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Roundball Shaman

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  1. Roundball Shaman

    Time For A Super Conference

    Major college football has been ruined - likely forever. With programs such as Alabama and Clemson and Ohio State running quasi-professional programs for many years now, other schools cannot keep up or compete with that. Nor should they have to. Universities are forced to sink millions of dollars into long-term contracts with coaches - many of whom that will not work out over time. Countless hundreds of millions of dollars is spent in upgrading stadiums, training facilities, and other things related to the football program which could be going to many other things. Why such distortions? We know the answer. There is big money to be made for the university from major college football. This creates a vicious cycle of overpaid coaches, gaudy facilities, and chasing after top recruits with often questionable tactics. Distorted priorities creates a special class of program and athlete while all the others are relegated to second-class status. Since the landscape of major college football has been changed into this, there does need to be realignment of conferences. But this needs to go farther than simply adding a school here or there to an existing conference. There needs to be functional equality and fairness to new conferences. Like-type schools should be with like-type schools and stop trying to be something they are not. At the top, there can be one super-conference of the quasi-professional football programs. Create a league of Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Southern California, Oklahoma, Texas, etc. Your list may vary, but you get the idea. Let them all run pro-style programs and fight it out among themselves. Purdue will never be Ohio State or Penn State. Kansas State will never be Texas. Vanderbilt will never be Auburn or LSU. They will never achieve that level of on-field or recruiting success. Sure, they like the money from being in their conferences now. But they are depriving their student athletes and students and alumni from having a better experience of sport by trying to be something they are not and never will be. What about Nebraska? It would be up to them. If they want to go all-in and try to be part of the Super Conference then they will hitch their star to that wagon for better or worse and live with the consequences. Or, they could be part of a new kind of conference that restores balance both financially and otherwise to the proper place that sports should occupy at a university. That means not trying to outspend and out-do and imitate the likes of Alabama and Clemson and Ohio State. Join solid, like-minded schools that are sick of the arms race and want to set a new course. There would be plenty of programs that would like to have that chance. If Nebraska chose not to compete with the likes of Alabama there is no shame in that. Alabama and Texas and Auburn and Clemson and LSU, etc. will always have a Southern USA talent pool that Nebraska will never be able to match. Notre Dame with its national brand will always have access to special talent. Other schools have similar stories. And should Husker fans have to drive to Pennsylvania and the East Coast or always drive East for everything? How much of Interstate 80 can any sane person stand to see so often? A new conference would solve that. This is not about Nebraska stepping back at all. It’s about being really good in a real good new football conference that doesn’t try act like it should be playing on Sundays instead of Saturdays.
  2. The retirement of high-profile, winning football coaches should always prompt one to think about more than just how many titles he may have won or how good his winning percentage is. It must be about HOW he won. Not just on the field, but how did he go about things. How did he run his program... how did he handle adversity... how many questionable things may have been done or corners cut to secure that gaudy winning record. The Big Ten has seen plenty of scandals in recent years. Some marquee Big Ten programs with big winning records have been revealed as being involved in terrible incidents. The fan bases of those schools usually ignore or downplay those things in favor of doing whatever it takes for their beloved to win. Those are empty and hollow victories regardless of how much shiny hardware is sitting in their trophy cases. Which brings us to Nebraska. In this State, winning is paramount. But it is not paramount over how you win and the means of getting there. People here want to win the right way. The Huskers are going to win again, and they are going to win in the right way by doing the right things and by the right path. A big page was turned during this past season and the derailed train is once again back on the right track. Some programs and fan bases have a pathological need to finish on top. In football and basketball, even casual fans recognize the names of those programs. Those programs believe they are entitled to win, destined to win, must win... at any cost. That’s not so much being a fan as being a zealot. That gets a whole lot of people into a whole lot of trouble. The games themselves which are meant to be fun diversions from real life become holy quests that must always end one way. That’s not how this was supposed to work. So the take-away here is that as badly as Husker Nation wants to rejoin the upper elite in major college football, it is in the restoration of what the Huskers stand for that victory has already been achieved. The wins will come at whatever pace they will come. Regardless, the Huskers have already won something that programs with better records still have not. The Big Red will win with pride knowing they won the right way.
  3. Roundball Shaman

    Huskers Save The Universe

    People are buzzing about whether this past Husker season should be considered a success or not. But in fact, the answer is crystal clear. Actually, the debate isn’t even close. There is nowhere in the Known Universe where the health and esteem of an entire State in America and it’s national legion of fans is more tied to than the State of Nebraska and Husker Nation. Others may come close, but they have mitigating factors that ultimately disqualify them. It is in Nebraska’s very DNA for its State University to be national football powerhouse. The Universe seeks balance. When things are out of balance, everyone feels it. Things just seem off, and nothing feels right. That has been the case with Husker Football and Husker Nation for the last two decades. Central to the health and stability of the Known Universe is Husker Nation and having top-level success and performance of Nebraska Football. You restore Huskers to National prominence and you restore the proper balance of the Universe. That qualifies as pretty darned important. You say, what’s the evidence for that? You say that kind of talk is just silly? Look at the world-at-large over the last twenty years. So many things have gone wrong. So many things have gone off the rails. This all started with the decline of Husker football that began back then. It continued each year with the misguided starts and stops of program resets. All things remained out of balance. You won’t find a better reason anywhere that the world began to go off the rails. So, this year is a success beyond anyone’s imagination. The entire trajectory of the Husker football program has been turned around from irrelevance and frustration and pain to re-found notoriety, hope, and the anticipated joys that are waiting just ahead. Some may say that no, this is just football and football is just a game. Try telling that to all the Husker greats over the years and all of Husker Nation that has lived and died with this team and made them a special part of their very own families. Try telling that to the farmers working the blustery fields on a cold and sleeting Saturday afternoon who cling to Huskers broadcasts to keep their spirits up and give them courage to face the elements. And what do these folks do? They feed us. Pretty darned important in the grand scheme of things to most people who like to eat. From the streets of Omaha to the dorm rooms of Lincoln to the windy Sand Hills to the sports bars in California and out to the farthest reaches of the Galaxy, Husker fans know that Husker Football will always be more than just a game. No, it is not the most important thing in life nor should it ever be. But be honest. It’s close, and in your heart you know it. As the years go forward and the Big Red once again regularly sit near or at the top of national polls and take their rightful place in dethroning the Large Fourteen likes of Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania State, Da Ohio State, and any other imposter who comes along, everyone will look back upon the Glorious Season of 2018 and know just how monumental this year was. And the Universe will finally be able to smile once again.
  4. Roundball Shaman

    Conversation At A Dinner Table

    Fictional late-night conversation at a dinner table... Woman: “Well, do we start packing?” Man: “Not yet. Probably not for a while. We still got a job. Wouldn’t be a bad idea to start calling around, though.” Woman: “You look down.” Man: “Yeah, I really wanted this to work. I really respect this place. This was my chance to show what I could do on the big stage. You know how long we’ve at this. It’s just so frustrating...” Woman: “So why do you think they hired you?” Man: “Don’t you remember? What they don’t like now. My personality. I’m too EASY, too be back. I got hired because I’m the opposite of that other guy. That’s what sealed this.” Woman: “So nice guys can’t be successful?” Man: “You really want to ask me that?" Man: “Sorry. I’m just tired.” Woman: “So what are you going to say when we get that call?” Man: “What CAN you say.” Man: “Look, maybe it’s time for something else. We thought this was going to work but I guess not. I wanted this to work. Dunno if I want to keep doing this. Not fair to you. Gotta think it over.” Man: “And I’m going to tell them I’m sorry. I know how long these guys have waited. I love these fans and I hate how this all has gone. That’s what hurts the most.” Woman: “You think they’ll ever know that?” Man: “Some. Most just so tired of losing they don’t want to hear about anything.” Man: “You have to remembering something. This is a small state, sorta like where we were. We were always the Little Brother. God I got so sick of hearing that. Most of the country doesn’t pay any attention places like Nebraska. The State school is everything to these people. It’s like it used to be in the old days in a lot of places. The pros were nothing back then. These people all got so much pride from their team. When you let them down in a place like this it really hurts.” Woman: “So what do you think they’ll do?” Man: “They’re gonna hire something big. Maybe somebody no one is even thinking about. They HAVE to. These people have just about had it.” Man: “Thing is, times have changed. So many big teams now. So much money and media. So much competition. I think they want it to be just like it used to be but it can’t.” Man: “They’re gonna get real good again. But it just can’t be like it was. They need to give the new guy a chance. But they need to know the road’s a lot tougher than it used to be.” Man: “But I really did enjoy this place.” Woman: “Me too.” Woman: “Where’re you headed?” Man: “The office.” Woman: “NOW?” Man: “Got a game to get ready for.”
  5. Roundball Shaman

    The Future Begins Now

    There’s a great big mountain in the State of Nebraska. Most anyone under the age of twenty did not directly experience the Husker Glory Days. They know it through family, friends, or videos, but that’s it. Recruits around the country only know what they’ve seen from Nebraska in the last fifteen years or so. And we know what that picture looks like. Paul Finebaum has a big pulpit on ESPN. He and his guests on Tuesday discussed the current condition of the Huskers and it was not pretty. The now-former Nebraska AD gave a pathetic series of answers during this segment. And that is what people are seeing out on the air nationally these days - Nebraska as a sad and confused sack. The new Husker Pooh-Bah has lots of work to do. High on the list must be thinking about outside-the-box things they could do to stand out once again. A new coach alone is not enough to compete off the field with the likes of four Big Ten Blue Bloods who already have top generals and basic things to offer as Nebraska has. Apologies and sad faces from high places will not get it done. And there are lots of people making really big money off the Husker program. The biggest mountain in Nebraska is in Lincoln. Take plenty of trail mix. And don’t let anyone tell you there are no high mountains in Nebraska.
  6. Roundball Shaman

    We Fall From Grace - Together

    There is another group of fans that shares the same discontent right now as Huskers fans. And that is... Texas. Yes, Longhorn fans. The pride of Austin. The Burnt Orange. The same color as many Longhorn fans faces right now. Both programs share being very good for a long time and now share not being very good for a long time. Both fan bases are frustrated. Both universities have tried fixes that didn’t work. Both are struggling for answers. There are various dates Husker fans pick for when it all went sour. Some go back almost twenty years. But there’s another date that bears watching. The moment went everything went sour for BOTH of these programs was... the end of the Big 12 Championship Game in 2009 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. You’ll recall that the game appeared to end with the clock at zero with the Big Red winning the championship 12 to 10. But game officials decided to add one second to the game clock which resulted in a Texas victory. Longhorn fans rejoiced. Nebraska fans cried foul. And to this day, the end of that game is debated by those who saw it. What is without question is that since then, the Longhorns have lost almost as many games as they’ve won. They only have two minor bowl victories. They’ve never been the same. And neither have the Huskers. Something weird happened that day. Have unseen forces rendered their verdict and bad karma was let loose? Are the Longhorns looking to fix their program in the wrong places? Are the Huskers being punished for an ending that wasn’t their fault? What is going on here? Maybe the answers aren’t just in finding a new coach or players. Maybe the answers are in a realm no one is looking at? Do we seek advise from magic makers in New Orleans? You wonder what the future might have been for both programs if the Huskers were allowed to win that game.
  7. Roundball Shaman

    Husker Nation Demonstrates Class

    As most any Husker fan knows, Husker Nation is legendary for its classy treatment of opponents in Lincoln and elsewhere. That Husker Class is showing itself again right now in a different way. We all know how good the Huskers have been. We also know how things have changed. Huskers fans everywhere wouldn’t be human if there were not some anger, frustration, and disappointment. And unfortunately, these emotions have been present for far too long. A hoped-for reset has been done a couple times. Nothing has worked. And the winning legacy gets farther into the rearview mirror and more forgotten by a new generation. But through all this, Husker Nation has been amazingly classy and resilient. Criticisms have been largely fair and on-point. Good suggestions continue to be made. And whatever the comment might be, it is usually delivered in a good spirit and in a purposeful way. I can’t think of another single major college fan base that would have handled this in such a remarkable way. And there are plenty that would have devolved into chaos. Husker Nation can’t control the future of this program. Others do and always will. But what has been shown unshakable is holding on to your devotion to the team, your appreciation of a special and fabulous history, and the class you show even now in the middle of turbulent and frustrating times. There has never been a prouder time to be a Nebraska Cornhusker fan.
  8. Roundball Shaman

    Thanks For The Memories

    There’s an old Frank Sinatra song that went something like this... Thanks for the memory Of things I can't forget, journeys on a jet That wondrous time when wins were peak And we would win ‘most every week. And thanks for the memory Of autumns Big with Red. We used to have such happy fun It was a joy back when we won. Now since things changed, I wake up Sad on the morning after I pine for sounds of winning cheers But all I have is eyes with tears. But, thanks for the memory Of every touch a thrill, I've now been through the mill I've lived a lot and learned a lot, you win no more I wonder what all this was for. Thanks for the memory Of how we used to smile The barbecues in Lincoln town When skies were bright and leaves were brown. Thanks for the memory Our tradition now made void And now because the way things look, I need some time with Sigmund Freud The happy days have come and gone I’m left to sing this sad sad song. They wait for us in Big Ten Land I'd rather see Sahara Sand. I know it's been said That grown men never cry, baby, that's a lie We had our bed of red but see how roses die Thank you boys for what you were Our Nebraska proud Big Red.
  9. Roundball Shaman

    A Cornhusker Short Story

    A proud Midwestern family are diehard Husker fans. Let’s listen in to a conversation between grandpa Dale and his grandson Liam... Liam: “Grandpa, you’ve been a Husker fan a long time, right?” Dale: “Don’t you remember? I told you how your Great Grandpa took me to my first Husker football game that year the Big Red won the national championship the first time. Jerry Tagge... Joe Orduna... Willie Harper... what a group!” Liam: “I guess I forgot some of that.” Liam: “So the Huskers used to be pretty good, huh?” Dale: “Pretty good? Little man, we were one of the best. The very best. Year after year. They made people around America pull out maps to figure out where Nebraska was...” Liam: “What’s a map?” Dale: "Never mind." Liam: “And they were good for a long time, right?” Dale: “They were good for forty years. But since you came along, not so much.” Liam: “You’re not blaming me, right?” Dale: “Just seeing if you’re paying attention.” Liam: “So what happened? Why did they begin to suck?” Dale: “Remember what I said about using that word?” Liam: “Sorry. Why did they begin to STINK?” Dale: “A couple things happened. The team got a different coach. Other schools got good, too. Schools that weren’t good before also got good. The Huskers didn’t react fast enough. They fell behind. They’ve been trying to catch up ever since but it hasn’t worked out yet.” Liam: “Can the Huskers ever be really good again?” Dale: “Look. It’s my job to keep your spirits up. But I can’t lie to you. It’s gonna be tough, real tough. Too much time has gone by. Too many high school guys want to play for other schools. Too many cool uniforms. Too many fun towns. And since they joined the Big Ten? I better stop... I might use that word I don’t like.” Liam: “That’s OK grandpa. I can see you getting upset.” Dale: “No Liam - disappointed. I remember what this football team used to be. I remember how special a Saturday afternoon in Lincoln used to be. I remember when we used to play for titles instead of hoping some sorry bowl game asks us to play at the end of the year. I remember walking from one end of town to the other when I was a kid and I didn’t even have to bring a radio because everybody was outside listening to the game.” Dale: “And worst of all? You’ll never experience any of that. Yeah, I can tell you about it. But that’s like telling you how good a steak was instead of you tasting it yourself. That’s what I’m most sad about.” Liam: “But grandpa, nobody said we had to be good forever, did they?” Dale: “No, but we all so wanted it to be. But you’re right. We had more success than a lot of other people will ever see. I guess we need to remember that.” Dale: “And son, always know what’s good about the Cornhuskers. It’s not football players. It’s not who the coach is. It’s not if we ever win another championship. The best thing about the Cornhuskers is the fans. Like you and me. And your kids one day maybe. Always was, always will be. Nobody can take that away.” Liam: “So what’s gonna happen to the Huskers now, Grandpa?” Dale: “What I always say to you. Just do the best you can. Be the best you can be. Try your hardest. Be good to people. Whatever happens after that, it’s all a bonus. You did your part and you can hold your head up.” Liam: “Is it sissy to say how much you mean to me, Grandpa?” Dale: “Go ahead... no one is looking! That’s enough big talk. Let’s go out and get something cold and sweet!” Liam: “I though I was supposed to say that!”
  10. Roundball Shaman

    New Huskers Future Imagined

    Many Husker fans got mad and disappointed when they realized The Big 12 would forever be the Big Texas at Austin Conference. Many Husker fans are now mad with the realization that Nebraska will always be second-class citizens in the Big Ohio And Michigan Conference. Lovely road trips to Rutgers, to Maryland and the middle of Pennsylvania. But being mad or disappoointed won’t solve anything. Instead, there is a lesson to be learned in all this: Be a BIG FISH yourself in a NEW conference that makes better sense. Instead of trying join the popular crowd in a distant clique that will never let you in, start a new clique and YOU be a popular one. How about Nebraska as the “it” school of a new Power Six conference. Consider: The Big Continental Conference. Several traditionally good football schools in this list. Geographically sensible. Better travel for Husker fans. Real not forced traditions to be forged. A new future and a better direction for the Cornhuskers. Downside? A step down? A blow to pride? Forget all that. This is a chance to stand out nationally instead of always being ignored amongst more favored blue blood programs that will ALWAYS be the more favored forever by the powers-that-be no matter how good the Huskers get. And a nice bonus? NO TEXAS, OHIO STATE, or MICHIGAN who will ALWAYS be favored and promoted above a school from the upper Plains with a small state population that will never be a good fit in the Big 10 and that has no reasonable path to prominence by staying where they are in the college sports landscape. The Big Continental Conference. Ten schools assembled from: Boise State (Mountain West) Brigham Young (Independent) Colorado State (Mountain West) Houston (American Athletic Conference) Nebraska (Big 10) New Mexico (Mountain West) New Mexico State (Sun Belt Conference) University of Texas at San Antonio (Conference USA) Utah State (Mountain West) Wyoming (Mountain West) Make two divisions. Playoff game at football regular season end (at Denver Mile High?) to determine champion: Nebraska vs. Wyoming? Boise State? Brigham Young? This is not just stacking the deck to make Nebraska look good. This is getting away from a bad conference situation and assembling some rising Western sports programs together. Some good football schools here. And football pays the bills. Every year we get Huskers vs. natural rivals Wyoming and Colorado State. Every year we get to see Nebraska put it to two Texas schools with good football programs. Some warm weather schools for autumn season fun. Several other natural rivals among the other schools. University of Texas at San Antonio is a rising football school that just beat Baylor in Waco last weekend. Someone will ask why New Mexico State? They are a natural rival to New Mexico, and they have a decent to good basketball program and a slowly improving football culture. It is in a growing town in the sun belt region. Could this all happen? Anything can happen if you want it to. Will it happen? No, because some will prefer mega television contract money over everything else and they don’t want to ever admit they made a mistake in joining the conference they are in. But we are still allowed to dream. Huskers and their fans could have a better and more sensible university conference culture. Would you rather see Nebraska vs. Minnesota or Iowa instead of Nebraska vs. Wyoming every Thanksgiving weekend? They didn’t say “Go West Young Man” for nothing way back when.