Corn Flakes, 13th Edition
Friday, November 30, 2012
CoCo Key Water Resort/Ramada Convention Center - Omaha, NE
NU vs. Wisconsin Badgers
Today’s Big Red Breakfast Speakers Nate – Nebraska Football Recruiting Husker Athletic Director: Tom Osborne
Recruiting News – Nate
Very important time for recruiting, in-home visits started this last week. Of course, recruiting has taken a backseat this week as coaches are focused on the game this week. Esp if they win, this will produce extraordinary amount of momentum. 15 commits from 17 states, well-represented class. What really sticks out is their character and leadership, they are no-nonsense types of guys, you can tell they fit into Bo’s plan. This Sunday will start our in-home visits, if we win, going to a BCS Bowl and the Rose Bowl will really be great to sell to players and their parents. David Neville – has visited NE twice. 6’8”, very interested in us, will be making decision between NU and Wisconsin in the next few days, so a win for us might make a difference here – haha! Lots of coaching changes happening, so lots of prospects may open it back up and take another look at NU. Top prospects: Neville, Hooks from Mississippi DT, Toby Johnson and Ben Bradley JUCO DTs currently at Hutchinson KS; Priest Willis – top player in AZ; we are getting good looks from top players in the country. Terrell Newby – Rich Fisher is on him, best RB in California, true game changer, sprinter on track team. New names will be coming out too. Exciting time to be a Husker fan. We will see 10-12 more jump in within next month or so.
Athletic Director – Tom Osborne – needs no introduction
(Standing O – of course!) Breakfasts started at Johnny’s Café a few years ago, those were good times, a little smaller crowd then. Anyone here who was at Johnny’s? You must be 100 yrs old – hahaha! People ask if I miss coaching, yes I do, I miss the players, but not always – ahaha! Tony Davis played IB for me, was a free spirit, we had a few run-ins. He went hunting with me once. Tony waited in car while I talked to farmer about hunting on his land. Farmer had mule that needed to be put down, asked Tom to do it. Went back to car, told Tony farmer said we couldn’t hunt, farmer sent I was bad coach and Tony was bad player. I said, I’m not going to take this lying down. Rolled down my window, shot the mule. I heard a bang, bang, bang from other side of car. Tony said, coach let’s get out of here, I just got 3 cows…..HAHAHAHA!
So much focus on money today with salaries and facilities. When I go to meetings now, it’s more like a board of directors at a bank rather than about college athletics. I think it’s easy to lose of track of what it’s really all about. TV drives everything. Sometimes you don’t know when kickoff will be until 7 days in advance. Hard to deal with if you live farther away. Used to be that there were only a few games on TV and they were all on Saturday. Now you can watch numerous games many days a week.
Rules are now so complex also. You can only have two colors of ink on your recruiting stationary which is nonsensical. There are working groups who are trying to simplify the rulebook. Every time they do this, the rule book ends up getting bigger by 50%. There are positives. Students have to meet a certain standard, after so many years, students have to be so far along in reaching their degree. Grad rates have improved. Healthcare and nutrition and other amenities are so much better.
Football program as I see it. 2007 we had our 2nd losing season in 4 years, prior to that we had gone 42 yrs without a losing season. This was wearing a little thin . I have seen steady progress since Bo was hired, have won 48 games in 5 yrs under Bo. If you can ave 9-10 wins a year, that is GOOD – people don’t understand that. If you look at Hall of Fame coaching careers, the great majority had winning percentages in the 60’s, a few over 70 but not many. Bo is around 72-73%. So if you have that, make sure you appreciate it. This is a very competitive age, more populated states. Our athletes behave well, they do well academically. People will say that our group is the best behaved team that they have been around. Very cohesive.
Iowa last week – not the most sophisticated offensive show. But the wind chill and the wind, I knew it was going to be a difficult day. When it is windy, very hard to throw the ball, makes you much more one dimensional. You are better off in the snow or the rain. Maher’s ability to kick was good. Defense played really well. We lost a few good players, Steinkuhler, Jackson. Iowa was very motivated, they played hard.
Wisconsin game – my comments are relatively uninformed. I go to practice every day, I still watch game films. However, I can ‘t tell you what plays we should run, who should start, etc. All of the things that you guys know instinctively – hahahaha! Unless you are in the meeting rooms yourself, know the mental states of players, studying those films, you really don’t have the knowledge to make judgments. Wisconsin is very solid, well-coached. O-line has played better throughout the year. RBs very good, 4.9-5 yds per carry. Not real complicated. LBs really good. Will be a headknocker. Both teams are trying to make a statement. I really like our team. Some spots exceptional – RBs and receivers, QB is very good. As a defensive coach, what you hate to face more than anything is a guy who has speed and can turn the corner on anything. His passing has improved. Secondary is good, we lead Big 10 in most categories in pass defense. LBs have gotten good. Depth in D-line is questions. Cam has stepped in there and done a great job. Chase Rome has done well. Randall’s knee is better. E Martin is pretty disruptive guy. He inspired me to run a little bit faster when I ran out on the field last week because I knew he was right behind me – HAAHA! Maher will be very important factor.
Questions from the Crowd
1. I would never take Eric hunting, I would never put a weapon in Eric’s hands. We are pretty good friends and I want to keep it that way.
2. Thank you for all you have done – applause, applause!!! Two times when people say nice things about you: when you retire and when you die. At least I can enjoy this right now, I probably wont enjoy the other very much – ha! I’ve done the best I can. Walk-on program is alive and well. Tried to restore the culture. Fans are behind us again, more unified. I like what Tim Miles is doing in basketball. Pepin and Cook are as good as there is.
3. Fine line. Bob Devaney never came down and told me what to do, but he was always receptive if I wanted to bounce something off him. I don’t try to manager our team, but I talk to Bo at least once a week. He understands that I’ve been there before, I’ve had people write letters to Voice from The Grandstand which fortunately doesn’t exist anymore – hahaha!
4. What was your best year coaching? Best years were really when I had good players – hahaha! Made me a lot smarter coach. 94-95 we were undefeated, I thought I was pretty good coach, then most players went to NFL and I realized, that it wasn’t good coaching, it was good players.
5. Conference realignment – a little disconcerting. Gratified by the way fans have accepted move to Big 10. A bit of a battlefield decision. 6 teams were talking about going to Pac 12. Big 10 represented stability, overall I think a good move. Emphasis on money, TV drives this. Jim Delaney will be doing a new TV contract, so he is looking at the number of TV sets out there. Rutgers represents New York market, Maryland represents DC and Virginia areas. Lots of TV sets involved here. Could go to 16 teams at some point in Big 10. Long term rivalries are disrupted. Don’t know how Big 10 will realign. I would hope that they start over and do it more along geographical distribution. Travel gets expensive. Eventually it should stop. With 4-5 16-team leagues, people will be happy and that’s it.
6. When I first started, I had each unit come to my office. Asked them what I could do for them, I listened, took notes, tried to act on things that made sense. Wrote mission statement together, 225 people. Core values that were important to them, voted on 5 core values that all agreed on. Sent out over email for comment. I try to remind them regularly what it is, what it means. People have to be themselves, they can’t try to be like me. I am interested in direction of things. Generally things are going the right direction now. There are a lot of things that you guys don’t see on the sideline. As long as coach that has players that respect him and like to play for him, that’s a big deal. I don’t try to make anybody in my image. Integrity is #1. I don’t know of a coach we have right now that would bend the rules or lie or try to deceive a player.
Go Big Red! Go Huskers! BeatWisconsin!
Win that Big 10 Championship…….!!!!!!
"I'm a firm believer in the theory that people only do their best at things they truly enjoy. It is difficult to excel at something you don't enjoy." – Jack Nicklaus
I think that was a typo. It was 15 commits from 10 states. They're still looking to add around 10 more guys to this class.
Coach Osborne was gracious, humble, and entertaining. The stories and jokes were great. He told a story about how he used to golf with Devaney quite a bit back in the day. After a while, someone (I think he said John Melton) noticed that the two weren't playing golf together anymore and asked why. Osborne asked Melton if he'd like to play golf with someone who tees up balls in the rough, takes "gimme" putts, and cheats on his scorecard. Melton said he would not want to play with someone like that, and Osborne said, "Well, neither did Bob!"
It was a great time. I'm typically not much of an autograph seeker, and Osborne mentioned in his books in the past that he never really understood the fascination with autographs. However, I felt that the opportunities were going to become rarer as time goes on, so I went to the back of the room, bought a mini-helmet from the Lawlor's table, and asked Osborne to sign it before he went on stage. There was a crowd of folks around him seeking autographs, and I was the next-to-last person he signed for before the "show" started.
Just a really good time. I wish I had been around for these when they first started many, many years ago.
I'll be 62 in a couple of weeks. Even at this age, Tom Osborne is a role model for me.
I just turned 62 in September, an I feel the same as you.
I wrote him an email when he first announced retirement. I said we have grown older together, and I will miss him. I, also, said that I didn't always agree with him, but that all-in-all, it seemed to work out OK.
I can't remember when I was 62 (okay, I have to think about it a bit). I have followed Coach for over 40 years now and don't know how his leaving will affect me yet. I know I will miss seeing him. Wish him the very best.
Here are my notes too. I doubt I got anything that they missed but just in case...
Today at the Big Red Breakfast we had a very special speaker. Tom Osborne joined us this morning and he was as great as ever. He arrived to a standing ovation and he had to gesture to get everyone to sit down. His wit was as clever as always and he had the crowd laughing out loud several times during the morning. I also had a special guest this morning. I brought my grandson Dylan today and this was his first BRB. He was awestruck with the crowd and especially with Coach Tom Osborne. We saw Coach when he first came in and managed to get Dylan’s jersey signed before the crowd gathered. We took some pictures and then sat back and enjoyed listening to Coach Osborne talk one last time at the BRB. I hope Dylan remembers this special event for years and can someday take his grandson to a Big Red Breakfast.
Go Big Red!!
Nate from Huskers Illustrated:
Very important time for recruiting but coaches are busy getting ready for the Big 10 Championship. We have 15 commits from 10 different states. The character of the kids and their leadership is what really stands out. They really fit into Bo’s plan, they will come in and keep the type of no quit leadership that Bo has built so far. If they can win the game this weekend it will be huge and give them a lot of clout. It will be exciting to see what happens in the next few weeks. David Neble (sp?) is deciding between NU and Wisconsin in the next few days. There may be a lot of new targets pop up too if they can win the game. Some may take a look at NU that we haven’t heard of yet. The in home visits that the coaches are doing, they will be leaving from Indy to go on visits. Tommy Johnson and David Bradley are a couple JC recruits that they will be talking to. Priest Willis is arguably the top player in Arizona. Terrell Newby is a running back that Rich has done a great job of recruiting and his having one of the greatest seasons in the state of California. I think there will be a lot more names coming out too. The coaches are busing their tails to get the recruiting done. We could see 10 to 12 more jump in.
It’s not good for you to jump up this early in the morning. This breakfast started at Johnny’s café a long time ago. Is there anyone here that was there then? Wow, you must be about 100 years old. J I would like to thank Dean Krantz and his son for doing this year after year after year.
Sometimes people ask about coaching and if I miss it. Yes I do. I miss the coaching and the players, but not always. I had a player once named Tony Davis, he was a free spirit and we had some run-ins from time to time so I thought maybe some time together might help. One day I asked him if he wanted to go hunting with me. He said yes so I took him with me and stopped at a farm but told Tony to wait in the car. I went up and asked the farmer if we could hunt there and he said yes but he asked if we would put his old mule down for him because he was too old and couldn’t bring himself to do it. So I went back to the car and told Tony that the farmer said we couldn’t hunt there and that I was a horrible coach and Tony was the worst I back he’d seen. So I said let’s shoot his old mule over there. I got my gun and went over and shot the mule. I immediately heard 3 shots come from back by the car. I got back and Tony said “Come on let’s go, I got 3 cows too.” J
One thing I’d like to share is how much more about money the games are now then they used to be. We are really bending ourselves to television now. I heard that 50 some million watched the game of the century way back when. Now you can probably watch 15 or more games over the weekend instead of just one game.
Another difference is the way we have so many more rules to try to level the playing field. So you have rules like you can only have 2 colors of ink on your recruiting stationary and you can’t give kids rides, etc. they are attempting to make the rules more simpler but they make it bigger each time..
On the positive side we have make great strides in the academic side. At one time it was possible to go to school for 4 years and only have 30 or 40 hours toward their degree. So the academics have improved, the health care, etc.
Back in 2007 we had our second losing season in 4 years and it had been 42 years since we had a losing season. So Bo was hired and we have improved that situation. I think it’s important for people to remember that if we can win 10 to 12 games a year, that is good. If you look at the hall of fame coaches you will see that the coaches have 60 – 65% winning percentages. You have to remember that this is a very competitive sport. I really like what Bo has done for the culture. The guys are very well behaved, they do good academically. If you talk to people on the planes they will probably tell you that they are some of the more better behaved teams out there.
Now going back to the Iowa game last week we struggled a bit. I walked out there on the field and I knew it was going to be hard with that wind. Anytime you have to throw against the wind the wind like that it is tough. You would rather throw in the rain and snow then wind like that. Our defense stepped up when we needed them. All in all that was a very good win.
Anytime you start commenting on a football game before it’s played you put yourself in a bad situation. Now remember I’m relatively uninformed even though I go to practices and watch film I can’t tell you who should play, unlike most of you. J
Take my comments with a grain of salt. My perception is that Wisconsin is a very good team and they are well coached. They changed their offensive line coach after the second game and it has been a good move for them. I really like our team, there are some spots where we are exceptional. Our running backs are very good, wide receivers and our quarterback. Anytime you have a guy like that who can run like that and pass well it is tough to defend. Our depth in the defensive line is one are that we are a little thin. Eric Martin is a big player and he’s disruptive. He inspired me to run a little faster out of the tunnel because I knew he was behind me and I didn’t want him to run me over.
Brett Maher made a big kick last week, 52 yards and even though it was with the wind it was swirling and it’s very tough to put it through the uprights with that kind of wind.
Thanks for the compliments. I notice that there are 2 times that people say nice things about you. One is when you retire and the other is when you die. At least I can enjoy this more now then the other. J
I like the direction the program is going. We tried to restore the culture and I like the way we are going and where we are. The basketball program, baseball, football are all headed in the right direction so I’m comfortable with them.
When were your best years?
I’ll tell you my best years were when I had the best players. Then in 94 and 95 we went undefeated so I started thinking maybe I’m a good coach. Then the draft came and all those guys went to the NFL. I realized you’re good when you have good players.
Can you talk about the conference realignment?
I’m a little concerned as you know about that. I think this move to the Big 10 was a good thing and we wanted to get to a stable conference. I think Jim was concerned about the ACC locking up the eastern seaboard so I think he wanted to get in there. Now he hasn’t told me any of these things but I could see him going to 16. It is a little disconcerting because of the travel distances. I would like to see them look at the geographical alignments now. I think it will stop at 16 but we’ll have to wait it out and see.
How do you manage the culture of the team as athletic director?
When I first came to the athletic dept. I had each unit come down and talk to me and I asked them what can I do for them. I took notes and tried to act upon it. Then we got together and wrote a mission statement. I asked them what their most important core values. We finally arrived on 5. We sent it out and asked for comments. As much as we could we got input from the whole athletic department. One thing you have to remember is people have to be themselves. You can ask them to be like me, or Jim Lombardi or anyone else. My concern is that it goes the right direction and so far it has. I don’t try to make anyone in my own image. We don’t have any coach that would cheat or lie to a player and that is important.
Did you ever take Devaney hunting?
No, I didn’t. (He told a joke here but I missed it)
Personally as a coach I thought quickness was critical on defense. So guys like Cameron, if they can hold up against those bigger guys it will be OK.
It’s pretty big that we didn’t let them (Iowa), off the goal line there. They key was that everyone else had occupied the blockers so Will was able to make the play.
It was pretty gratifying to see that after being soft at UCLA it didn’t happen again.
At the end of the game we came with the blitz. They had run the play before 2 plays early. Since they had done the same thing before Whaley jumped the route and intercepted the pass.
Ciante Evans is playing great football this year (as Bo has said). He covers that slot guy.
Braylon Heard had a very productive day. He only carried the ball a few times but I think he averaged about 6 yards a carry.
This is Rex, you can see it all starts with the surge in the offensive line. He carries the ball for a lot of yards after contact. When you have a good running game it opens it up for you. If you can’t run the ball and you look at 2nd and 9 or 3rd and long you are going to have problems.
The zone read gives you one advantage, the guy you read you don’t have to block so it essentially gives you an extra blocker.
At this point you have Pelini playing center. Pensick is also able to play. They actually played most of the game. They did a good job and hopefully they will be good again this week for us.
Somebody once told me it was frightening how much topsoil we are losing each year, but I told that story around the campfire and nobody got scared.
-- Jack Handy
As great as all of these are this one should be required reading for every fan, some great nuggets. TO is the closest I've ever come to actually idolizing a sports figure of any kind. Growing up in small town western NE one of the highlights of my high school years was having TO come out as the surprise guest at Boys State. Growing up 4-5 hours from Lincoln with limited resources I didn't get to go to a lot of games and had to listen to many of them on the radio. Amazingly the TV with the dial channel knob and rabbit ears didn't pick all of the games.