Let the games begin . . . so, so early.
Or at least early for a volleyball match. The titanic Michigan-Ohio State game from a few weeks ago kicked off at the same time. But that was a Saturday.
So at the very least, I guess, you can say it’s early and on a strange day for a matchup that features two programs that have won eight of the past 10 national titles in their sport. Those are some massive stakes for a morning match.
Nebraska’s John Cook and Penn State’s Russ Rose handled it like the veterans they are at Thursday’s press availability.
Cook made his feelings on the start time known earlier in the week, so Thursday was more about the practicalities of playing in the morning.
“We’re going to embrace the opportunity to get more sleep. I did research,” Cook said. “Student-athletes in college tend to go to sleep a little later. They need to sleep in later. All schools should start past 9 o’clock because kids need sleep. They sleep better in the morning. So we’re going to pass on our [serve-and-pass] practice and get in our normal game-day routine and go.”
Penn State’s Rose, who has also been around, seen it all and won a lot, said he was pretty confident that once the match time actually rolled around it probably wouldn’t feel much different than a typical match at Devaney.
“I think [the fans will] have some coffee cups with them,” Rose said. “I think that will probably be it. There will be some people who probably didn’t shave in the morning, and those who had a longer drive to get there. The fans of Nebraska sports are committed fans. I think they’ll be here and be supportive of their team.”
So in case you didn’t catch that, brunch-like levels of dishevelment are acceptable this morning per a seven-time national champion. And as everyone knows, brunch is great.
This is the sixth time Nebraska and Penn State have met in an NCAA regional. The Huskers won four of the five previous meetings, all of which were in Lincoln.
Grab your coffee. Match starts at 11 a.m. CT on ESPNU.
What Might Have Been
If you’re a fan of what-ifs and alternate histories, John Talty of AL.com has a story for you. It’s about the time Rich Rodriguez reportedly accepted the Alabama job, then decided to stay at West Virginia.
If you don’t recall those halcyon days of 2006, there were reports — which this story delightfully wades into — that Rodriguez to Alabama was a done deal. Plenty of Alabama people still think it was, all Rodriguez had to do was sign.
When he didn’t, Alabama had to go back to Nick Saban, then the Miami Dolphins’ head coach who had already said no to the opportunity once, and try to woo Saban all over again. This time it worked.
After the deal was complete, Saban, his wife Terry and [Alabama AD Mal] Moore jumped on a plane from Miami to Tuscaloosa for the new coach’s introductory press conference. Moore later told Neinas as they were in the air, Saban turned to his new boss and made only one promise.
“I just want you to know you’ve hired a horseshit football coach,” Saban told Moore. “But nobody will out-recruit me.”
As you know by now, Saban never worked out at Alabama, Rodriguez turned West Virginia into a juggernaut and is still riding one of the most dominant runs in the sport’s history in Morgantown.
That could’ve been Alabama, but these things have a way of evening out. I’m sure the Tide will get theirs eventually.
The Grab Bag
- Here’s your list of the major college football awards handed out last night.
- Art Briles is suing Baylor University officials for libel and slander. Here is Michael McCann’s breakdown of the suit.
- Contrary to some reports yesterday, Houston has not hired Lane Kiffin as its next football coach. The sticking point seems to be that Houston, which has been a launching pad for some notable coaching careers of late, is looking for a big buyout.
- These are the uniforms Army and Navy will wear on Saturday. Edge: Army.
Today’s Song of Today