Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos made his last monthly appearance of 2018 on Husker Sports Nightly on Monday night. As far as year-end reviews go, right now is perhaps the best time to be taking stock of Nebraska athletics.
The volleyball team just outperformed its always-high expectations again, reaching the NCAA Tournament Final as a seven-seed and taking Stanford to a fifth set. Football, after a losing-but-still-promising first season under Scott Frost, rides some momentum into the offseason and will be back on center stage tomorrow with the start of the early signing period. Men's basketball, fresh off another résumé-building win on Sunday, is off to its best start in nearly a decade.
Moos made specific mention of the latter on Monday night.
"We've got a real, real good basketball team this year," he said. "We're fun to watch, play with confidence, have already established some really good wins that are hopefully going to help us down the road when the committee's together."
While the Huskers' tournament profile is strong at this point, Nebraska head coach Tim Miles, who followed Moos in the second hour for his regular spot on the show, joked that now it's time for the polls to catch up with what the power rankings are saying about the Huskers.
Nebraska (9-2) ranked 22nd in the Coaches Poll and 25th in the Associated Press Poll, both released yesterday, far below where the Huskers rank in the Sagarin ratings (9th), KenPom (14th) or NET (13th), the NCAA's new metric for the tournament selection committee. Miles hinted that the Huskers' history might have something to do with that.
"If our jerseys said Iowa State I think we'd be about 12 in the country," he said.
Overrated or underrated, Moos is happy with where the basketball program is at near the end of 2018.
"We've got a lot of work to take care of before we get [to tournament selection], but I really like what we're seeing right now," he said.
On to some other notes from Moos:
>>Moos had some praise for Coach John Cook and the Nebraska volleyball team, saying once again that the program is what he hopes all programs at Nebraska can be. Specifically on Cook:
"He's a great teacher, a wonderful mentor, a true inspiration, but, boy, he can coach the game from the bench, too. I saw that again throughout this year and again as we got into the tournament, of ways to get an advantage here or there and to challenge when it needed to be. It's fun and exciting to watch him coach and those players play, and we've got more of it coming down the road."
>>Nebraska reached an agreement with Akron on the payout for the canceled season-opener this year. Moos said the negotiations were "not contentious in any way," which helped pave the way for the schools scheduling another game down the road.
"In the conversations with Larry Williams, the athletic director at Akron, [he said] 'our kids really wanted a chance to play in Memorial Stadium and to play against Nebraska . . .' When I heard that I thought maybe we should schedule one down the road when we both have an open date and you factor that into whatever agreement we come up with," Moos said.
Akron will play at Nebraska on Sept. 6, 2025.
>>The caller who asked Moos about Nebraska football recruiting didn't ask for a class-size estimation, but Moos, showing how deeply in-tune he is with what happens in the football offices, offered one anyway.
"I think we're looking really good. From what I understand we could sign as many as 25 on Wednesday," he said. "That's the limit usually, but we get five more because we've got carryover happening."
Nebraska has 22 players verbally committed at this point.
>>Even though we're headed for the coldest months of the year, baseball made it onto the show thanks to the question of a die-hard fan who asked for an assessment of Darin Erstad's program.
"I'm always a believer that good, solid programs produce winning teams," Moos said. "I believe we have a very good program in Husker baseball. We've proven that we can produce good teams.
Nebraska won the Big Ten regular-season title in 2017, before "stubbing its toe" in 2018 according to Moos. The Huskers dealt with a rash of pitcher injuries last season, falling to 24-28 and missing the Big Ten Tournament, which came with a little extra insult-to-injury as the event was played in Omaha.
Still, Moos said he's confident in the direction of the baseball program.
"In talking with Darin, he takes it very seriously. He wears it on his sleeve. He's a true Nebraska Cornhusker, a champion in two sports, a hall-of-famer himself and nobody wants to win more than Darin does," Moos said. "I've got every bit of confidence that we'll be right back on track this season."
The Grab Bag
- Nebraska volleyball ranked second in the final AVCA poll of the season.
- Recruiting analyst Greg Smith offers some predictions for where the uncommitted Nebraska targets will end up signing.
- Jacob Padilla offers his weekly roundup of high school hoops in Nebraska.
- Something worth keeping an eye on: 5-star Georgia quarterback Justin Fields announced he is exploring a transfer and Ohio State might be high on the list.
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