I didn’t get the memo, but apparently yesterday was list day. We’ve got a coach list, a quarterback list and a coordinator list, all of which feature Nebraska. Here’s a quick rundown.
CBSSports.com is back with its annual Power 5 rankings. The first half of those rankings went up yesterday, and Mike Riley showed up at 38, up five spots from 2016.
There was a marked improvement in Riley’s second season in Lincoln, as the Huskers went from 6-7 in Year 1 to 9-4. It was Riley’s first nine-win season since 2012, and only his third since 2008. Another step forward and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him pushing into the top 25 next year.
Quantify “step forward.” I still think the Huskers will be hard pressed to improve upon nine wins in 2017, but if they do then a significant bump for Riley probably is in order.
As things stand now, Riley ranks ninth in the Big Ten. (Two other random reactions: 1. Marylyand’s D.J. Durkin is probably underrated. 2. Not a great showing so far for the Big 12.)
Paul Myerberg of USA Today ranked the first-year starters at Power 5 programs, with Tanner Lee coming in third.
He’s a first-year starter at Nebraska but not an inexperienced option: Lee started two years at Tulane before transferring before last season. While Tommy Armstrong was a gutsy, agile and fairly productive contributor for the Cornhuskers, Lee represents a dramatic upgrade for Mike Riley. He’ll also allow Riley and his offensive staff to implement their desired scheme.
Lee finished behind whichever new guy is playing for Texas Tech, an endowed spot on any such list. (This year its Nic Shimonek.) New Auburn starter Jarrett Stidham, a Baylor transfer, took home the top ranking. Learn his name now. The Tigers’ offense is a perfect fit for his skill set and he also wins the timing award, bailing on a Baylor program a year ago. How much did that program change in the year Stidham spent redshirting at Auburn? And now he gets to put up a ton of numbers in a Gus Malzahn offense and probably contend for the SEC West.
Matt Murschel of the Orlando Sentinel — the Sentinel‘s college football coverage is great by the way — lists the new defensive coordinators most likely to make an impact in 2017 and of course Bob Diaco made the list.
Nebraska coach Mike Riley parted ways with defensive coordinator Mark Banker after two seasons as defensive coordinator in Lincoln. The Cornhuskers finished sixth in the Big Ten in total defense in 2016 but struggled late in the season. Diaco was brought in to bring a different perspective along with his own version of the 3-4 defensive scheme the Huskers will run in 2017.
Arkansas interviewed Diaco. Didn’t get him, but the Razorbacks’ eventual DC, former Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads, did make the list. Diaco and Rhoads are two of five former head coaches on the list. Randy Shannon (former Miami HC, now Florida DC), Jim Leavitt (USF, Oregon) and Tim DeRuyter (Fresno State, Cal) also made the cut.
The Grab Bag
- If you’re a Hail Varsity subscriber, reader or listener we want to hear from you. We’re conducting a survey on the coverage we provide and we’d love it if you gave us your thoughts. We’ll be randomly selecting a few respondents for prizes, so if you have five minutes check it out.
- Berry Trammel writes that if Oklahoma were to leave the Big 12, the Big Ten would be the Sooners’ conference of choice.
- The SEC Network is the most valuable conference network in the land. One important note here: The SEC doesn’t own any of the network. The Big Ten owns 49 percent of its network.
- Wide receiver Rayshad Lewis, son of Ray Lewis, is transferring from Utah State to Maryland.
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.