The January 2023 issue of Hail Varsity (Vol. 12, Iss. 1) is out now. To preview the issue, here is this month’s Letter from editor Mike Babcock. Single copies are available for purchase now, but the best way to make sure you don’t miss an issue is by subscribing today.
When running backs coach E.J. Barthel talked during media availability in mid-January about those he coached at Connecticut, he choked up. The emotion was genuine, and briefly prevented him from completing what he was saying about his relationship with them. It might have been as significant as anything he said during the 20 or so minutes he answered questions.
Coaches connecting with players on a personal level can be an element of success. And it was clear Barthel knew how to connect with players.
Late in the telecast of the Nebraska women’s basketball game against Ohio State at Pinnacle Bank Arena, with the outcome clear in the visitors’ favor, a Big Ten Network camera focused briefly on Matt Rhule. He didn’t just say he would be involved in the community—university athletics as well as the community in general—he has been. Regardless of whether that influences winning or losing, it would seem to be important at this point in Husker football.
A little sincere goodwill can go a long way.
Oh yes, Rhule was glancing at his phone, another indication of how he expects to turn the program around. Rhule is active on social media as a recruiting tool, as well as a community connect. As with previously mentioned points, a small detail with not-so-small implications.
As almost always with the arrival of new coaches, this is a time of optimism. The potential for success is limited only by one’s imagination, just as recruiting is evaluated. The difference is, season results are inescapable while optimism is inherent in recruiting.
“Oh, this guy didn’t work out. But next year’s class includes . . .”
Even though other sports are in season—there are men’s and women’s basketball notebooks, a Hot Reads section on wrestling and non-football photo spreads—this issue’s focus is football, which is reasonable considering the changes accompanying Rhule’s hire.
Brandon Vogel provides numbers on which to evaluate offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield and defensive coordinator Tony White. Satterfield is old school, intending to use a fullback and a huddle, which he described as the “heart and soul” of the offense, providing an opportunity for communication and quarterback leadership. White is a proponent of a 3-3-5 base defense. Need to find out what that’s all about? Check out Brandon’s story.
Brady Oltmans writes about Rhule’s connections with his staff in the context of distance, a unique and interesting look, while Erin Sorensen provides statistics on Rhule’s use of emojis, as well as examples of how he has used them—one of which includes Tom Osborne.
Among the characteristics of Tom’s time, at least toward the end of his 25 seasons as head coach, was folks all pulling in the same direction, something that hasn’t been the case in-season for some time. The hope is Rhule and staff can restore that.