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Hail Varsity Mailbag
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Mailbag: Trade Season, Spring Game Revamps and B1G Changes

February 05, 2020

It’s Wednesday. That means it’s time for the mailbag. 

NBA trade season is here. If you could do trades in college football, which quarterback(s) are you offering and what are you wanting in return? (Simba_Simms) 

Derek Peterson: Luke McCaffrey is probably the guy I’m offering here. Largest return, I think, without compromising the future. Luke plus a tight end plus a future nonconference game played at your stadium for a pass-rushing outside linebacker/defensive end.  

Brandon Vogel: I think Derek nailed it with his answer. McCaffrey showed enough last year while maintaining a redshirt (so, four years left to play) that you could probably sell the highest on him right now. A singular pass rusher probably raises 2020 Nebraska’s ceiling the most, though I’d also entertain offers for a hybrid linebacker/safety type who never comes off the field, makes a ton of tackles and allows the Huskers to get pretty creative defensively. 

Mike Babcock: I’m keeping McCaffrey, and even if I were to trade him, it would be straight-up, one for one. Can I trade Logan Smothers? I want a pass rusher. 

Jacob Padilla: Derek nailed this one. McCaffrey gets the best return and still leaves you with Martinez to start and Smothers to develop. I like adding the tight end there to give the trade package a little extra juice.  

You have been asked by Bill Moos to revamp the Spring Game this upcoming April. There must be two quarters of the game played, but the rest is up to you. What will you plan for the other two quarters of the "game"? Bonus: What do have for the fans after the game? (@Corn_Huskers) 

Erin Sorensen: Personally, I was a fan of Nebraska’s 2014 spring game. It had a unique scoring system that made it less of a scrimmage, so you could eliminate that for the first two quarters to match your requirement of two quarters needing to be played. But what I liked in particular about that spring game were the various competitions that Bo Pelini had throughout the day. He challenged Kenny Bell to a throwing contest. Whoever hit the goal post the most out of three ties won. Bell won that one, with two hits over Pelini’s zero. Jeff Jamrog, the assistant athletic director at the time, called out players’ Twitter handles during drills. That was entertaining, and I’d probably let Jacob Padilla take that job just so he can live rank the Twitter handles in person. But while we’re on the discussion of that 2014 spring game, it’s also the one where Jeremiah Sirles’ proposed to his now wife and Pelini carried a cat out of the tunnel. Good times. But to finally answer your question, I’d spend those other two quarters doing a combination of what made that 2014 version so fun. Have some competitions where the players and coaches can go against each other. Could Scott Frost win a throwing contest against one of his quarterbacks? Let’s give it a go. And when it’s all done, fans can come to The Railyard for a Hail Varsity party (because the tailgates we hosted were a lot of fun this past fall). You can all (well, those of age) have a Hail Ale from Kinkaider and cheers to a little football in the spring. 

DP: Kickoff is at 5:00. The first half features live football played between the first-team offense and first-team defense. Quarterbacks are live once they cross the line of scrimmage. No fear of getting injured as you can just as easily roll an ankle in practice; get ready for the season. (I understand why coaches don’t operate this way, though.) Score resets at halftime. There’s a fan punt-pass-kick competition during the halftime break for free tuition for a year. The team comes back out of the locker room earlier than normal and we hold a “Fastest Husker” race (the wideouts and defensive backs are always talking about, time to show out), followed by a strongest arm competition: can one of the quarterbacks throw a football farther than Scott Frost? The second half features more live football, with the second- and third-team offenses and defenses going against each other. No huddles, 20 seconds on the play clock, no timeouts. Whichever team wins gets to put the Husker coaching staff through a Zach Duval workout, little bit of role reversal. After the game is over, set the field up for a concert.  

What was the Hail Varsity staff’s favorite Super Bowl commercials? (@Sal_Vasta3) 

Greg Smith: I really enjoyed the Turbo Tax commercial. I laughed quite a bit. Also, the Snickers commercial was really good. 

ES: I liked Jeep’s Groundhog Day commercial, especially considering that the Super Bowl was on Groundhog Day this year. The Doritos Old Town Road commercial was also good. My big winner was the NFL 100 one though. 

BV: Liked the Snickers ad for acknowledging, head on, that the world is a difficult place at times. Does a candy bar solve that? No, but if I was selling candy bars I’d do the same. The Bryan Cranston Mountain Dew ad was fairly basic in terms of execution, but any time you’re combining Walter White and The Shining, I’m probably going to be in on that. 

MB: I liked the Groundhog Day commercial . . . oh, wait, mostly, I tried to ignore the commercials. 

JP: I liked the Snickers and Doritos ads as well along with the Jason Momoa Rocket Mortgage ad, the Cheetos MC Hammer one and the Ellen DeGeneres Amazon Alexa commercial. 

I also want to know your favorite super bowl commercial, but to be unique I'll ask what was your least favorite? (@InDaWilderness) 

ES: I’m going to use my most favorite to answer my least. The NFL 100 commercial was great because it treated women equally within the world of football. Little girls ran onto the field alongside the little boys. There were women featured throughout (tackling and handing off footballs) not because they needed to be there to prove a point, but because they were already there because that’s just how it is (and how it should be). On the reverse, I think the Secret commercial about women kickers tried too hard. It more or less made a spectacle of, “LOOK. WOMEN CAN DO THIS TOO!” I didn’t care for that, so it wasn’t my favorite as a result. 

BV: I don’t remember any of the ads burying themselves in the red on my personal hate meter. Indifferent was about as sharp as my criticism got. The Hard Rock Hotel ad with Jennifer Lopez hit that point for me. 

MB: See answer above. I try to ignore and/or forget them. 

Over/Under 0.5 more B1G wins for men’s basketball? And what should we watch in the team these remaining games? Consistency? (@Sal_Vasta3) 

DP: Over. There’s more than enough raw talent with this group to win one of its final nine regular-season games.  

BV: They’ll get one. At 1.5, however, I’d have to think really hard about it. How they play at Iowa—hey, Fred knows about that—after a week off (and probably a back-breaking week) will tell us a lot. 

MB: Definitely over, even with Brandon’s 1.5. 

JP: I think they’ll be able to pull off at least one more, and I might consider he over at 1.5 as well. Northwestern at home seems like the most winnable game, and the Huskers get a struggling Ohio State at home as well. They could pull off a surprise at some point as well like they nearly did at Rutgers. 

Thoughts on Dantonio retiring at Michigan State, and what that means for the B1G? Also, would be interested in your thoughts on what recruits should (but currently can't) be able to do after signing if coach is fired or retires before spring ball? (@Sal_Vasta3) 

GS: To me it’s interesting because we get to see what coaches think of the MSU job. Who they target and get will tell us that. If the coach retires, leaves for a new job or is fired then kids should be able to leave. I think that’s the right thing to do. But we are talking about the NCAA. 

ES: To your last question, I think a player should be allowed to transfer immediately with no penalty if that happens. 

BV: It doesn’t seem like a great time to be looking for a new coach, given that most of the movement at the pro and college ranks is already over. Maybe Luke Fickell—who is probably the best hire MSU could make right now—would've been interested in December. I would guess he’s less interested now. 

As for what it means for the Big Ten, I think it increases some down-the-line interest in the East. You have the big three—Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan—and that’s not going to change. Michigan State under Dantonio was the “flex” team for most of the past decade. Could win the league in the good years, but it wasn’t going to permanently replace one of the blue bloods in the pecking order. So what this really does, in my opinion, is open up that fourth spot in the East (which can still be a top 25 team). Indiana’s coming off a strong year. While I don’t see this happening, Rutgers and Maryland now have new coaches and an opening. Michigan State, even with an average hire, is still probably the favorite to maintain that fourth spot, but the door is at least cracked now for someone else to kick it in. 

MB: Nothing to add, just agree with Erin about transferring—although it would be nice if student-athletes had some loyalty to a school. 

What is the delay in announcing the new special teams analyst/coach or is Crespo solely in charge of it now? (@Go_Big_Red) 

GS: I don’t think there will be a ton of fanfare when a full-time analyst is hired to run the special teams. But there will still be a new hire. We also have a delay in announcing the salary information for Matt Lubick so there are a few things we are still waiting on. 

ES: I don’t think the delay means the job has been handed off entirely to a graduate assistant. As Greg noted, there are other things that haven’t been announced or shared yet so I think there are things just being finalized. I’d expect to know soon. 

If two freshmen started on each side of the ball who would they be? (@ZaneSerhan) 

GS: It’s extremely unlikely that there will be any freshmen starting in 2020. But if I’m picking give me Alante Brown and Jaiden Francois.  

MB: Alante Brown, and I’m not as familiar with the defensive players so I’ll agree with Greg there, too. 

JP: I’ll toss out Marvin Scott III on offense. Did you see that video he posted on Twitter? I think Zavier Betts is an option too. On defense, the only way I see a freshman starting is if injuries strike and the player is talented enough or has a specific skill set that would allow him to jump ahead of more experienced players. With that being said, I’ll throw out Keyshawn Greene as the most likely because of the combination of his talent and skillset and how few guys with experience are ahead of him.   

How many guys listed on the second-team 2019 depth chart return for 2020? (@CFB_B1GTalk) 

DP: The depth chart given to the media ahead of the Iowa game is the one I’m taking this from: Nebraska had 33 names listed under the starters both on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, 25 of them return. Departures include Eric Lee Jr., Reid Karel, Isaiah Stalbird, Tony Butler, John Raridon, Wyatt Mazour, Mike Williams and Jaron Woodyard.  

There seems to be a lot of talk about bringing talent in (and rightfully so), but how would you grade each position group on how talent has developed under this coaching staff? (@nebraskicker) 

BV: This would be an interesting one to put some numbers to and this week I’ve been looking at how well Nebraska recruited those positions, so I already have a baseline. But without a ready-made way to quantify development (yet), my gut reaction would go like this: QBs – A, RBs – B, WRs – C-, OL – B-, DL – C, LB – C, DBs – B+. It’s a little bit hard because this staff has been pretty conservative when it comes to maintaining/burning redshirts, so in a lot of cases there isn’t a ton of “development” evidence to go on. But when you factor in things like identifying talent (why the QBs are an A for me) and Devine Ozigbo looking like a new player (part of why the RBs are a B) I think you can arrive at some grades. 

JP: Going off Brandon’s grades, I’d flip the grades for the QBs and the DBs, but other than that they look pretty solid. 

What is the story behind the navy blue uniform TJ Bollers is sporting on his unofficial visit to Iowa State? (@Corn_Huskers) 

GS: It looked black to me? Either way I don’t understand it for Iowa State. 

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