Love or Hate: Breaking Walls
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Love or Hate: Breaking Walls, Scheduling Devils and Nailing Pressers

June 21, 2019

It’s Friday. Let’s get to it.

Is It August 31 Yet?

The Program was back in Lincoln this week working with the Huskers, and it produced one of the most powerful moments of the entire offseason. In all of college football. Anywhere.

Setting aside the shattered wall jokes and WarDaddyUp hashtags, that’s an incredible video on a number of levels. First, that’s the work of Orah W. Garst, who made his way up to Lincoln from Baylor this offseason to head the creative department for the football team. The visual storytelling is awesome and the over-the-shoulder shot of Scott Frost on the beach deserves a damn Pulitzer. Frame it. Put it in a museum.

Second, some of the lines from Program founder Eric Kapitulik are the kind of stuff that gives you goosebumps 37 hours after the fact. 

“In life, you will end up achieving whatever standard you set for yourself.”

“Who you are some of the time is who you are all of the time.”

“Allow guys to cut corners in the weight room this summer during conditioning, that’s who you are at camp, that’s who you’ll be on Saturday afternoons this fall. Worse, that’s who you are as a man in life.”

“You determine what it means to be one of the men of Nebraska football.”

This is the second year in a row The Program, a two-day session designed to develop leadership, has come to work with the Huskers. Frost met Kapitulik in 2010 at Oregon, when The Program first began. They’ve been close ever since. Frost used The Program at Central Florida (new coach Josh Heupel still uses them) and went venturing through the Grand Canyon with Kapitulik and ESPN’s Marty Smith last season.

Kapitulik is a former US Marine. So, during the two days, Husker players go through stuff Kapitulik went through. These are drills designed to test the body and the mind in a way football drills for college kids just don’t. It’s about building mental fortitude. As long as Frost is in town, I imagine the Huskers will be hosting Kapitulik every offseason. 

If it keeps producing mornings like the one we got a glimpse of in the above video, it’s more than worth it.

Winning the (First) Day

Bill Moos is three-for-three in his hirings, and those hirings are three-for-three in the intro presser. First it was Scott Frost telling everyone the Big Ten is going to have to adapt to him. Then it was Fred Hoiberg talking about running and gunning and shooting every three available. Then it was Will Bolt, who was introduced as the new Husker baseball coach Thursday afternoon, and pretty much had baseball fans swooning by the time he left the podium. 

What style of baseball is he going to employ in Lincoln?

“Winning,” Bolt said. “Whatever that’s gotta look like. Honestly, whatever it takes.”

Does he feel ready to lead Nebraska?

“I’ve had the opportunity [to] literally sit in every chair that you can sit in with Nebraska baseball,” Bolt said.

Bolt talked about the importance of locking down the state’s borders and keeping Nebraska talent in Nebraska. He talked about the importance of hosting a regional in Lincoln, something that hasn’t happened in over 10 years. He called the head coaching chair at Nebraska a highlight, echoing what Moos has said time and time again, that Nebraska is a destination job, not a stepping stone for bigger and better things. 

He said whatever head coaching job he ultimately took needed to give him a national championship ceiling. He brought with him a pitching coach who used to play for the Huskers. He called Darin Erstad the greatest Husker he knows. 

Now, acing an intro presser doesn’t earn you any wins. Saying all the right things on Day 1 doesn’t secure any high-profile commits. Producing that viral Twitter quote doesn’t get you a CWS appearance. (I know this is news to everyone reading). Bolt still has work to do get this program where he wants it, but the thing that excites me about the hire is he uniquely understands what it’s going to take to get Nebraska to that point. 

Here’s a guy who was a two-time captain for Nebraska during his playing career. He served as a student assistant and grad manager. He stocked coaching lockers with shampoo. He cleaned laundry. This dude gets it on a level someone like myself just never, ever would.

I think Scott Frost’s genuine love for Nebraska — and the hurt he feels when Nebraska fails — will help him experience even more success here than he could elsewhere. If Bolt has that same level of affection for the baseball program, and I think he might, Moos has Nebraska sitting pretty for years to come in the three major male sports.

Fix The Broken Schedule

When Isaiah Roby put on a hat to take pictures on what was likely the best night of his life, it was the wrong hat.

This whole thing is dumb.

Roby put on a Detroit Pistons hat Thursday night when he found out he was being taken with the 45th pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. But that pick was traded to the Dallas Mavericks. 

The NBA holds the draft in June. But teams can agree to trade draft picks whenever they want. But those trades aren’t official until July 6. But a player drafted by a team picking for another team has to wear the wrong hat to keep up with… the charade? I don’t really know what image exactly is supposed to be maintained here?

It’s just another example of a completely broken NBA offseason schedule that needs fixing. 

The 2018-19 season ended, for a lot of teams, in either April or May. The Milwaukee Bucks had their season ended on May 25, nearly a month ago. But the likely MVP of the league, a Buck, won’t get his trophy until the final week of June, almost two weeks after the NBA champion was decided. Did you remember the MVP still needed to be handed out before you just read it did? A lot of folks have already forgotten about it. 

Just like a lot of teams have already moved on to next season. 

This regular season awards show that happens post-postseason just snuffs out any potential excitement surrounding the actual award.  

And the NBA Draft happens before free agency, meaning half the teams picking prospects are either looking for cheap roster adds in order to fill spots while the rotation is made up of big money signings (read: never gonna play) or teams trading picks willy nilly to avoid the money tied to those eventual contracts (read, also: never gonna play). Neither situation is good for the player. The NFL has it right in this regard, allowing teams to go through free agency and build a roster first, then enter the draft knowing which holes need to be plugged. 

Devils Coming

Head coach Amy Williams’ group is a sneaky Big Ten West contender next season. The team’s top seven scorers all return from a team that played in a program record 14 two-possession games. They fit every characterization of “formerly young team poised to make noise.” A top-25 freshman class in 2018 produced two scorers — guard Sam Haiby and wing Leigha Brown — that finished second and third on the team in per-game production and only grew in confidence as the season went on. 

Nebraska went 14-16 last season, but won three of its last four in the regular season to earn a six-seed in the conference tournament and a first-day rest. The Huskers lost that opener against 11th-seeded Purdue, but the signs of promise were there throughout the year. And the season-ending loss was one of those two-possession games.

Now, we know one game on next season’s schedule. Nebraska will host Duke as part of the B1G/ACC Challenge on Dec. 4. 

The Lady Blue Devils don’t have the pedigree of the other squad that calls Cameron Indoor home, but they’ve still made eight NCAA Tournaments since 2010. They went 15-15 last year (6-10 in the ACC) and return a trio of double-digit scorers from last year’s squad. First-team All-ACC guard Haley Gorecki, a senior-to-be, leads the way after averaging team bests of 17.2 points, 7.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 2.6 steals a night last year. Fellow senior Leaonna Odom (13.1 ppg, 6.4 rpg) and sophomore Miela Goodchild (10.9 ppg), who earned All-ACC Freshman honors last year, fill out the rest of the big three.

It’s a marquee game, and it’ll be a good indicator of where the Huskers are.

Williams wasted no time putting a heavy-hitter on the calendar. That’s either insight into the confidence level she has in her group, or it’s her way of saying “If we want to be the best we’ve got to beat some of the best.” Duke could be one of the ACC’s best. 

Either way, I like the aggressiveness. 

Dream Fulfilled 

One more time because it was a cool moment. Isaiah Roby is NBA-bound.

It’s been his goal since Day 1, and you have to be happy for the kid finally getting there.

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