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Jon’s Postlife Crisis: Eric Sorenson - 2020 Nebraska Baseball

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A national baseball writer joins me to talk about our beloved Huskers

Jon Johnston

Eric Sorenson is a national baseball writer for D1Baseball.com, a site that is the “greatest college baseball site in the history of college baseball.” That’s a direct quote. Sorenson has been around college baseball for a long time now. He’s an expert. He knows what’s happening. His nickname is “Stitchhead”, that’s how much he knows.

Eric and I discuss the 2020 Nebraska baseball season.

We discuss:

  • Whether Darin Erstad’s time at Nebraska was a success
  • Will Bolt and expectations for his first season
  • Penn State and why they’re an “anchor” on the conference
  • The rise of the Big Ten in the college baseball landscape

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About the Transcript

Keep in mind that the following is a transcript. . I use a service that automates the first draft. As much as “artificial intelligence” is included in the description of every bit of technology these days, it’s clear that computers understanding human speech is more artificial than intelligent. The transcript has been edited to take out human speech bites, you know, um, okay, uh, but it’s not been edited to be an “article”.

Transcript

Jon Johnston Welcome to Jon’s Postlife crisis. I am your host Jon Johnston, founder of CornNation. com Your Nebraska Cornhuskers site that’s thrilled to be here. Today we’re talking with college baseball writer for D1baseball.com, Eric Sorenson, and we’re going to find out about our beloved Nebraska Cornhuskers. How are you today, Eric?

Eric Sorenson

Doing good Jon. Thanks for having me on. I’m glad somebody is out there concentrating on Nebraska baseball. We’re a long ways away from the John Sanders era. So I’m glad to see you’re doing stuff like this Jon. Keep up the good Work, buddy.

Jon Johnston Well, we do we do have a guy that covers Nebraska baseball on our site, Keith Yaple. I try to fill in for him. Let’s we’re going to start out asking about the Darin Erstad, era he resigned after the tragic loss against Oklahoma State, which we were down to one pitch we could have moved on and it didn’t happen. Then Erstad resigned was kind of shocking. Even though every season Nebraska fans go fire Tony Silva fire Darren Erstad. Would you consider the Darren erstad era in Nebraska a success?

Eric Sorenson

Yeah, I think so. I mean, it wasn’t it wasn’t the same as as the Van Horn there obviously. Didn’t take our boys to Omaha, for the college will through the June but, you know, it’s not like the aforementioned John Sanders. I hate to bring up the old ghosts. But you know, you didn’t want it to regress back to where they were losing seasons every year, you know, every other year or something like that. So, at least kept it consistent. Made the NCAA is a couple of times. And, you know, he was he was Tom Osborne’s pic he was to his boy, and, and so I think he did, he did a fine job. Again, we weren’t winning national titles there in Lincoln, but we weren’t scraping the bottom of the barrel kind of kept the recruiting up and all that stuff. So I was never, I never had a problem with their in their stead as as coach and I was sorry to see him go. Just because he’s also kind of iconic. You know, it’s like if Tommy Frazier had taken over as head coach of the football team, and you didn’t, you would want Tommy Frazier and the end the big red to go 2-10 every year or something like that. And so it was good to see you there and keep the keep the Nebraska baseball program at a sort of elevated pace. Again, we’re not talking national champions. He kept it going and I, and I was glad that it turned out that way. Sorry to see him leave.

Jon Johnston Did you ever deal with him?

Eric Sorenson

Oh, a little bit. I would talk to him after games. Not the most loquacious guy in the world universities. He’s very matter of fact. Very, he’s very Nebraskan. I like to call it because he was just to the point and he’d looked me in the eye and he was he was he would answer everything. He He’s one of these guys that like when I talked to him after I was out of the Cal State Fullerton game, they played out there and in Fullteron a couple years ago, I live in Los Angeles and and he he stayed there and answered every one of my dumb questions for 5-6-7 minutes, he didn’t he didn’t try to brush me off or anything like that. I I had some interactions with him. Nothing too extensive though, but he was. He was always a straight shooter.

Jon Johnston My dealings with him were in post game pressers, I usually cover baseball now as a photographer, but I did like the way that he handled himself. And all the postgame pressors he was very, very intense guy.

Eric Sorenson

You know? Yeah,

Jon Johnston Yeah, you were right when you say he was very Nebraskan, straight to the point.

Eric Sorenson

Not a lot of French pastry there, you know he’s to the very, very no frills. So you did have some dealings with him yourself. I guess. I came away with the same same set of ASBOs, right.

Jon Johnston Yeah. And I was I was disappointed when he resigned. But I also did but he his explanation that he wanted to see his kids grow up. Plus, there’s there is this stress of Nebraska baseball. And the Nebraska fans expectation for their baseball team is that they were going to march into the Big Ten and take over the conference and that did not happen.

Eric Sorenson

Not necessarily Yeah. And I just I kind of felt the same thing when Nebraska was going to the big 10 you know, I was fine with the move to the big 10 inch No, I wanted to get away from Texas for whatever reasons and especially in football, but I didn’t think that, you know, because people kind of put the big 10 down a little bit think it’s not as good a baseball conference even back then I was like, This isn’t gonna be a cakewalk. They’re not going to walk into the big 10 and just start dominating. That’s just not gonna happen. So yeah, I kind of had the same feelings as you. We were proven correctly, that you know, big 10 especially the last few years, that profile that conference just keeps inching up and inching up and elevating and I really glad I’m really glad that it has.

Jon Johnston Why do you think that is?

Eric Sorenson

Well, a number of things. First of all, it was started about, I don’t know, 10-12 years ago, every every team in the conference, started updating their facility started making all the things that make High School players go Oh, look, that’s a nice shiny object. I like that, you know, so they all kind of started this whole facilities, upgrade or building new stadiums all together. I’m trying to think just about every team in the conference had done that. So, so that was like the beginning of it, they hired some better coaches. You know, the, the whole, the common start date came about came about about 10 years ago, that helped too, it was never a good, it was never a good look to have, you know, like Stanford starting to play in mid January, late January. And then like, let’s say like a big 10 team, Nebraska, not that it happened. But if I gave an example, Nebraska goes out and play Stanford, and Nebraska 0-0 and Stanford is already 12-0. It’s just not a good look. So that was the common start date was helpful, all across the board. And of course, you know, baseball was the only sport that didn’t have that at the time, which made our sport look kind of freakish.

So those things happened at the same time, just about the facilities, you know, improving and the common start date. And those two things really helped. And plus, I just kind of thought with the way the RPI in baseball was configured, it’s a basketball formula that baseball kind of hijacked a few years back. They made some concessions where you got a little bit, No, just like in college basketball, you got a little bit more credit for winning a road game. And of course, the big 10 plays nothing but road games, in February and early part of March. So those kind of factors all kind of came together. And then you know, you hire guys like, like, like Bakich at Michigan, and that certainly helped their their program and the guys that have gone through Indiana, like Tracy Smith, and and and Chris Lewis, they’re the guys now at Mississippi State. Lemonis, I should say. So yeah, that was kind of another thing. It’s just kind of a conglomeration of things. And I’m really glad that all those things have come together and the big 10 is, it’s considered a power five conference, obviously. But it’s starting to live up to it. In football it’s a power five conference for sure. But in baseball, it’s starting to live up to that. And that’s what that’s a cool thing. I dig that.

Jon Johnston

You had Kyle Schwarber come to Indiana. They were the ones that broke the College World Series streak, right?

Eric Sorenson

Yep. Yep. And that was under Tracy Smith, put together a hell of a batting order at Indiana and some good pitching. And that was, and they went on the road was at Florida State, I think to win the Super Regional, which was great to see. I was really glad to see the big 10 get back in Omaha. And now with what Michigan did last year, obviously was a huge help. I think the one thing about the conference, see if you agree with this, Jon, I think the one thing about the conference is now they kind of need to do it again. Make sure it’s not a flash in the pan. But you know, Indiana was five years ago, Michigan was last year and then We don’t want to have a thing where we don’t see a big 10 team in Omaha for another 10 or 15 years. Well, I’d like to see it happen again, to where you know, it’s they become they become a regular. As far as the postseason, I’d love to see that.

Jon Johnston

Success breeds success. Do you see more kids staying? I mean, right. Right now in Nebraska. I mean, one of the complaints about Darren erstad that Nebraska fans had is that he couldn’t keep Nebraska kids in Nebraska. We had kids go to Texas. And play for Eod Childress. Do you see more kids staying in the big 10 in the cold weather areas?

Eric Sorenson

Yeah, I think so. Because of what you said, you know, success breeds success the last few years. I mean, it kind of started with Purdue getting in the hope of getting a home regional 2012 and now and you know, Indiana, Illinois had done the same thing every every team in the conference. I can say that look, we’re gonna if we’re good enough, we can host a postseason regional here at our house, here at our joint. And kids like that and kids like seeing that, even even though Michigan played in the College World Series, they had a lot of guys from all over. It’s not all Michigan guys.

Unknown Speaker And that’s kind of that kind of says a lot. Eric Bakich can go into a recruits house out here in Diamond Bar California and say, hey, we’ve had some players from from right around this area, go to Michigan play in the College World Series, you want to do the same. So that yeah, that’s that’s kind of it’s, it’s, it’s certainly helping and, and again, the profile of the whole conference is just just, you know, it’s inching up bit by bit. And I like the I like the direction it’s at.

Jon Johnston

All right, we’re going to switch to Nebraska because people want to hear about their favorite team.

Eric Sorenson Sure. Go Big Red.

Jon Johnston

Will Bolt. The Will Bolt era starts, well by the time people hear this podcast, the Will Bolt era will have started at Baylor. What do you expect the kind of Will Bolt?

Brett Baker Well, from what I know of I don’t know him personally or anything like that, but what I know, very highly regarded assistant. And then I think what was the he was at JC head coach of the JC for a couple years. And he’s a former Husker. I think that always kind of helps. I think Nebraska fans like that familiarity. A lot of times in their coaches I know they don’t always get that in football. But you know that that just kind of the thing that you know, they got it now with their with Scott Frost. But, I think it’s important that he’s a former Nebraska player and from what I remember a gritty player, you know, very much kind of like a gym rat type. And you kind of like that, as, as it translates from a player to a head coach. And so I think his teams are going to reflect that now as for right now, I mean he’s he’s inheriting a team that has just about every position player back this year so that’s a good thing. So they’re gonna they’re going to be very similar to what they were last year offensively but I think you’re going to see a little bit more station to station type ball in the in the years ahead but yeah, from what I know of Will Bolt - good coach, good reputation out there in the coaching circles. And I think Nebraska did a did a pretty steady job by hiring and hiring him and bringing him back to campus. I think that’s I think it was a good hire.

Jon Johnston

One of the one of the complaints about Erstad was his offense, and I am not a baseball strategist. I don’t understand baseball at the level I understand football, but Will Bolt’s offense is supposed to be dramatically different than Darin Erstads. Can you Explain that?

Eric Sorenson i don’t think it’s going to be a whole lot different this year just because like I said they got everybody just about everybody coming back in the offense. You can’t you can’t go up there and expect to hit 60 or 80 home runs this year that’s just not the kind of team they had they hit what was it 33 home runs last year. They’re not a big, big hitting team. And so you’re going to have to utilize the speed that they had and it’s going to you’re going to utilize also the players that were there last year that’s that’s what you have you got to play with what you got so I don’t see that it’s going to be drastically different this year. Maybe in the years to come again, maybe you’ll see a little bit more a little bit more of the, more stealing basis more bunting guys over the rasca only stole 50 bases. Yeah 50 bases last year. So they’re not exactly. They’re not exactly tearing up the base pads and putting too much pressure on the opposing teams. That might change as the years go by, but again this year they’re going to stick with what they were they’re gonna change their stripes all that much this year but you know that you got to play with what you got that’s that you know you don’t you don’t you don’t take over. You don’t take over a wishbone team and automatically put in drop back passers. That’s just that’s just not how it is. So it’ll be similar this year. But yeah, I think in the years to come, he’ll find his kind of players and fit his scheme and i think that’s that’s maybe he’ll maybe he’ll change it to where it’s more of a thing where they bigger hitting type of teams or something like that. But for now, I think this is just kind of what they’re at.

Jon Johnston

You basically saying we’re not going to win the conference in his first year out.

Eric Sorenson Now, hang on a sec, Jon. I didn’t say that, either. Although I will say, I’m sorry. Good.

Jon Johnston

Have you seen our other sports and how well they’re not doing?

Eric Sorenson Well, you bring up a good point who’s the AD? let’s fire them.

Jon Johnston

I would say Nebraska fans are really, really hungry for something to win.

Eric Sorenson Yeah, yeah. Well, of course, I mean, that’s it’s a bummer that it’s, it’s depressing that you have to you have to take you have to go back and tell people No, no, no, really, I believed me back in the 90s. Nebraska is the best football program going. They were like, you see what Alabama is doing now? That’s kind of what Nebraska was. No, I’m sure it’s it was kind of a bummer. You have to say that. But things change quickly. Man. That’s that’s just how it is. But, you know, again, I’m glad we’re talking about a baseball program that has gone to the postseason a number of times in recent years. It’s not like we have to go back into the 90s. To say that these were our glory days necessarily. So that’s the positive spin on that for our baseball program. But as far as winning the conference this year, tough call, tough chore to do that this year, just because of the pitching, pitching is one thing that’s that’s going to overcome Great hitting team obviously, and Nebraska lost all of their weekend rotation have to kind of expect them to have these guys step in. And like some of these transfers they have and moving players from the bullpen to the starting rotation. Tough to translate that into an instant winner that goes and wins the conference championship. But that’s just my prediction. Right now, these predictions mean, they’re about worth what the paper they’re printed on. This is what we like to say. So that could change very quickly.

Jon Johnston

Well, your website (D1Baseball) picks Nebraska sixth, Baseball America, pick them seventh. Do you think those are fair?

Eric Sorenson I would say a little bit higher than that. And to me when I look at the big 10, Jon, I kind of see it in a couple of different tiers. I look at like Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio State I think are the three teams going in on paper. Again, this was about it’s only about what worth what the papers printed on is but I still think those three teams are kind of three teams to beat. Below that. I think you have the Nebraska, Indiana’s Iowa, Illinois. Those teams I think are the second tier that Nebraska is part of, again, you know, these preseason things. They’re a bunch of BS for the most part. It’s mostly just guys like me sitting there saying, oh, okay, I see. They have so many starting pitching the returners, they have so many starting, you know, baseman return fielding returners right now good recruiting class, okay, well, here’s what their ranking is, you know, so it’s kind of, I don’t know, it’s really, really hit and miss, to be honest, to be honest with you. And you know, it can change with... if you if they start up against Baylor, let’s say they sweep Baylor or something like that, that just gives these kids 18 to 22 year old kids so much confidence. It could change your season, just in the first opening weekend, you know, so you never know what can happen with that. That’s kind of how I look at the big 10 overarching going into this season

Jon Johnston

You talked about pitching how all of our pitchers are pretty much gone, or at least our starting our starting weekend rotation is gone and they have to be replaced. So we’ll have to find out how who those guys are. How do you see Nebraska winning games this season? Because that’s what it comes down to.

Eric Sorenson Yeah, well, again, that’s gonna, that’s gonna have to start with get well, like the starting rotation. Coby Gomes, who’s gonna you know, he was their saves guy last year, apparently is going to be their number one starter on Friday. This is and then the second number starter is supposed to be Garrett Stroh, a guy that was at Purdue for a couple years before transferring. So they’ve got guys at the top of the rotation that are very familiar with the big 10 and that can win at the big 10 at a big 10 level. So the best thing is to is to cultivate these pitchers, make them make them comfortable. starters now stepping into a new environment sort of and that’s gonna that’s going to be the tone setter for the for the rest of the season I think with with Nebraska and then of course the batting order when you look at all they have coming back I think eight out of nine starters return to the batting order and a lot of those guys are junior senior type guys. And I think Jon we we notice in college sports especially obviously with with baseball’s very much so and football, the same kit and same thing. If you get a junior senior type of team where you got a lot of guys a lot of experience. That’s a huge thing.

That’s one thing that Will Bolt kind of stepped into this year that he doesn’t have to change too much is he’s got guys that have been Cornhuskers for a long time. And that always helps you have a junior senior team you’re gonna have good leadership normally and he talked in the fall, about how he loved the team’s work ethic. He loved their ability and their desire to compete. And those are things that are you can’t really coach, they come intrinsic to the kid that shows up on campus, that if he’s got some fight in him, that’s good. That’s a good thing. You can’t coach that normally. And I think that’s what’s going to help them is having that it’s having so much experience coming back, that’s going to be a big boon for them. I don’t see them falling flat on their faces. I talked about how, you know, Michigan, Ohio State and Minnesota, where my top three of the big 10 and then there’s another tier under that, but I think Nebraska could transcend up to the up to their level and compete in the big 10. I don’t I don’t think they’re going to be here that you know, an easy out any way, shape or form. I just think that kind of experience is going to be what they’re going to be able to lean on this year. And that’s a good thing. Again, that’s a great thing for new head coach to step into this to step into a team that’s, you know, wicked experience. And that’s that’s a cool thing.

Jon Johnston

Have you looked at Nebraska’s conference baseball schedule? I know we start at Baylor. And then we play Arizona State. I know that we miss Minnesota. We do play at Michigan, and we do play Ohio State. But we do miss Minnesota.

Eric Sorenson

Minnesota good too. Okay, I’m just looking at it now they kind of ease into it because Northwestern and then playing at Maryland, Maryland’s not a bad program. But playing those two are what they’ll start with Purdue’s got a brand new coach, too. And that’s their third weekend. And yeah, that’s the thing. They got Rutgers, which is pretty much a three win thing. They can easily sweep them. It gets better. It gets tougher. late in the year, Michigan and Ohio State come back to back weekends. And yeah, you skipped Minnesota. Jon, actually that’s one of my biggest gripes about the whole conference re shifting that that happened, 8-10 years ago is now you have conferences that are too damn big and so teams don’t don’t even play Like what was it? Michigan and Ohio State didn’t even play each other in baseball a couple years ago. I think it was I can’t remember for sure. It’s a travesty. It’s just not right. But yeah, if Nebraska is a you know, they they’re gonna they’re going to miss Minnesota and that’s that’s a tough out. So it’s kind of good. But their schedules favorable as far as like an early part of the season establishing themselves get some wins. They got some winnable weekends to start up before the Michigan’s and Ohio State show up later on. So yeah, that’s a cool deal.

Jon Johnston

Notice this home conference schedule. I mean, we get Rutgers at home. We get Ohio State at home, which should be interesting. And then we finish Yeah with Penn State at home. Penn State. Every year when I start to write about baseball, I look at Penn State, and they’re still playing the same crappy non conference schedule. They always have. Have they done a single thing to improve their program at all?

Eric Sorenson

Here. Here’s the thing. Jon, you’re gonna love this. So this past fall, I had a friend of mine that moved from Los Angeles to New York and needed his car to be driven up to New York didn’t want to deliver it because it would be too costly. So I said, Look, I’ll drive it. I’ll drive I’ll go cross country. I’ll go to all these stadiums along the way. Just take a look at some of these stadiums that teams play in parts of the country hadn’t seen before. Got to see James Dean’s grave in Fairmount, Indiana. It was really cool. So I get to Penn State always wanted to go to Penn State always wanted to go to a football game there. But I get there and I see Medlar Field, their baseball field and it’s a minor league facility that Penn State shares. And it’s immaculate. It’s a great, great facility. It’s one of the best stadiums I’ve ever seen for college. And I just think to myself, how are these guys not winning? At least a little bit, you know, at least making an NCAA Tournament every once in a while. I think the last time They made it was like in 2000 when they went to a Super Regional and lost to Texas. But yeah, Jon This, to me, the biggest mystery to me or not the biggest but one of the biggest mysteries to me in college baseball is how Penn State has not become at least a consistent winner or been at least, you know, consistently, every few years making the NCAA Tournament. They’ve got just unbelievable facility there. I know Penn State’s off the beaten path a little bit. But that’s okay. You can win on a place like that. It’s just it befuddles me, I’m confused as to why Penn State hasn’t had better baseball over the last 10 or 15 years.

Jon Johnston

I mean, their RPI at the end of the year, it’s always down. It’s like down in the 230s. The 200 range. It literally drags the conference down by being in the conference.

Eric Sorenson

Yeah, yes. And the thing that’s depressing to me, Jon, is then the big 10 went and added Rutgers, which wasn’t going to help in hardly any of the sports to me. Maryland. Okay, I can see them playing, you know, being a good basketball school, obviously a great basketball school and historically, baseball, they’ve done decent. You know, I saw them out here and I saw them upset UCLA a couple years ago out here. So they’ve had some success. But yeah, yeah, you add with Penn State there they’re a zero. Rutgers is even worse, more of a zero especially since coach Hill retired. So yeah, it’s depressing to me. It’s depressing. I’m glad Purdue kind of turned around because they started becoming a zero after that one flash in the pan where they won the conference in 2012. But yeah, it’s you’re going to have these teams that seem to have that anchor effect. And that’s still the one thing I want to the big 10 to change is not to have these teams that are an anchor effect to your to another teams’ RPI. Nebraska is going to play both Penn State and Rutgers in three game series this year. And, when they play win or lose, they’re going to lose some points in the RPI. I mean, that’s just that’s how it’s going to be. So I, to me, it’s, it’s kind of a double edged sword, I’m glad Will Bolt has a little bit of an easier schedule in the big 10 for his first year, it’s going to be helped with the transition a little bit. But when it comes down to it, Jon, if you and I talk in April or in May, we’re going to look at that and say, you know, that’s a real drag to play Penn State records because those teams are just going to be an anchor. So that’s that’s kind of what you’re what you’re stuck with in the big 10 though.

Jon Johnston

I’m not sure people understand that. I’m sure that the hardcore college baseball fans do understand that but the casual fan doesn’t, when you go that the RPI is drag. You know what I mean?

Eric Sorenson

Yeah, I mean, it’s not like in football where strength of schedule isn’t really taken into account very much. For the for the for the Final Four playoffs in in basketball and in baseball. Your strength of schedule and how good the opponents are that you’ve played means everything. I think, what was it the RPI formula is like 25% of it is how you do and 75% of it is who you’ve played and how they’ve done, not that it’s fair, I think that’s a that’s a BS component to to these ranking systems that the NCAA uses but that’s what we’re stuck with and and yeah, so if you playing poor competition that is ranked in the 200 to 300 range. Yeah, that’s just going to drag down the quality look of your team and these rankings. That’s that’s just how it is until we can find something better which Damn, I just wish they’d asked me I’d find something better for them. Lazy sobs, anyway. Don’t get me started.

Jon Johnston

There has been over the past few years, there’s been this screaming about the discrepancy between the cold weather teams, and the warm weather teams and the teams have to typically travel for the first month and a half of the season. Oh, there hasn’t been a lot of yelling about that lately or has there and I’m not hearing it or paying attention.

Eric Sorenson

No, Jon, I think you’re fine. I don’t think it’s it’s not as prevalent as it was before Just because you’re seeing these teams do better. Here’s one of the things that always kind of pissed me off. Jim Delany, the Commissioner of the big 10 did a lot of good things for the big 10 apparently, but for baseball related, he was terrible. I hated that guy for what he did to the big 10. And he complained and he cried a little bit about how the College World Series should have one entry saved for a northern team. And I was just like, come on, we in the big 10 doesn’t need charity to get to the College World Series. You son of a bitch so stop yelling about it. Now that we’ve seen in the enemy, we see Michigan make it we’ve seen teams come close. Actually, Jon, one of the teams I was most impressed with was 2018, Minnesota. That was probably that was john Anderson’s best team I thought that he’d ever had and if they hadn’t been matched up with Oregon State in the Super Regionals I thought they could have made it to Omaha and done well there too. So yeah, we’ve seen teams now make it home I we see that they don’t need to make excuses to get into the postseason. It’s not like that. It’s still not like the ACC or SEC, where you’re going to have seven or eight teams from the big 10. But they’ve gotten five in before, I think four or five teams in at a time. So it’s improving and you’re not seeing it as often. And like I said, the RPI formula changed to award to I’m sorry to reward teams that go on the road and when they give you a little bit more of a bump when you win on the road and I think that helped a lot. And I think it was a long time coming because basketball did it for years.

And baseball didn’t for whatever reason, and now they do. And I think that’s, I think that’s a good thing and it helps. It does help the big 10 a little bit because, again, it’s just like we talked about early on in this conversation, Jon, about how the big 10, Nebraska wasn’t going to go in there and dominate the big 10 was a good baseball conference. It’s just that they had bad weather and their facilities kind of stunk for the most part, but they had good baseball. And now we’ve seen that it’s true. They’ve got good baseball, year in year out and improving so yeah, you don’t hear as much about that belly aching about the about you know, going on the road and having to play the first 90 days, or the first month and a half on the road. So that’s that’s kind of come with what the success has brought.

Jon Johnston

How do you define success for the first year of Will Bolt?

Eric Sorenson

Oh, I could just first off make it to the big 10 tournament, make it there. I’m not. I’m not one of these people that kind of expects teams, you know, it’s not like Frost stepping into Nebraska and people expecting him to take him to the playoffs in the first year or something like that. I don’t say look at it that way. I just think that people get them to just stay respectable, stay consistent. Get to the big 10 tournament. You know, then you got a chance to play for a championship and that’s a good thing. He doesn’t need to become a Houdini or big magician this year. I think just kind of keep it consistent. Don’t let it hit rock bottom or anything like that. Just win 30 or so and, and I think it’ll, it’ll be fine with me. I’m not I’m not going to be too picky about I’m not gonna overanalyze it.

Eric Sorenson

Do you have like your own expectations for Will yourself or what were you What were you thinking?

Jon Johnston

Make the big 10 tourney.

Eric Sorenson

Yeah, yeah.

Jon Johnston

From the noisy people I see on social media and sometimes on our website I know that we’re expected to make the NCAA tourney at the least every year. But I think that this year you should look at it and just say make the big 10 tourney, have a good successful season that allows you to build on something going forward.

Eric Sorenson

Right right. Yeah, that’s not to me it’s not as much about wins and losses. Just about setting a protocol building a program. To me that’s that’s kind of you know, building that foundation for the years years to come. But if they do get in the NCAA Tournament great. If they don’t they just make the big 10 tournament. I’m fine with that too. I think that’s as long as you don’t also see job is probably another thing I probably should mention. As long as you don’t see or hear a lot about players like all the sudden they hated it Nebraska now they came to Nebraska had some good good year too. And now we’ll bolt comes in and they all of a sudden they hate it and transfer you see it transfer out. I don’t want to see that too. But it sounds like he’s got a team I think, from what I saw in fall reports and what I’ve read, he sounds like he’s got a team full of grinders, a team that really likes to work hard. And that’s going to make a good relationship for the for the full season and and building it for the years to come. So that’s, that’s already a good start. And they haven’t even played a game yet. So I like what I’m hearing already. About Will Bolt and the program.

Jon Johnston

He needs to learn how to scowl.

Eric Sorenson

I gotta see this guy in an interview that just yeah, if he’s not scowling enough, maybe that’s true. You and I are probably a little bit more old school. We’re used to guys in in windbreakers yelling at us when we were kids playing football or something. That’s fine with me. I know that doesn’t always get that’s not exactly working in this in today’s day and age. But yeah, he needs to scowl or I’m with you on that one buddy.

Jon Johnston Erstad had that look where you could look at you and burn holes in your body. I think coaches need that honestly you know you could even look over, you know keep in mind I’m carrying a long lens but you can look over to Erstad in the dugout and he would just I don’t know he’s burning the sideline I or not the sideline but he’s burning the baseline, burning the umpire, just with his eyeballs. And I think they did really need that in a coach.

Jon Johnston

I haven’t been around all I haven’t seen Will Bolt. I look forward to it. Not sure when I’ll get the chance this year but we’ll see what happens.

Eric Sorenson

Well, I think it kind of there can be multiple ways of doing it and doing it effectively. And again, I keep going back to football because this is Nebraska and that’s that’s what I grew up on was Nebraska football, but you know you could do it the Tom Osborne way and be a little stoic about it or you know, like Bud Grant with the Minnesota Vikings, be stoic about it be very analytical and very intelligent about it. Or you can be a Barry Switzer where you’re just a loose cannon and you’re playing with your players treat you almost like you’re another player. A lot of times that doesn’t work, but he did. He made it work. And those things work out too. But yeah, you’re right. If if being Nebraskans as we are, we’re used to a guy that’s a little bit more stoic and a little bit more and has a little bit of a streak in him that like, you know, all right. Yeah, I’m burning holes through you by looking at you. So you know, you know, you’re screwed up and you need to do the right thing. So yeah, that that kind of seems to work for our culture, as Nebraska fans.

Jon Johnston

Okay, so how we’re going to wrap up here? How do people get your coverage of D1baseball?

Eric Sorenson

D1baseball.com is the greatest college baseball site in the history of college baseball is of course it was started by Kyle Peterson. A native son of Nebraska too by the way, everybody knows who Kp is. And it is a subscription service for the most part. You can go to the site and of course you need the scoreboard during the season but D1baseball.com is is the place to go. I think it’s we’ve got a good staff of writers and all that kind of stuff. I’m not going to sell us to your listeners necessarily. I think that that kind of sells itself but it’s a fun place to keep up during the season and and and keep informed and especially as we get down to May and June so yeah, go to D1baseball.com. You’ll see my stuff there. I got an article coming out tomorrow preseason, that kind of a little bit of my preview for this coming season, which is kind of a ton of tongue in cheek type of look to college baseball. So yeah, it’s a fun site. I think it’s, it’s well worth well worth the drop of some change.

Jon Johnston

Is there anything else I forgot to add that you would like to?

Eric Sorenson Well, it’s kind of refreshing. I was glad, Jon, I love talking about Nebraska baseball. And I know we didn’t get into Creighton baseball but I’m an Omaha native. So I always liked the Blue Jays too. I’m one of those rare people that like both so your listeners need to get over it. I love both Nebraska and Creighton, but it was just good to talk college baseball and talk specifically about big 10 and the brass baseball for you, Jon, you’re a good you’re a good you’re a good source for it yourself. You people that are listening, stay listening all year long. Jon’s got his stuff together. He knows he knows how to write about about good sports stuff. So and it was kind of also good that we didn’t have to touch about the about the national scene, because that’s usually what I’m talking about with people on radios and podcasts this time of year but now just good talking the Cornhusker baseball with you and you want to do it again, Jon. I won’t charge you that much. I’ll come on for relatively small charge. And we can do it again as the season goes on, man.

Jon Johnston

Well, I’ll tell you what I might let me know if you get up to Minnesota’s tournament.

Eric Sorenson Yeah, yeah, that’s the third week of the season. ACC big 10 challenge played in Viking stadium. It’s a tournament actual. I’ve been to see games there twice before. And it’s really cool. It’s just cool that they fit a baseball field inside this football stadium in the dead of winter in Minnesota, which is the last time I was there. It was like 20 degrees outside. 68 degrees inside. It was great, but that’s a great tournament that Minnesota is holding and they’re gonna have Duke, North Carolina and NC State coming in from the ACC so it’d be a lot of fun. Really great early tests for for the big 10 teams.

Jon Johnston

Well, you brought up Creighton, I’ll tell you a story of a year ago, couple years ago, a young friend of mine was having a birthday. And her father’s a good friend of mine, a causes he says meet us downtown. We’re going to go to the Minnesota Creighton baseball game at US Bank Stadium. We met this bar had a few beers. And you go into US Bank Stadium and it’s an enormous stadium. But yeah, it’s it’s not full of people with my loud mouth I can be heard all of it complete stadium.

Eric Sorenson Yes, yes you can. Yes.

Jon Johnston

So I walk I walk in and I’m right behind like home plate at the top of the stairs and I scream who hates Creighton, this guy. entire place looks at me and my family moves away from me completely. All right. Turn around there’s this Creighton dude behind me, he looks at me and he goes that was well done. And then we moved over from my family was and later on. I can’t remember what I yelled. But I yelled something about Creighton hitting the monitor which isn’t you Like the monitor that everybody watches in the middle of field, it’s really high up. And I was so loud. I was so loud that the entire Creighton baseball team turned and looked at me. And I felt a tap on my shoulder and I turned and I looked up and it was an event guy. And he looks down at me and he goes, I would like to just point out to you that Creighton is our guests today. Right? And I looked at him and I said, Hey, man, this is college baseball, heckling. I wasn’t profane. I wasn’t insulting, and he goes, I just want you to know that Creighton is our guest today. And his point was pretty clear. So I was, I was stifled for the rest of the game.

Eric Sorenson That place is cavernous. Yeah. For the baseball configuration. There’s hardly any fans in the stands for those games. But it’s that’s what’s also kind of do about it too, though, but yeah, you can hear it. You can hear everything in that stadium during a baseball game. Especially you’re a college game that’s not going to be real. Real well attended. So yeah, I’m surprised you made it out of the parking lot and one piece there, Jon.

Jon Johnston

It was fun. I need to get back there this season.

Eric Sorenson Exactly. You make it to the College World Series don’t you?

Jon Johnston

What’s that?

Eric Sorenson You get to the College World Series every so often, don’t you?

Jon Johnston

I didn’t last year because in my real life as an IT consultant, I had a customer move their entire company. I had to be around for that that weekend or that main work and I hope to make them there again this season though. So if I don’t see you at Minnesota, I’ll hopefully see an Omaha.

Eric Sorenson Actually, no, I know where I’ve seen you before. Is that the big 10 tournament in Omaha? I’ve seen you there before for that right. Okay, that’s what Yeah. Are you there for the big ten.

Jon Johnston

That’ll be back there in Omaha this year. Are you going?

Eric Sorenson Yeah, maybe I wouldn’t mind. I got to go to Omaha earlier in that month to talk to the Jaybackers clubs. They invited me to talk to them about baseball. Like, All right, I’ll do it. So I might have to double dip and have a second weekend to go see the big 10 tournament. I’d like to get back to the big 10 tournament this year. Just again, it’s just the big Ten’s gotten so much better. And that’s good to see. It’s good to see baseball at TD Ameritrade that matters going into the NCAA Tournament. So I’ll let you know if I do though. Okay. All right. If you’re not beaten up by a bunch of Creighton fans, by that time, I’ll make sure.

Jon Johnston

All right, we’re gonnawrap it up. This has been Jon’s Postlife crisis. Thank you for listening and Eric Sorenson for joining us. Go Big Red.

Eric Sorenson Yeah. Thanks for sharing the airwaves. Appreciate it, man.