Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Drake’s Takes: Softball Regionals and More NIL Discussion

May 20, 2022

This week’s Drake’s Takes talks about Nebraska softball as it enters the NCAA Regionals today and the recent NIL-related feud between college football coaches. 

Softball

Last week, Nebraska softball came through to win the Big Ten Championship.

After taking down Penn State in the opening round, the Huskers won against Ohio State on a walk-off and secured the title over No. 23 Michigan in extra innings. 

I was not able to watch the final game, given I was in Memorial Stadium for graduation. However, right after the ceremony concluded, UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green did us the wonderful favor of informing everyone of the result. A lot of people, both graduates and families, had left at this point, likely due to the length of the ceremony and the heat, but it still got a significant cheer. 

Nebraska’s hopes don’t stop with the conference title, though. The Huskers start play in the NCAA Regionals today in the Stillwater Regional.  

Their regional field consists of North Texas, which is today’s opponent, along with Fordham and Oklahoma State. 

There are a couple ways you can view this double-elimination bracket for Nebraska. On the most optimistic side, being in the No. 7 seed’s region is a fine deal. It’s a much better draw than a situation like the baseball team had last year, when it landed in No. 1 seed Arkansas’ territory. If Nebraska advances to the Super Regional, the toughest possible matchup is against the No. 10 seed. 

However, the team holding the No. 7 seed, Oklahoma State, still poses a gigantic challenge. The Cowgirls went 4-0 against the Big Ten in the regular season, with a win against Michigan and Northwestern. They also just managed to win the Big 12 Championship, taking down the absolute juggernaut that is top-seeded 49-2 Oklahoma.

It may be an understatement to say the Huskers have a tough road ahead of them to make the Super Regional round. But given what we saw last week, they have a shot. 

I may have gotten too ahead of myself, because there’s work to be done before a hypothetical Oklahoma State matchup. North Texas and Fordham are also looking to cause chaos in the bracket, and the Huskers need to take care of the former today. 

Coaches and NIL

A top headline yesterday came in the form of a feud between Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher. 

The controversy started with Saban accusing Texas A&M, where Fisher coaches, of buying “every player” in its recruiting class with name, image and likeness deals. He also singled out Jackson State and coach Deion Sanders in their recruitment of top recruit Travis Hunter.

“Hell, read about it in the paper,” Saban said. “I mean, Jackson State paid a guy $1 million last year that was a really good Division I player to come to the school. It was in the paper, and they bragged about it. Nobody did anything about it.”

The thing about this “paper” the Alabama coach so proudly is that it doesn’t really exist. There were early rumors of Hunter signing a million-dollar NIL deal with Barstool Sports, but that was fairly quickly refuted.

Fisher and Sanders both fired back, denying the claims. Fisher, a former Saban assistant, got shine for how, well, passionate his response was.

“Not going to. We’re done,” he said about contacting Saban. “He’s the greatest ever, huh? When you’ve got all the advantages, it’s easy. … There’s a reason, people, I ain’t back and worked for (Saban). Don’t want to be associated with him.”

That press conference, along with the situation as a whole, was hilarious. It’s always going to be difficult for me to take the NIL doomsday takes from coaches seriously, so I’ll just continue to enjoy the chaos like this that results.

In the end, these situations are just another result of coaches and many others in the college football world not being fully prepared for the massive change that has occurred. While further guidelines will probably come and may be a positive thing, the biggest focus should be catching up and getting used to it.

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