It’s always interesting to hear an outside opinion of the team you cover. On Monday, I went on the “Bald Faced Truth,” the radio show hosted by John Canzano, the terrific sports columnist of the Oregonian, and a couple of things stood out.
Canzano wrote last weekend that he thinks this week is a measuring-stick game for Oregon. You don’t hear many schools saying that about Nebraska; I haven’t heard that in a long time.
He also wrote, “Whether he’ll admit it or not, Oregon has to be part of the reason Riley left Oregon State for Nebraska.” Mike Riley was asked that on Monday by Sam McKewon and admitted he was frustrated by Oregon while he was at Oregon State, but it wasn’t why he took the NU job.
On the show, Canzano said, “I think there’s truth to that.
I think when you lose seven straight games to one school, you’re banging your head against the wall. I don’t know that he was aggressively (looking to leave), but when the opportunity came, he said, sure, I’ll give (Oregon State) their money back and go coach a ‘have’ instead of a ‘have-not.’ ”
» Canzano picked Nebraska to win. He’s down on the Ducks’ defense, particularly the defensive line. He asked me for a pick, and of course I took Nebraska. I told him I always take Nebraska, even against the 1985 Chicago Bears. Especially if they played now.
» Got a few readers who wanted to know what the consequences are for Husker players who commit personal foul penalties, especially the kind on the sideline where you push the runner when he’s already out of bounds. Riley said the consequences are basically that they take the player out of the game. Of course, he goes back in. I’m not sure that’s the answer fans want to hear.
» Nebraska and Oregon had one common opponent last year, and it wasn’t UCLA. It was Michigan State. The Ducks lost at East Lansing 31-28 in Week 2 while the Huskers beat MSU 39-38 on Nov. 7. Oregon didn’t play UCLA last year. But how’s this comparison? Last year, Oregon beat Oregon State (Riley’s former players) 52-42, while UCLA beat the Beavers 41-0. I have no idea what that means.
» Just a hunch: The quarterback run game will be a bigger part of this Danny Langsdorf game plan than any other time the last two seasons. It’s the smart play, and there are always surprises in these kinds of games. No, Langsdorf has not told me the game plan. But I’m waiting by the phone.
» It would be easy to say that’s what Oklahoma State gets for letting Central Michigan stay that close to it, but how could you ever expect that bizarre ending to happen? What’s hard to fathom is that the eight-man MAC crew and the Big 12 replay crew had no idea about that rule. Weird.
» Finally, the 2016-17 Big East men’s basketball schedule is expected out today. There were reports earlier this summer that the Big East was planning its league-wide opening day TV event for Saturday, Dec. 31. But the College Football Playoff moving the semifinals to New Year’s Eve may have nixed the Big East’s plan. Sources tell me Creighton will open league play at home, possibly on Dec. 28. Soon, we’ll find out.
» Here’s Exhibit No. 119 that Nebraska volleyball coach John Cook is one of the coolest coaches in college sports.
Cook, a long-time Pearl Jam fan, flew to Toronto this summer to attend their concert and meet the lads afterward backstage.
How? Cook is from Chula Vista (San Diego), California. So are Eddie Vedder and Matt Cameron of Pearl Jam. The mother of Cook’s best friend in high school is Cameron’s godmother. Got that?
Cook said he had tickets and backstage passes to meet the band when it played Pinnacle Bank Arena a few years ago. It was a Thursday night during volleyball season, and the team was scheduled to travel to Michigan State that Thursday. No problem. Cook arranged to travel solo on Friday and catch up with the team.
Problem: NU lost the previous week and Cook “chickened out,” saying he needed to be with his team and avoid a second straight loss on the road. So he skipped the concert.
Vedder and Cameron gave him a rain check — any concert he wanted to attend. He chose Toronto. Had a great time. Talked volleyball with Cameron, whose daughters play the sport. Vedder, who has a wine bottle with him on stage, gave the bottle to Cook, who kept it as a souvenir. Yes, it was empty.
“I use them as an inspiration,” Cook said. “They’ve been together 25 years. I ask them, ‘How do you do this?’ A lot of egos, travel, time together. They look at themselves as a family. They work hard on relationships. They’ve been doing it for 25 years, love what they’re doing and want to keep getting better.
“I still love what I do, and I want to keep getting better.”
Let’s see Jerritt Elliott or Russ Rose top that one.
» One more and I’m outta here: After Sunday’s epic collapse by the Bolts in Kansas City, I’ve decided I need to find something better to do with my Sundays. How about antiquing? See you this Sunday in Walnut, Iowa.