As the spring season comes to an end, I couldn't help but note that the 2014-15 season was a rather disappointing one in most of the major sports. Sure, the women's bowling team claimed a national championship, but after that, there was a bunch of disappointments. Let's review, starting with the Huskers' flagship sport:
The Huskers started the season 8-1, and arguably could have been 9-0 if Alonzo Moore could have snagged that late pass against Michigan State. Things were actually looking good in Madison early on, with the Huskers grabbing a 17-3 second quarter lead on the Badgers. Then Melvin Gordon happened. By halftime, Nebraska had lost their lead. By the end of the third quarter, Bo Pelini had pretty much lost his job as the Badgers were on their way to their eighth unanswered touchdown. Minnesota overcame a double-digit deficit in the second half to upset Nebraska in Lincoln, then the Huskers needed a couple of De'Mornay Pierson-El miracle punt returns to get to overtime against Iowa. In the summer, Pelini talked about finishing the season in the college football playoff, but by Christmas, Pelini found himself back home in Youngstown, OH instead of Pasadena or New Orleans.
Tim Miles' group started the season ranked in the top 25, but didn't stay there long. A road loss to Rhode Island knocked them out of the rankings, and back-to-back losses to Creighton and Incarnate Word set off alarms throughout the state. Nebraska entered the Big Ten schedule at 8-4, but limped through the Big Ten at 5-14.
After sweeping Texas, Nebraska was ranked in the top 20 and looked every bit a regional host after a 23-7 start. But going 11-16 to finish the season meant that Nebraska not only didn't make the NCAA tournament, they almost didn't even make the Big Ten Tournament.
The volleyball team finished the season with a strong run through the NCAA tournament after going 14-6 in conference play. Upset Washington in Seattle to make the Elite Eight, but then got swept by BYU, who eventually fell to Penn State in the national championship match. On the sand this spring, the women lost to Hawai'i and Southern Cal to open the season, then winning six straight to finish 6-2.
Connie Yori's team was putting together a pretty respectable season until junior point guard Rachel Theriot injured her ankle in early February. Without Theriot, the Huskers went 4-7 down the stretch, bowing out in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament. They did earn a #9 seed in the NCAA tournament, losing to #8 seed Syracuse 72-69 to end the season.
Rhonda Revelle's team had another strong season, going 35-23 and finishing second in the Big Ten. LSU, who eventually would qualify for the Women's College World Series, eliminated the Huskers in the Baton Rouge regional.
Track and Field
Both the men's and women's track teams finished second in the Big Ten outdoor championships and are currently participating in the NCAA's West Preliminary Round. The men's team won the Big Ten's indoor championship in March, while the women finished in a tie for fifth place.
The men's and women's squad both finished 13th in the Big Ten. (Enough said.)
The men finished 11th out of 12 teams in the Big Ten, while the women finished 13th out of 14 Big Ten teams.
The men finished a disappointing seventh at the Big Ten championships, while the women finished third.
The women's rifle team finished fourth at the NCAA championships.
Swimming and Diving
The women's swimming and diving team finished ninth at the Big Ten championships.
The Huskers finished 14-1 in dual meets, but then finished seventh at the Big Ten championships. The Huskers rebounded to finish ninth at the NCAA tournament.
The highlight of the year in sports season has to be the bowling team that won a national championship. Softball and volleyball had strong seasons as well. But the most common thread throughout all of Nebraska's sports in 2014-15 was poor finishes. It was a problem that started with football, but also affected both basketball programs and baseball. That's not to say that the reasons were the same (they weren't); just that the results of the biggest programs in Lincoln were eerily similar.