Talking season is not over. It’s just beginning. Finally, this week we’ll have something to talk about.
» Please explain: How can someone be overhyped or overrated if there hasn’t been a game yet?
A lot of folks around here are worried that Tanner Lee is overhyped. This just in: We need a game.
The Lee “hype” comes from two sources. First, from high marks given by NFL personnel folks who have seen him throw. Gee, what do they know?
It also comes from Husker fans and media who have fatigue from following two quarterbacks since 2010: Taylor Martinez and Tommy Armstrong.
Skeptics cite Lee’s modest numbers while at Tulane. And while they have a point, if we’re comparing the talent around Lee at Tulane to what he has at Nebraska now, then there’s a problem.
There’s no problem. Embrace the hype. New quarterbacks, from Vince Ferragamo to Turner Gill to Tommie Frazier to Harrison Beck, have brought it with them to Lincoln for decades. Some surpass it, some get swallowed up.
Very few quarterbacks here in Football Land sneak in the side door. Zac Taylor did. Martinez fell out of the sky. Hype didn’t follow him until he turned the corner at Husky Stadium in Seattle.
Most fans have perspective and some will forget. Quarterbacks get too much credit and too much blame and all the hype. So what? Another way to spell “hype” is “hope.” It’s always better to have it than not.
What’s interesting is how individuals react to it. For a guy who hasn’t played in more than a year, and last played at Tulane, Lee acts like he’s been hyped his whole life.
On Monday he was thrown to the wolves at Mike Riley’s presser. Then was encircled outside in the hallway. Finally, he made his way down to a corner of the Memorial Stadium press box, where he did a Lincoln TV interview where he drew up plays on a board.
All the while, he smiled, shrugged, said being named captain was one of “the coolest things” to happen to him and said he couldn’t wait to play for Husker fans because he’s been an underdog his whole life.
The man inspiring the hype machine is understated, low on sound-bite fuel. It’s “Extremely blessed to be here” and “Extremely motivated” and “Just want to help the team” and “I’m going to be excited. We’re all going to be excited.”
He’s like a scene from “Bull Durham.”
Which is okey-dokey, because the man’s arm does all the talking. From what glimpses we’ve seen in fall practice, that right arm has been re-charged and is sending out electricity.
Riley thinks his guy is ready, but then we knew that back in July, when Riley brought the new guy to Chicago for Big Ten media days. You don’t do that if you think he’s going to go into shock.
Which raises a question: How will Riley handle the Lee hype? Will the game plan allow a cushion for Lee to get over first-game nerves, sort of ease his way into the role, week by week?
Or will Riley be totally comfortable with Lee and throw a lot at him — with Lee throwing a lot at Arkansas State?
The guess here is there won’t be any training wheels inside Memorial Stadium Saturday night. And the word “overhyped” won’t be in the air. Only accurate passes.
» I’m sure some grandstand coordinators and Nebraska tradition curators will point out that 16 is too many Blackshirts. Who knows? Each DC has his interpretation of the great tradition. Bottom line: Tackle somebody.
» Think of all the things you could use around Nebraska to promote Husker football — you know, make viewers want to watch the games — and Fox Sports picks out being lost in cornfields and sacrifices?
» Love that Riley says a handful of freshmen will play Saturday night. It sends the message — to the team and to recruits — that if you earn it, you’re going to play. Skill position players, especially, need to be on the field if they can make plays.
» Wait a minute. Why are receiver and running back called “skill positions?” Don’t linemen have skills, too?
» Dave Rimington and Will Shields, on line two.
» A hearty thanks to the fight fans out there who bought the Mayweather-McGregor fight and then streamed it live on Twitter, so a cheapskate slug like me could watch it on my phone for free.
The fight was big fun. And that was the only idea here. Boxing fans can say they won, MMA fans can say they proved something, the fighters and promoters and gamblers (many of them) got rich and the rest of us were entertained. Perfect.
It’s safe to say both sides used the other to promote their own sport, but it’s hard not to see McGregor taking his career and MMA up a few notches. Will there be boxing fans who follow him now?
Here’s an idea for boxing: Go get the champ from Omaha. Make him the face and future of boxing. Go do it.
» Who needs Nebraska? Winning at third-ranked Washington feels like a game-changer for Creighton volleyball. That’s a chip that can be cashed in when regional bids are handed out. Now the Jays are in rare air, ranked No. 7. Well done, ladies. Now don’t look down. And don’t forget, everyone’s coming at you now. But that’s the fun part.
» One more and I’m outta here: Here’s a get-well card for a good friend of Omaha, Mike Moran, who just had successful triple-bypass open-heart surgery. Moran, a graduate of Westside High and UNO, is 75 years young and still works for the Colorado Springs Sports Corporation. He’s a longtime director of media for the U.S. Olympic Committee and still does several Olympic speaking gigs every year. Moran sent a photo of himself in the hospital wearing a “Mavericks basketball” shirt. The Maverick Mojo worked, because Moran is doing well and resting at home.
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