Nebraska will open up Fall Camp on Friday, as players report on Thursday. We start your Monday off with the Weekly Rundown column.
You have to feel pretty good about these things right now:
Nebraska’s commitment to the Big Ten: It’s almost like Nebraska Chancellor Ronnie Green knew something on July 14. When he announced Trev Alberts as NU’s Athletic Director, he marched back to the podium to reaffirm the Huskers are a fully committed member to the Big Ten Conference. During the Big Ten/Nebraska drama of 2020, there was some momentum on the outside at looking to leave the Big Ten for the Big 12.
Fast forward to July 21. The reports began to surface about Texas and Oklahoma leaving the Big 12 for the SEC in the coming days. Maybe Green didn’t know anything, but I found it very interesting how both he and Alberts went out of their way to express their commitment to the Big Ten.
As we know now, the Big Ten is without a doubt the best place for the Big Red. I can’t even imagine the stress if NU was still a member of the Big 12 not knowing what their conference might look like in the coming weeks.
Texas and drama: Nebraska learned this in 1995 and it forced them to leave the Big 12 following the 2010 season.
Texas is big, powerful and they throw their weight around. They will step on anyone to make sure they get what they want.
Tom Osborne saw them thrust their authority on the Big 12 in 1996 and it led to NU leaving the league in 2010 when the Longhorns wanted to have their own ESPN television network, creating an unfair advantage over the rest of the league.
Texas A&M thought they got away from Texas. Well, Bevo is back and the Aggies really don’t have the ability to stop it.
Trev Alberts’ leadership: After seeing Alberts in action this week in Indianapolis, it solidified my thoughts Nebraska got this right. I can’t think of anyone better than Alberts to lead NU’s Athletic Department. He checks every box and he leads the department in a way Nebraskans should be proud of.
Barry Alvarez never retires: Remember when we thought Wisconsin’s Barry Alvarez rode off into the sunset to his second home in Naples after he announced his retirement back in April? Well, that lasted around 100 days.
Alvarez is not going anywhere for a long time. Kevin Warren has made Alvarez his Football Czar. My guess is this will help smooth over some rocky relationships after this past year where things got very heated on Zoom calls with Warren and his Big Ten football coaches.
These were my surprises of the week:
How Minnesota took Frost’s comments out of context: The lack of news at Big Ten Media Days was so light, that we had to jump to conclusions to find some.
Scott Frost said on Thursday he doesn’t believe in using catchy slogans in his football program. He added that Tom Osborne never did things like that.
Minnesota took those remarks as a shot against their coach P.J. Fleck and his “Row the Boat” slogan. As Steve Spurrier would say, “talking season” is fun.
Still no COVID-19 guidelines from the Big Ten: I’m not sure I should be surprised here, but as of Thursday, the Big Ten has no established COVID-19 protocols for the 2021 season.
So that means we don’t know if testing will at all be required for the 2021 season. Warren said the league will hire a Chief Medical Officer before the season starts. For now, they are letting each school handle its own protocols.
“Our schools are finalizing their proposed policies and procedures for the fall,” Warren said. “We’ll get that information in early August, we’ll combine it, and then we’ll get together with our chancellors and presidents and other key constituents to make the determination as far as how we handle the fall.”
That’s the part that worries me. COVID-19 is not one-size-fits-all, especially in a conference that spans from the border to Wyoming to the Atlantic Ocean.
Alberts not being afraid to say what needs to be said: Can you imagine if Shawn Eichorst came out and said “we need to stop talking about the past” and worry about the now? He couldn’t.
That’s the difference with Alberts. He’s a former player, a highly decorated one. He can say things like this that need to be said. As Alberts said on Thursday, people are tired of hearing about the past with Nebraska. The focus needs to be on the now.
The jury is still out
Questions still surround these things:
Kevin Warren’s ability to lead this conference: Between COVID-19 and now college football expansion, is Warren equipped to lead during these “war times” in college football?
If we thought last year was rough for Warren, if he mismanages things during this era of expansion, it could affect the Big Ten’s legacy forever. Having Alvarez next to him will help.
The Big Ten has never leaded strong leadership more than now. The decisions over the next few months could change the league forever.
What will happen to the Big 12 without OU and Texas?: You sure wonder what’s next for the Big 12 if Oklahoma and Texas indeed head to the SEC?
Will the Pac-12 try to add a few members? Could they take four Big 12 teams to bring the Pac-12 to 16? That doesn’t seem likely without UT and OU involved.
The other scenario for the Big 12 is picking up teams like Boise State, BYU, UCF, USF Cinncinatti and Houston.
Who should the Big Ten approach?: The easy answer is Notre Dame. Would they at all entertain any kind of offer to join the Big Ten? Is there a way to mix NBC into the Big Ten deal? It seems unlikely, but the Big Ten needs to try.
After the Irish, Kansas and Iowa State are the only AAU members in the Big 12. Virginia, North Carolina and Duke would all make sense, too. I can’t see them messing with the Pac-12, mainly because that would destroy one of their biggest traditions of all – The Rose Bowl.
Another dream scenario would be teams like Clemson, Miami and Florida State. Would they entertain joining a super conference if there were a way to create a four-team pod-type set-up ensuring certain games every year?
This has my attention
Moving forward, this has my attention:
The NIL era and Fan Day collide: I’ll be very interested to see if every player is willing to sign autographs on Thursday now that we have entered the NIL era. It’s happened before at NU. Cornerback Joshua Kalu never signed his autograph at Fan Day, but was willing to take pictures with fans.
WR Omar Manning: The JUCO transfer wide receiver got a good review from Frost on Thursday. Can this be the August Omar Manning needs?
RB Markese Stepp: How will USC transfer running back Markese Stepp look in Fall Camp? Frost said he’ll be on a “pitch count.”
CB Tyreke Johnson: Where will five-star Ohio State cornerback transfer Tyreke Johnson fit into the mix this August? Can he win a job, or will he be more NU’s fifth defensive back in 2021?
New fall camp practice rules: Welcome to the 8-9-8 era of college football. Teams will have eight practice in helmets, nine in half pads and eight in full pads. You are allowed 25 Fall Camp practices over 29 days before your season opener. It amounts to two fully-padded practices per week in August.
That’s 17 practices from July 30 to Aug. 27 in full pads or half pads. Normally that number would be closer to 21, according to an SI.com report.
When Nebraska goes full pads, no more than 90 minutes of the practice can feature live to the ground tackling. When you go half pads, no tackling to the ground is allowed.
It’s quite a change from the two-a-day era of college football that used to feature 11 fully-padded practices per week. That was back in the early 2000s.
Sean Callahan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and he can be heard each day at 6:45 am and 5:05 pm on Big Red Radio 1110 KFAB in Omaha during the football season. He can also be seen on KETV Channel 7 in Omaha during the fall and each week he appears on NET’s Big Red Wrap-Tuesday’s at 7 pm.
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