Odds and Ends

It's "down time", but when it comes to college football there really isn't such a thing. Sure, Nebraska is preparing for Washington and the Holiday Bowl. There is just so much more going on this time of year than there has been in years passed and I had to just get everything down that I was thinking about. So, here are the odds and ends.

It's about time
I know that it hasn't only miffed or perplexed me why Alex Henery hasn't been chosen for more post-season awards, but now he is getting his due. Henery, along with Prince Amukamura were named to the AP All-American team the other day. It's a huge honor, for both, to be recognized nationally for being the best at their position. Also when you got into the second and third string teams you found even more Huskers - Jared Crick and Lavonte David on the second team and Eric Hagg on the third team.

But, what does this say about the Big 12 All-Conference teams? Yes, the All-American honor that Henery picked up was by the AP and the conference honors are by the coaches. Henery is 68 for 76 all time in field goal attempts at Nebraska giving him an 89% field goal percentage over his four year career at Nebraska, and you wonder how the coaches could overlook his efforts? Did he score the most? No. Did he get the most opportunities? Definitely not. Was he the most consistent and accurate? Absolutely.

Henery will have the last laugh though. The NFL these days have an abundance of either overvalued, big name kickers that aren't worth it or no-name kickers that it seems a team is trying to save a buck or two by bringing in a guy that was stocking the soup aisle in Wal-Mart last summer. Henery doesn't have long to wait. A long, rich career is in front him as a kicker or a punter or both in the NFL.

Somebody's gotta do something, right?

I have seen the picture of Tevin Mitchel (and friends) on his official visit to Arkansas and while I can't say that I am shocked that Arkansas or any team in the SEC for that matter would have a room full of apparent secondary recruiting violations I would say that I am surprised that such a photo would surface. I mean, has anyone in Fayetteville read the recruiting rules when it comes "Activities During An Official Visit"? Activities During Official Visit.
An institution may not arrange miscellaneous, personalized recruiting aids (e.g., personalized jerseys, personalized audio/video scoreboard presentations) and may not permit a prospective student-athlete to engage in any game-day simulations (e.g., running onto the field with the team during pregame introductions) during an official visit. Personalized recruiting aids include any decorative items and special additions to any location the prospective student-athlete will visit (e.g., hotel room, locker room, coach's office, conference room, arena) regardless of whether the items include the prospective student-athlete's name or picture. (Adopted: 8/5/04, Revised: 5/14/05)

First, there is the assumption that we are all making that the picture is indeed real and not edited. I am not a big photo editing kind of guy and wouldn't know what to look for when it comes to editing. But this picture looks legit. So let's go forward and diagnose what is wrong with this picture per the rule.

Let's start out with personalized jerseys. I would go as far as to say that the player's number is personalized enough, but what you can't see (and what I would want to know) is whether or not the players' names were stitched across the back. This would constitute a violation, but I think that the number on the front does that anyway.

Let's then take a look at the locker. I see a corresponding name and number on top of the lockers that are in back of the players that match up to players in the photo and players that we know were in Fayetteville last weekend for an official visit along with Nebraska commitment Tevin Mitchel. #56, is Tyler Gilbert who happens to be in the picture in the back left. #71, Jason Peacock is in the picture and his name is above another locker. The same goes for #74 Austin Beck and #78 Aaron Douglas who all have a name and number on the locker with a corresponding number in the picture. One has to wonder if there were lockers for the others, particularly Tevin Mitchel.

I don't know what it takes for a player or in this case players to be ruled initially as being ineligible because of secondary violations, but this picture is about as damming of a piece of evidence to have the NCAA review about these recruits' eligibility to be recruited by Arkansas. I am not saying that there aren't other teams that probably do this too. I have no doubts that there are. However, there aren't pictures being floated around basically advertising these recruiting violations by any other school. There is something to be said about cheating and that is it's only considered cheating if you get caught. I would say Arkansas has been caught.

Too many changes a bad thing?

There has been a lot of speculation about assistant coaches leaving at the end of this year. From the sounds of it the most talked about are Shawn Watson for obvious reasons since he has been in the news recently for interviewing for the job at Vanderbilt. Because of Watson I have heard Ted Gilmore's name come up as a possibility of leaving just because Watson and Gilmore seem pretty tight with one another.

On the defensive side of the football there has been speculation about John Papuchis and Mike Ekeler moving on from Nebraska. With Papuchis the suspicious piece of evidence that has everyone wondering is the relationship between him and Will Mushchamp, now the head coach of Florida. With Ekeler there has been updates by the local media that say nothing is new about them leaving.

Some people have the opinion that there needs to be turnover in the coaching ranks and I would agree to some extent. There has been some pretty good continuity within this coaching staff over the past couple of years mostly because they have had success. This staff has been pretty impressive since there has been some consistency back to the Bill Callahan staff, but also some injection of some of Bo's guys (particularly on offense).

Can a west coast guy like Watson run the zone read the way it's supposed to be run? Does he even want to?

Now hear me out. You might say that pretty impressive equals two Big 12 North titles and no Big 12 Championships? And I would say yes. The offensive staff, at least to me on the outside looking in, looks very hodge podge. I think that there is a desire to get to a more of a spread option with the zone read, but yet you have a west coast offensive coordinator and an offensive line coach that I think would rather go hat on a hat as opposed to zone blocking.

It just doesn't fit all that well if you know what I mean. It's not a square peg in a round hole, but it might be a round hole trying to fit a pipe shaped like an octagon. Close, but not quite right.

Turnover, to some degree, could do this team and staff some good. There could be some new ideas and maybe a better mesh of ideas overall then some people that on the surface don't fit particularly well with one another. Now, let me state, that I don't know for sure that these coaches don't fit all that well first hand, but I know what these coaches have done before and to some extent it isn't what they are doing now.

Good to see the emotion Reading about Bo Pelini getting choked up at the football banquet is a good sign. I think that it's a good sign because you know where he's at mentally about his job in Lincoln and about his players in Lincoln. Some think that the tears were about some guilt. Guilt that he might have about the way that the season played out. Maybe. But, I have my own theory.

I think that classic Bo here would have his heart with his players. I think getting choked up is a good sign about what he thinks about his players. I don't think that he ever thinks that the job of coaching and mentoring is over and that all of these kids that come into his program, go through his program and leave his program will forever be his players.

This senior class, though, is unique. These players, at least by what I am looking at by class, aren't players who Bo recruited. These are players who were recruited under Bill Callahan. These are players who not unlike when Bo was at Oklahoma as the DC, you saw the picture of him hugging and talking to Nebraska players after the game. After the Nebraska players had endured a long season under Callahan. After the Huskers had endured a long night in Norman.

This class isn't a lot different. Their careers when it comes to team success improved with Bo coming to town, but it never seemed to crescendo into that top peak. It got close, but inevitably fell short. Bo wants success, but the success isn't for him. He wants his players to enjoy the spoils of being able to say ‘I was a Big 12 champ at Nebraska'. He might feel guilt because they didn't get there, but it wasn't because he didn't get to say those words. It's because his seniors and other players didn't get to say those words.

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