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Official Husker Locker Blog

2010 Dec 13

Husker Monday Takes: On Bo and Private Jets

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By HuskerLocker

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The takes are back! (At least until after the Holiday Bowl.) Here's six strong ones:

***You know, Money Mayweather keeps a private jet. Maybe that's what Bo Pelini needs. Flying commercial may not be cutting it when he conducts in-home visits with guys who verbally committed months ago to Nebraska's 2011 recruiting class.

And you thought the Husker media was out to get Bo.

Back to the G6. Recruitniks will tell you: The assistants do the legwork. Think of it like nation-building: The assistants build the bridges, win the hearts and minds. The head coaches mix in the aura of a foreign leader, swooping in for a meal, a handshake and the close – if any closing needs to occur.

Do you need to rent a private jet for that? More often, it's the Junior Days and summer camps – not the December/January whirlwind tours – when great recruiting classes are built.

Better question: Does a coach feel put out if he doesn't have one?

These are questions that Tom Osborne – and his eventual successor – will have to repeatedly ask themselves as schools go after Bo. Say Michigan fires Rich Rodriguez and hires Les Miles away from LSU, leaving the Tigers without a coach. You know Baton Rouge is putting in a call to Pelini, who knows the landscape. What then?

Of course, NU fans could always pass around a Herbie hat. Perhaps donate the gate receipts for the next four men's basketball home games to the cause – that would jolt attendance over at the Bob. Maybe create a hotline: 855-WEFLYBO. (Please, please don't call this number.)

*** Of course, Pelini is piecing together his best recruiting class without the benefit of the jet. Nebraska often fell short of matching Texas and Oklahoma in the recruiting rankings for the Big 12, and in recent years Missouri and Texas A&M made their moves, too.

But Nebraska would have the No. 1 class in the Big Ten according to current Rivals.com team rankings. NU checks in at No. 8 nationally, one spot ahead of Ohio State. Chew on that. The Buckeyes and Huskers haven't been in the same stratospheres of achievement since the 2002 season – try eight BCS bowls to zero – and yet here is Nebraska, already toe-to-toe with OSU on the recruiting trail. Not bad.

NU has retooled its structure a bit since Bo first arrived, and it's really on the few JUCO recruits who signed with the Huskers. Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., safety Daimion Stafford – who received recent interest from Florida and USC – could be the latest.

But Nebraska's done its best work in Texas, where high schools kids appear – for now – to care not one whit about the Big Ten move. Six big verbal commits from the Lone Star State. The biggest names are San Antonio running back Aaron Green and Arlington quarterback Jamal Turner. But the guy I like the most is Klein Collins linebacker David Santos, who had 243 tackles and 10 sacks over the last two years reminds an awful lot of former Oklahoma safety Roy Williams as a hitter and tackler. There's some Terrell Farley in there, too.He'll play LaVonte David's spot in college.

Santos just won the Houston Touchdown Club's Defensive Player of the Year on Thursday. He also helped recruit his teammate, cornerback Charles Jackson, to Lincoln, too. He's a classic Pelini tweener – 6-foot, 200 pounds – who fits into a fast, dangerous, playmaking defense. Even if it is a little bit on the small side.

A distant third on the Big Ten list – at No. 25 nationally – is Wisconsin. But consider that a warning sign: The Badgers, always doing much more with much less, have their best recruiting class in years. Wisky already plows opponents with under-the-radar guys. How dangerous are the Badgers with a little blue chip ice cream?

Penn State is the bizarre outlier of the bunch. The Nits have just eight verbal commits to date, and with a sizable senior class graduating, could stand a few more pounds.

***I thought Nebraska's coaching staff would stay intact through this season, in part because 2010 looked like a special year. A rising tide that would lift all coaching boats and present the best resume possible for programs looking for hot names. Bo would have been filling several vacancies – and perhaps both coordinator jobs - as the Huskers headed into the Big Ten.

It didn't work out that way.

Now, even with the names of Husker coaches popping up in various job searches, don't be stunned if most of them – if not all – hang around North Stadium. And don't be surprised if Bo and Osborne sweeten the pot a little for them to stay. Continuity could be crucial as NU embarks on the toughest conference schedule known to the free world.

Bo still has a bridge to cross with Shawn Watson's offense. And, for that matter, with special teams, too. After two excellent years of return units, and an excellent 2009 in kick and punt coverage, the Huskers lagged a little in 2010. Alex Henery and Adi Kunalic won't be around to cover for those shortcomings next year.

***It's almost like the Holiday Bowl doesn't exist, that's how much we've talked about it.

Expect a good game, folks. Washington will have a coherent defensive plan this time around – even if Taylor Martinez is 100 percent. Oklahoma put a “50 defense” on film that had Martinez completely flummoxed. Watson will draw up a counter to that, I'm sure, but Martinez has to execute it.

The Husky offense will stick more to the ground, I'd guess, and then ask quarterback Jake Locker to make timely playaction strikes on first down. Oklahoma also did this, completing passes of 49, 17, 30, 10 and 19 yards on first down vs. Nebraska in the Big 12 title game. OU set those up by keeping it on the ground for the first quarter.

***Nebraska's found its next Kelsey Griffin – on the volleyball court. Despite five service errors in a four-set loss to Washington, outside hitter Hannah Werth was NU's most dynamic player and leader on the court. Like Griffin, she's a rare blend of athleticism, competitiveness and personality.

Now Husker coach John Cook has to hitch his wagon to Werth and let her bomb away in 2011.

*** Lots of talk about the NCAA, amateurism and ethics after Auburn's Cameron Newton ran away with the Heisman Trophy Saturday night. Newton – an impressive-but-overrated quarterback who benefits from a wide-open, QB-friendly offense – has been the star of a soap opera ever since reports surfaced that his dad, Cecil, openly solicited a $180,000 payment for his son to attend Mississippi State before Cameron signed with Auburn.

The NCAA's preliminary investigation found that Cecil Newton certainly did “something,” but Cameron and Auburn didn't know anything about “it.” So Cameron is eligible. Until the day – should it ever come – that the NCAA can prove Auburn tried to buy or actually bought Newton, too.

There is only one certain way that corruption ends in college sports: The kids – and their parents – have to say no. Even when tempted. Even if the system is unfair. Even if they're poor. That sounds trite, but here's the thing: A lot of them say no to gifts and bribes all the time. Every day. There are many more success stories than there are scandals, and it's a dismissal of those players' integrity to suggest no one can resist the power of cash.

Tags: husker monday takes, bo pelini, hannah werth, recruiting, big ten, david santos, shawn watson, taylor martinez, holiday bowl

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