Nebraska takes the stage at Big Ten Media Days on Thursday. We get you ready in this week’s 3-2-1 column.
1 – Huskers officially picked fifth in the West
Agree or disagree, Nebraska is picked fifth in the Big Ten West in the official media poll put out by Cleveland.com.
In all reality, this is about where they should be based off last year’s results. Both Northwestern and Minnesota beat the Huskers in 2020. NU hasn’t beaten Iowa since 2014 and Wisconsin since 2012. When you just look at it like that, it’s hard to find anything wrong with the pick.
Also, nobody is just going to hand it to Nebraska. The league’s media have been burned in past years overvaluing the summer hype around the Huskers.
There’s no reason, though, why the Big Red can’t contend with the top teams in the West. They also have a favorable crossover draw, as Michigan State is picked seventh in the East and Michigan fourth. They will play Ohio State as well, who is the unanimous pick to win the league.
The key to everything in 2021 will be the start of the season. A 3-0 start is a must and, in all reality, a 4-1 start needs to happen if the Huskers want to have some confidence going into the back half of the schedule.
2 – All eyes will be on Kevin Warren Thursday
Who is that man behind the curtain? It’s Kevin Warren.
For the first time in nearly a year, the Big Ten sportswriters will get a crack at Warren at Media Days when he takes the stage on Thursday morning.
How much will he rehash last year’s decision? Will he attempt to take a victory lap for getting a 9-week season in, or will he admit some things could have been done differently?
Today, nobody can honestly say what the Big Ten did was the right path. The correct path in 2020 was the original 10-game schedule built out over 16 weeks that allowed optimal flexibility to get every game in.
The other big question now is, what will the league protocols be, if any, regarding COVID-19 in 2021? Will testing be mandatory? What is the vaccination stance? If a player tests positive, how long will they be forced to sit?
My guess is they will kick the can down the road on most of these topics until they truly know where things are at in mid to late August.
3 – Trev Alberts meets the Big Ten
In four days on the job, new Nebraska Athletic Director Trev Alberts announced a new hire, welcomed Frank Solich back to Lincoln, and got a Twitter account that already has over 10,000 followers. Not a bad start to the job.
Thursday and Friday will be the first time Alberts speaks at a conference event representing Nebraska.
I don’t know this for sure, but I assume Alberts will be made available for a 10-to-15-minute window sometime on Thursday or Friday. It will be interesting to hear his initial thoughts on things as Fall Camp opens a week from Friday.
It will also be interesting to hear his thoughts on topics like conference expansion, especially with the latest rumors that have Oklahoma and Texas possibly heading to the SEC. This comes days after both Alberts and NU Chancellor Ronnie Green made it be known of Nebraska’s long-term commitment to the Big Ten Conference.
With OU and Texas possibly leaving the Big 12, that should pretty much squash any chatter of the Huskers being courted by their old conference. It really makes you wonder about the future of the Big 12 and where they would go next? Would teams like Kansas be looked at by the Big Ten? Or is the Big Ten perfectly happy with 14 members?
1 – How will Frost take the tough questions?
We know the tough questions are coming for Frost on Thursday. He’s going to face plenty of questions about his future, the decision to nearly back out of the Oklahoma series and even NU’s “take on the Big Ten approach” from a year ago.
How will Frost address those issues? My guess is you will see Frost tread lightly. I don’t think he’s going into Indianapolis today expecting to make the headlines. I think Nebraska’s best approach is to tread lightly and not come out swinging.
They need to back it up now under Frost. The 2018 and 2019 Big Ten Media Days were one thing under Frost, but 2021 has a whole different feel. Less is more from Nebraska when it comes to talking at Media Days.
2 – What roster news will surface out of Media Days?
We have not talked to Frost in-depth about the roster really since the end of spring practice. What new information will we learn at Media Days?
Nebraska technically has one transfer portal spot left they can use. Are they sitting on it, or do they plan to make a late addition still?
What about players like USC transfer running back Markese Stepp? Where will he factor in the mix heading into training camp?
I know Northwestern was picked third in the official Big Ten Media poll released on Wednesday, but I just don’t see the Wildcats finishing that high in 2021.
We know how well-coached Northwestern is, but they simply lost too much from their team in 2020, including their quarterback, receivers and nearly their entire front seven. I predict the Wildcats will finish fifth and not third in the Big Ten West. I also predict the Huskers will beat Northwestern in Lincoln.
Sean Callahan can be reached at email@example.com 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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