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Mailbag: Top Sports Venues in Nebraska

February 21, 2017

If you had to rate the top five sports venues in Nebraska, which would you choose? It was one of the questions we received this week and it was clear it’s not an easy question to answer. Beyond that, we received questions on the possibility of a baseball regional, recruiting and more.

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

Q: Rate the top five sports venues in Nebraska. – K.B., Omaha, Neb.

JJ: 1. Memorial Stadium, 2. Small towns on a fall Friday night, 3. Rosenblatt before they replaced it, 4. Pinnacle Bank Arena, 5. Centurylink Center during state wrestling

JP: I hope this doesn’t get me fired or ostracized, but I’ve been to many games at both and CenturyLink Center > Pinnacle Bank Arena (not that I’m biased or anything).

BV: Great question. I have a fondness for old baseball stadiums, so I’d add Bower-Shankland Field in Alliance and Duncan Field in Hastings to the list. And, while I hated playing on the stage/basketball court at Hay Springs, it was a charming old gym. Sadly, it’s gone now.

ES: I’d also add the gymnasium at Mount Michael to the list. It’s small, old and gets really warm when packed to the brim, but it’s a perfect old gym. I’m also with Jake that any small town football field on a Friday night in the fall is pretty much heaven.

Q: Does the recent trend of recruits with high profile dads do anything outside of the football field? – S., Everett, Wash.

JJ: It makes Nebraska more visible to casual fans. A good example of this was Les Miles endorsement of Nebraska on signing day.

ES: Plus, Keyshawn Johnson Sr. wearing Nebraska gear on ESPNU during the national championship game doesn’t hurt either. Neither does Kurt Warner tweeting that he’s excited to be a part of the ‘Big Red.’ All of that’s good for a team’s brand and when you’re smack dab in the middle of the country, additional exposure is never a bad thing.

Q: Any insight on how winter workouts went?  Any surprises, disappointments? – W.N.

ES: I haven’t heard anything specific yet, but that should start to come out in the next week. As spring practice gets closer (March 4!), we’ll hear more about how winter workouts went and will have more to share.

Q: Will Nebraska baseball host a regional this year? – C.D., Lincoln, Neb.

BV: I wouldn’t say Nebraska could be considered a favorite to host a regional at this point, but it’s not expected to be far off. When D1Baseball.com released its projected tournament field last week it had the Huskers as a two-seed. If the Huskers are just a little better than we expect right now, it’s certainly within reach.

Q: Which Husker would be the fastest half marathoner? – B.M., Lincoln, Neb.

JP: I’ll leave this one to our resident half-marathon expert.

BV: I’m putting my money on Drew Brown.

ES: I’m with Brandon on this one. I feel like Drew Brown would be a really strong distance runner. I don’t know why I feel this way, but kickers have to have strong legs and you have to have strong legs to run. Plus, he has the personality and mentality to run. You have to be positive enough to not get discouraged, and that’s Drew Brown.

Q: How many tickets have been sold for the spring football game? – B.B., Neb.

ES: The last reported number I saw was around 40,000, so I’d be willing to bet it’s somewhere between 45,000 and 50,000 now. I’m thinking Nebraska will reach around 65,000 this year, if I had to guess.

Q: Better Elliott brother: Bob or Sam? – R.K.

ES: You’re putting Sam Elliott (the actor) up against Bob Elliott (the coach)? I’ll take Bob, but only because he also looks like a slew of other actors and could easily be pulling double duty.

Q: Which position group will be the most impressive five games into next season? – B.

BV: I’m tempted to say quarterback, but I think people will be impressed enough with Bob Diaco’s defense that it will almost have to come from the defensive side. Give me the linebackers. The secondary should be the strength of the defense, the defensive line has a bit of a gap to close, but the linebackers occupy the perfect middle ground — some questions to answer, but some talent on hand.

Q: Pick any innovator or leader (non-coach) you’d like your head coach to be like. – M.S., Cook/Tecumseh, Neb.

JJ: I’d be curious to see what crazy plays and concepts Nikola Tesla could come up with if he was coaching football. The guy figured out how to hold balls of lightning in his hands for goodness sakes.

BV: Good question. Joe Moglia, though he started as a football coach, is kind of showing what this could be like in real time. I’d be interested in Mark Cuban’s outside-the-box thinking. Also, Warren Buffett’s value-based approach would probably serve Husker football well.

Q: There was a comment about a department dedicated to recruiting. The advantages are clear but what are the potential pitfalls? – 3.L.C.


ES: The only downside I could see is if the workflow for recruiting was somehow had a flaw and kids slipped through the cracks. Otherwise, I think the idea overall is good. Give certain people certain responsibilities. Also, Brandon talked a bit about it earlier and shares some more on the positives.

Q: Can Bob Diaco ski double diamond black hills? – M.B.


ES: I’m not sure, but this will probably be the first question I ask him during spring football. In the meantime, major props to him for wearing all Husker gear while hitting the slopes.

https://twitter.com/CoachDiaco/status/833361931830427650

Q: What does the black flag mean on recruits tweets? – A.S., Omaha, Neb.

JJ: Tyjon Lindsey started the trend when he posted a picture on his Twitter feed with a black flag and ‘T.M.C.’ written on it. T.M.C. means the marathon continues. That can be interpreted in several ways, but I’m pretty sure it means that they’re going to keep working until they reach the NFL.

Q: Could the Husker men sneak in the dance at 10-8 in conference plus a win in tourney? – H., David City, Neb.

JP: 1) I’d be very surprised to see them win out and 2) I don’t think so. That would still only put Nebraska at 17-14 on the season. Their quality wins are Purdue, Maryland and maybe Dayton at this point. They have more brutal losses than they do great wins.

Q: Everyone is talking QBs this offseason, but how do you think the RB situation will shake out? Will Bradley redshirt? – J.M.

JJ: The running back position should be fun to watch. I like Devine Ozigbo — when he is healthy I think he is Nebraska’s most talented back — but I’m guessing Tre Bryant wins the starting spot this spring due to him being a better fit for Danny Langsdorf’s offense. I think Bradley should redshirt unless he manages to land the starting punt/kick returner job in fall camp.

JP: I honestly think the RB battle is more interesting than the quarterback one because I have no clue how it’s going to work out. The coaches have been so inconsistent with their usage of the backs outside of Terrell Newby since they got to Lincoln. With Ozigbo, Bryant and Mikale Wilbon plus someone like Austin Rose available as a depth option power back I think they can afford to redshirt Jaylen Bradley and give him a year to make the transition.

Q: Could Husker volleyball ever host an indoor sand event at Devaney? – Z.H.

BV: Seems like a big logistical challenge, but I wouldn’t put it past John Cook. His whole mantra is “Dream Big,” so I could see him being motivated to make it happen.

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