Could television schedules and flight listings stand in the way of what’s expected to be Nebraska’s biggest recruiting weekend of the fall?
Nebraska’s marquee non-conference game against Oregon on Sept. 17 is shaping up to feature several key visitors, including just about every top target from California. But because no kickoff time has been set yet, it leaves some uncertainty for the logistics of getting all those “Calibraska” recruits to Lincoln.
If all goes according to plan, the list of official visitors will be massive. Based on tweets from the players and interviews with recruiting services, these are some of the notable targets expected to take official visits to Nebraska that weekend:
That’s a dozen recruits — from only one state — and there are plenty more from around the country that could try to visit for that game. But something Gebbia said during an interview on “The Bottom Line” this week left open the possibility that some of these recruits might not make it.
“I'm definitely hoping to do that,” Gebbia said when asked if he plans to take his visit that weekend. “But we play the night before. If it's not a night game, I'm probably not going to be able to make it out.”
Gebbia and his Calabasas teammates (Johnson Jr. and Holmes) have a 7 p.m. PST game on Sept. 16. So too do most of the recruits mentioned above. According to MaxPreps schedules, Salesian (Lenoir, Johnson, Pickett), Muir (Blades), Buena Park (Gates), Cathedral (Echols, Calvin) and Centennial (Lindsey) have 7 p.m. games scheduled for that night. Hawkins (Lewis) don’t yet list a game on Sept. 16.
All of those recruits with games Friday night would have to fly into Nebraska on Saturday morning, and based on when the Husker game starts, that could present an issue.
There are three options for when the Nebraska-Oregon game could kick — 11 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and primetime. Last month, ESPN and the Big Ten Network announced which games they would broadcast in primetime. Nebraska-Oregon was not among those selected. That leaves most predicting a daytime kickoff for the Huskers and Ducks.
Any kickoff time still seems possible, though, based on the games that have already been scheduled.
At 11 a.m., ABC will carry Florida State-Louisville. At 2:30 p.m. CBS has Alabama-Ole Miss, ESPN has Pitt-Oklahoma State and ESPNU has Boston College-Virginia Tech. In primetime, NBC will carry Michigan State-Notre Dame, FOX has Ohio State-Oklahoma and ABC has USC-Stanford.
Including NU, there are still seven games involving two Power Five teams with start times still to be determined. And there are plenty of time slots and channels to fill. Those decisions will all come at a later date, probably closer to the start of the season.
An 11 a.m. start would make it very difficult for the California recruits to make it to Lincoln in time. As of now, the earliest flights scheduled to arrive in Lincoln on Sept. 17 come in at either 10:34 or 10:49 a.m. And those are the red eyes, leaving LAX between midnight and 1:30 a.m.
A 2:30 p.m. kick would be more doable but still inconvenient. Including the flights already mentioned, there are five total leaving LAX that would get to Lincoln by 12:37 p.m. But the latest departure to arrive in time for kickoff is 6 a.m. Not ideal for a bunch of teenagers who just played a football game that will likely end around 11 p.m. or midnight CDT.
Also worth mentioning, the only flight currently listed on Sept. 17 from LAX to Omaha doesn’t arrive until after 11 p.m., so that isn’t an option.
Now, if these recruits want to visit badly enough, they’ll probably sacrifice a few hours of beauty sleep to ensure they get to Lincoln in time for kickoff. But Gebbia appears to already have contingency plans in place if that weekend doesn’t work out.
He said he would probably take his official visit for the Fresno State game on Sept. 3 if he can’t make it for Oregon. That’s already scheduled for a 7 p.m. start.
Certainly, Nebraska would want Gebbia and Johnson Jr. — their two biggest recruiters — at the Oregon game to work on their peers. If they instead visited for the Fresno State game, would the other recruits follow suit? It will still have an electric atmosphere as the season opener, but it wouldn’t quite be the same without the national spotlight that Oregon game will have.
So if you’re a Nebraska fan hoping for a hassle-free itinerary for these recruits, cross your fingers for a primetime start.