What is the summer for if not for a few shots across a rival's bow?
New Colorado head coach Mel Tucker, intentionally or not, got one of those off recently when talking about recruiting the state of Colorado and running up against Nebraska often in those battles. From the Denver Post:
. . . There are kids right now that you (ask), ‘Well, who are your top guys?’ And they’ll say, ‘Nebraska.’
“And you look and say, ‘Well, what has Nebraska done?’ But in their mind, that’s like way, way better than CU.”
Greg Smith already looked at this from a recruiting perspective, which should be somewhat maddening for Tucker, who is still very much new to these parts, so to speak. The former Wisconsin defensive back spent a decade coaching in the NFL from 2005–14 before a quick Alabama-Georgia swing that landed him the Colorado job.
As noted in the Denver Post story, if you look at the past four years Colorado's record (24-27) is a half-game better than Nebraska's (23-27). If that's the only frame of reference that's relevant to a player being recruited now, it's a window that includes Nebraska's three Mike Riley years and Scott Frost's first to attempt to pull out of that nosedive. That window includes the Huskers' first consecutive losing seasons in nearly 60 years and Colorado's out-of-nowhere run to a 10-4 record and appearance in the Pac-12 title game in 2016. If college football brands are built in a half-decade then, sure, "what has Nebraska done?", but it's not hard to find an answer here.
Stretch back to the past decade (2009–18) and Nebraska's record (80-51)––a fallow period by Big Red's standards, but one that included three shots at a conference title––is 38 games better in the win column than Colorado's (42-82). Go back 20 years? That, according to some, would included the role the Buffs played in "The Day the Mystique Died" for Husker football, the 62-21 thrashing at Boulder in 2001. Nebraska (166-92) is 62 wins better than Colorado (104-145) over that span, which include the entire lifetime of a prospect being recruited now. Keep going back and it only gets worse for the Buffs.
Despite what everyone says about shortened attention spans, etc., etc., a recruit need not have lived the 1990s to perceive a difference between Nebraska and Colorado. It's sort of just there, in not playing in front of empty seats, in the fan fervor you see everywhere for the Huskers (but it's especially hard to miss in Colorado), in the memories of these prospects' mentors––coaches and parents––which almost certainly include some of Nebraska's top-of-the-game years. This is why college football stays more or less the same at the top.
What has Nebraska done? It hasn't been Nebraska for 20 years now, and that was still better than Colorado on the whole.
Bellevue West wide receiver and Nebraska commit Zavier Betts posted this on Twitter yesterday.
— zavier betts ₁₅ (@zavierbetts1) July 2, 2019
If it's not clear from the "99th percentile" there, that's a very good score. Betts posted it at The Opening Finals, an invite-only event taking part now in Frisco, Texas. His score ranks seventh on the current leaderboard for all The Opening testing, which doesn't include scores from the Finals at this point, and would've ranked seventh on last year's leaderboard as well.
Today’s Song of Today