The Hail Varsity staff is back for another mailbag, answering questions ranging from Hank Bounds’ departure and its implications to roster management.
If Miles is relieved of his job as expected & Hoiberg doesn't land in Lincoln, who’s next? (@Jeremy_J_KCSR)
Jacob Padilla: I think plan B is to fold the program and give up on basketball. Seriously though, I know Moos has a couple more names on his list and he does have contingency plans, but at this point I doubt he’ll need to use them.
Does the news of Bounds stepping down affect job statuses of Moos and Frost? (@_LilBigRed12_)
How does Hank Bounds departure affect our athletic department? (@hanklou2)
Derek Peterson: Bounds’ departure certainly won’t change the job status of Frost or Moos. Most university presidents aren’t as involved in athletics as Bounds was at Nebraska, so most athletic departments don’t expect to have or need that level of involvement. Bounds leaving won’t change much on the surface. Things could change in the day-to-day, though I don’t know the specifics there, but not to the point where I think the athletic department starts to suffer because of it.
Mike Babcock: As Derek said, no change in job status, but Moos described Bounds as a “jock,” who showed enough interest that he knew recruits by name and occasionally attended practice, which is where I met him soon after he was hired. Frost said he is an exceptional leader. So he will be missed.
Since 2000, Nebraska has fired four football & four basketball coaches with overall records of .500 or better. What does that say about Nebraska? Unrealistic standards? Bad hires? No overarching narrative beyond eight individual firings? (@ScotAlanJohnson)
JP: I don’t think it’s a case of unrealistic expectations at all. That .500 barrier is a pretty low one to clear at a school like Nebraska. I don’t know that any of them (except maybe Mike Riley) was a flat-out bad hire, but I will say I don’t think any of them were the right hire, if that makes sense. The common theme seems to be that pretty much all of those coaches had reached their ceiling and plateaued, and those ceilings weren’t high enough to accomplish the programs’ goals.
MB: I would add Bill Callahan to the bad-hire list. He’s a good coach, just not a good fit at the college level, and the process was flawed. Plus, his loyalty to Kevin Cosgrove might’ve hurt him. I didn’t think Solich should’ve been fired, same with Nee, although that went beyond wins and losses. Those who say Tim raised the standard should look back at what Nee’s teams did (not that they didn’t win an NCAA game – they did get there five times, as well as winning a Big Eight title and an NIT). The expectations aren’t unrealistic. Moos said he wanted teams to compete for and win Big Ten championships and the rest would fall into place.
Not counting women’s volleyball, which major men’s/women’s Husker sports teams have the best chance to win a B1G Championship in 2019/20? Top 3. (@shortguy1)
JP: I’m going to go with baseball. I think that has the best combination of young talent on an upward trajectory and beatable competition in the league. The baseball team is on a six-game winning streak right now and are getting some big contributions from some underclassmen. Last season was derailed by pitcher injuries, but that bullpen is looking deep and talented this season and that should carry over into next season as well.
DP: Football will win the next Big Ten championship for the men. Soccer will women the next title for the women.
MB: Baseball for men, for the reasons Jacob points out and because of Erstad, who’s a great fit here. I’ll defer to Derek on the women’s side, soccer, though we’re probably discounting track and field in the men’s case, right? They just won the Big Ten Indoor title.
It seems there is some confusion. Will Wan’Dale Robinson be WR or RB for the majority of the season? Will Wyatt Mazour rise to the challenge at RB? (@BraunsrothMatt)
Greg Smith: To clear up the confusion, Robinson is a wide receiver who will occasionally line up at running back. He spends the majority of his meeting time with Troy Walters and the wideout group but does get running back instruction from Ryan Held. Clear as mud, right? Just view him as an offensive weapon. I don’t see Mazour making a big impact outside of special teams.
DP: I see Mazour having a role on offense. A big role? Probably not, but he’s a talented runner, a capable pass-catcher and a hard-worker. I trust this staff will get him on the field because of those qualities.
Do you have any way too early Husker award predictions? Lifter of the Year? Best walk-on? Scout team MVP, etc? (@Dingodile89)
DP: If Trent Hixson keeps on his current trajectory, he might be put on scholarship. If not, he’s the top walk-on. If he is put on scholarship, I would think a wideout like Wyatt Liewer or Todd Honas or a defensive back like Ethan Cox could be the guy, or inside linebacker Joseph Johnson. I want to say Damian Jackson for lifter.
MB: Damian Jackson earns something among those three. His leadership will be integral to what happens, even if he doesn’t get on the field a lot. Joseph Johnson is earning some mention. And I’d expect Hixson to be put on scholarship at spring’s end.
The walk-on center from Iowa Western CC, is he here this spring? Does he have a shot at the starting center spot? He's about the only guy with experience at the position. (@blackmcgee99)
JP: Joshua Wegener is not here for spring ball. He’ll enroll in the spring with the rest of the 2019 class. He’ll have a lot of ground to make up, but I don’t see anyone on campus now running away with the job during the spring so Wegener should get a chance to show the coaches what he can do during the fall. It seems like they’re giving Cam Jurgens as many snaps as he can during the spring – a crash course, so to speak – but it would still be asking him a lot to be ready to start at center for game one.
MB: At some point come fall I expect Jurgens to be the starting center. Until that point, my guess is Hunter Miller, though Wegener will get a look.
In case of Willie Canty and Dominick Watt, with them being members of the 2018 class and going JUCO, if they join Huskers next year, that counts as two of the Huskers 2020 scholarship allotment correct? (@TJ_GoBigRed)
GS: Yes, that is correct if they end being re-recruited by the staff.
Is the challenge to be the starting punter having any impact on being the holder? Is there a candidate sneaking up there? (@CoryHonold)
Erin Sorensen: I don’t think so. I think the expectation is that they’ll put the best players at each spot on the field and that they are expected to then adjust to the circumstances. There is probably consideration to be had with punt-snap speed, but they have time to work out the kinks now. With that said, I think Isaac Armstrong is probably the punter and Chase Urbach at long snapper but that doesn’t mean it’s not up for grabs. We know the staff likes how quickly Urbach can get down the field, so his job is probably a safer bet at this point. It’ll be interesting to see if Caleb Lightbourn can challenge for the punting spot or if Armstrong has locked that down for good. Settle in for Punter Watch 2019.
Is Caleb Lightbourn still on the team or did he graduate/transfer? (@Huskerfan5904)
ES: He is still on the team. In fact, we just saw him at practice this morning. He’s often one of the first on the team to congratulate his teammates on doing something well. Check out our sights and sounds video from today. Last clip where Adrian Martinez runs it into the endzone… Look who celebrates with him.
MB: I want to say something about Lightbourn, given what Erin has said. He could’ve packed it in but didn’t. He could’ve left but didn’t. That despite Frost essentially calling him out before turning to Armstrong. So I’d expect the competition at punter to continue.
If the football roster is at 150, how did the athletic department fix the Title IX issue? (@ChuckandM)
MB: I don’t understand the rules well enough to answer. Hopefully, someone among us knows more about it than I do. Back in the day, even with Title IX, it wasn’t an issue. What mattered were scholarship numbers, so you could have as many walk-ons as you wanted. It really helped with practice, multiple stations. I realize there are expenses beyond scholarships. Walk-ons can now eat two meals and snacks at the training table for free (and they only have to pay cost for dinner), for example. But football also covers the cost of most sports, men and women. So you’d think there’d be some flexibility.