After the National Signing Day has come and gone, all is quiet on the college football front as some coaches use this time to get in a vacation. The mailbag, however, churns on.
This week’s edition was a fun one. There’s a little bit of Fred Hoiberg with a dash of TV and movie talk. So, enough talk. Let’s get right into it.
Wanting to know a little trivia — when was the last time a basketball backboard was shattered into a thousand pieces? College and/or Pro. Ever since the construction of the rims changed, I don’t remember the last time I saw that happen. (@CoreysPhotos18)
Steve Marik: Backboards shattering and breaking is pretty rare. Google tells me the last one to break a backboard in the NBA was Shaq in his rookie season with the Magic in 1993.
Jacob Padilla: Yeah, the introduction of breakaway rims made it much harder to break backboards, and the NBA also strengthened its backboards after that dunk from Shaq that Steve referenced.
Brandon Vogel: Believe it or not, I have a small magazine titled “Heart of Glass.” It is 32 pages of photos of shattered backboards. That’s it. (I love it.). While I don’t believe it’s a definitive collection of every shattered backboard, I can at least use it to add a little beyond Shaq. The most recent glass-smashing included there is from 2012 when Devin Thomas shattered one in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, as a high school player. (Thomas went on to play at Wake Forest.) The last college example in the book comes courtesy of Oklahoma’s Tiny Gallon. Against Gonzaga on New Year’s Eve 2009, he sent a game to Shardsville on an alley-oop that, sadly, was not completed.
What’s your favorite TV series you have watched? (@GraysonKielhold)
Steve: Great question. Three shows come to mind almost immediately: Lost, True Detective (season one) and Game of Thrones. Lost was on ABC back when I was a kid. Watched it with my mom every week and loved it. Was spooky, weird, thrilling, just about everything I want in a TV show. But I’d have to put Lost in third place here. True Detective will come in second place but was incredible — again, the dark, creepy, thrilling stuff is my jam — and that first season will never be topped by any other True Detectives that get made (I like the second season much more than others did, but the third season was better than the second). True Detective served as the point in Matthew McConaughey’s career where he graduated from rom-com actor who no one really respected to starring in Chris Nolan’s “Interstellar” and showing everyone that he can, in fact, act is butt off. But my favorite TV series will have to go to Thrones. How can it not be? It took the world by storm. Everyone was talking about it. My wife and I finished it not too long ago (it was my second time through, her first) and there are talks of maybe starting it again.
Greg Smith: The first few that came to mind were Schitt’s Creek, True Blood and Game of Thrones. Steve took Thrones so I’ll go different but stay in the HBO family. I loved True Blood when it was on. It was appointment viewing for me. It got a little weird even for a show about vampires and faeries. I miss that show.
Mike Babcock: The Sopranos, The Ranch, Hawaii Five-O and Seinfeld . . . for starters.
Drake Keeler: I have not watched any of the shows that have already been named in this section, outside of maybe catching glimpses of a few episodes. For myself, I’d say One Piece. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a (very) long-running anime, and it’s incredible. Never thought I’d love a show about pirates so much.
Brandon: The three series I most looked forward to each week when they were on: Breaking Bad, Succession and Mad Men. I was also one of the (seemingly) few who really appreciated The Leftovers. Did I enjoy it? Sometimes, but it’s not really a show that’s designed to be enjoyable. It was definitely a different kind of watch, but a great one if you stuck it out through some of the rough parts.
Erin Sorensen: Schitt’s Creek is high on the list for me. I know some people don’t love it quite like I do, but it never fails to put me in a good mood. Gilmore Girls has been a longtime favorite and I don’t suspect that changing any time soon.
If Fred were to decide this season that he’s had enough and wanted to walk, how would that work? Is there still a buyout involved? (@TwinTwisterDad)
Brandon: It depends on where he theoretically walks away to, per his contract. If Hoiberg takes other “basketball employment,” another college or NBA coaching job or a front-office position, he owes Nebraska liquidated damages on a sliding scale depending upon when he leaves and for what job (coaching or executive). This is just the “buyout” we always hear about with coaching changes and is usually paid by the new employer. (For example, Frost owed UCF $3 million in “liquidated damages” when he left in 2017, which was paid by Nebraska.) Should Hoiberg just resign without leaving for another job, the contract states that “Coach shall not owe any penalties to the University.” That said, everything in these contracts can be negotiated if both parties are willing, which could include what Nebraska owes Hoiberg should it make a change or what Hoiberg could get if he chose to walk away. Contractually, however, Nebraska wouldn’t owe Hoiberg anything if he resigns and he wouldn’t owe Nebraska anything.
If you were Fred Hoiberg, what would your plan to improve next season? (@dmhusker1)
Jacob: One, I’d change the staff structure and have all of my assistants involved with scouting, evaluating and recruiting players (myself included, since I’m Hoiberg in this hypothetical). The more eyes we have on players, the better in my opinion. Two, I’d hit the transfer portal hard to find a point guard – one that actually fits what I want to do. My other priority in the portal would be finding a skilled power forward. Before making any further roster moves, however, I’d have to have a long conversation with Derrick Walker and Trey McGowens about their future plans (assuming Bryce McGowens enters the draft); whether or not they come back for another year impacts the scholarship situation since super seniors count towards the limit moving forward. If one or both want to come back for another year, it would only help. I’d really hammer home defensive fundamentals and communication first and foremost, and then I’d stress little things on offense like cutting hard, sharing the ball and playing off two feet in the paint. Nebraska isn’t going to be able to win in the Big ten based solely on talent next season; they’re going to have to excel in the little things and truly play together as a team.
6-6/7-5. Floor or Ceiling? (@RandyHusker)
Drake: I’m not sure how anyone could feel comfortable setting 6-6 as the *floor* for Nebraska football next season. 7-5 is closer to the ceiling without a doubt, although I’d understand arguments that place the ceiling a win or two higher than that.
Jacob: Yeah, I’d probably put the floor at 3-9 again until they prove they can be trusted to win even the games they’re supposed to, let alone the toss-up games or pulling off upsets. If things truly click, I could see them getting to eight, maaaaaybe nine wins, but that would take things happening that we simply haven’t seen yet under Scott Frost.
Brandon: 7-5 is probably the ceiling for now. As Jacob noted, occasionally you’ll have these magic seasons where things click, you get a few good bounces and momentum builds. That’s always possible, but for the purposes of projecting likely outcomes you have to try and remove the extreme outcomes. Nebraska is an interesting case this offseason. On the one hand, the difference between 2021 Nebraska’s actual wins and Pythagorean wins was 4.45 (meaning that NU won 4.45 fewer games than its scoring differential would indicate based on this formula). I have those calculations going back to 2007, and 4.45 is by far the highest number of the group. There are only seven teams over that span that even had a differential greater than 3. Most of the time, teams with a large positive differential improve the following season. That’s the primary reason for optimism about 2022. By Pythagorean Wins, Nebraska was basically a 7-5 team this past season and in instances like this the market often corrects itself.
The primary reason for pause with Nebraska in 2022 is the returning production, which is the other offseason number I pay close attention to. Depending upon how you calculate and weight that, the Huskers have a lot to replace. Teams that return a ton of production tend to improve (see: 2021 Minnesota) and teams that don’t tend to regress (see: 2021 Northwestern). Nebraska’s numbers here aren’t so low that you’d predict some serious struggles the way you could with Northwestern entering last season, but they’re low enough for me to at least tap the brakes. My entire offseason will be spent trying to balance those two things and right now it leaves me thinking 7-5 would be a very good, reasonable ceiling for this team.
Favorite sports movie? (@dmhusker1)
Steve: This is just my bad opinion, but I generally stay away from sports movies. I’m not a “Rocky” guy, not a “Rudy” guy, not a “Remember The Titans” guy. However, there are some exceptions. “Friday Night Lights” is one. Also, I can recite multiple scenes word for word in “Moneyball” as well as Al Pacino’s pregame speech in “Any Given Sunday” so maybe there’s your answer. The Pacino scene will stick with me forever, I think. It’s where I learned that life, just like football, is a game of inches. And on this team, we fight for that inch. We claw with our finger nails for that inch. We should be willing to fight and die for that inch, because that’s what livin’ is, the six inches in front of your face.
Greg: What a tough choice between “Remember the Titans,” “Jerry Maguire” and “Coach Carter” for me. I’ll give the nod to “Jerry Maguire”. Rod Tidwell forever. Show me the money!
Mike: “Jerry Maguire”.
Drake: I don’t really have a favorite, honestly, so I’ll give a non-serious answer. “Thunderstruck”, featuring Kevin Durant, is a bad sports movie that I remember way more of than I should.
Jacob: I’d just like to say that Steve not being a “Remember the Titans” guy puts his judgment about everything into serious question. Good call on “Coach Carter”, though, Greg.
Erin: The original “Space Jam”. And look, I also enjoyed the second “Space Jam,” too. I know people hated it but too many were trying to compare it to the original. That was the mistake. Just let things exist as they are. Plus, the original “Space Jam” wasn’t quite what it is today when it was first released. Not saying the second will eventually come to the cult classic level of the first (and it won’t, I don’t think) but it still has its place too.
Brandon: For someone who really loves sports, I’m realizing that I don’t really love sports movies. For example, I didn’t have an immediate answer to this question, which seems sort of insane. The problem, I think, is I have too much experience with nonfiction sports so I nitpick nonfiction sports. “Friday Night Lights” was a completely enjoyable movie, but I spent most of it being bugged by the fact that they were wearing cleats that simply couldn’t have been worn in 1988. For that reason—an admittedly insane standard for versimilitude––the Ron Shelton films, “Bull Durham” and “White Men Can’t Jump,” are probably my favorites.