You up for another matchup with Georgia in a Florida bowl game?
The Huskers and Dawgs Sunshine State tour has already hit north Florida and the Atlantic coast, a 24-19 Nebraska win in the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville following the 2013 season. In 2012, it made a stop in central Florida with Georgia winning the Capital One (née Citrus) Bowl in Orlando 45-31.
Should we add Tampa and the Gulf coast to the mix? That’s Jerry Palm’s season-opening prediction — Nebraska v. Georgia in the Outback Bowl.
If you can get past seeing a Huskers-Bulldogs meeting for the third time in six seasons, this actually wouldn’t be a bad spot for Nebraska relative to preseason predictions. Since 2011 the Outback Bowl has matched two ranked teams from the SEC and Big Ten in five of six years. Iowa, a 21-14 loser to No. 14 LSU in 2014, was the only unranked team in that group. Minus the last two years they’ve been close games, too. Each game between 2012 and 2015 was decided by one score or less.
While I like variety as much as the next person, you could talk me into this game. It would mean that Nebraska likely exceeded preseason expectations and Georgia, the preseason favorite in the SEC East, may have fallen a bit short.
It would also be another dot on our Florida bowl game bingo card. If we can check off the Outback Bowl, Georgia and Nebraska would then only have to meet in the Cure and Camping World Bowls (both Orlando, so much Orlando), the Boca Raton Bowl, the St. Petersburg Bowl and the Orange Bowl (Miami) to complete the set. And if we really wanted to put a bow on the whole thing, might as well throw the Bahamas Bowl (Nassau) in there. I mean, it’s right there, just a hop from Miami.
That’s five, maybe six, bowl games after the Huskers and Bulldogs presumably meet in Tampa this year. It’s a lot of Georgia, so I would actually advocate for playing more than one in a year. I don’t see any reason why these teams couldn’t play a three-game series. Start at the Cure Bowl in mid-December (Nebraska wears it’s home uniform, Georgia away). Swing over to St. Pete for game two (Nebraska away, Georgia home) about a week later. Then, and we might need some help from the officials to make sure the series is 1-1 after two games, start the new year by finishing up in the Orange Bowl (both teams in alternates) where the winner will be awarded the state of Florida. Or a really nice trophy.
It would make Nebraska’s run of bowls against Florida State — four games over seven seasons, 1987-93 — seem quaint by comparison.
Navy Coach Ken Niumatalolo ranks pretty high on my coaching crush list. (Enough so that I didn’t even have to look up how to spell his name.) Service-academy football is a unique beast, but that guy can coach. His best quality may be, however, an immunity to paranoia, which is unique in his profession.
The start of fall camp has brought a handful of stories about decreased media access at major programs, including Notre Dame, LSU and Texas. Dan Sternberg of the Washington Post wrote an excellent story contrasting those recent developments with what is happening at Navy.
Comparatively speaking, the Midshipmen are an open book and they’ve averaged nine wins a year since 2012 anyway. You’ll have to take my word for it, but I promise you I’m not approaching this from a media member’s perspective. I have removed the fedora with a press pass in the band, swear. Better access means I can do a better job, but that’s not what sticks out to me here.
It’s the clear-headedness. Just look how rational this is. Niumatalolo on letting his assistants speak to the media:
“I mean, they’re all grown men,” the head coach explained. “If I couldn’t trust them talking to the media, how the heck can I trust them to work for me? The assistant coaches are the lifeblood of your program. They’re the guys that go out and recruit, they’re the guys that actually work with your players. And if you can’t trust them to talk to the media … ”
And this from Navy SID Scott Strasemeier:
“I don’t think having media at our practice has anything to do with whether we win or lose; we’re going to win football games if we don’t turn the ball over and can run the ball,” Strasemeier said. “We want to sell our program, and the best way to sell our program is through the media. And for our student-athletes, the guys on the team, it’s great practice for when they go on to the military. They’re going to be leading enlisted men and women in the Navy and the Marine Corps; they have to be able to stand up and talk to people. I think interviews are great practice for that.”
If we continue on our current path, Navy might become the most-covered football program in the country. And I’d be fine with that.
Scratch everything I wrote at the top. Give me a Navy-Nebraska bowl game.
The Grab Bag
- How does the Huskers’ receiving corps look minus Jaevon McQuitty? Derek Peterson runs down the options.
- Is former assistant AD Barney Farrar the fall guy at Ole Miss? He gives his first interview here since being fired in December.
- Jake Kocorowski of Bucky’s 5th Quarter looks at what Jack Cichy’s season-ending injury means for Wisconsin.
- Back down to Georgia for a second: This is a hilarious read on UGA signing up a new in-stadium barbecue purveyor . . . from Alabama.
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.