Nebraska athletic director Shawn Eichorst wasted no time following Nebraska’s season-ending loss in overtime to Penn State in the Big Ten Tournament on Wednesday. It was another game in which the Huskers never led, a 45-minute fan experience similar to the feeling of not being able to catch ones breath.
Nebraska’s last five games were like that and that spurred a lot of speculation over Tim Miles’ future in Lincoln. Eichorst, acting quickly and decisively, put an end to that minutes after yesterday’s game was over.
I never got any indication that the administration was thinking any differently, but the Huskers’ limp home this season, in combination with the two previous seasons, really forced the issue of whether Nebraska should be weighing its options and that debate can carry on for a few more days or weeks before everyone turns the page to 2017-18.
As for Miles and his team, I’m sure that has already happened. This needs to be a soul-searching sort of offseason for Nebraska basketball. Recruiting is the one area that is probably running at optimal efficiency at this point. Everything else as it pertains to on-court performance and how to manage that needs to be reevaluated. If you are a Husker hoops fans, there’s nothing more troubling here than if Nebraska returns next fall and nothing seems different because “same” clearly isn’t working.
Now, that’s a lot easier to type than to do. No matter the vocation, honestly questioning everything you’ve ever done is an anxiety-inducing idea. Acting on the results of that self-evaluation is another step beyond that. But read enough leadership books and that sort of continual learning becomes a common theme.
That should be Nebraska’s offseason ahead. It should be painful and occasionally ugly. It should be those things behind the scenes; this isn’t a place for onlookers.
The rest of us will get to see how it went next fall. Should be interesting.
The Ballad of Bubba
Can we call Bubba Starling a former Husker? He was in fall camp for a few days before signing a deal with the Kansas City Royals, which included a $7.5 million signing bonus, in 2011. Given the overlap in the Venn diagram between Huskers and Royals fans, interest has remained fairly high in Starling no matter the label.
And as those fans know, it has been a slow climb up the baseball ladder for Starling, prompting the Royals brass to send him to its training academy in the Dominican Republic. Vahe Gregorian of the Kansas City Star tells the story of Starling’s recent trip to Santo Domingo.
The goal here is a sort of cultural immersion therapy, I think. As Gregorian writes, Royals GM Dayton Moore “considers it significant to send some inherently more privileged American-born players there to help them appreciate from what and where many of their teammates come.”
That’s sort of a telling sign as to where things stand with Starling:
The expedition may or may not have a substantial impact on Starling’s growth as a player.
While Moore has been saying for nearly two years that Starling could play the outfield for the Royals right now, he regressed at the plate last season when he hit .185 at Class AA Northwest Arkansas after apparent breakthroughs in 2015.
Starling all of a sudden is 24, a fact he jokingly said means he’s “getting old now” but also logically says … if not now, when?
“I don’t look at it as a make or a break year,” Moore said, “but it’s an important year for him.”
Starling went 1-for-1 with a walk in the Royals’ 7-3 win over Cincinnati on Tuesday. Headed into today he was hitting .385 this spring.
The Grab Bag
- ICYMI: Nebraska completed the two-game sweep of Northern Colorado yesterday, running the Huskers’ current win streak to three.
- Alex Davis talks about his transition from a 4-3 defensive end to a 3-4 outside linebacker. His development will be key for the Huskers in 2017.
- I see a black (and gold) heart and I wanted it painted red: Huskers.com’s Randy York on Bob Diaco and Bob Elliott’s Iowa roots.
- Steak is for closers only at Texas under Tom Herman. Pretty sure limiting beef intake is a felony in the Lone Star State, so we’ll see if the authorities get involved.
Today’s Song of Today
Brandon is the Managing Editor for Hail Varsity and has covered Nebraska athletics for the magazine and web since 2012, Hail Varsity’s first season on the scene. His sports writing has also been featured by Fox Sports, The Guardian and CBS Sports.