I’ve been getting a lot* of emails recently all asking the same question: “Big Nebraska football fan, but who should I root for in the FA Cup?”
Glad you asked, because for the unaffiliated there is a clear choice here.
If you’re not fully up to speed on English football (we’re talking soccer here, of course), the Football Association (FA) is the sport’s governing body in England. The FA Cup is a tournament that is open to any team in the top 10 leagues. This year’s tournament is ongoing and included 736 teams at the start. I’ll save you the full breakdown, but the FA Cup is wonderful because it has the potential to pit semi-pro teams (even that might be a generous description in some cases) against the giants of the game. It would be like if the small-city semi-pro baseball team that you started playing on after your college career ended was in a tournament where it would have the chance to play the New York Yankees.
Not just play, but host in some cases, which sets up beautiful scenes of English heavyweights playing in stadiums like this. It’s an easy tournament to get behind given the obvious David-Goliath setup here, and if you want to dig into one of the greatest events in sports you need to get behind Lincoln City FC.
The Imps (yes, really) are in the final eight, the first time a non-league club (fifth tier) has made the FA Cup quarterfinals since 1925. Beyond that, why are you suddenly an Imps fan?
Aside from the Lincoln connection in name, there’s also this local connection: Lincoln City is quick to credit the video analysis it does using Lincoln-based Hudl:
“I would say that the video analysis we conduct using Hudl has certainly played an important part in our cup run, as well as our position in the National League,” says the club’s Performance Analyst, Glenn Skingsley, while making the long drive from his home in Braintree up to Lincolnshire ahead of the Burnley game. Skingsley worked with the brothers at the Essex club before deciding to join them at Lincoln, balancing his new part-time role with a full-time job as an IT quality manager.
“Look, it may only be 1% of the reason behind our recent success — or it may be a lot more — but we really believe that the analysis we’ve performed before matches has helped the team an awful lot,” he says. “And if you ask the players I know that they would agree. We’ve got players at the club who have played to Championship and League One level, and they reckon the analysis we provide is far more comprehensive than the kind they received at those clubs.”
Lincoln City is awaiting its quarterfinal draw. The Imps will face either Arsenal, winners of 12 FA Cups, or fellow fifth-tier side Sutton United on March 11 in London, meaning there’s still plenty of time to order your gear, book a flight and be there to watch your new favorite football team.
*Note: Nobody has asked me this, but I can’t resist the FA Cup.
On to the football I already know you care about, good column here from Steve Sipple, which includes a conversation with executive director of player personnel Billy Devaney.
You saw a few quotes from that conversation last week, and Devaney isn’t pulling any punches in what came out yesterday either.
You have to like his can-do mentality. But, c’mon, really, he’s seriously not conceding an inch to Ohio State? I mean, the Buckeyes’ last five recruiting classes have ranked second, fourth, seventh, third and second.
“Sh–, no,” Devaney says.
Jim Harbaugh’s first two recruiting classes at Michigan were Nos. 5 and 6.
Not an inch, Devaney says flatly.
“Winning big games and winning big bowl games will do wonders for us,” he says. “We’re going to get there.”
It’s that last comment that stuck out to me more than the competitive talk about conference rivals.
Is the missing, magic ingredient at Nebraska a couple of big wins? I could actually kind of buy it. Does 2016 turn out differently if Nebraska beats Wisconsin? I’m not talking about winning the West, I’m talking about avoiding 62-3 and 40-10.
It’s at least worth a shot.
The Grab Bag
- Really good read: Bruce Feldman of FOXSports.com spends 72 hours at LSU around signing day.
- ESPN Inside link, but Nebraska makes this list of the biggest quarterback battles in college football.
- Do college football officials need to have the ability to eject coaches? Jon Solomon thinks so.
- The Nebraska women’s basketball team got a much-needed win over Indiana over the weekend.
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.