recent dominance of Nebraska.

Get behind me Satan!

I could go without seeing that for awhile (like maybe another 35 years). How stoned is he?

Dr. D – Good, Bad, and the Ugly

September 4, 2006

The Good:

I know La. Tech’s D is a far cry from the big boys of the Big 12, but as an opening tune up, I saw flashes of brilliance as of yet unseen from Callahan’s complicated scheme. It wasn’t so much that we had several big plays, but that it appeared Taylor had multiple open receivers on most plays. That tells me the scheme is capable of really confusing defenses. Will it work on a real D? I guess we’ll see in 2 weeks.

I think Jay Moore took all of Adam Carriker’s preseason hype personally. Benefiting from Carriker’s double teams, Moore was a man-child, and at 6′ 4″, 280 lbs. with speed, I wouldn’t be surprised if NU has 2 first round DE selections in the 2007 NFL Draft.

The Bad:

We will have to come up with a serious game plan to slow down USC’s receivers. The 3 scariest words in the English language for Husker fans on September 16th could be Smith, Jarrett and Turner-as in USC wideout trio Steve, Dwayne and Patrick. It could be a long night in the City of Angels.

No more bad for this week: I don’t want to be too big of a Husker buzz-kill. Besides, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Big Red cover easily and rack up nearly 600 yards of offense, no matter who we were playing. It reminded me of the good ol’ days.

The Ugly:

Injuries. They are a big part of the game, and every year key injuries derail a national title contender’s title hopes. I just watched Louisville stud RB Michael Bush’s leg snap like a twig against Kentucky, and it reminded me that we are not alone with injury related concerns. However, our DB situation just went from bad to worse losing Fluellen, and Grixby’s frailty does not inspire hopes that he can make it through a 14 game title run stretch. Not to mention the promising season of Phillip Dillard now up in smoke. But, perhaps even more disconcerting, despite the improved O-line play, Taylor still took 3-4 serious shots. I know he’s a tough kid, but he has to understand that holding the ball for an extra second or two and taking the big hit is definitely playing roulette with our title hopes. Every Husker fan knows that without him, we are in serious trouble. As I watched our lineman scrape Taylor off the turf a couple times, I found myself wishing he would have thrown it away-whether or not the pass was ultimately completed.

Buffalo Post-Mortem:

Are any Buffs fans in Boulder answering their email or their cell phones today? Losing to 1-AA Montana State is not exactly the kickoff party Zen master Dan Hawkins had envisioned. I’m surprised the CU student section didn’t rush the field with blue spray paint as they watched the game slip away in the 4th quarter in a vain attempt to make Hawkins more comfortable away from the blue turf of Boise. Hawkins vaunted scheme managed just 216 total yards of offense. Looking ahead, CU could be staring 0-5 right in the face. Next up, the rivalry game with Colorado St., then Arizona St, at Georgia, and at Missouri. Welcome to the Big 12 Mr. Hawkins.

Dr. D – Breaking the Cornhusker Bank

August 30, 2006

So, this is my first attempt at hacking out my inane thoughts for Double Extra Point, blogger nation. I must say that I think Jeffie Husker’s blog is among the best I’ve ever encountered, especially given the fact that it’s just a few weeks old–and I would say all that even if the guy hadn’t been a close friend for the past 15 years. About me, Dr. D. I’m a Husker expat, living in Bloomington, Indiana, right near the action of a major college campus, although not as close as I would like most nights. My first piece comments on the current financial state of college athletics. Enjoy!

A recent Lincoln Journal Star article commented on the 10 year history of the Big 12 conference, with a special emphasis on the effects that the new alliance has had on Big Red. The article’s thesis was essentially that the conference has weakened Nebraska’s athletic prowess and reputation. Instead of collecting armloads of conference trophies each year, taking our picks of the litter with top prep stars and reaping other benefits accorded the conference’s top athletic power, we have been reduced to scrapping with the likes of new Big 12 conference foes Texas Tech and Texas A&M and Big 8 also-rans Kansas St, Colorado and Iowa St in vying for coveted berths in the Independence Bowl (let’s not even mention what’s become of the basketball program-men or women’s). The pre-eminent power in the new Big 12 is obviously Texas. In the new college athletics pecking order, Nebraska is now considerably behind the big boys of college athletics. Husker loyalists hear me out – I am one of you. It pains me to type these words as much as it pains you to consider the possibility that they may be true. So, before you call for my head or dismiss my blasphemous claims as baseless, I encourage you to consider the following.

Big time sports are big business. For most Nebraska fans, their first clue that the structure of college athletics was moving unavoidably toward being primarily business-centric coincided with Bill Byrne’s arrival from Oregon in the early 90s. Soon after arriving in Lincoln, Byrne began charging season ticket holders annual fees to retain their seats, aggressively pursuing apparel licensing deals and corporate sponsorships, and began removing wasteful inefficiencies from within the athletic department. It was clear to most longtime NU boosters and alums, the new mantra of athletic department operations was “Show me the money.” During Byrne’s 11 year reign at Nebraska, athletic department spending tripled. As tempting as it is to conclude, Bill Byrne is not to blame for the athletic program’s new money-first directive. Byrne’s arrival at Nebraska represented a necessary action to pull a proud and successful athletics program into the 21st century of business management. Schools all around the country were realizing the potential cash inflows possible with big-time college sports. This realization represented the new age modus operandi for athletic administrators: bring in as much cash as you can and spend as much of it as possible to build bigger, better, more recruit-alluring facilities to attract even more money. In the mold of Steinbrenner, the successful new age A.D. should be a cash sink, bringing as much money in while spending as much as humanly possible to justify the need to siphon in even more dollars. The college athletics arm race was born.

Sadly for NU, the deck is stacked firmly against us in this brave new world. Consider that Texas brought in almost $35 million more in revenue for 2004, the last year in which comparative data are available. What can you get for $35 million? To put it in context, our new multi-year fundraising project for stadium and locker room improvements had an ambitious $50 million benchmark. Even better, my current employer Indiana University drew a mere $38 million in athletic department revenue in 2004. A $35 million revenue gap is significant in a world where top coaches draw millions and 10 year old facilities are considered obsolete. In a world where success (and the millions that come with it) hinges on freshman kickers making 40-yarders into a stiff wind, every dollar counts. For instance, Nebraska’s ability to boast about the new Huskervision screen being the largest of its kind was short-lived, as Texas immediately announced it was building a bigger one — funded undoubtedly with some of that extra petty cash.

My point is not to claim that Nebraska cannot contend on the field with the big spending boys (e.g., Texas, Ohio St., Florida, Michigan, etc). However, when our current football spending ranks us #24 in the NCAA, the on the field struggles of recent years such as being , ranked the 28th best program over the past 3 years are suddenly less surprising. This pattern of results seems to follow the age old business adage that you generally get what you pay for. If we use the data available from the Indianapolis Star’s NCAA Financial Reports Database we can examine the issue of athletic spending more closely. I doubt most Husker fans would be too surprised to learn that schools like Ohio St., Auburn and Florida outspend the Big Red in football operating costs. However, I believe it is a bit eye-opening for most Husker fans to see us outspent by the likes of Virginia, Georgia Tech and Arkansas. At the very least, Husker nation may have to realize that on a year-to-year level; we may be slipping behind the big boys to the extent that on the field success is tied to spending.

My real point in drawing attention to all this is to go beyond merely stating the obvious reality that college sports generates a lot of money, and that this money is not distributed evenly among all competing schools. What bothers me about all of this is that the NCAA, the governing body that regulates every aspect of college athletics has not instituted more control when it comes to curbing the spending war. MLB, the NFL and the NBA all have luxury taxes that penalize organizations that spend excessively to try and level the playing field. Why shouldn’t the NCAA look seriously at the fairness of allowing schools to spend $35 million more than others when their stated goal is to ensure the integrity and fairness of intercollegiate athletics?