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Mailbag: Documentaries We Want to See and Future Football

April 01, 2020

It is mailbag time once again. The Hail Varsity staff is back to answer your questions.

You have been asked to choose the next great documentary or docuseries to be developed. What is the event, story, myth, or person you would make it about? (@Corn_Huskers) 

Derek Peterson: This one’s easy, but also this one is getting made at some point or another. I want a 30-for-30 on the rise and fall of the Oklahoma City Thunder. The city of OKC built a hockey arena in hopes of landing a pro hockey team, was turned down, got a temporary NBA team when Katrina happened, had such strong attendance it was able to steal another NBA team from Seattle, went to the NBA Finals with a bunch of 20-year-olds four years later, looked like a Warriors-level dynasty in the making, then trades and injuries killed everything as fast as it began. I would hate watch that so hard. That being said, this upcoming Jordan doc is going to take up all of my time for the foreseeable future. 

Greg Smith: This is also easy for me. I need a 30-for-30 on the (most recent) Lakers dynasty. We essentially pick it up when Phil Jackson came in as coach. We run through their dominance, the Kobe/Shaq feud and what that did to the locker room. There is a lot there. It’d be odd to tell the story without Kobe now but it’s definitely a story worth telling.  

Erin Sorensen: I want the 30-for-30 on the 1990s Nebraska teams to finally happen. The documentary was nixed for “a variety of reasons,” per ESPN, but I would like it to happen. Maybe this one will be what I’m looking for.  

Jacob Padilla: This has been covered pretty well in different media formats over the years, but considering how the last decade has gone for me as a fan I’d love a documentary on the Seven Seconds or Less Suns. Obviously there’s a book about it, and people like Mike D’Antoni and Steve Nash have talked it in various places, but I’d love to see it get the full 30 for 30 treatment with the highlights and all the key people talking about that era and how it influenced today’s game.  

If the NCAA decides to allow teams to finish their remaining spring training this summer, would JD be able to participate, and how much of a benefit to him would that even be with him being a fourth-year starter? (@InDaWilderness) 

DP: If he was back with the team at the point which workouts started up again, then yes, theoretically he’d be able to participate. Academics would need to be in order. Spielman hasn’t participated in spring ball much during his Husker career, so even though he’s older, it would still probably help working with Lubick and what not.  

How will this whole thing end up affecting football? Let's say hypothetically that the season goes on as planned. Having spent so much time out of the weight room and practice field, how would Nebraska's outlook change? What about football in general? (@InDaWilderness) 

DP: It wouldn’t look great, at least to begin. I’ve seen rumors starting a season in July was discussed; that would make things even worse considering you’d be asking teams to go from March through May without working out together and then start a season two months later. I don’t see that happening. Not much different, though, from the plan right now. Running on an elliptical or running around the home neighborhood isn’t the same as working out in Zach Duval’s weight room. No one would be in football shape. I think you’d see procedural penalties and mental mistakes all over the place with all this time off. Then again, it could just look like preseason pro football throughout the nonconference and this is all an overreaction. Still, Nebraska can’t afford any slip-ups in its noncon schedule given the last five weeks of the year. 

GS: I think it depends. In your hypothetical with the season going on as planned, when does practice start? Do we get those lost spring practices made up? If you get those practices in with time to get everyone re-conditioned the season might not look that different. To me this all depends on getting enough practice and training time in.  

JP: The good thing for Nebraska is it would be a pretty level playing field. Everybody would have to deal with the missed time in the weight room. Like Derek said, even those who are doing their best on their own to stay in shape will have a tough time transitioning back into football shape. We’ll probably get some sloppy play early on like Derek laid out, but the bigger problem in my mind is potentially an increased risk of injury. Depth might be more important than ever before, which doesn’t exactly benefit Nebraska at this point.  

What non-sport thing do you miss the most about life before quarantine? (@InDaWilderness) 

GS: Going to the gym. I start almost every day by going to the gym so not doing that has messed with my routine which I don’t deal well with. Since that’s sports adjacent I’ll give a bonus. I also miss just randomly walking to The Mill for coffee from the office. It’s always a nice little break in the day and at the end there is coffee! And sometimes a muffin, ha.  

JP: Honestly, at this point I don’t really have any one non-sports thing that comes to mind, mostly because my life is more or less built around sports. The two things that I’m missing most are my pick-up basketball runs (I play most Wednesdays and Sundays with a Monday or Tuesday mixed in here and there) and coaching/watching AAU tournaments. The first AAU event of the spring was supposed to be this weekend, so I’m really starting to feel that void. I am missing out on seeing my coworkers a couple of times a week like I’d be doing if spring football was going on, but honestly, I’m less productive in the office a lot of the time because we end up getting sidetracked so easily. 

ES: I miss the little things I took for granted, like seeing (and hugging!) friends and family, traveling to and from Lincoln for work a couple of days per week (that’s always when I catch up on podcasts) and going places like restaurants and bars. I also miss what was the planning for my wedding on May 16. We were in the home stretch and I was enjoying the little moments (like dress fittings, menu tastings, etc.) and was looking forward to upcoming celebrations and trips. That all disappearing in what feels like a blink of an eye has been hard and I miss what my normal was just a few short weeks ago. 

In a scenario where games are played without fans in attendance; which Huskers team would suffer the most from lack of home court/field advantage? 

DP: College football without fans wouldn’t even be the same sport. Band and cheerleaders won’t be deemed “essential personnel,” I don’t think. You’d lose a massive, massive home advantage. 

GS: Football by far. I agree with everything Derek said but I’ll add something else. How do you recruit under those circumstances? Home games are a huge selling point for Nebraska so how would that be handled? Could you even bring recruits in? There’d be a lot of questions on recruiting to answer on that.  

JP: Nebraska volleyball has definitely fed off both its own crowd and hostile road environments in recent seasons, but I think John Cook has his team conditioned to play in any type of environment. I think they’ll be fine. If it extends into basketball season, I think Fred Hoiberg’s program might be even more impacted recruiting-wise than on the court as Pinnacle Bank Arena and fan support is one of the biggest selling points for Matt Abdelmassih and the staff. In terms of straight game play, I’d echo Derek and Greg that it’s football. 

Brandon Vogel: I’m with Jacob in part. Volleyball might draw the most off its home court advantage but is also the team that probably needs it the least. I’m going with basketball. We’ve seen some not-very-good basketball teams of late be tougher than they had a right to be at home. 

How do transfers reflect on a program to recruits? (@nebraskicker)  

JP: I’m a little confused about where exactly you’re going with this question. Do you mean players transferring in or out? Or both? Are you talking about all recruits or specifically high school recruits? Is this basketball-focused? If you want to get back to us with a follow-up, I’d do my best to answer your question more completely. Each recruit is different, but to a lot of players, kids transferring out just means there’s more playing time available if the recruits feel comfortable with their relationship with coaches. Nebraska basketball has hit the transfer market hard, so players in the Transfer Portal themselves probably aren’t too worried about that. If a team has an abnormally large transfer rate, I’m sure opposing coaches would try to point it out, in which case its on the coaches to build up strong enough relationships to ease whatever doubts that kind of negative recruiting might create in a recruit’s mind. 

With proper six-feet social distancing applied, what would the approximate gameday capacity at Memorial Stadium be? (@AdamOfTheGreen)  

ES: Whatever the CDC/government guidelines are at that time. I know you’re wanting the math that would show how many people would be allowed per foot in the stadium, but I couldn’t find the square footage of Memorial Stadium easily enough through a Google search. If the recommendation is 250 though, then that’s the max allowed in. 

BV: When Nebraska announced some seat expansions in North and South Stadium in 2017, those seats went from 18 inches wide to about 24 inches in most cases. For ease of calculation, let’s pretend all seats at Memorial Stadium are 24 inches wide. From a width perspective that means every fourth seat could be occupied, which immediately takes capacity down to 21,364. But you probably have to skip at least one row between fans, maybe two, so you’d be looking at between 7,050 (every third row) and 10,682 (every other row). Something like that. 

If JD were to not come back how do you think it would affect the WR play this coming season? (@_Prestonp85_)   

DP: Wrote more extensively about that possibility here and here (those are both premium pieces). It would certainly put Nebraska in a bind, and you’d go from a position where Omar Manning being what the staff thinks he can be is now an absolute necessity. That or someone from the Jamie Nance/Demariyon Houston/Alante Brown/Marcus Fleming group needs to be productive right away. 

JP: Definitely read Derek’s pieces in full, but in this space I’ll add that it means Wan’Dale Robinson will need to have a bigger receiving role on offense. He should probably take up most of the slot receiver snaps and only be used in the backfield in select spots. I think it was kind of an awkward fit trying to get the most out of Spielman and Robinson on the field at the same time since they’re both slot receivers for the most part. If Spielman is gone, Robinson needs to really grab hold of that spot and make it his own. 

Who would win in a pushup contest: Wan'Dale or his father? (email, Justin Taylor) 

GS: Dad would win hands-down. 

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