LINCOLN, NE - OCTOBER 29: Nebraska Cornhusker head coach Bo Pelini reacts to a penalty during their game against the Michigan State Spartans at Memorial Stadium October 29, 2011 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nebraska defeated Michigan State 24-3. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
Up next on the ITBUUS slate, the Nebraska Cornhuskers. It was this time last year that we were welcoming them to the Big Ten, and what better way to find out how life after a year as a B1G member is than by interviewing the fine writing staff at Corn Nation, SB Nation's Nebraska blog? How do Nebraska fans feel about Bo Pelini's total body of work? Who would win in a showdown between the 1994 Penn State and Nebraska teams at the Rose Bowl? Will Nebraska's hoops team someday be a pleasant distraction from football? These answers and more, if you'll read on...
So, how is life in the B1G neighborhood a year later? What has been the most satisfying part about the move, and what do you miss most about the Big 12/Big 8 days?
Aaron Musfeldt : I still feel like we are in the transitioning phase. The B1G is not quite home yet. Otherwise, life here in Nebraska is hot and dry. There won't be much corn to husk this year. The most satisfying part about the move so far has been the Women's Volleyball team taking the B1G crown in year one. Other satisfying moments include beating Iowa into submission on the day after thanksgiving and breaking Ohio State's heart in Lincoln. What do I miss most about the Big 12? Not much. The Big 8? Beating all our little brothers into submission and our annual game with Oklahoma.
Billgrip: I remember the first time I heard that Nebraska might be moving to the Big 10, I just thought it was silly. Why on earth would we want to be in that slow, overrated conference filled with teams that were good about 100 years ago. But with time those misconceptions melted away as our hatred for Texas and all things Big 12 grew in 2010. After being in the "B1G neighborhood" for a year, I feel like we fit right in. It's a conference with incredible fan bases that appreciate tradition and demand excellence. I feel like Nebraska was made to be in the Big 10. What do I miss most about the Big 12? I'd say curb-stomping the Big 12 north teams every year and seeing their fan bases whine about it.
dpm917: It was exciting, if nothing else. It was crazy to play Ohio St, Wisconsin, Michigan and Penn St. It was fun to play Indiana and Michigan St. in basketball. The Penn St. volleyball matches were wild. I don't know how satisfying it is at this point. One of the biggest reasons the move was made was for the stability it provided. It seems like there's been more upheaval and insanity in the conference since we've joined than anyone could have predicted.
I miss a couple of things from the Big 12. On the football side of things, frankly, the style of play was more entertaining. The B1G is much more brutish and in the trenches, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I'd been more accustomed to watching a wide open, high flying, exciting style of play. The B1G may be moving in that direction, but it's got a ways to go before it's on that level. I also miss the Kansas basketball games and Big 12 baseball.
Salt Creek and Stadium: I LOVE THIS PLACE. No regrets about leaving the Big 12 (none) and the Big 8 has been dead a long, long time.
Taylor Martinez: The kid undoubtedly brings back memories of all the great option QBs from Nebraska football past. It is disappointing however, to not see him preparing to throw the shot put in London right now...Seriously though, has his throwing motion improved to the point where Husker fans aren't holding their collective breath every time he drops back to pass? Also, will the vaunted 'Blackshirts' defense return to form after taking a step back last season?
Cheeseandcorn: I actually don't think Husker fans are nearly as preoccupied with Taylor Martinez's throwing motion as the rest of world seems to be. We've accepted the fact that it's fugly and always will be, and all we really care about is whether it can actually deliver the ball to receivers when and where they need it to. We saw some evidence last year that that's improving, so I'm kind of an optimist in that regard. Where I'm concerned is the continued development of Martinez's pocket presence and decision-making skills. I think that's the make-or-break aspect of his game this year, much more so than his throwing accuracy.
Aaron: Keep hearing that he has improved. We'll see this fall. He really does alright when he can drop back and has time to throw. He gets into trouble when the O-Line can't hold and time and time again there are defenders in the backfield. At that point, he pretty much becomes deer-in-the-headlights. If the line is good and has the depth to go all year, he should be fine. As far as the option, we don't see a whole lot of it anymore. Really need a big durable QB to run that and Taylor is more of a sprinter.
Billgrip: As long as it gets there it doesn't have to look pretty...right? When it comes to decision-making, I think that there was more improvement last year than he gets credit for. After throwing 3 interceptions in the conference opener against Wisconsin, he only threw 3 more the rest of the season. Even so, Martinez is never going to be a pocket passer, and that‘s okay. I'm really hoping he regains the breathtaking speed he displayed as a freshman before his injuries.
Will the vaunted Blackshirts' defense return to form? With Bo Pelini as head coach, I'd never count them out. But this year they need a couple guys to step up and be playmakers, especially on the defensive line. Overall, there's a lot of talent and potential on that side of the ball and I'm optimistic that this year's blackshirt's end up being pretty good.
Salt Creek and Stadium: I'm really upset at Martinez' throwing motion. I mean, shotput usually has a rotation into the throw - Martinez just kind of lobs it. I hope that's what he worked on this summer.
And the Blackshirts will be fine. They won't allow more than 250 yards a game this season. Pelini's back in charge and our new assistants sound like they're fitting in just fine.
What is the Husker faithful's consensus on Bo Pelini, thus far? While he seems to have done a good job of erasing the nightmare that was the Bill Callahan era, it also seems as if there are grumblings over the fact that Nebraska has lost four games in each of his four seasons coached (and we all know that four-loss seasons aren't tolerated in Lincoln).
Cheeseandcorn: I'm not sure there is a consensus on Bo Pelini right now among Husker fans. They seem to run the gamut pretty evenly from "He's gotta be on the hot seat" to "He's on track to become the next Tom Osborne." I'm not as concerned with the four-loss seasons as most people (who seem to be longing for a time in college football that just doesn't exist anymore), but I am concerned with the way they lose those four games each year - specifically, the incredible inconsistency and lack of discipline from a coach who supposedly specializes in consistency and discipline. In other words, I'm really sick of the annual Pelini Hairball, and I want it to stop.
Aaron: I like Bo. He runs a clean program, graduates kids and prepares them for life. I don't need a national title every year, just the opportunity to watch my team play as well as they can. I'm happy with 9-10 win seasons with the occasional run at something bigger. It would be nice if he could get over the lose-one-game-a-year-he-shouldn't hump.
Billgrip: Haters gonna hate. I am a Bo-liever. Yes, his angry eyes can melt a human soul, but overall I think that his "volcanic" personality is exaggerated. I just can't see the guy being fired for winning 9 or 10 games a year, no matter how much people whine about that not being good enough. When it comes down to it, Bo is a passionate coach that is still learning and growing. He wants to win championships, but more importantly wants a clean program that does things the right way. You just can't fire a guy like that if he's winning 9 or 10 games a season, and if you do...you'll end up being the athletic director at Pitt.
dpm917: I'm with Cheeseandcorn on this one, I don't think there is a concensus. He's done some good things, but there have also been too many head scratching decisions.
Salt Creek and Stadium: Bo's not Tom Osborne, which is apparently very difficult for a lot of vocal internet people to accept. He doesn't play Oklahoma and the 6 wins every year and he plays in the modern game of football where recruiting, exposure and winning are king. For Pelini to face all that PLUS all the transitionary stuff of fixing what Callahan broke and yet manage to win 9 to 10 games a season is remarkable. And to run a clean program with a good focus on academics (his teams' GPAs are the highest ever for Nebraska football), I don't see how a Nebraska fan can fault that. I really can't.
Pretend for a moment, the BCS existed in 1994 and PSU and Nebraska met at the Rose Bowl for the national championship. How awesome would it have been, and who do you think would've prevailed? (Sorry, couldn't resist)
Billgrip: Nebraska, of course.
Husker Mike: I'll stick with the answer I gave Off Tackle Empire last year: Nebraska would win, probably by two touchdowns.
Aaron: It would have been a great match up that probably would have come down to who made the fewest mistakes. Most of that season Nebraska's top two QB's were out with injury/blood clots. However, the Nebraska-Miami game that year was a classic and I'd hate to lose that memory. Watching Warren Sapp and Ray Lewis suck wind in the fourth quarter while we jammed the ball down their throat was very satisfying. Especially after all those tough losses to Miami in the Orange bowl in the 80's and early 90's. That being said, I'm pretty sure that both ‘94 Nebraska and ‘94 Penn State would have taken down ‘97 Michigan.
One thing Nebraska and PSU share in common aside from their strong football heritage is being historical afterthoughts in basketball. That may be on the verge of changing, though. Give us your two cents on the Tim Miles hire and what expectations are for this year's edition of Nebrasketball.
Cheeseandcorn: I'm more of a Wisconsin basketball fan than a Nebrasketball guy [dodges tomatoes], but I'll throw in my two cents. I think the road to respectability is going to be very long and very hard for Husker hoops, in part because the Big Ten is much, much tougher than the Big 12 was. Miles will be a good coach for the program, I think, but he won't be able to keep them out of the cellar in the near future.
Billgrip: I just want Nebraska to be respectable in men's basketball. It would make the winter time around here a lot less boring. We can definitely root for our women's basketball team though, they seem to have things figured out. They've got a chance to be a top 10 team this year.
dpm917: As the basketball writer for Corn Nation, I'll take this one. The expectations for this year are low. Coach Miles set them very, very low in his introductory presser. And if you look at the roster, he's right. Nebrasketball returns one post player who would probably really excel as a role player but was asked to be much more than that. That's about it. They did redshirt two players last year (one by choice and one due to injury) who will likely be starters and would have played rather significant roles last year had they not sat the year out. They'll play a few kids this year too, so experience won't be on Nebraska's side this year, neither will talent. The talent cupboard isn't empty, it's just light. It'll be a tough go in 2012-13.
Where Coach Miles does have Nebraska basketball fans if not excited, at least hopeful, is on the recruiting side of things. He's been able to get a higher caliber of recruit to come in and visit than Nebraska has seen in a long time. There are a variety of reasons for that. He's added a handful of young, energetic and connected coaches. They've been in on some of the top recruits in the country, mostly for the 2014 classes and beyond. It remains to be seen whether they can get any of them to take the plunge and Nebraska fans will be skeptical that any of them will until they do.
Another reason for excitement is a significant upgrade in facilities unlike anything Nebraska has made to basketball in decades at best. The Hendricks Practice Facility for men's and women's basketball opened last year to rave reviews from players, coaches, opponents, recruits and the Chicago Bulls. Also, for the 2013-14 season, Nebraska will be opening a shiny new arena. Nebraska will have a small window of opportunity to take advantage of their new shiny toys. Coach Miles is doing everything he can do do just that. The final reason is Coach Miles himself. He's charismatic, engaging, passionate and savvy (at least that's how he comes across in all the interviews I've seen with him). Husker fans are hoping he'll be basketball's Bob Devaney. He's not just won at every level he's been at, he's built from the ground up and won. He's a grinder. It just remains to be seen whether or not he can close the deal with the recruits he's in on and whether or not he can, you know, coach at this level. I think most people are cautiously optimistic about what we have in Coach Miles, but it's been so long since we've even had a relevant team to cheer for that it's going to take more than just a wish and a prayer.
Okay, okay, both schools also feature kickass women's volleyball teams. Give us a synopsis on what to expect from this year's Lady Huskers.
Cheeseandcorn: I haven't been able to follow Husker volleyball as closely as I would have liked lately (a casualty of living in Texas), but I will say this: It's been a ton more fun rooting for kickass players like Megan Hodge during the Olympics than rooting against them. U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!
Aaron: I expect them to be good this year. I think the B1G is a tougher league than the Big XII. The ladies seemed worn out by the end of the season (2nd round loss in NCAA's to a team they used to paste in the Big XII). It will be tough to win the league outright as often as they won the Big XII. I expect that most decades will see 4-5 Nebraska titles, 4-5 PSU titles and 2-ish "Insert other team here" titles.
Salt Creek and Stadium: All I know is that I really hope Nebraska doesn't lose to K-State in the playoffs again.
Cheeseandcorn: A gentleman and a scholar.
Billgrip: Gatorade baths
Salt Creek and Stadium: Impossible expectations for Pelini
Cheeseandcorn: I thought of a different answer first, but it probably would have been out of bounds for this question.
Billgrip: Instant Replay
Husker Mike: Not a catch.
Aaron: Became a great man because of that catch
Jon Johnston: NO GOOD CHEATING SON OF A BITCH!
dpm917: Good call, Alex.
Salt Creek and Stadium: Showing my age but I have no idea. I think I'm supposed to yell angry things.
Cheeseandcorn: Thinking about Lawrence Phillips just makes me sad. That is all.
Mike: Waste of a human being.
Aaron: Dumb shit. Am I allowed to say that?
dpm917: Best RB I've ever seen, wasted talent.
Billgrip: Some people can't be helped.
Jon: The albatross around Tom Osborne's neck
Salt Creek and Stadium: Jokes given in poor taste
Mike: Touchdown. Touchdown. Touchdown.
Aaron: Heart and Soul
Billgrip: Touchdown Nebraska!
dpm917: Mr. George, I believe you have something that belongs to me...
Salt Creek and Stadium: WHY ISN'T HE IN THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME YET? Also, Nebraska voting bots > Iowa voting bots
Cheeseandcorn: LOL NEBRASKETBALL
dpm917: Polish Rifle!
Billgrip: Wait, Nebrasketball once had a someone who went on to play in the NBA?
Jon: How many tackles can one man break?
Salt Creek and Stadium: I don't know but I think Jon is lost.
Cheeseandcorn: Bawwwwwwww I miss those guys.
Aaron: I missed the Nebraska-Oklahoma game in the Big 8, but I don't care about them anymore. Once the Big XII formed, they showed that they were more interested in Texas anyway.
dpm917: "He just tore ‘em loose from their shoes"!
Billgrip: True rival
Jon: Barry Switzer! Sooner Magic! Ruined Thanksgivings! The Game Of the Century! And then my kids tell me to STFU they've already heard those stories 1,013 times and they want me to live in the present. They're right, you know.
Salt Creek and Stadium: Texas' hat.
And finally (sigh) tell us how you see the PSU-Nebraska game playing out...
Cheeseandcorn: Sorry, I think next year's just gonna be rough for you guys, so I think it just makes sense to pick a Husker win. Pelini could always cough up one of his patented hairballs for this game, though, so Penn State's definitely got a shot.
Aaron: I haven't given up on Penn State's season yet. Too many unknowns. I'll give you a prediction the week before.
dpm917: I think they could still win some games this year. I think it will be a year or two before the full impact of the sanctions and scholarship reductions will be felt, although with the players starting to leave for this year, that could change things. I expect this year's team to play with a chip on its shoulder, I don't know how long that will help them as the season wears on. I think by the time Penn St. comes to Lincoln they'll be physically and emotionally worn down. I expect Nebraska to win this game, but as C&C mentioned, Nebraska has had a WTF game ever year at home, Penn St. is as good a candidate for that as any.
Billgrip: Honestly, who knows. At this point in time I could see Penn State going anywhere between 8-4 and 4-8. The game is in Lincoln, so you've got that working against you. It probably depends more on how the previous games have gone. If we manage to beat Wisconsin and Michigan in the previous two home games, as well as a win at Michigan State the week before, then it will be perfect timing for the annual crapping the bed home game loss for the Huskers against a team they should beat.
Salt Creek and Stadium: Nebraska wins but Penn State still puts together a respectable 7-8 win season.