Nebraska: Best Quotes and Key Takeaways from Big Ten Media Days
Nebraska fans got their final look at the team as head coach Bo Pelini and members of the team appeared at Big Ten media days in Chicago this week. While these can be pretty scripted and buttoned-down affairs, there’s always a few interesting morsels of news that come out. Here are a few of the most interesting pieces of information.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes are from the Big Ten’s official transcripts of Bo Pelini’s presentation.
Most Nebraska fans assume that Tommy Armstrong is the clear-cut starter, with Johnny Stanton ready to step up if Armstrong can’t go. But when asked about Armstrong, Pelini on his own brought up Ryker Fyfe, saying that “there's also a walk-on young man, Ryker Fyfe, who I think will have a little bit to say about who our starting quarterback is.”
So does that mean Fyfe is really a candidate to start? Well, Pelini did say that Armstrong had the edge because of his experience. And some of his motivation for the Fyfe comment may simply have been a coach’s desire to create as much competition in fall camp as possible.
Regardless of the motive, though, it was clear that Fyfe’s mention from Pelini was not accidental.
Balance Is Still the Goal
Many Nebraska observers feel that NU’s offense needs an “identity” and should lean even more heavily on the run than it has in the past. Coach Pelini would not agree with that assessment, though.
“We want to have balance. We've been about a 60/40 run-pass team, and I believe at the end of the day you'd like to get as close to 50/50 as you possibly can.”
There’s a whole philosophical discussion about whether an “identity” is a good thing for Nebraska. But Pelini clearly comes down on one side of the “balance” versus “identity” debate.
Well, if there was any doubt that Nebraska was in the Big Ten, news that the Nebraska-Wisconsin game would be getting a trophy would put that doubt to rest. As reported by Kevin Trahan of SB Nation, Nebraska athletic director Shawn Eichorst confirmed that the two schools were working on a rivalry trophy for their now-annual B1G West matchup.
While it is good to see anything to strengthen the growing rivalry between Nebraska and Wisconsin—which has the potential to give NU the real blood-feud it has been lacking—the trophy idea does run the risk of being overused. As Trahan points out, in all the permutations of Iowa, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Minnesota playing each other, only the Nebraska-Minnesota game will be trophy-less.
And it still doesn’t take advantage of the coolest potential trophy idea unused as of yet—an annual contest between Nebraska and Northwestern for the “NU” moniker.
Pelini confirmed that Nebraska would once again be sporting an alternate uniform. According to Brian Christopherson of the Lincoln Journal-Star, Pelini said that the alternate uniforms would likely be worn against Illinois for Nebraska’s home opener.
This will be the third consecutive year that Nebraska has worn alternate uniforms, after Wisconsin in 2012 and UCLA in 2013 (and that’s not counting the 1962 throwbacks NU wore against Louisiana-Lafayette for the 300th sellout celebration in 2009). Traditionalists might not be excited, but current athletes, recruits and apparel stores that sell the replicas to saps like a certain smart and particularly handsome analyst will be thrilled at the news.
Ameer Abdullah’s Speech
Conference media days are, in all honesty, pretty predictable. Coaches will say how great their teams are, players will talk about how their team unity this year is unlike any other and Steve Spurrier will say something adorably provocative. It’s like the leaves turning in autumn, just an annual rite of passage
But Ameer Abdullah did something special this year. In an eloquent, passionate, 11-minute speech, Abdullah talked about the true meaning of being a student-athlete.
“If someone is stronger than you, you have to train harder. If someone is faster than you, you have to run smarter. If someone is smarter than you, you have to train longer and harder.” Abdullah said, recounting a time when Lavonte David embarrassed him on the practice field.
He talked about how someone with a college degree will over a lifetime earn $1 million more than someone without a degree, making the comparison that getting a degree is like winning the lottery by working hard and making your grades.
He talked about how childhood friends of his had made poor decisions and ruined their lives. About how important it was to be responsible for choices in your life, because in one moment of carelessness or irresponsibility a lifetime of hard work and potential can be washed away.
Stop reading this and listen to the man’s speech if you haven’t already. He’s worth far more of your time than any of my poor words could be.
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