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Interrupting All Programs: Thoughts On The 2019 Football Season

We have a new columnist. He starts with predictions about 2019!

Nebraska v Ohio State Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Allow me to (re) introduce myself, this is Jimmy Sheil wondering if Big Ten fans REALLY think Nebraska wouldn’t have been just as dominant if NU had joined the Big Ten in the 1960s?

I REALLY hate to clown them (and some carpet-bagging local media), but ever wonder what Nebraska’s record versus the Big Ten was as a Big 8/Big 12 member from the start of Bob Devaney in 1962 with a game at Michigan to a 2005 bowl game versus Michigan with Bill Callahan?


No, that is not a misprint. NU was 35-4 versus nine different Big Ten members from 1962-2005 with only one bad loss (2002 versus Penn State with Frank Solich). The other losses were by 1, 4, and 3 points.

A small sample, but the Cornhuskers were 3-1 versus the Big Ten in bowl games and 2-1 versus Michigan with no games in Lincoln. NU did not play Ohio State or Purdue during those years.


In that time Nebraska won five national titles and played in 10 national championship games, and if NU had been in the Big Ten during that time, they would have won five national titles and played in 10 national championship games.

This fall I will be writing about Husker football for CornNation having been in the media in some form since 1999, print or radio, locally (Omaha World-Herald, Nebraska Sports Magazine) or nationally (ESPN The Magazine).

This fall, I will be on the radio Saturday mornings in Omaha with 2001 All Big 12 DT and NFL’er Jeremy Slechta on BOOMER RADIO (1420AM/94.5FM) after having done shows in the past with Tommie Frazier, Matt Davison and Aaron Taylor. I co-hosted “The Legends Radio Show” from 2013 until recently as well.

All those shows dealt a fair amount with what might happen on the field, and tis the season for prediction talk.

Currently, there is a strong consensus the Huskers will finish with a record in the 9-win range…except in Bitterly Jealous, Wis. However, those people are far from rational, and currently very angry people as they know the Badgers’ window to do something significant nationally closed without playing in a national championship game, or even a CFP appearance.

A few thoughts on the Huskers in 2019:

I concur thinking Nebraska will finish well above .500 and have them at 9-3 with a shot at winning the Big 10 West going into the last week.

The only caveat is Heisman candidate QB Adrian Martinez’s health as ideally you would want a 9-3 prediction primarily based on the hats in the trenches.

Also, while NU is coming off to back to back 4-8 years, nobody should be too surprised if Nebraska even goes 10-2 as NU might be favored in every game come kick-off time with the best player on the field, regardless of opponent. The optimism is not just based on having an All-American candidate at the most impactful position with one of the top three offensive coordinators in the country in Frost, but having a few all-conference possibles around him at skill positions with non-freshmen.

However, the offensive line could pop up as in issue with three new starters, but the penalties/issues from last year appeared to be caused by being in the first year of a new system with playing so fast.

And on the OL, I have to say Bellevue’s A.J. Forbes walking on in 2017 and not pouting about not getting an in-state offer is one of my favorite storylines recently with Husker football. The Husker offensive guard is in the 2-deep this fall as he just went out and proved he belonged on scholarship.

Granted, not everybody has the resources to do that, but lots of talk over the years from some local mid-major players about Nebraska not offering and that just makes me roll my eyes. We all know local guys get a “discount” in coaches’ eyes (yes, even Billy C’s), so if they didn’t get an offer, the vast majority of the time, they didn’t deserve one.

Just shut up and play hard at your mid-major school as that is a good accomplishment as NU can’t offer everybody. Or be a DUDE like Forbes and walk-on and prove it on the field!

How close was NU last year to being an 8-4, or better with all those one-score losses with a new coach/schemes? DAMN CLOSE as that did not look like the 2017 Huskers.

I feel if Nebraska had one guy in the front seven in 2018 who was a 1st Team or even a 2nd Team All-Big 10 performer, as NU normally does, it would have been a huge difference in the W-L. Think of the long scoring drives that were being converted by less than a yard, or it seemed, in the fourth quarter of some one-score losses (CU, NW). Or maybe the Wisconsin and Purdue games come down to the final minutes with a stud in the front seven as they were just 10 point and 13-point games respectively in the 3rd quarters with plenty of time to play?

Too bad for NU an impact grad defensive transfer did not happen last summer.

Now this is a “what if” and water under the bridge…but think if a Midwest guy whose dad grew up in Omaha, and I believe visited NU and Pelini in Kansas LB Joe Dineen, Jr., would have grad transferred out of the mess at KU to Nebraska? Despite Husker message board hope, he stayed at KU and was All Big-12 and a 2nd Team All-American for the Jayhawks in 2018.

I remember Penn State driving in comeback attempt in 2011 when Lavonte David just went and made a play on a 4th and 2 to end the game basically. Not an all-world play either, a good play, he just beat his guy and planted somebody for no gain in a crucial situation.

At least in three to four losses games last year, the Huskers needed that play to be made with the game in the balance. Maybe Dineen would have stuffed an Ohio State or Iowa ballcarrier in their late comeback attempt if he was on the field for four quarters?

I bring that up because I’m not sure Nebraska has that guy in 2019. However, the good news is there are more than a couple solid possibles for that All Big 10 guy in LBs Mo Berry and Jo Doman, DE Ben Stille, a senior DL Davis brother, or grad transfer DT Darrion Daniels.

To get to the 9-3, 10-2 range, I feel an all-conference defender has to emerge in the front seven and I especially like Stille for that jump if the junior’s quickness keeps improving in second year of DC Erik Chinander’s system.

Quarterback Noah Vedral does not appear to be the second-best option at QB for the Cornhuskers. From what we have seen in two springs and a fall, it’s Andrew Bunch.

And Vedral should not be on scholarship, in my opinion. Obviously, it can be tricky getting numbers up in a new QB room but dangerous to clog it up with guys who don’t fit the bill. (And stop with I can’t say that about “kids” in college. Kids are seven years old, not twenty. And D-1 athletes know you take the good with the not so-good in getting evaluated by media/fans, especially at a place like Nebraska.)

In two years, it is apparent Vedral does not have the arm to be on scholarship in this offense. A bunch of horizontal passes in a spring game doesn’t change that. I would love to eat my words like one of the better writers, not only locally but nationally, in Tom Shatel and he did in 1997 with Frost. However, it is hard to see his skill set giving Big Ten defenses much trouble.

[Update: Thursday, July 11, 2019 - I have removed a paragraph from this story that does not align with our editorial standards regarding Maurice Washington. I apologize for any offense and we will try to do a better job on sensitive issues in the future. - Jon Johnston]

As I said earlier, each week for CornNation I will be writing about Husker football, whether it’s a column (opinion) like the above or an article. Next up is an Adrian Martinez article comparing and contrasting him with another young Californian born in Fresno, who looked to change the offense with his arm in Steve Taylor in 1986 after a freshman season that had NU fans seeing rings.