Taking stock of our sports world while renaming the College World Series “The Greatest Show on Tarp:”
» What a small world. Mike Riley and Shawn Eichorst ended up being 80 miles apart, connected by Interstate 35 from San Antonio to Austin. Both are in better places, certainly better fits for their abilities, than a year ago in Lincoln.
That seems like 10 years ago, doesn’t it?
Some around Oregon State were critical of Riley leaving the program so soon after agreeing to be assistant head coach and tight ends coach for first-year head coach Jonathan Smith, a former quarterback for Riley.
Last week Riley accepted the head coaching job for the San Antonio franchise of the new American Alliance of Football spring league. According to the Portland Tribune, Riley has a five-month commitment to the AAF and wants to stay at OSU as a consultant and analyst.
Riley told the Tribune that his role would be breaking down video of opponents, study Oregon State offensive video and consult “on a number of things.”
That’s the role I thought Riley was going back to do at Corvallis. That makes sense. It's hard to imagine he would have had a great impact as assistant head coach. The veteran coach was going to be there as a sounding board and voice of experience, and Riley can still do that — and make suggestions in recruiting and personnel decisions.
Not to mention the quickest bike route to Reser Stadium.
I guess Nebraska wasn’t Riley’s “one last adventure.” His time here certainly resembled an Indiana Jones movie for Husker fans.
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» If Major League Baseball and the NCAA do forge a working relationship, I would like to see the two bodies come up with a solution to pace of play. That’s an issue that effects both pro and college ball. Perhaps limit mound visits, replay, etc. Teach college catchers to call pitches.
» One benefit of a weather delay is listening to Sandy Buda tell stories. Buda, the former UNO football coach, works as a security guard in the TD Ameritrade Park press box, keeping writers in line. Last night Buda told the story of being on Frank Mancuso’s Rosenblatt Stadium grounds crew during the 1964 CWS, when heavy rains made the infield unplayable. One problem: Rosenblatt had no tarp. The infield was mud.
Buda said Mancuso ordered the six-man grounds crew to pour gasoline on the dirt and light it on fire. A helicopter was brought in with its blades serving to dry the infield. Looking back, it was dangerous, Buda said. But they always did what Mancuso said.
» Please don’t say Khyri Thomas should have returned for his senior year at Creighton because he didn’t go in the first round of the NBA draft. Thomas made the right choice on a lot of levels. For one, there is no guarantee Thomas would have gone in the first round next year. Or been drafted at all. Sounds crazy, but there is no telling how Thomas would have done with the role of being the Jays' go-to scorer. And players who return are always scrutinized heavily by NBA teams, who pick apart every weakness. The key for Thomas isn’t the spot he was taken but the team. Fit is the thing. Detroit looks like a good fit, with needs that Thomas’ tenacity and defense should meet. Good luck, Khryi.
» Indiana lost another baseball coach, this time watching Chris Lemonis go to Mississippi State after four years at IU. Hard to imagine the Big Ten making giant strides in baseball if it can’t keep its best coaches. But hard to blame them for not seeking better weather, facilities, pay, etc.
» The Detroit News reported that Michigan’s take from the Big Ten is $52.1 million. For spring break next year, Jim Harbaugh will be taking his team on a cruise.
» This is the season of ranking college football coaches and stories with analytics that act like crystal balls with decimal points. What none of them can know about Scott Frost is how a team will react to a coach, how hard it will play for him, the impact of having a player take off in a new position. The human side has always been my favorite part of college football. And it will always be the most unpredictable and fascinating.
» What an incredible week for Omaha golf: Ryan Vermeer qualified for the PGA Championship, Brady Schnell won the Web.com Tour's Wichita Open and Jon Peterson qualified for the U.S. Senior Open. My question is: with all this rain around here, when do these guys play?
» For this Dodger fan, the worst rain out of the week came with the sun out. Los Angeles kept Clayton Kershaw in New York rather than have him travel to Omaha and Werner Park on Saturday for a scheduled four-inning rehab stint for Oklahoma City. The reason: The Dodgers monitored the weather in Nebraska, which showed potential for rain and storms here Saturday night. Why have their ace travel to Omaha only to sit and watch it rain? Sure, and then a beautiful night emerged at Werner on Saturday. Oh, well. The park was packed at the same time a large crowd was downtown for the CWS. The idea of a Storm Chasers' series during the CWS, not so crazy, huh?
» Got a fun email from reader Jim Stewart about his days as a bat boy at Rosenblatt Stadium in the early 1960’s. Stewart, the son of former World-Herald sports writer Ralph, said he was told to go into the stands during the CWS and retrieve foul balls. Fans were not allowed to keep them; the NCAA didn’t have a huge budget for baseballs.
One time, says Stewart, a foul ball struck a child about 20 rows up on the third base side. Stewart went up to get the ball and said, “a man grabbed me by the arm about two rows up and told me, “Don’t even think about it.”
“It was then I learned that there were always exceptions to rules!” said Stewart.
» One more and I’m outta here: An interesting thing happened as The World-Herald staff went through its archives looking for old photos of Scott Frost’s youth in Wood River and career at Nebraska. We found a book.
That book, written and produced by The World-Herald staff, will be released in August. It will be filled with a gold mine of terrific photos of Frost’s family and playing days taken by World-Herald photographers and never before seen. There is a strong collection of stories and columns about Frost, along with fresh reporting and perspective from today’s staff.
What we found was remarkable detail that will tell the story of the Frost family dating back to the 1940s, Carol’s path to the 1968 Olympics, Larry’s role in the Bob Devaney Era, and Scott’s journey from Wood River to Lincoln (recounted by his teammates) and his tutelage under some of the greatest coaches in football history.
This isn’t hype. It’s history. And you’re gonna love it.
The Return of Scott Frost
The Scott Frost saga would prove to be one of the most remarkable sports stories in many years in Nebraska, an epic tale playing out over 79 days in Orlando, Lincoln and other locales from Pennsylvania to California. This six-part series — written by Henry Cordes and illustrated by Matt Haney — provides new details and takes a unique approach to telling the story of how the former Husker quarterback returned to his alma mater to lead Nebraska into a new era.