Category Archives: Mike Riley

Meet Our New Contributor Leslie Micek

Hey there, remember us? Hope so because our off-season hiatus is back off, again. We trust you’ve been having a great summer, staying cool, never changing, and catching a boatload of that Pokéyman.

Before we resume our usual Husker high jinks, we’d like to introduce you to Leslie Micek, a five star recruit who’s joining the Big Red Fury squad this season.

If you’re a regular participant in #Huskers Twitter, there’s a good chance you’ve seen her hot takes and observations on game day. If you haven’t, follow her here. Leslie is a world-class smart-ass, probably knows more about the Huskers (and sports in general) than you do, and can pound Bud Heavies with the best of them. (Actually, she’d probably put you under the table.)

Since there’s really no way to improve upon an intro like that, let’s get to her interview.

You hail from the land of Kool-Aid, aka Hastings, aka Tom Osborne’s hometown. What was it like growing up in the southern corner of the golden triangle that is Nebraska’s tri-cities area? 

Perfect. Nebraska is a great place to be a kid, you can always be outside with a relatively low chance of finding any real trouble. I played with a lot of fireworks, rode my bike a lot, and constantly bothered all of the neighbors. I moved in 3rd grade, but my dad still lives there so I go back a lot and do Nebraska things like go fishing and attempt to learn how to play pitch. Not many people can say they were at the very first Kool-Aid Days back in 1997 (or something like that). And yes, that’s a real thing.

Leslie Micek
Leslie Micek, Husker fan, catcher of delicious bass.

What’s your earliest Husker memory? 

Winning. The teams of the mid 90s set me up for a lifetime full of disappointment. Thanks a lot, Tommie Frazier. Sometimes I get on YouTube and watch things like this- –

–it doesn’t help. I think I thought Nebraska was supposed to play in the championship every year. I mean, they are supposed to, they just don’t.

What’s your all-time favorite moment in your history as a Husker fan? 

A couple of years ago I sneaked onto the sidelines of a game at Northwestern. My friends had media passes and passed one back to me. I got to witness my boys Ameer and Randy Gregory up close and personal. It was awesome, until they figured out at the end of the third quarter that I wasn’t supposed to be there and kicked me out. I tried to say I lost my badge but the security guy wasn’t having it. It was just fun to know that I could yell at Bo if I chose to…I didn’t. By the way, that Northwestern stadium is pathetic.

Leslie
Not many fans can say they’ve had a Husker coach send them their own HUDL highlight of their sideline freakout. See if you can spot Leslie going nuts at Northwestern.

What’s the one loss that still sticks in your craw the most? 

One?? Besides the obvious big losses, some personal memories have to include that very special BYU game last year. I decided last minute to go with my mom. I needed to be part of Mike Riley’s first game. I needed to be there. I did not need to see that BYU Hail Mary. Also, a special memory from the UCLA game in 2013 taught me to never make fun of my friends and their team until the game is over. The 18 point comeback by UCLA was brutal, I ended up being at Barney’s Beanery in West Hollywood from 9am-2am that day.

EDITOR’S NOTE: That’s a 17 hour(!) shift at a sports bar.

Who’s your all-time favorite player?

I’m bad at favorites. I would say either Tommie Frazier or Lawrence Phillips. There is a video compilation on YouTube of Lawrence Phillips running all over everybody for like 5 minutes.

He was just unreal. His story is heartbreaking but I find it very interesting. I think he is tied to be my favorite but he is the most interesting to me. Hope the upcoming 30 for 30 does his story some justice because I don’t think people know or understand the whole story of his life.

What’s your outlook for this season? Do Mike Riley and company have you feeling optimistic? 

HCMR and Co. have me pumped. They are recruiting really well and the energy is contagious. As Phil Steele said, the Huskers were 5 plays away from being 11-2 last season and has them as his No. 2 most improved team this season. To be honest it’s the best time of the year, the time to be delusional and say the Huskers are going undefeated. Everybody tweet to me after the Huskers first loss and remind me that I’m a moron (but I see them at least getting to the playoffs, their schedule is pretty good, minus the Ohio State part).

What are your feelings on the phrase “Run the damn ball?” 

I scream it at my TV enough that I suppose I like it.

You went to a “certain college” that was a former conference rival to Nebraska. You don’t have to name it, but was it like being a Husker fan behind enemy lines?

It was always fun to bring people from the school that will not be named to Nebraska for the games. They knew I wasn’t there permanently and referred to me as a tourist. I enjoyed showing them around Lincoln and introducing them to my Nebraska friends, and of course the local Runza. They always had a good time and the trips usually ended with us staying awake in the Cap City long enough to see the sunrise. It was quite a different experience for Nebraska fans making the trip to Columbia, they have some unwelcoming fans. I remember a story about some Mizzou fans letting all the air out of some Nebraska fans tires.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Um, I think you just named the school. 

Rank the following Big Ten teams from least to most hated: Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin. 

1.Ohio State
1.Michigan
1.Michigan State
1.Wisconsin
1.Northwestern
1.Penn State
1.Iowa 

I’m an equal opportunity hater. I hate them all. Also, I have never understood the root for your conference stuff. If Nebraska loses, why do I want their competition to win? No thanks. Sorry to break it to Ohio State, but I will never be cheering for them.

Which one of the following Husker media types would you most like to have a beer with? Dirk Chatelain, Sam McKewon, Mike’l Severe, Tom Shatel, Steven M. Sipple.

Probably Tom Shatel because I don’t follow him so he hasn’t gotten on my nerves yet.

You’re one of the fortunate people who can claim being both a Husker fan and a Dodger fan. How would you say the two fan bases compare? 

I think they both are similar because they have very dedicated and loyal fan bases. It’s pretty easy to be dedicated for 12 games a season for football fans but I meet Dodger fans that watch 162 games a season. I would like to think that’s what Husker fans would be like if there were that many games. They are both also very knowledgeable fan bases. I think Husker fans know more than the average football fans, especially regarding recruiting. Dodger fans are the same way, they are very educated about their team and their opponents.

I’ve always thought of LA as sort of like a United Nations of college football where you’ll go to a bar and see many different colleges represented. Is there a school’s fans that you find almost likable and is there a group that you find completely obnoxious?

 I don’t know about a likable fan base but as soon as I thought of an obnoxious and unlikable fan base, my first thought was The U. They are all unbearable.

 How would you say the overall college football knowledge base of an average Nebraska fan compares to other college football fans? 

Husker fans blow everybody else out of the water in the category. I don’t know a lot of other fans that follow the recruiting process so closely. When I talk to other college football fans they don’t usually know who they are after and don’t attend any of the camps. Nebraska fans are big football dorks and will attend almost anything. I drove an hour and a half and through a fire in Calabasas to a Nebraska satellite camp last month and didn’t think twice. But speaking of recruits… Darnay Holmes, please come to Nebraska.

On those rare occasions that Nebraska loses, what’s your mood like after a game? How long does it take you to recover? 

Such a rare occurrence that I can’t remember the last time that happened. But for future reference, nobody should contact me the rest of the day.

Who’s your number one QB if you’re building a team? Tommy Armstrong, Eric Crouch, Tommie Frazier, Joe Ganz, Taylor Martinez.

You go Tommie Frazier 100% of the time. As Tommie Frazier says “T Fraz, he was too smooth, he was too fast” in this classic rap song by Terrel Farley and Tommie Frazier:

Would you rather have one Ndamukong Suh or two Peter brothers anchoring a defensive line? 

It’s had to turn down two DTs on the greatest college football team of all time, but when Suh is the other option. You pick Suh. Plus he is the size of two people but only one scholarship. That’s a bargain.

Amigos or Taco John’s? And what’s your go-to order? 

Amigos. I love their chips and cheese and their crisp meat. The crisp meat is like a crispito from school lunches, I’m sure nobody will know what that is either. But I could really go for some Potato Olés right now.

How would you explain a Runza to someone who’s never heard of one? 

This actually comes up a lot. I say its kind of like a cheeseburger baked into a roll. But better. Then I just usually talk about the mini corndogs and fries and people are on board.

Finally, let’s say you have a Kool-Aid stand out in the desert and from over a sand dune appears Bo Pelini, He’s been lost and wandering for days. How much would you charge him for an ice cold and refreshing glass of Kool-Aid? (Hypothetically, you’d have a square reader and he’d have a black AMEX.) 

 He better hope there is another Kool-Aid stand around.

Leslie Kool-Aid Stand
That’s right, Bo. Keep steppin’.

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Husker Valentines

Did you forget Valentine’s Day is this Sunday?

Not to worry, we have you covered with an assortment of Husker themed valentines. There are a dozen to chose from and dare we say they are perfect for expressing your true feelings to your Big Red sweetheart.

Feel free to poach whatever valentines you like… right click, screenshot, whatever floats your boat. You can also find a gallery on the Big Red Fury Facebook page that is perfect for sharing.

Tommy Armstrong ValentineThere’s no bolder move than chucking up a #YOLObomb when you only need three yards. If you want to go big this Valentine’s Day, Tommy Armstrong has you covered.

Jordan Westerkamp Valentine
Jordan Westerkamp is a receiver, get it? Yes, this is our version of the Choo-Choo Chose Me.

And while you’re here, check out our new Westerkamp highlight reel.

Josh Banderas Valentine
Perfect for when Cupid steals your heart… or your bike.

Michael Rose Ivey Valentine
Michael Rose-Ivy’s valentine will hit you like 1/8th of a ton of bricks.

Mikale Wilbon Valentine
Remember that time Mikale Wilbon actually got to play and he looked really good?

VINCENT VALENTINE
Vincent Valentine is ready to help you erase any doubts about commitment issues and let your boo know that you’re in it for the long haul.

Mike Riley Valentine
This digital Valentine was made with all-natural, allergen-free pixels. 

Nate Gerry Valentine
Unlike Nate Gerry, you won’t get ejected for delivering this fierce, yet perfectly legal valentine. 

Sam Foltz Valentine
Step aside Cupid, Thunderleg Foltz is delivering this one.

Scott Frost Valentine
It’s not stalking if you know it’s true destiny.

Tommie Fraizer Valentine
Sorry, Tommie. We had to do it.

Bo Pelini Valentine
Relationships are a tricky business and sometimes there’s a person you just can’t quit.

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Sunday Morning Hot Takes: UCLA Edition

If the first thing you did when you woke up this morning was check the box score from the Foster Farms Bowl, don’t worry.

You weren’t the only one who did that.

It wasn’t a dream. Nebraska really did run wild against UCLA and came away with a 37-29 victory that was equal parts fun and gut-wrenching anguish.

Even when the Big Red was trailing 21-7 midway through the second quarter, Mike Riley and Danny Langsdorf stuck to their game plan* and continued to pound UCLA like Rocky slugging a side of beef. It was a glorious sight to behold as the Huskers chipped away at the Bruin defense a few yards at a time and rattled off 30 unanswered points.

UCLA finally replied early in the fourth quarter with a quick and methodical secondary shredding strike to pull within 8 points but that would be it. A missed field goal and absolutely clutch end zone interception by Chris Jones would seal the Bruins’ fate. The Huskers finally ran out of new and cruel ways to blow it at the end.

*Let’s Talk About That Game Plan: No doubt this next week will be full of think pieces and talk radio jibber jabber about how Riley and Langsdorf have finally found the light when it comes to Huskers’ offensive identity. Were these new look Huskers the result of a philosophical sea change or was it something as simple as Coach Riley checking his twitter mentions while enjoying a complimentary omelet at the Embassy Suites?  Could an endless stream of eggs imploring him to run the football actually have enough sway to make him throw UCLA a change up for four quarters? It would be amazing if that were the case. If there was one thing message board coaches got right this year it was the need to run the football.

Three Quick Wishes For 2016…

1) The Return of Tommy Legstrong: Tommy ran for 305 fewer yards in 2015 (400 vs 705). Splitting the difference in 2016 would be gravy.

2) A Lockdown Secondary (or at least one that isn’t consistently beaten): UCLA’s 60 yard bomb in the second quarter looked eerily similar to other times the Huskers were repeatedly scorched on the deep ball throughout the season. Then, when the Bruins started to rally in the fourth, they ran the exact same screen pass 4 or 5 times. The only variation was flipping the formation to the opposite side of the field one time.

3) A Nickname For Nate Gerry: Here are a few that come to mind… Jailhouse Rock, The Convict, Penalty Box,  Big Boss Man, Lock Up, Early Exit… (good thing there are still 9 months until the season starts)

Mike Riley’s Balloon Watch: A solid win over UCLA means Coach gets his balloon back for the off-season.

Mike Riley Happy Balloon

NUMBERS TO IMPRESS YOUR FRIENDS WITH

17:36: The Huskers’ time-of-possession advantage over UCLA.

62: The number of times the Huskers ran the ball against the Bruins for a total of 326 yards on the ground.

Now let’s compare that effort to the rest of season:

BYU – 37/126
S. Alabama – 37/258
Miami – 34/153
S. Miss – 39/242
Illinois – 34/187
Wisconsin – 37/196
Minnesota – 36/203
Northwestern – 38/82
Purdue – 33/77
Michigan State  – 36/179
Rutgers – 35/174
Iowa – 38/137

4: The number of times the 1995 Huskers, aka the greatest team in the history of college football, topped 62 rushes during their entire season. (70 vs Pacific, 63 vs Washington State, 68 vs Iowa State,  68 vs Florida)

And all this leads to Larry the Cable Guy winning the award for “Most Accurate Tweet of the Night.”

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Foster Farms Bowl Preview

Cue the triumphant clucking of humanely raised, steroid-free chickens.

The Foster Farms Bowl is finally here.

You’re excited, right?

Like more excited than this chicken, right?

If you’re finding it hard to nod in agreement like some kind of subservient chicken, it’s OK. It really is. In all honesty, I’ve kind of tuned out the lead up to the Foster Farms Bowl. It’s amazing how the return of Star Wars can make a guy instantly forget about the woes of the Huskers. Still, they have a game today and I’m back on the Big Red train in full force.

Here’s our preview…

If you can remember all the way back to September, UCLA went in to the season at #13 in the AP Poll. If I recall correctly, the Bruins were a pre-season top 10 on Sam McKewon’s ballot. Luckily, for the sake of its voters, the AP doesn’t keep an archive of week-by-week ballots so that can’t be confirmed.

UCLA had a hot 4-0 start, including a one point squeaker against BYU thanks to Tanner Mangum’s last second magic finally running out. From there, the Bruins hit the skids hard against Arizona State and at Stanford where Christian McCaffrey had a record setting day en route to the Cardinal winning by three touchdowns. Still, the Bruins won the yardage battle by a healthy margin.

That sort of statistical anomaly has been a hallmark of UCLA’s season. Against Colorado they were out gained 554-400 and had the ball for only 19 minutes, yet they won 35-31.

After crunching all of UCLA’s games, the key to beating the Bruins looks to be the ability for a team to one thing well. Go through the air like Washington State or do a ground and pound like USC, the Bruins can be shredded by a team that sticks to its guns.

And could very well be the Huskers’ problem.

Have Mike Riley and Danny Langsdorf used the bowl practices to finally forge an identity into their offense? Or is it going to be another case of another game, a whole new look?

Here’s hoping they took a page or two from USC’s methodical pummeling and feed the Bruins a steady diet of seniors Imani Cross and Andy Janovich, assuming they remember they are still on the roster. Add in a dash of Jordan Westerkamp and some non-horrible decisions by Tommy Armstrong and the Huskers could leave Levi’s Stadium with the win.

No matter how it shakes out for the Huskers, the Foster Farms Bowl is going to be one odd duck of the game.

If the Huskers lose, they’ll notch their eighth loss in a season for the first time since the 1951 squad went 2-8. At least the 1-9 record of the 1957 Huskers will be “safe” for at least one more year.

If the Huskers win tonight, especially if it’s by a convincing margin, they’ll head into the off-season with a nice boost for 2016 but there will still be that unshakable aftertaste of a team that clearly didn’t live up to its potential.

Even still, sleeping through class and acing the final exam is a much better way to go out.

Let’s turn this D minus of a season into a D+. GBR.

UCLA BRUIN
Mark it, Donnie. The Huskers will win 31-17.

BONUS CONTENT

A stat to impress your friends with: Tommy Armstrong is no longer the FBS interception leader. That honor currently belongs to Virginia’s Matt Johns who has 17 to Tommy’s paltry 16.

UCLA field trip: In case you missed it, I took a field trip to UCLA to see if anyone would notice a Husker fan roaming the campus.

I’m glad to say I didn’t get beat up, except for a few self-inflicted bumps and bruises and I even made some new friends.

UCLA BRUIN BEAR
Claws out Bruins!

BRUIN BEAR EATS A CHILD
While my new little buddy pretended to get eaten by the Bruin Bear, his dad and I had a good chat about Mike Riley. His take is that the guy is a great coach but just flat out cursed with bad luck dating back to his days with Chargers. My new little buddy and his dad were up from San Diego to visit Mattel Children’s Hospital and celebrate the 7th anniversary of the heart transplant he had at age 2. If you haven’t already, become an organ donor and help make a difference.

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Ranking All Seven Husker Losses

In a rather stunning turn of events, Mike Riley’s first season season as a Husker was one for the ages, in that he led Nebraska to their worst season since 1961.

Seven soul crushing and mind boggling losses. Each and every one a special and unique snowflake of misery.  Being the gluttons for punishment that we are, we took a whack at ranking the losses from least worst, all the way down to worst, worst.

It was far from an easy task, especially losses 5 through 3, but like a YOLO Bomb to the end zone, we took our best shot.

7) Miami 36 – Nebraska 33: We opened our recap of the game like this- “Holy schnikes. Who would have predicted that Mike Riley era would have spiraled into high drama just three games into his first season?”

Boy, did that ever become a prophetic question. If we only knew just how far down into the abyss the drama would spiral. Of the Huskers’ seven losses, this was the only one that didn’t leave fans feeling like they ate a turd filled Runza (and maybe even a little hopeful about the future). After three quarters of playing like choads on both sides of the ball, the Huskers rallied from being down 23 points in the 4th to send the game into overtime. Unfortunately, a Tommy Armstrong interception and an Alex Lewis personal foul on the Huskers’ very first play all but sealed the win for the Hurricanes.

While some of the luster was taken off this loss as Miami went on to play horrible enough to finally get Al Golden fired, the Hurricanes pulled it together to finish their regular season 8-4. Way to not stop believin’, Caneshades. Enjoy your earned bowl game.

Sad Alex Lewis
Alex Lewis stews on his first headline grabbing bad decision of the season.

6) BYU 33 – Nebraska 28: Hard to believe the Huskers’ most shocking loss of the season could be so far down the list but with the Huskers finding all kinds of insane ways to snatch last second defeat from the jaws of victory, losing on a Hail Mary thrown by a red shirt freshman QB playing in his first game becomes rather trite in the grand scheme of things.

It did help Husker morale that BYU pulled off the same miracle a week later against Boise State.  Plus, with it being Nebraska’s first game of the season with a new coaching staff and new playbooks, this last second loss could be chalked up as a total fluke, right?

BYU HAIL MARY
Hey coach, do you think we should get that Hail Mary defense installed before the season opener? Nah. What are the chances?

5) Northwestern 30 – Nebraska 28:  Fresh off the heels of the Huskers’ convincing win at Minnesota, this loss was just stupefying. The Bankshirts™ were repeatedly scorched on the ground by a QB who ran slower than T-Magic with cinder block shoes and the offense held the ball for nearly 19 minutes longer, yet Northwestern was able to chew the final four minutes off the clock and kneel their way to victory thanks to a last minute unsportsmanlike penalty from Maliek Collins. Of all the Husker losses this season, Northwestern was the most coldly anti-climactic.

Clayton ThorsonNorthwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson rushed 9 times for 126 yards. With one game remaining in his season, his average per game rushing yardage is a robust 33.36.

4) Illinois 14 – Nebraska 13: Up until yesterday’s attempted touchdown pass on 4th and 1, the decision to throw on 3rd and 7 from the Illinois 27 yard line while up 13-7 with under a minute to play was the dumbest play of the Huskers’ season. As many an armchair quarterback pointed out, Tommy could have literally ran out the clock had he taken the snap and started running the wrong way like a Tecmo Bowl Bo Jackson and taken a safety. Instead, he threw a pass at Devine Ozigbo’s feet. On 4th down, the Huskers tried passing one more time for good measure instead of attempting a field goal that would have put them up by two scores. Then again, finally deciding not to put the ball up into a swirling wind was probably the first good decision of the day. If you haven’t blocked this game from your memory, you may recall Tommy going 10 – 31 from 105 yards through the air.

After getting the ball back, it took Illinois all of two plays to go 65 yards to the Nebraska 7. From there, they proceeded to get five tries to score thanks to a pair of pass interference penalties on the Huskers.

If there’s room in the budget to pay a useless special teams coach nearly half a million dollars, surely enough change can be shook out of the athletic department couches to afford a stat minded egg head to provide an outside-the-box perspective in crucial situations. Heck, you’d probably even find some know-it-all bloggers who’d pay to have such a position.

nebraska illinois 2015Give a team enough chances to score and they will eventually find a way, even Illinois.

3) Wisconsin 23 – Nebraska 21: From Andy Janovich’s career defining 55 yard touchdown run to the north end zone goal post being the best defender on the field, everything finally seemed to be going the Huskers’ way- until Wisconsin got the ball back on their own 30 with 1:03 left to play.

Even with no timeouts, that was plenty of time for Joel “I’ll Never Graduate” Stave to slice through the Bankshirts™ and get the Badgers into field goal range and give Robert “I’ve Never Met a Pizza I Didn’t Like” Gaglianone a shot at redemption.  The amount of game clock that elapsed between his missed field goal and his game winner was 1:22. In that span, the Huskers also ran the ball straight up the gut three times for a grand total of five yards. Getting just a single first down would have salted the game away for Nebraska.

Robert Gaglianone
Wisconsin Kicker Robert Gaglianone breaks the hearts of Husker Nation while day dreaming about sweet, delicious ham. 

2) Iowa 28 – Nebraska 20:  This was by far the Huskers’ most definitive loss of the season. All the elements that plagued the six previous defeats were present and accounted for: erratic quarterback play, a running game that couldn’t make up its mind, key players who seemingly fell off the roster, head scratching play calling, dumb penalties, a defense with a knack for getting lit up at the absolutely worst times, and, despite all that, the game was still perfectly winnable.

While Iowa and their dozen or so fans have every reason to gloat about being 12-0, the Hawkeyes are such an unimpressive undefeated team they make the 2012 Notre Dame squad (remember them getting demolished by Alabama in the BCS Championship game?) look like the second coming of the Four Horsemen. The Huskers will never have an easier opportunity to beat a “top 5” team and they blew it.

Iowa Nebraska 2015
That trophy (whatever it’s called) is going to look awfully nice in the team trailer. Congrats, Iowa.

1)  Purdue 55 – Nebraska 45: Can you believe the Huskers’ ONLY double digit loss of the season came at the hand of a Boilermaker squad that’s currently boasting a 2-9 record heading into their annual showdown against Indiana? Since 2013, Purdue has notched exactly one other win in the Big Ten.

This was one of just four games of the season where Tommy Armstrong didn’t throw a single interception thanks to being injured and watching back home in Lincoln. In his place, Ryker Fyfe honored  him by throwing four picks along with 400 yards passing and a quartet of TDs in his first career start. This was a game where a present day Matt Turman could have showed up at kickoff and led the Huskers to a win. Instead, the Big Red put up their most baffling loss since falling 9-7 against Iowa State in 2009.

nebraska-purdue
Ryker Fyfe is about to get his uniform dirty for the first time in his Husker career.

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Mike Riley is So Nice…

We already know that Mike Riley is nice enough to let teams win when a game is close but just how nice is here?

In the spirit of Chuck Norris Facts, here are some examples of #NiceRiley in full effect. Feel free to chime in with any of your own in the comments.

Mike Riley is so nice… he enjoys sitting next to babies when he flies.

Mike Riley is so nice… he sends an apology when paying a parking ticket.

Mike Riley is so nice… he obeys all traffic laws when playing Grand Theft Auto.

Mike Riley is so nice… he tips when he goes to the DMV.

Mike Riley is so nice… he became a Mormon AND a Jehovah’s Witness.

Mike Riley is so nice… he pays to subscribe to the Omaha World-Herald instead of clearing his cache like everyone else.

Mike Riley is so nice… he’s never mentioned in public that Vader is Luke’s father to avoid any potential spoilers.

Mike Riley is so nice… he runs stairs when players mess up in practice.

Mike Riley is so nice… he doesn’t honk at the car ahead of him when the light turns green out of fear of interrupting an important phone call.

Mike Riley is so nice… he’s happy to let someone with 37 items cut ahead of him in the express lane.

Mike Riley is so nice… he tells his wife everything that happened in Vegas.

Mike Riley is so nice… he always says please and thank you when asking Siri a question.

Mike Riley is so nice… every time he catches a trout, he takes it to the vet for a check up before releasing it.

Mike Riley is so nice… he always says yes when a stranger offers candy.

Mike Riley is so nice… he asks telemarketers how their day is going.

Mike Riley is so nice… he once gave a mugger the extra $20 he keeps hidden in his shoe.

Mike Riley is so nice… he washes his bedding before checking out of a hotel.

Mike Riley is so nice… he limits himself to three breadsticks when dining at Olive Garden.

Mike Riley is so nice… he never takes pennies. He only leaves them.

Mike Riley is so nice… any dog that humps his leg gets to finish.

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Sunday Afternoon Hot Takes: Wisconsin Edition

Before kickoff yesterday, we shared some new and bizarre ways for Wisconsin to beat the Huskers to add a little spice to the boring predictability of blowout losses. One way we didn’t suggest was a last second Badger field goal because that just seemed to a little too trite.

We all know how that worked out.

Rafael Gaglianone
How it feels when coach says he’s taking you to Olive Garden to celebrate.

How Much Stress Can One Blogger Take: Yesterday was the first Husker game I watched at home in three years. With kickoff at 12:30 and the first pitch of the Dodger game at six, I chose to stay home and increase my odds of getting to see the end of the game and make it to Chavez Ravine in time.

For the record, it is exactly 7.6 miles from our driveway to Dodger Stadium.

Thanks to an Obamajam and USA playing Mexico at the Rose Bowl, LA traffic was promised to be extra crazy so we planned to leave at four.

The clock struck the fateful hour with about five minutes or so left in the game. The only perk of staying home was being able to sync up the Huskers app and watch the game with the ESPN choads on mute. Up until that second, everything worked like a charm until my lovely wife said, “You can listen to it in the car.”

15 minutes later she was dragging me out of the house by my ear without granting even a second to mourn what had happened to the Huskers yet again.

We listened to the post game press conference en route and her thoughts on Mike were that “he sounds like a nice guy and maybe a little sad.

No kidding.

Luckily, the Dodger game made for a nice, relaxing Saturday evening of October baseball. It wasn’t at all the craziest game I’ve ever attended thanks to Chase Utley‘s fateful, game tying double play break up. While social media was imploding with outrage, the feeling in the stands was completely different. The Mets fans surrounding us thought what happened was an acceptable baseball play and were more upset about getting hosed on getting an out at second. Once it was revealed that Tejada suffered a broken leg, the mood for both sides definitely turned somber. Before you rail on Utley, think how you’d feel if it were Alex Gordon breaking up a double play or remember how you felt when Kenny Bell laid down his soul crushing block.

Leave it to a Giant’s blogger to have probably the most rational take on what happened. And for good measure, here are some previous thoughts from Mets manager Terry Collins about the need to be tough when breaking up double plays.

Mike Riley’s Balloon Watch: Last week’s pile of poo is now on fire.

Mike Riley Flaming Pile of Poo

Our Score Prediction:

Pretty far off-base on the score but it’s all there was to work with. The magic score prediction hat is still MIA and may or may not have gone missing after seeing Van Halen at the Hollywood Bowl last Friday night.

Best Shade of the Day:

DPE: Remember when DPE broke his foot but the silver lining was that if everything went OK he’d be back in time to run wild against Wisconsin? DPE had a pair of receptions for 31 yards. Since his return at Illinois, he’s been a complete non-factor.

Running Back by Committee: Can this please stop? Last week it was Imani Cross who was absent from the backfield. He returned this week with Ozigbo taking his place in parts unknown on the Husker sideline. And does Mikale Wilbon need to get his picture put on a milk carton or what?

Jordan Stevenson: His redshirt was burned for 14 kick return yards, a couple touchbacks, and the honor of becoming running back number five.

Andy Janvovich: This is the perfect summation of his 55 yard touchdown run.

That Bankshirt Defense Tho: When Wisconsin got the ball back with 63 seconds to play, you just knew it was going to be curtains for the Huskers. It was inevitable that Joel Stave was going to find a way to shred the Huskers’ secondary like cheddar and he did just that, taking the Badgers from their own 30 to the Huskers’ 28 in only three plays. Not to beat the dead horse of bringing up the old regime but chances are they would have rolled the dice and dialed up a blitz on one of those plays. Getting Stave to the turf just once would have chewed up some major clock for Wisconsin.

Dirk Chatelain and Hip Hop: As someone who professes his love of The Boss in his twitter bio, it shouldn’t be surprising that Dirk may not be the most well versed when it comes to that hippity hop but this passage in his otherwise on-point column is a real head scratcher-

…the speakers blasted “Let Me Clear My Throat,” an old-school hip-hop song that, when it comes on the radio, prompts your father to turn the station.

DJ Kool dropped Let Me Clear My Throat in 1996. While Pearl Jam is starting to show up on classic rock radio from time to time, mid 90s hip hop is a little too new to ever be considered old school. And then, there’s the issue of Let Me Clear My Throat even appearing on radio outside of a specialty station such as 93.5 KDAY. So with that in mind, for “dad” to even have a chance to hear DJ Kool, he would already be listening to a hip hop oriented station and would probably turn up the radio, not change the station.

Or, maybe “dad” is riding shotgun and your car and if that’s the case he should be respectful of the universal “my car, my rules” policy.

NUMBERS TO DEPRESS YOUR FRIENDS WITH

1: The number of times a Husker running back has rushed for over 100 yards in a single game this season. (Newby hit 198 against South Alabama.)

394: Sam THUNDERLEG Foltz‘s yardage on nine punts. The Husker offense racked up 325 total yards.

3: Total carries for last week’s running back of the future Devine Ozigbo.

39.28: Tommy Armstrong‘s completion percentage. He was 11 – 28 on the day. He’s currently at 52.4 percent on the year which is almost a full tick below last year’s 53.3%.

36: The total margin by which the 2 and 4 Huskers have outscored their opponents this year.

17: Jordan Westerkamp‘s total receiving yardage the past two games.

17, 715: The turnout for #7 Youngstown State‘s rumble with #4 Illinois State. The Cardinals flew away with 31 – 29 victory after the Penguins’ 2 point conversion and ensuing onsides kick failed.

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Sunday Morning Hot Takes: Illinois Edition

If Miami and BYU were gut punches, the Huskers’ game against Illinois was two days of brutal torture condensed into 55 seconds of game play plus some time allowed for a couple of BS pass interference calls.

In other words, it was this…

With Illinois not necessarily being a marquee match up (on paper at least), the vibe at our Californians for Nebraska watch site had the all the excitement and energy of a Catholic mass at 6pm on a Sunday. Yes, us faithful Husker fans were there but it felt like it is was more out of obligation (and a collective lack of the Big Ten Network among those in attendance).

By the end though, we were certainly into the game and when the final whistle blew, about 40 or so people were doing this in unison…

Let’s just say it was a good thing the TVs at the Happy Ending are securely bolted to the walls.

No matter who called it, just how bad was the decision to pass the ball on that fateful third down? I won’t name any names or anything but there was a person at our watch site who took until the second quarter to notice that the art work on the 50-yard-line was an outline of the state of Illinois.

Now that the table is properly set, even they were screaming “Whatever you do, don’t pass!” when the Huskers lined up for that fateful third down play.

Look, a “rebuilding” season is fine but there is absolutely no excuse for the coaching staff to completely forget how to coach a game. If Frank Solich played checkers to Tom Osborne’s chess, Mike Riley and company are playing Go Fish right now. It just doesn’t make any sense to the point that even this site wholeheartedly agrees with Dirk Chatelain.

Hope you’re happy with what you did Mike Riley!

Alex LewisIf he even makes it to Senior Day, he might be the first starting captain to get less applause than a mystery walk-on lineman.

The Downside of Your Husker Watch Site Also Being an Ohio State Backer Bar: Your friends from Ohio will mercilessly mock you on that Chat Snap.

SadHuskerFan

Mike Riley’s Balloon Watch: Coach Riley’s balloon just didn’t deflate, it went full Pile of Poo emoji.

Mike Riley Poop Balloon

Our Score Prediction: Would have nailed it if only the Huskers’ numbers weren’t reversed.
Huskers Illinois

Larry The Cable Guy: Could really use a hug, or some whiskey (at 8:13am on a Sunday morning.) Be sure to read the rest of his rant on Twitter. Dude makes some very legitimate points.

NUMBERS TO DEPRESS YOUR FRIENDS WITH

32: Was Imani Cross even on the travel roster? Dude didn’t even see the field.

32.25: Tommy Amstrong‘s completion percentage on 10 – 31 passing with one arm punt interception

46.9: Sam THUNDERLEG Foltz‘s average punt distance. Dude had the biggest yardage of either team by a wide margin netting 422 yards on nine punts.

4:55: Illinois’ time-of-possession in a 4th quarter in which they scored all 14 of their points. 51 of those last 55  seconds really mattered didn’t they?

6: The number of tries it took Illinois to score their game winning touchdown when they started with a 1st and goal from the 7 yard line.

10: Devine Ozibo‘s average yards per carry on 7 rushes for 70 yards. Meanwhile, Terrell Newby maintained a solid 3.0 for a total of 15 yards on the day.

31 – 3: The final score of Youngstown State’s victory over the South Dakota Coyotes.

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Sunday Morning Hot Takes: Southern Miss Edition

Pop quiz: What’s the best part of a Sunday?

There’s no chance of a Husker football game to stress you out.

The game should have been a cakewalk but Southern Miss just had to add itself to the ever-growing list of teams that have given Husker Nation heart attacks the season. The Huskers came out strong before devolving back to what was on the field for the first three quarters against Miami last week. Like the Millennium Falcon, the Big Red somehow found a way to hold together and get the win.

On with the hot takes.

Mike Riley’s Balloon Watch: A win is a win but the way Southern Miss kept it interesting until the last damn second means Mike’s balloon holds steady for another week at partially deflated.

MikeRiley Sad Balloon

Offense: It’s getting closer to having an identity even if that identity could best be described as make some spectacular plays to get to the red zone only to kick a field goal after stalling out. One of these days it will click more than it sputters and it will be a lot of fun to watch.

Defense: Hey…  the Bankshirts™ got the sack when it mattered the absolute most and spared us the drama of finding out if the Huskers figured out how to stop the Hail Mary. That secondary tho… lawn chairs randomly placed around the field could do a better job of defending the pass.

Andy JanovichCareer stats entering today’s game: 3 rushes for 6 yards, 3 receptions for 29 yards. Against Southern Miss: 5 rushes for 68 yards, 1 reception for 53. It’s a bummer that he’s already a senior but maybe it’s a good thing that Dirk’s days of being able to make analogies that even we think are bat shit crazy are already numbered.

Alex LewisThe officials called his number only once today. Good job, buddy!

The Big Red Cobcast: The only best part about sparsely attended 9am games is that they give you a chance to easily shoot the breeze with your fellow members of Husker Nation since there isn’t a packed room of fans shouting over each other. The vibe of a morning game is almost like a Husker Study Hall where the cool teacher lets you talk as long as you don’t get too rowdy. For Southern Miss, that meant 3 quarters of cracking jokes with Pat and Ryan from the Big Red Cobcast and 1 quarter yelling at the nearest TV. If you don’t already subscribe, the Cobcast is a must listen for any Husker fan.

NUMBERS TO IMPRESS YOUR FRIENDS WITH

45-7: Our overly bold score prediction. In our defense, we were on pace to be close until Southern Miss realized the Huskers have no pass defense.

65.7: Tommy Armstrong’s completion percentage (23/35). The drops that plagued Husker receivers last week against Miami were mostly gone but Cethan Carter seemed to be running the wrong way every time the ball was thrown to his ZIP code. (Even Brandon Cavanaugh agrees so we must be onto something.)

23: Our good buddy Brent called the over/under on attendees to our watch site at 22.5. At kickoff there were 29 die hard Husker fans who rallied for the 9am start time thanks to a group visiting from Columbus. (Kudos to them for packing Husker gear.) When they bolted at halftime, that left exactly 23 of us to sweat it out to the final second.

12: The Huskers had 12 penalties totaling 98 free yards but none were for having 12 men on the field which is a pleasant surprise. The season total for that bonehead move remains at three.

6: The number of miles Bo Pelini will be from the Nebraska border next Saturday when his Youngstown State Penguins travel to the land of great faces and great places to take on the University of South Dakota Coyotes, a team he faced in Lincoln just two years ago. Maybe you remember it the day Tommy Armstrong made his first career start in place of a hobbled T-Magic?

2-2 Along with the Huskers, these other brand name teams are also sitting at a double deuce: Oregon, Oregon State, Auburn, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, BYU, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington.

1: The number of times this season the Huskers have had a 100 yard rusher. Seriously. We even looked it up.  Terrell Newby’s  198 yard day against South Alabama is the only time this season a Husker has rushed for over 100 yards. That day seven different Huskers toted the rock for 258 yards. Against Southern Miss the Big Red racked up 242 yards split between eight different ball carriers with Newby leading the way with 76. It’s great that Langsdorf is spreading the wealth but one of these days a hoss running back needs to emerge from the pack.

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Mike Diary: Excerpts from Mike Riley’s Journal

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’re not going to say how we pulled it off but we got our grubby little mitts on Mike Riley’s diary.

There’s no need for us to set it up any further. We know you just want to get to the good stuff, so below you’ll find excerpts from key moments since he slid into the captain’s chair at Memorial Stadium.

5 December 2015

Dear Diary-

I know it’s been a few days but I have an unbelievable excuse…

Greetings from Nebraska!

(I’ll wait while you find it on a map.)

I never thought I’d ever say that but, by golly, things sure took a strange (in a good way) turn of a events. It all started a few days ago when Shawn Eichorst, the Athletic Director at the University of Nebraska, asked if we could meet in his hotel room in San Francisco to discuss the head coaching job that had opened up.

Trust me, I was just as suspicious as you would have been about the whole deal. I mean, we always try our best but it’s not every day you wrap up a 5 and 7 season by having a dude invite you to a secret meeting.

In his hotel room.

In San Francisco.

But you know what? Turns out it was all on the level!

I wasn’t the victim of a prank…. or worse. Shawn really wanted me to become the next coach of the Nebraska Cornbuckers, (I think that’s what they call themselves. I’m still figuring all of this out.)

It took a few years but someone finally realized what kind of coach you have to be to get kids to not only play for a team named the Beavers but to do so with flipplin’ Oregon just a few miles up the road.

It’s funny how life works out. Just a few days ago, I honestly thought I might be fired and boom(!) I’m suddenly somewhere in Nebraska and the head coach of a football powerhouse, with a big raise to boot!

I think I might treat myself to a new bicycle.

MIKE RILEY OUT


9 FEBRUARY 2015

Dear Diary-

Hotel life is the best! It’s like living on vacation. Every morning I get to make make own omelet and drink as much orange juice as I want and the pool is open until 11pm  but I signed a football for the night custodian and he lets me swim till midnight! There are so many cable channels to choose from that I can find The Rock playing any time of the day. Don’t tell the Mrs… but I think for Valentine’s Day, I’m going to sneak down extra early so I can surprise her with an omelet in bed.

MIKE RILEY OUT


11 APRIL 2015

Dear Diary-

Longtime no chat, I know. After three months of R&R and going to basketball games, it was finally time to do some real work.

We had our spring practices and this team I inherited is something else. The quarterback runs better than he throws and there’s a kid on defense who killed a raccoon with his bare hands. Don’t tell Boss Eichorst but I was so rusty I almost forgot which side of my whistle was which. (Hahahaha. Try saying that one five times fast.)

Today we had the big Red and White game and the way the fans came out you’d think they all had free tickets to the Super Bowl. I’ve never seen anything like it. Anyway, It was the only time of the year where we’ll win and lose the same game.

Not to sound cocky but I’m thinking if I can do just half as bad as that basketball coach, I wouldn’t be surprised if they named a street after me. The fans LOVE that guy and he loses all time.

MIKE RILEY OUT


17 JUNE 2015

Dear Diary-

Apparently our grass grew an eighth of a inch since Monday (so says the second guy who stopped by this morning asking if he could cut it). He says he’s been keeping track from across the street and thinks it’s getting out of control but I invited him to come back on Friday so that way the Mrs. and I can be assured of a nice, quiet weekend.

I felt bad for him though because as he was leaving he got into a little scuffle with yet another guy who showed up with his mower.

Between, you me, and the fence post, diary, I would say Nebraska people are weird but they are just so gosh darn helpful.

Even after this new adventure is all over, we may never leave, especially when Veronica, our neighbor from across the way, brings us fresh baked goodies every single morning.

MIKE RILEY OUT


25 JULY 2015

Dear Diary-

Apologies if I don’t write to much today. It is just so gosh dang hot I don’t know if I have the strength. Lucky for me and the Mrs, the neighborhood kids are taking turns on watch to make sure we stay properly refreshed. Pardon the pun be we ARE living the life of Riley complete with our own personal lemonade stand!

MIKE RILEY OUT


5 SEPTEMBER 2015

Dear Diary-

As you know, today was the big day. It was my first game as coach of the Nebraska Cornhutchers and for 59 minutes and 59 seconds it was football heaven. The most unbelievably wonderful dream had come true and I was living it… right up until Bigham Young’s freshman quarterback threw Hail Mary to pull the glorious rug of victory right out from under us.

As I write this hours later I’m still kicking myself. Of all the things we practiced during fall camp the defending the Hail Mary was not one of them and why should it be? Everyone knows that all you have to do is whatever it takes not to let the other team score. Pardon my French but those little s-h-i=t-s spent years learning from a “defensive mastermind” and after the game they tell me they didn’t know what what to do in that situation? You’ve got to be flipping kidding me.

I’m still so mad I could kick a rock.

MIKE RILEY OUT


12 SEPTEMBER 2015

Dear Diary-

Hip, hip, HOORAY!!!

That is all.

MIKE RILEY OUT


20 SEPTEMBER 2015

Dear Diary-

Well, we went down to Miami (no, we did go to scout timeshares) and played one heck of a barn burner against those Hurricanes. We were getting our tails kicked 33 – 10 in the fourth quarter but I worked a few “fishlips” and “shoeshines” (if you know what I’m sayin’) into my speech during a timeout and I think that did the trick. Who knew these kids actually liked being yelled at? All of a sudden, that quarterback who runs started zipping the ball to receivers who stopped dropping it. Even though it didn’t work out in the end, it was incredible that we almost had ’em on their home field.

I’m not quite sure the fans are feeling he same way though. Every time I’ve returned from a recruiting trip, fans have been lined up clamoring to give me a ride home and have a chance to talk football one-on-one. Tonight the airport was emptier than a ghost town and I had to call the Mrs for a lift. It was pretty late when we landed though, so maybe that’s it.

And if things needed to get any weirder, get a load of this: this morning we were woken up by the sound of our neighbor Veronica throwing eggs at our house!

And that wasn’t all she did! When we went outside to see what all the fuss was about I saw she also dumped an entire bag of flour on the good ol’ Prius.

She must have been running really late to church if she didn’t have time to bake our Sunday Bundt cake!

MIKE RILEY OUT

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