We've spent plenty of time discussing the 2018 Nebraska football schedule and its difficulty, but little time on volleyball. Maybe that's because this is almost always the case for the Huskers, but the nonconference slate will once again feature some of the nation's best teams. (And that's in addition to the daily grind of life in the nation's best conference.)
Per VolleyballMag.com's quick national preview last week, Nebraska opens with one of the two best teams in the SEC in Florida. More interesting, however, is that Stanford topped the preseason coaches poll, but VolleyballMag gives special mention to the Huskers' Game 2 opponent:
Who’s the team to beat in the Pac-12? Start with Oregon, which has been knocking on the door the past two years with youngsters, finally mature enough to make it to Minneapolis in December, the site of this year’s NCAA Championship. The Ducks and second-year coach Matt Ulmer are loaded, from a junior class that includes Ronika Stone, Willow Johnson, Jolie Rasmussen and North Carolina transfer Taylor Borup and Brooke Van Sickle, technically a sophomore because she took a medical redshirt last season, to a senior class led by Lindsey Vander Weide to a five-freshman incoming group.
Florida opened the season ranked seventh, receiving one first-place vote, Oregon 18th.
Nebraska is also scheduled to face Iowa State, part of the second tier behind Texas in the Big 12, and Creighton, the top ranked team in the Big East.
The Huskers will hold their annual Red-White scrimmage this Saturday.
A Mess at Maryland
Back at the end of July a wrote about how the Big Ten had been trouncing the SEC with football coaching hires of the past five years. It was a simpler time then, a time when you could just take Maryland's 2016 hire of DJ Durkin for what it was: A change that was slowly making the Terrapins football program better.
But that was before Friday's report from ESPN alleging a "toxic culture" Maryland, a culture that existed prior to offensive lineman Jordan McNair's death following a workout in June. Maryland placed Durkin on administrative leave Saturday as it conducts an investigation into the allegations.
The Big Ten's best coach, Ohio State's Urban Meyer, is also on administrative leave as the university investigates his response to allegations of domestic abuse by former wide receivers coach Zach Smith.
The back-to-back allegations involving two of the conference coaches prompted USA Today Dan Wolken to write that restricted access to practice and football programs in general may be to blame.
Over the last several years, coaches have been allowed that leeway to reject the media’s role as a watchdog because they feel — and perhaps rightly so — that it doesn’t benefit them to operate under that kind of scrutiny. And certainly an athletic director, who is technically the boss but might make 20% of the football coach’s salary, is in no position to argue. Nor is there any pressure from the public, which isn’t disposed to cheer on the media generally and has largely dismissed complaints from reporters about access.
But it’s become clear that the secrecy with which these overly powerful coaches are allowed to run their programs has become a burden on the sport, the potential safety of players, their own careers and the schools for whom they profess so much loyalty.
Jon Solomon, formerly a college football reporter for CBS Sports, offered a light rebuttal.
1) While it would be great for media to have more access, I don't think that solves this issue. College athletes would be better served with independent advocates for their rights so they have a voice and know how to use it.
— Jon Solomon (@JonSolomonAspen) August 12, 2018
2) Many media in college sports could be more aggressive digging into what's really happening behind the scenes with athletic departments. Reporters worry too much about page views, fan backlash and loss of access. If media shows little interest, why would players come to them?
— Jon Solomon (@JonSolomonAspen) August 12, 2018
Nobody asked, but I probably fall somewhere between those two viewpoints.
The Grab Bag
- Steve Sipple on a key difference he's noticed between Tom Osborne and Scott Frost.
- Here are photos from Nebraska's Sunday scrimmage, which sure seem to feature a lot of Greg Bell.
- The Big 3 recruiting states? It's now more like a Big 4.
- ICYMI: Erin Sorensen has a great story on the junior college roots of some current Husker players and coaches, Jacob Padilla previews the offensive line and Derek Peterson on Cam Taylor.
Today's Song of Today
Brandon is the Managing Editor for Hail Varsity and has covered Nebraska athletics for the magazine and web since 2012, Hail Varsity’s first season on the scene. His sports writing has also been featured by Fox Sports, The Guardian and CBS Sports.