Good thing there’s not a head basketball coach opening at Nebraska.
We got a change on Monday, but not the one we expected. NU President Hank Bounds announced he will leave the school this summer.
What does it mean? In the big picture, Nebraska athletics loses a smart, savvy leader not afraid to make bold decisions. At least where it concerned football, the No. 1 concern in this state.
For a Mississippi native, Bounds understood the Nebraska way when it came to football. He twice chastised former Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst when he made tone-deaf, ill-conceived decisions concerning Black Friday and Friday night Husker games.
Then when the Northern Illinois writing was on the wall, Hammerin’ Hank pulled the plug on Eichorst in midseason to begin paving the way for a certain rising coaching star at UCF to come home. Wouldn’t have happened with Eichorst in the chair.
Besides, after the Mike Riley hire, you weren’t going to trust Eichorst to make another one. I can’t help but think that’s what kept Tim Miles in his current job two years ago.
Hiring Bill Moos was a chess move to make sure Scott Frost would have an A.D. he could live with. He was also the anti-Eichorst, and his Nebraska style was welcomed easily around the state, and Hank understood that, too.
But Bounds’ work wasn’t finished. There’s still basketball. And now what of that?
All was quiet on the Moos front on Monday. Did the news of Bounds have something to do with that? Will it now throw a wrench in the next moves for the basketball program?
It shouldn’t. Chris Heady reports that Bounds was going to be in on the hiring of the next basketball coach — a move I applaud, because the commitment level at NU needs to increase substantially for basketball, starting at the top.
But now that the top is changing, does that make it hard to find a coach?
First things first. Make a decision and announce it, either way, on Miles. It’s hard to imagine Miles remaining, but I’ve seen just about everything with Husker hoops. Who knows?
Assuming that there is a change, would coaches hesitate to come to a school looking for a new president?
And specifically, a coach whose first name rhymes with “Red.”
I don’t think so. Coaches crave money and facilities and access to players. Above all they want total commitment to their program by the administration.
But most coaches are more concerned about their immediate boss, the athletic director. And if the candidate is a guy as accomplished as “Red,” he’s confident he can get another gig down the road.
Show him the money, preferably $3-4 million a year, and pledge that he can get what he needs to win, and he’ll come. You know, if/when there’s an opening.
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» We’ve heard of the traditional Nebraska football pregame prayer. But I had no idea the extent of the tradition.
Offensive line coach Greg Austin, who played for Frank Solich and Bill Callahan, said one of the things Callahan tinkered with was the prayer.
“He printed out the prayer and handed it around,” Austin said. “The team pregame prayer was something you knew when you went from North Stadium (freshman locker room) to the South Stadium (varsity locker room). It was a rite of passage, something that as the games went along, you learned the words on your own. It was not ever printed or broadcast.
When Frost's staff took over for Mike Riley last year, Austin said he noticed the prayer had been posted on a giant board by the team locker room. He cringed and wondered, "What are we doing?" It's now back to the rite of passage only.
» Spring football update: NU running backs coach Ryan Held lauded the performances of Brody Belt and Jaylin Bradley. With running back reinforcements due in this summer, this is valuable time for the two.
“They’re getting the first crack of this year,” Held said. “It’s not all or nothing, but if you have these reps, I got to be able to see what you can do with the reps you’re getting because come the fall, you’re adding three more guys to the room. That changes things. Reps will be divided differently then, and I got to see what those three can do.”
» It was good to see Ned Yost and the Royals back in Omaha on Monday, but I don’t need Yost to find out how the club is going to be this year. I’ve got Royals superfan Held, an Overland Park, Kansas, native, to do the honors.
“I think they can win close to 80,” Held said of the Royals. “I like their lineup with speed. They got rid of the home run philosophy. At the K (Kauffman Stadium), they have to be able to use the outfield to their advantage. Billy Hamilton can run, Whit Merrifield can run, Raul Mondesi can run. They got guys who can really get it.
“I like their bullpen. Their bullpen last year was terrible. Brad Boxberger, Jake Diekman, Tim Hill — they’ll be way better in the bullpen. I think their starters will be better. We lost (Salvador) Perez, but then we signed (Martin) Maldonado. He was best defensive catcher out there.
“I feel good. The depth of the organization is better, they drafted good. I think they can make a run at the playoffs.”
» Greg McDermott’s Jays are not just getting valuable practices for a nucleus that returns next season, they have a chance for history tonight at TCU. Creighton hasn’t been to the NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden since coach Eddie Hickey’s 1942 team lost to Western Kentucky in the semis. CU also has never won three games in an NIT.
» One more and I’m outta here: Tonight is the unofficial start of the college baseball season around here, the first Nebraska vs. Creighton game at TD Ameritrade Park. The weather and teams should cooperate. Both NU and CU are coming off Big Ten sweeps. These games are always better when both teams are good and looking to pad NCAA résumés. Kudos to the TDA staff for getting the field ready.