Mailbag: Pressure Situations
Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Hot Reads: A Blue-Blood Bias?

June 12, 2018

What if I told you Phil Steele has the Huskers picked fourth in the Big Ten West in his soon-to-be-released preseason magazine? I haven't received my copy of Steele's preview yet, but that's the ranking he revealed in a recent radio interview.

Not that shocking, right? Pretty much in-line with the preseason trend for Nebraska. I would put forward that is a mild surprise.

That's because Steele tends to like Nebraska in his preseason projections, and this marks just the second time in the past 13 seasons that he's had the Huskers predicted to finish fourth in the division. We also know that he isn't afraid to zig when others zag when it comes to projections.

In the case of Nebraska, Steele has most often zigged up. Since 2006, the extent of my stack o' Steeles, he's had the Huskers higher than's preseason consensus five times. Steele has been below the preseason consensus twice (2007, 2014). That includes this season, but the preseason consensus only includes three outlets at this point so it very much could change.

Here it is year by year:


And in case you're curious, Steele has correctly picked Nebraska's actual spot in the division standings five times in 13 seasons. Four of those were years in which he picked the Huskers to finish first and they did (2006, 2009, 2010, 2012).

The preseason consensus has hit four times in the past 13 years.

The sample sizes are small as are the range of outcomes, but I always find this interesting when June rolls around and Phil Steele hits the shelves. In the pages of that magazine it's almost as though Nebraska's recent fall from relevance hasn't been nearly as severe as it feels. At least that's one of my takeaways every time I go back and look at the predictions.

Of course predictions are different than results. That could mean Nebraska's reputation as a national power (and the natural advantages it provides) leads Steele to overvalue the Huskers. It's also possible Nebraska has underachieved in some years based on Steele's rankings. It's probably some combination thereof.

Here's a third theory: Maybe Steele has a slight blue-blood bias. That would likely be advantageous when it comes to predictions in most year. In this sport, the teams that have won before tend to win again.

Now I'm going to have to go back and see where Steele has been ranking Texas all these years.

The Grab Bag

  • Big news by the Lake (Michigan): Northwestern is getting Hunter Johnson, formerly of Clemson and the top-ranked pro-style quarterback in the 2017 recruiting class.
  • Paul Myerberg looks at "the problem with college football's postseason."
  • The NCAA Division I Council is expected to forward legislation today that would no longer require athletes to obtain permission to transfer.
  • ICYMI: We revealed the cover of our 2018 Husker Football Yearbook yesterday. It will be on newsstands shortly. We will also be announcing some big news in the Hail Varsity world later this week, so stay tuned for that.

Today's Song of Today

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