Fresh Off a New Husker Offer
Photo Credit: Aaron Babcock

Mailbag: Dream Bowl Game and All the Swag

December 06, 2016

Now that Nebraska knows its headed to the Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tennessee, the bowl game questions were inevitable. However, there were less questions about the outcome of the Music City Bowl and more about our dream bowl games and the SWAG we’d wish to receive at one. Pretty fun, huh? That’s not all, either. We covered a wide range of topics this week from recruiting to Nebrasketball to Mike Riley as Santa Claus.

Brandon Vogel, Jacob Padilla, Jake Jensen and Erin Sorensen answer your question’s in this week’s Hail Varsity mailbag.

Q: Build your own bowl game! Pick a name and the location! And maybe pick out the affiliation. – M.S., Cook/Tecumseh, Neb.

JJ: My dream is to one day have a bowl game in every state. Each state bowl game will be named after whatever that state is known for. Example, Vermont gets the Maple Syrup Bowl, Nebraska gets the Dorothy Lynch Bowl, and North Dakota gets the Natural Gas Bowl. That last one would actually be pretty fun; I’d love to play in the Fargo Dome.

BV: I would like to revive the tradition of college football teams playing a game in Tokyo, mostly because I want to go Tokyo and, as the bowl CEO, I think I would probably need to be there. It will be called the Boro Bowl because our bowl representative jackets will be made from ancient Japanese textiles. They will be the most beautiful bowl jackets in history.

Q: Create your own Bowl Game Gift Package. Include one from each of these categories: Technology, Food, Toy, Music – C.S.

Roku, $100 gift card to Raisin’ Canes, the new Nintendo switch and a
free trial for YouTube Ref (you can play music on it after you lock the

BV: I like mechanical watches too much to buy myself an
Apple Watch, but if someone were to give me one for free I’d be excited
to try it out. For the food, give me Franklin Barbecue (if that’s not
available, I have 10 other places in Texas that are acceptable). Toy? I
could get down with the impossible-to-find NES Classic Edition. My music
pick would never appear in a bowl-game gift package, but give me a
U-Turn Orbit.

ES: Chipotle for food, an Amazon Echo for technology, Britney Spears’ catalog on vinyl (I’m not joking) for music and the NES Classic Edition for toy.

Q: I took my friends to Runza while they visited Nebraska. They hated it. Should I cut them loose? – J.H., St. Louis, Mo.

JJ: Did you make them eat a Runza? Because Runzas aren’t that good. I only go there for the crinkle fries.

ES: You should cut them loose like I’m about to cut Jake loose. Runzas are amazing. Don’t listen to the crazy man ahead of me (but seriously Jake, we need to talk). However, I will say if you don’t like Runzas, at least their burgers are fantastic as well.

Q: Is Tim Miles job security in jeopardy if Nebraska finishes below.500? – R.C., Grand Island, Neb.

JJ: I doubt it. Nebraska has three losses this season, two of them against tournament teams (UCLA, Virginia Tech) and one on the road against a bubble team. When you start four sophomores and bring only freshmen and sophomores off the bench, then losing those games are understandable. Now if Creighton comes in and beats NU 90-50, then Miles’ seat may get a tad toasty.

JP: I think the same youth that is making it hard to win games is also buying Miles some time to work with. Barring a complete disaster of a season, I think he’ll be given time to see what he can do as the 2015 and 2016 recruiting classes mature and develop.

Q: If Mike Riley were Santa Claus, where would be his first stop? Calabasas? – R.M., Lincoln, Neb.

No, probably Tucson. He’ll need to give Rich Rodriguez a “sorry I stole
your best recruiter from you two months before signing day” gift. Maybe
a Snuggie or something like that.

Q: Would you make any big
changes to Memorial Stadium? In my dream world, South Stadium is
demolished and redone. Then you could have some nice field level seats,
steeper seats, maybe a balcony and structure for another screen? – M.S.,
Cook/Tecumseh, Neb.

JJ: More seats for students! That’s my only change. More students equal more noise.

To be fair to Memorial Stadium now, I’m not sure adding more students
is the answer. I love the student section and think The Iron N does
great work, but the sections the students have now aren’t filled
game-to-game. I’d hate to add seats if they were to sit empty. With that
in mind, I suppose you could move the students out of the corner. Maybe
that would make students show up?

From a structural perspective,
I wish it were a complete bowl. I don’t love the open gaps, but
understand they are there because of how the stadium was built and added
on to over time. If I could fix one thing, it would be that.

Q: What ever happened with those glasses players wore to block blue light before bed? Did they work? – G.D., Camas, Wash.

Nebraska kept wearing them; it just wasn’t something we could cover for
10 straight weeks without sounding redundant. There are only so many
ways you can spin “Nebraska players wear futuristic sunglasses.”

ES: I would have covered that story for 10 weeks if someone would have let me know. Those glasses are cool.

Q: Mike Riley chooses to sing karaoke of one country song in Nashville. What song would it be? – R.M., Lincoln, Neb.

JJ: California Love. Riley will take Dre’s spot (slower lyrics, easier for an old guy to rap) and Williams can take Tupac’s part. I think Coach Dub can handle it, although he looks more like DMX, the fourth greatest rapper of all time.

JP: You have an interesting understanding of what constitutes country music, Jake.

Q: What is NU doing to set itself apart from other schools? It was S&C then Student Life Serv. What’s the new trend? – 3.L.C.

JP: Cool tweets.

BV: Hard to say. The influx of TV money into the sport has really leveled the playing field. Take Oregon, for example. The Ducks started the uniform thing, won a bunch of games, built space-age facilities and it’s still sort of the victim of range-bound recruiting. For that reason — glitz ain’t everything — I still think Nebraska’s best trump card, if you will, is the support system it has built for Husker athletes. That’s still things like the Student Life Center and post-grad scholarships for athletes who complete their eligibility. Do those sorts of things appeal to every recruit? No, but I think they appeal to the most recruits across all sports.

Q: Is the hiring of Coach Williams a hint that Riley expects the NCAA to start allowing 10 assistants soon? – S., Omaha, Neb.

JP: I think everybody expects that at this point. The most likely outcome is that Tavita Thompson gets that 10th job once the rule change it passes.

Q: Haven’t had a commit in a while. Who’s next up? – K.B., Omaha, Neb.

JJ: I’ll go with Damion Daniels. He just hosted John Parrella last week and is planning to announce via radio show sometime in the next two weeks. It’s between Nebraska and Colorado at this point, but he has only visited Nebraska.

Q: What record in ’17 will let Huskers HC Riley keep his job if he loses to Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan State and Colorado in ’18? – B.S.

JJ: I think Nebraska wins nine or 10 games next season. 2018 looks really good for Nebraska personnel-wise if the coaches can keep everyone in school. Gates, Farmer, Foster, Morgan, Lee, Freedom, Young and Aaron Williams will all be seniors. That’s a nice mix of third and fourth year starters to build around.

ES: If Riley loses that many games in 2018, nothing from 2017 (aside from a national title) will keep his seat from getting hot.

Q: How can the FCS teams handle a bigger playoff when some think FBS teams can’t? They have finals, injuries, etc. – C.S.

JJ: My main reason for not having a bigger playoff is that I believe it actually lowers the chance of the best team winning the title. That’s the purpose of the postseason, but extending the playoff forces teams to play more games, which increases the chance of injuries to star players (they are going to get used more in bigger games), which can cripple a team’s chances to win a title.

Also, I already feel that we make unpaid student athletes play way too many games at both the FCS and FBS level. We should be reducing season length, not extending it.

JP: But getting back to your actual question, there really isn’t a difference in my mind. FCS has been making the full playoff system work for a while, so I don’t think that is a viable reason for why the playoff shouldn’t expand. Unless someone has evidence that shows that the FCS playoff system does in fact do extra harm to student-athletes.

BV: I wrote about this very thing this week, and I don’t think there are any good reasons. There are two things I couldn’t spend much time on in that column, but are big factors here. One, I don’t think the Power 5 schools are interested in eliminating the current class divide in college football. Give Group of 5 conferences automatic entry into the playoff and it won’t be long before those teams start picking off at-large Power 5 teams in the opening rounds. Two, bowls still hold too much sway. I mean it is how they chose to differentiate these two divisions — bowl subdivision and championship subdivision. I love nostalgia, but the bowls can go in my opinion. That said, there are a lot of powerful people on those bowl committees that have a lot of influence.

Q: With Bruce Reed managing special teams for Riley for so long, who on the staff has experience that can lead to improvement? – J.

BV: Over the course of their careers, I think most football coaches pick up at least some special-teams experience because most places aren’t going to have a dedicated special teams coach. I don’t know how Nebraska will divide up the duties yet, but I think the Huskers will be fine.

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