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Mailbag: The Coolest Things About Sports

May 09, 2017

What are some of the coolest aspects of various sports? That was one of the questions we received this week and we couldn’t help but answer it. Beyond that, there was a little on recruiting, food and board games. Yes, you read that right. It’s never boring around here.

Brandon Vogel, Jacob Padilla and Erin Sorensen answer your questions in this week’s Hail Varsity mailbag.

Q: What’s the coolest thing about each sport? I’ll take hockey: golden goal overtimes in the playoffs, followed closely by pulling the goalie. – M.S., Cook/Tecumseh, Neb.

JP: As a basketball nerd, there’s nothing that gets me as fired up as great ball movement, whether that’s seeing the ball fly around the court with all five players getting a touch leading to a wide open shot or one tremendous individual passer dropping an absolute dime to a teammate. I suppose a poster dunk is pretty cool too. In general, though, I’d say it’s hard to beat a last-second game-winner in any sport.

BV: Football is a tough one because there’s so much happening on each play, but give me a good, game-winning two-minute drill. It’s tough to beat from a narrative standpoint because most of football is trying to understand the twists and turns. How does this turnover change things? Is that missed field goal going to come back and bit a team? Was that the third down State U simply had to have? With the final drive, however, the stakes are always stark: Team A has to go X yards in Y seconds. If it does, win. If it doesn’t, loss.

Bonus soccer pick: Penalty kicks. I’m somewhat ashamed of that answer because penalty kicks aren’t really soccer. They’re an entirely separate game, but they contain a bunch of great elements: strategy, game theory, psychology, data, drama and ability. (Random brainstorm: MLS should have a winter penalty-kick season. Same teams, 10 kicks each, but just from the penalty spot. Games would take maybe 30 minutes. The teams would have to strategize differently, picking their best nine because I’d have the goal-keepers kick, too. Maybe you have PK meets, where you bring in three teams to get a more stadium-friendly event. The home team gets the game in the middle off, but the two visitors have to go back-to-back. It wouldn’t be soccer but it would be a lot of fun.)

Q: How many 2019 commits could we get by the end of the year? – B.W., Neb.

ES: That’s a great question. Nebraska currently has one 2019 commitment from wide receiver Marquez Beason and it’s hard to tell when more commitments will start rolling in. If I had to take a guess, I’d settle for around three total by the end of the year. With the direction the 2018 class is going, I could see a few guys getting on board early for the next class.

Q: Who do you wager on being next head football coach at Kansas State: Sean Snyder, Craig Bohl or the field? – H., David City, Neb.

BV: You probably have to take Snyder. I’d choose Bohl over him, but it’s all about how much sway Bill Snyder still has when he eventually steps away. He’ll probably have enough to get the succession plan he wants, though the K-State athletic department has seen a lot of change recently. I think Sean gets his shot, but he’ll have a pretty short leash.

Q: Arkansas State and Iowa coaches a poppin’ off. Disrespect? Team Motivational Tech? Or do the coaches buy it? – 3.L.C.

BV: I’m sure their coaches buy it, at least a little bit. No need to rehash the whole Brian Ferentz thing with facts versus perception, but I’m sure he believed what he said. As for Arkansas State, I think it’s the sort of thing you have to say as a coach, particularly at a G5 school. And it’s not baseless. Arkansas State is a solid program. That game is not a lambs-to-slaughter situation at all.

Q: What one game should I come back to Lincoln for this year? – F., Denver, Colo.

JP: Definitely Rutgers. Any time you get a chance to see the Scarlet Knights in person, you have to do it. Seriously though, I’ll say Wisconsin on October 7. If Nebraska can get past Oregon, the Huskers should be 5-0 at that point. The winner will get a leg up in the division.

BV: Jacob took the No. 1 answer, so I’ll offer an alternate: Northwestern. The two NUs almost always play good, close games. The road teams have an edge in the series. And, it could be a pivotal game for the division. Nebraska will have played Wisconsin and Ohio State at that point, so depending on the results there this Northwestern game could be a season-stays-alive or season-dies game. Running the risk of some worse weather in the first week of November, but maybe October will bleed over into that first weekend.

Q: More important recruit for the sport: Bookie or Thomas Allen? – 3.L.C.

JP: There is no doubt that both were huge pick-ups for Nebraska, but as the resident hoops guy I’ll have to say Allen. With only five players on the court, an individual basketball player can usually make a bigger impact than a football player who is one of 11 (quarterback being the outlier). Couple that with the fact that Nebraska needed some serious good news with so many players transferring out, and his timing couldn’t be any better. Allen’s commitment was something of a pleasant surprise with so many high-profile schools recruiting him, especially because he was exactly what Nebraska needed: a playmaker who can shoot the lights out. Allen was a massive addition.

Q: Hi! Media person here. For when I cover the game in the fall, need best places to eat. – J.K., Madison, Wisc.

ES: It totally depends on what you’re in the mood for. If you want a good steak with ambience, the Havelock Misty’s is the place to be the night before a game. If you want a good burger, Honest Abe’s or Leadbelly is where I’d head. I never pass up The Watering Hole for their grilled wings either. As for pizza, you can’t go wrong with either Yia-Yia’s or Lazzari’s (they’re right across the street from each other for convenience). There’s also a Chipotle within walking distance of the stadium, you know, just in case.

Q: What is your go-to board game or card game? – K.B., Omaha, Neb.

JP: I used to play a lot of card games growing up, but haven’t done so in quite some time, sadly. I liked Rummy, Speed and Kings in the Corner. I also played various kinds of poker with my friends or my grandma.

BV: Ten-point pitch was the game of my high school/college years. I would probably be somewhat alarmed if I went back and tallied up all of the hours spent playing just that game, but it was fun. I’d play it right now if I had three other people ready for a game. I’ll dabble in some four-point, too.

ES: I have always liked Monopoly and the game of Life (I’m serious). As for cards, I’m a fan of War of Solitaire. I also like UNO.

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