1. So, the ACC did the whole "Grant of Rights" thing where it "virtually guarantees" no team is going to leave now, which basically ends conference realignment (some of us at least hope, knock knock). Was Nebraska a big winner or maybe even a loser in the whole thing when it was said and done? Who were the big winners and losers in this entire process?
Mister Mike: I think the answer to the both questions is: we’ll see. I think the SEC is clearly the best conference and made a great move to grab A&M. For the B1G, I can’t say I’m happy with the decision to include Rutgers and Maryland into the conference. People were all like "Yeah! But it fits geographically!!" Seriously? If conference realignment is all about #1 MONEY and #2 Football and #3 MONEY (and it is..) then let’s get over this notion that conferences have to be geographical (and drop this "what’s best for the student-athlete" stuff) and just call it what it is...a business.
I understand from an academic standpoint that Maryland and Rutgers fit, but if the B1G truly wants to make a dent in the dominance of the SEC in football, then they’re going to have to look at schools that may not fit geographically or academically. It’s all about what conferences, and the B1G in particular are willing to give up. Personally, I’d love to see the B1G sweep in and steal an FSU or UNC from the ACC or get ND to jump on board. Hell, I’d LOVE to see Texas as a part of the conference, because that would increase both athletics and academics dramatically within the B1G. I know some of you would grab the torches and pitchforks and show up at my door for saying that, but it would be a great thing for the conference.
Andy K: My 1st thought is that it doesn’t guarantee "virtually guarantee" no one’s leaving anymore than any of the other conference contacts with "ironclad" buyouts and penalties. By the way, people who use "too many" quotes are tools. Schools who want to leave will say they’re leaving and work out some compromise payoff to get their rights back same as always has been done in lieu of paying the huge exit fees. Is a conference ever going to try and make someone stay that wants to go?
Jon: The big winner is Nebraska! We’re in the Big Ten, settled in, maybe not all warm and comfy yet, but we don’t have to worry about losing our position in a power conference that makes a lot of money! The big loser is all those teams still stuck in the ACC whether they really want to be there or not! (This was my perky answer!)
Brandon: For every contract, there’s a loophole. If a school wants out badly enough, it’ll take an initial hit for long-term profit. I don’t think we’ve seen the end of conference expansion, but the Grant of Rights should keep it at bay only as long as attorneys find a way to deem it against a school’s best interests.
In terms of winners, the SEC made a great move with the snag of A&M. Missouri wasn’t going to regularly threaten anyone in their former conference. Don’t look for that trend to change.
The SEC’s already bringing in money, but Delany did himself a disservice by trying to keep athletic and academic performance on the same level, if not putting the latter above the former.
Unless he and the B1G brass know that they’re getting a large chunk of change from the Baltimore and New York areas, this could turn out to be a bland expansion for the time being.
Brian: Winners? The B1G, Nebraska, the Pac12, Maryland’s bank account, and anyone that could join the new Big East. Losers? The Big 12 teams not named Texas (especially West Virginia), the ACC teams that don’t wanna be there (whichever ones certain West Virginia bloggers tell you are going to bolt, LOL), and fans that want to go to their favorite teams away games.
Is it all over? Probably, but never say never. And I would say that is isn’t just what Jim Delany wants to do. Mike Slive could get to 16 tomorrow with a wink and a nudge to Florida State and either Oklahoma school. It’s there for who wants to make the dive. Now, that’s not to say we should probably have some stability since the whole playoff is coming, but stability hasn’t ever been a good reason to stop before.
2. For the good job it seems to do with Football and Basketball, the Big Ten Network seemingly hasn’t even tried to improve their Baseball coverage since Nebraska joined. If you could make any changes to BTN, what would you want to do, and how do you think you could get the B1G schools to help you implement them?
Andy K.: Is the demand even there outside of Nebraska? I’ve got to believe that they would televise more if they thought the viewers would tune in accordingly. Hopefully, the jump from 15th to 6th in conference strength will get the B1G more than their normal 1-2 NCAA entries. Success is the best way to drum up the viewers.
Mister Mike: Andy’s correct. The most effective way to increase viewership for baseball coverage on BTN is to get more teams into regionals, super-regionals, and of course the CWS. That’s not going to happen until B1G schools take baseball more seriously and start scheduling teams that are big time, like Erstad has done. Although, I could make a good argument that we jumped into the deep end of the pool without a life vest on early in the season. That schedule was brutal.
Jon: I sent an email to Elizabeth Conslik, VP of Communications and University Relations about this a little after the BTN released their baseball schedule. Her response was that they were televising as many games as they had before, plus they were streaming more on the Big Ten Digital Network. (I owe her a response that’s been sitting in my drafts folder since February... I’m so slow sometimes.)
The problem for Nebraska fans is that contracts are still split between streaming on Huskers NSide and BTN.com (the Big Ten digital network), so it’s difficult to justify buying a subscription to both. As time goes on that will straighten itself out and we’ll see more Nebraska baseball online. And I’ll get back to Elizabeth about our perspective of wanting to see more baseball televised.
Reality is - most of the Big Ten doesn’t care that much about baseball, although you have seen investments in facilities (Minnesota, Purdue) that signify Big Ten schools know they have to put something into their programs to attract any sort of talent. You’ve also seen some schools (Purdue, Nebraska, Indiana, for example) increase their schedule strength. The RPI changes this season may change whether or not more than one Big Ten team gets selected into the NCAA tourney.
What would I change, though? The easy answer is SCHEDULE MORE TOUGH TEAMS. If that’s what you’re thinking I point you back to an article I did last year with Purdue’s head coach Doug Schreiber regarding Big Ten scheduling.
The biggest change will come when Big Ten teams win against higher profile teams. Indiana this year, Nebraska against Arkansas. More of that, please.
Brandon: Jon summed it up well. Even though Erstad’s challenge didn’t look so well initially, taking down a No. 10 SEC school back-to-back on the same day looked incredibly impressive. Obviously, Nebraska needs to show that wasn’t a fluke (and hasn’t really been doing a great job of that thus far), but get more southern schools on the schedule and you’ll give viewers a reason to turn in.
Brian: What Brandon forgot is for the sweep of Arkansas, there was an asskicking in Cali and then the debacle in Austin. Hindsight, I would say that the schedule was TOO much, but we didn’t also know that Kyle Kubat was going to be out half the year and the bats would be covered in bubble wrap. The sweep by Kansas State and Friday’s loss to Creighton basically means for a bid, Nebraska has to get violently hot and lose MAYBE 1 to 2 more games MAX. Otherwise, they’re going to have to drop the hammer at Target Field. It can happen, just takes some hot bats and a BULLPEN that IS doing well.
However, as far as the BTN and Baseball come together, if the Big 10 wants to be taken seriously, maybe there should be a conceded effort for more televising baseball earlier in the season, and the in-season non-conference series, like Kansas State. Why was that game only available on NSide and not on BTN? Why does it seem that the televising of any baseball doesn't start till the conference slate starts? I mean, it's not like the conference owns the station or anyth.... wait, they do?
What to do? Well, as I look at channel 610 on DirecTv right now, I see THREE open side channels that work pretty damn well when football season is around. You can't seem to use one of them once in a while for baseball during basketball season? Fox does own part of BTN, so couldn't you roll some of those games to local FSN/Root channels? Maybe that's not possible, but it sure beats the alternative of saying you're doing as much as you have and then screaming "HEY DAMNIT WE WANNA BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY IN BASEBALL BUT YOU CAN'T SEE A LOT OF IT CAUSE WELL I DUNNO".
3. Not a good year for Nebraska in the NFL Draft (and seemingly, the whole conference). What is the issue here both in Lincoln and across the conference this season, knowing the Draft in itself isn’t great in 2013?
Mister Mike: Simply put: football has been terrible in the B1G lately. It just has. We were maybe the fifth best conference behind the SEC, Pac 12, Big XII, and the ACC. It’s about recruiting and about getting the right coaches into the conference that are willing to shake things up a bit. Urban Meyer and Brady Hoke entering the conference couldn’t have come at a better time. Screw this "B1G gentleman’s agreement" crap (remember that Bielema?). Maybe after Urbz and Hoke run what amounts to a colon separating prison train on the rest of the conference, maybe, just maybe Delany and the rest of the schools will wake up and realize that we’re going to have to up our game substantially if we want to remain relevant past the next TV contract negotiation.
But in all seriousness, the B1G is going to have to approach football more like what it truly is: a business, to claw its way back up. It may be unfortunate, but that’s the truth. So if the schools and the B1G aren’t willing to go that route, then really, the discussion itself is moot.
Jon: Wisconsin center Travis Frederick was selected 31st by the Dallas Cowboys, so you had a Big Ten guy go in the first round, so there’s that. Part of it is timing, maybe part is style of play. Michigan tackle Taylor Lewan elected to return for his senior year, otherwise he would have been a high draft pick.
Eight wide receivers were taken last year, so this year it was going to be a down year for putting receivers into the league. 11 offensive lineman were taken, and seven defensive linemen.
You had Russell Wilson and Kirk Cousins taken as quarterbacks last season, so you’ve got two teams starting over at that position.
I could care less about putting players into the NFL. I don’t see it as a sign of anything more than fitting into the style of football they play, and if Big Ten teams don’t have players other than linemen who fit, I don’t see it as an indication of anything more than our guys can be good college players, but maybe not fit into the professional league.
And the Big Ten sucks. Hard for me to say that, even though I said it for years. The right coaches and recruiting are probably wishful thinking. The demographics simply aren’t there. The South will own college football for years to come.
Andy K.: Yeah, I have to disagree with Jon on caring less about putting players in the NFL. With the exception of rag-armed option QB’s and maybe underused receivers, talent finds its way to the NFL at just about every other position on offense as well as the entire defense. It’s been established here that the Big 10 sucks. I think fairly solid proof of that theory can be evidenced in the fact that the SEC had 12 1st round draft picks and the Big 10 had one. Who barely snuck in.
Now if you want the quick fix, the blueprint is getting it done at Ohio St. Urban Meyer will promise every kid that they will start for four years and be drafted. The booster money will find them as well. Now study Urban while you can, because year one of a stint that will be lucky to go four has already come & gone. History shows that Urban will find greener pastures (Utah, BGU) or lose control of a team with 22 starting spots promised to 70 recruits and fake chest pains (Florida) and move along shortly. But while in Columbus, he will win & win big.
Brandon: Starting locally, you have to look past X’s and O’s. The S&C program is told where players are supposed to be physically, and to be blunt, James Dobson isn’t getting it done. Cameron Meredith and Eric Martin weren’t going to be third-rounders, but being nearly-assured a place in the lower rounds wasn’t out of the question.
Baker Steinkuhler, considered a potential All-American offensive tackle and at the very least a serviceable defensive tackle can’t find himself a home in the fourth or fifth round?
Yes, coaching plays a part in where these guys get picked up in the draft, but they have to be properly chiseled, and I don’t see that in this draft class. I don’t think we’ll see it next year, either.
In terms of putting guys in the NFL, it’s a nice recruiting stat, but it’s more for bragging rights than anything else, especially among teams consistently in the top 20.
The B1G’s 2013 class is average. If I’m a general manager, I don’t see many worthwhile risks in this conference. Maybe some steals later on (Sup, Rex?), but no one that stands out as a must-have.
Brian: Lets cut the mustard with Rex right now: odds say he’s not going to get drafted. Which, in all honesty, wouldn’t be the worst thing. The Cowboys want him but don’t want to use a pick for him, as a lot of local guys have been reporting that he’s a Priority FA. Outside of that? Yea, the Nebraska (and most of the B1G) picks have been as scarce as unused Daiquiri mix in New Orleans. But hey, Arkansas-Pine Bluff had more picks in the first 3 rounds than Michigan and Nebraska combined.
Does it say a lot? Well, yea it does. It says that the Big 10 needs to step their game up and forget about "gentleman’s agreements" and wanting to be the smartest teams on the field with the best sportsmanship sometimes and just have a conference that is good top to bottom. And that’s not to say those things aren’t important, they are, but I didn’t remember hearing about Nebraska having a big APR and keeping players out of trouble in Lincoln as kids from Florida, Alabama, Wisconsin, and the SEC in general were drafted.
4. Use your imagination here for a moment: Let’s say you’re in charge of improving the gameday experience for Nebraska fans in Memorial Stadium. What things could/would you change and what do you not touch no matter what? Everything reasonable is in play, putting a dome on the stadium is an example of things not in play.
Mister Mike: First thing: change the Tunnel Walk music. Sirius has run it’s course. Seriously folks. It’s long, long past time. I know that’s blasphemy to most, but it would be one of the most effective ways to sell Nebraska. There are several other tracks we could use that would blow that stadium out that run the gamut from Hip Hop, Rock, Metal. Sirius felt out-dated back in the mid to late nineties when I went to school there, but now? Yeah...time for a change. I’d also move our student section right up next to the sideline and expand it.
Andy K.: Blasphemer. Next, you’ll want to outlaw grills and alcohol. I can’t even see straight after that heresy. Jesus. Let me think.
OK, got it. More young, quality whores wandering the hotels & tailgates and a willingness of the local constabulary to look the other way. There’s more RV’s in Lincoln on gameday than the population of Fremont. Let’s get the damn things rocking and pump some more life into the local economy while we’re at it. Hell, some of those wild-eyed old bastards who’ve held season tickets for 30 years, will roll the dice on a commando dip and then take that ensuing chlamydia back to Howells, Gresham or some forlorn place and wear it like a goddamn badge of honor. Let’s make this happen.
Brian: Man, both Jon and Brandon seemed to stop above and didn’t fill this part out. LAWD.
ANYHOO... to the task at hand. How do you improve it? Well, lets look at a couple of things.
Entertainment: Lose Sirius? Eh, I dunno. It’s a staple, albeit a old tired staple. Should it be replaced? Of course, but then again you have people in East Stadium that still think that you should stay seated when Taylor Martinez goes for 80 yards and a touchdown, so whatever. I would say find better music for before the game and during your breaks. Machinehead by Bush and such are SLIGHTLY old and there are catchy things you can get, give it a try!!
Food: This is where I kinda go nuts. I’ve seen a few stadiums the last few years go through more choices on both sides of the health spectrum. I mean, living near Arlington, I can go get one of those Boomstick hot dogs for $26, but for each choice like that, there are things like fresh fruit and such. It is a school doing concessions, but you now have 90 thousand people starting in August, and they will be receptive to more than just Vals and Runzas and such. BBQ is good, so would be seasonal things like chili and cinnamon rolls (HATERS TO THE LEFT ON THIS ONE) and other things. Do you have to reinvent the concessions? Not at all. However, giving more choices mean more people come in and eat them the 90 minutes before kickoff and the 20 minutes at halftime. Outsource it, give certain things a trial run, just show that you’re willing to do something.
Student section? Fill what you have, then worry about where your seats are.
Finally, I wouldn’t think it be the worst thing if the AD’s office allowed season ticket holders (and there are a lot I hear) put semi-permanent seatbacks on those seats through the season. Renting the same thing time after time is just dumb and such (to me, at least). Charge the extra and get the whole season if you want. Other schools do it, and it saves a TON of labor at the end of each game, since you would collect seatbacks once at the end of the season instead of every game.
I have more (WAY WAY more)... but that’s another column for another day.