We interrupt this vacation for the unofficial return of college football, otherwise known as Talking Season:
- Look out, Chicago. Nebraska is making a big statement before it throws out the first syllable at Big Ten Kickoff.
Coach Scott Frost is bringing quarterback Adrian Martinez, who is a sophomore by class but carries himself like a senior. This sort of thing is unheard of in the Fraternal Order of Paranoid Coaches. It shouldn’t be, because it’s a good experience for the young men, and a little media love never hurt anyone.
But most coaches only see all the bright lights and attention that can fill up a young man’s head with over-confident helium, ready to be burst in the season opener. For instance, Michigan is not bringing senior quarterback Shea Patterson. It makes you wonder about coach Jim Harbaugh’s trust factor with his guy.
- This is a welcome look for Nebraska. Back when the Big Eight Skywriters used to swoop into Lincoln, there were some years the quarterback was made available and others he had a previous engagement, perhaps to reorganize his locker.
Tommie Frazier was there for the last Skywriters tour in 1994. I can’t recall whether Frazier or Frost went to Big Eight/12 media days in 1995 or 1997, but the quarterback is always the biggest deal.
In 2001, Eric Crouch showed up for the Big 12 interviews in Kansas City wearing a power suit. It made a statement: His senior year was serious business. It ended with Crouch wearing a suit to pick up his Heisman Trophy.
- There’s no telling what’s ahead for Martinez and Co. this year.
But No. 2 going to Chicago is a strong show of confidence by Frost. It says he thinks his sophomore can handle being thrown into the pit with several hundred media types, no sweat.
It’s a statement to the rest of the league and a signal to the Husker team. Martinez might be a second-year guy, but he’s got the maturity and poise to handle being the poster boy. It’s also smart, showing recruits that Frost won’t be afraid to promote you.
Good stuff, all around.
- Since forever, one of my crusades about our fair town is that we don’t do a good enough job honoring our legendary athletes. We still don’t.
But The World-Herald series “24th & Glory” will more than suffice as recognition and a way to tell their story to future generations. Dirk Chatelain had a crusade, or calling, of his own, and the result is the fantastic series you’re reading in The World-Herald and the accompanying book coming out next month.
I’m so glad the story of North Omaha and its legends is being told. This is a book that should be in every library in every school in the state and every bookstore, too.
I’ll still pursue my crusade for a Gale Sayers Field or Bob Boozer Drive in front of the CHI Health Center. Now maybe more folks will know what I’m talking about.
- One of the best parts about the series is that Bob Gibson’s story is being told.
Gibson has always been a reluctant celebrity, but every once in a while he would surprise us with a golf tournament or an interview, and the result was a local legend you could embrace. There’s an irony to the timing, now that we know about Gibson’s fight with pancreatic cancer.
I’m not going to make any sports analogies. Baseball is fantasy land. Cancer is real life. Certainly, Gibson is one tough hombre. He’s got our prayers and support all the way.
- The Big Ten event this week is in the main ballroom of the Hilton Chicago, which means I’ll be looking for Harrison Ford, Tommy Lee Jones and the one-armed man.
The 1993 movie “The Fugitive” was filmed in and around Chicago, and the big scene near the end was filmed in the ballroom where Big Ten coaches will meet the media. Some of us movie buffs will be waiting for Dr. Richard Kimble to walk in and mistake P.J. Fleck for Dr. Charles Nichols. (“You switched the samples!”)
- I’m going to withhold comment on the Rhonda Revelle situation until we get some facts. But the NU softball coach has too much equity — from years of good coaching and leadership — to not get the benefit of the doubt from the university. Is this a case of old-school coaching going up against the new-school feelings of today’s athlete? We’ll see, but that seems to be more prevalent in college sports.
- One more and I’m outta here: Happy trails to a couple of esteemed colleagues, Tony Boone and Matthew Hansen.
Boone has been our sports handyman, covering three beats (and doing it well) the way most scribes cover one. He became one of the top boxing writers in the country.
And I’ve admired the way Hansen, the Red Cloud (Nebraska) Scribe, became Nebraska’s storyteller. Every Nebraskan has a story to tell, and Matt found the best.
You guys will be missed. Don’t be strangers.
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