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  1. 2011 Oct 21

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Going Under the Microscope with Kevin Kugler Part II


    By HuskerLocker

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    By Erin Sorensen

    Yesterday, Husker Locker had the opportunity to learn a little about Kevin Kugler and how he achieved his current status as a sports journalist. Even after having the opportunity to cover many different teams in various sports, Kugler still has a soft spot for Nebraska.

    During today's discussion, he talks a bit more about his profession, how he became a Cornhusker fan, and his predictions for the rest of the season. Kugler even shows that his job can be unpredictable (if not a little bit funny) by rehashing the great “TD Ameritradgey” that occurred during last summer’s College World Series.

    ES: You graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1994. Were you always a Nebraska fan?

    KK: There’s no doubt that when you grow up in the state, especially in the time that I grew up, you gravitate towards Nebraska. My grandparents had season tickets, so we got the chance to go to quite a few games, assuming we could talk one of them out of their tickets!

    I can remember interrupting Coach Osborne and his family at a Sunday dinner at the “Pantry” restaurant in Lincoln for an autograph as a young boy, so I’d say that I grew up as a Nebraska fan. Even now, as someone who covers the team, I have a great appreciation for just what Nebraska football means to this state.

    ES: You have handled play-by-play for college and professional football, college baseball and college basketball – Do you prefer one sport over any other?

    KK: I really don’t. I love to call the sports that are in season. Baseball is my first love, but I’ve called so much more football and basketball, so I probably enjoy those sports even more. I will say this: there’s no atmosphere like the atmosphere at a college football game.

    I’ve had the chance to call games at LSU, Tennessee, Florida, Oregon and almost every other big stadium, and the energy and electricity in those places is by far the best in sports. Big college basketball games can be pretty awesome as well, but it’s really hard to beat the atmosphere at a college football game.

    ES: How do you prepare for a game when you are calling play-by-play?

    KK: It’s easier to prepare today than it was even when I started out, thanks to the internet. We have the opportunity to read every article about the teams we’re covering in the local papers all week long.That’s part of my preparation - lots and lots of reading.

    As a play-by-play guy, I put together spotting boards which are charts that approximate a two-deep for each team on both sides of the ball. Each of those charts is 11x17, and each player has a box surrounding their name where I put notes, bio information, etc.

    ES: You are also the co-host for both Unsportsmanlike Conduct on 1620 The Zone and Big Red Wrap-Up on NET – How does that differ from play-by-play?

    KK: Well, the radio show is different from everything else I do. I’m a host on Big Red Wrap-Up, moving the show from point A to point B, facilitating discussion and trying to get our guests to offer good opinions and good conversation.

    On Unsportsmanlike Conduct, my job is to be that opinionated guy. I’m paid to offer an opinion. I’m paid to provide informative, entertaining sports talk. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t!

    My job is to offer opinions, and when those opinions cross into controversial waters, people can get bothered. I’m also the guy who moves from point A to point B, and gets us in and out of breaks, but on the radio show, I have four hours a day. That's as opposed to one hour a week on TV, so my opinions have more time and opportunity to be revealed.

    Bill Doleman, a good friend of mine and a terrific broadcaster, told me in college that you can never over prepare for a broadcast, and I took that to heart. I probably use five percent of what I put down during a game, but it’s there just in case I need it. Those charts take up a good part of my prep time, which usually is about 15-20 hours per football game per week.

    ES: Nebraska is 5-1 heading into this weekend’s game against Minnesota. How do you predict the rest of the season will go?

    KK: I’m excited to see what will happen, because outside of this Minnesota game, which I think is a cake-walk win, there aren’t any gimmes on the schedule. Best guess? I’d go with 9-3 at the end of the year.

    I still think Michigan is a tough task for Nebraska on the road, especially considering the defensive play we’ve seen up to this point. I think they’ll also drop one other game along the way, so I’ll go with a 9-3 finish in 2011.

    ES: Are there any key Nebraska players to watch for this weekend in Minnesota?

    KK: I’m anxious to see Chase Rome and the defensive line rotation without Jared Crick. I’m not sure that this will be a great test to fully gauge what they will do the rest of the way, but this will be a great team to break in against as a starting defensive lineman.

    I’m also going to be watching Stanley Jean-Baptiste at cornerback. We saw him make a great play against Ohio State, but how will he be full time out there? Again, this is probably not a great test weekend, because MarQueis Gray doesn’t throw well for Minnesota, but I’m looking to see if he can make some plays this weekend.

    ES: What do you believe Nebraska’s chances are at going to Indianapolis for the Big Ten title game?

    KK: They have a great chance to go to Indy, provided that the defense can continue to improve. Michigan and Michigan State are the biggest hurdles left in the Legends division.

    Of course, the Penn State game on the road is a tricky game considering how the Nittany Lions play defense. If Nebraska plays in the second half of the season the way they played in the last quarter and a half against Ohio State, they can beat anyone remaining on their schedule.

    ES: From my understanding, you were also at TD Ameritrade during the great “TD Ameritragedy” – Can you walk me through that experience?

    KK: (Laughs) That was quite a night at the College World Series. First, the wind - that awful, awful wind. We lost a good Famous Dave’s tent that night. Then, the rain - Buckets and buckets of rain.

    Then the evacuation from the press box after the wind and worst of the storm had passed through the area. The TD Ameritragedy was born that night. Mainly from the minds of several loopy broadcasters who were killing time in the midst of a long, long rain delay!

    Catch Part One if You Missed it

    Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinKugler

    Follow Erin on Twitter: @helloerinmarie
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    Tags: kevin kugler, unsportsmanlike conduct, big red wrapup, minnesota, college world series, michigan, penn state, jared crick, chase rome, stanley jean baptiste

  2. 2011 Jun 18

    Husker Chatter From Around the Horn: 6/18


    By HuskerLocker

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    A weekly look at what's been said about the Big Red around the wide, wide world of sports:

    "The Cornhuskers are the consensus preseason pick to win the Legends Division that also includes Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Iowa and Minnesota." - The Gainesville Sun

    “We kind of grew up around here. Going to Nebraska football games — they are the best.“You learn the customs and the ways. Sports around here are a big deal.” - Vanderbilt second baseman Riley Reynolds in town with the Commodores' College Word Series squad

    “There’s a lot of kids that are in some tough situations and just need some help,” said Washington, who went to the University of Nebraska on a football scholarship. “I grew up like that, and I had a way out with football. ... Some people got to go the other route and hit the books, and I feel those people should be rewarded.” - Former Nebraska cornerback Fabian Washington regarding the creation of a scholarship in his name

    "I really got this idea after interviewing Correll Buckhalter for a magazine article,” explained Raeshaun. “We talked about how many professional athletics come from the small community we live in.” - Journalist and substitute teacher Iris Raeshaun who will be holding a Summer Learning & Sports Camp

    " So yeah, Nebraska is a nice addition. But let's not give up the ship just yet. We'll be providing Nebraska with some pretty good opponents. And recent history has shown, they don't fare so well when that happens." - Bama Hawkeye from Off Tackle Empire

    Follow Husker Locker on Twitter: @huskerlocker
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    Tags: big ten, big 10, vanderbilt, college world series, correll buckhalter, fabian washington

  3. 2011 Jun 18

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: A Call For Peace Among The Big 12 and Big Red


    By HuskerLocker

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    By Brian Towle

    Snark has been running rampant through the Midwest again. It was spawned when a conference started; it came to a head when said conference faced its end. Animosity is in full display between Nebraska and Big 12 fans, bloggers and media members, especially those of the burnt orange persuasion.

    For those of you not familiar, "snark" is a combination of "snide" and "remark." Basically, it's a way to get your point across while being an extreme jerk.

    There have been several pieces lately from Big 12 media primarily in or around Austin and Dallas trying to one-up each other at getting a final dig in at the Cornhuskers before July 1 comes and Nebraska officially joins the Big Ten Conference.

    It appears that Nebraskan media members have noticed this. Lee Barfknecht of the Omaha World-Herald suggested that we turn the other cheek and just let it go using Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne and Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe as examples. The problem is that Tom and Dan were merely answering questions thrown to them by media that refuse to let it go.

    There are multiple agendas fueling this. We all might as well share the blame, because everyone is at fault here. Actions spawn animosity and all of a sudden the fireworks start.

    The blogosphere also refuses to let it go. Even going as far as suggesting attending the College World Series games and booing Augie Garrido's Texas Longhorns baseball team as they try to play for a national championship opportunity at TD Ameritrade Park.

    For those that think that booing a team of kids that really have nothing to do with the whole situation is the answer, ask yourself this: Is this what you want to show Ohio State, Michigan or Penn State? That the Nebraska fan base holds childish grudges and can't let go of something so insignificant?

    First impressions are everything in this world. Nebraska will be making 11 of them come July 1. The Cornhuskers will be center stage and the spotlight begins to shine when Nebraska joins other teams that voted to have them come into their conference, their family, to make life better.

    The circumstances that were presented to Osborne and Harvey Perlman caused them listen to the Big Ten. However, there was no guarantee that Nebraska would have been accepted. Also, the Cornhuskers weren’t necessarily the only choice that college football’s oldest conference had.

    If both Nebraska and The Big 12 wanted to be together, it would have happened. It didn’t, though and that’s that. End of story.

    There will be even more rhetoric from both sides, from columnists and bloggers. Some will talk about how Texas owned Nebraska on the football field, and the Horns did. The numbers don’t lie or how Nebraska never was comfortable with how the conference seemed to favor the Southern schools. From Football and Basketball title venues to even the home office locations.

    It's obvious that there’s a hate between some on both sides. However, most fans just consider both the relationship of Nebraska/Big 12 conference a failed marriage and have moved on. The anonymity of the Internet with message boards and blogs allows the vocal hair-pulling minority letting people fire away without recourse or accountability at all.

    To those who wear burnt orange involved who can't let this go: Enjoy the new fruits of your conference and Longhorn Network. Enjoy this week in Omaha, cheer and support your team on the way to a national championship and take in all that the new ballpark has to offer. However, understand that you now are working with a conference living on borrowed time.

    To Nebraska fans who are holding on to this: In two weeks time, there is a new identity and fraternity that the Cornhuskers will belong to. It's the job of everyone involved to make sure we not only celebrate and embrace this, but to make sure that all involved can take advantage of this new opportunity. Also remember that Nebraska has the eyes of not only a nation, but a new conference upon us and every move will be magnified more than imagined.

    To both sides: Put your displeasure/hatred of the other away for this week. After all, there are seven other teams in Omaha working hard towards an experience that will last a lifetime. There’s no point in trying to force civility on both sides, but it’s not too much to ask that courtesy be extended.

    Ill will shouldn’t ruin someone else's memories of the first tournament in Downtown Omaha and after all, both sides will have new gauntlets to run soon enough. In the mean time, share some food, makes some friends from across the country and enjoy all that the College World Series is.

    Follow Brian on Twitter: @btbowling
    Follow Husker Locker on Twitter: @huskerlocker
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    Tags: nebraska, cornhuskers, texas, longhorns, college world series

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