Shatel: Committees not bowled over by Huskers any more -
Published Monday, December 9, 2013 at 12:01 am / Updated at 1:18 am
Shatel: Committees not bowled over by Huskers any more

For a college football program, nobody presents clarity like the men in those wild and crazy blazers.

Some folks like to say what they think Nebraska football is or isn't, but the bowls just laid it out in black and white.

Nebraska football has become the movie “Groundhog Day.” Same bowls, same opponents. In six years, Bo Pelini has coached in three bowls.

How did Georgia-Nebraska II happen?

Here's my educated theory:

The folks at the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl were looking hard at Nebraska, which hadn't been to Tempe, Ariz., since the 1999 Fiesta Bowl. Everyone knows the history of Husker fans/snow birds/Cali Huskers traveling to the desert.

Somewhere in the last month, when it appeared Michigan might fall to Buffalo Wild Wings status, the bowl people had an idea. Grab the Michigan brand, with helmets, fight song and boffo TV ratings included. Go Blue hadn't been to the area since 1985.

One problem: Buffalo Wild Wings people expected Texas to be the opponent. The Longhorns aren't known as a great traveling team. Michigan isn't either. So while that would be a terrific TV match, the cameras might have to avoid rows of empty seats.

That's what kept Nebraska in the game. The Huskers would fill the stadium, especially for Texas.

Then Bowling Green upset Northern Illinois, opening up a second BCS spot for the Big 12. Then Oklahoma beat Oklahoma State, sending the Sooners to the Sugar Bowl.

And moving Texas up to OU's spot in the Alamo Bowl.

And sending K-State to the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.

The bowl projection experts this weekend put K-State vs. Nebraska in the spot. And this sounded great, especially if you lived in Beatrice, Neb., Marysville, Kan., or owned a sports bar in Omaha or Overland Park, Kan.

But to the outside world? That's not a game anyone on the East Coast stays up until the 10 p.m. kickoff to watch.

It's hard to blame the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, which is run by the same people who run the Fiesta Bowl. Stuck with a Baylor-Central Florida matchup in the Fiesta, they got the best of both worlds with K-State vs. Michigan. The Wildcats would bring their legions to the game. Michigan would provide the celebrity.

Now, doesn't Nebraska travel? Doesn't Nebraska provide its own cache?

Well, the Huskers certainly still travel. But the Huskers' swag apparently no longer matches that of Michigan, which lost to NU at home this year and finished a game behind in the standings.

We can debate whether Nebraska would travel more than K-State. But it was a moot point once KSU popped up. The Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl had its ticket-eating machine in K-State.

Just as the Outback Bowl, which has never had Nebraska, has the Hawkeyes. If Michigan can lose to NU and hop over the Huskers, why couldn't NU lose to Iowa and grab the Outback? Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta made a huge pitch to the Outback that Iowa had beaten both NU and Michigan and had a national reputation for great, economy-boosting fans.

Once upon a time, being Nebraska was enough to make the bowls drool and change plans at the drop of a hat. But the Huskers' only hook now is that they travel well. Just like Iowa. And Kansas State.

How times have changed, huh?

» Nebraska wasn't the only school watching itself slip down the board. According to the Macon, Ga., Telegraph, Georgia was set to meet Miami (Fla.) in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, until the ACC stumped for the bowl to take its runner-up, Duke. The Chick-fil-A then took Texas A&M from the SEC. The Outback, which wanted A&M, then grabbed LSU.

Georgia, which has had a rough year and lost its senior quarterback for the season, fell to the Gator. Which wasn't bad: the second-largest club of Georgia fans in the country is located in Jacksonville. But the Gator wanted Georgia-Michigan. Not a Georgia-Nebraska rematch.

You'd think the brain trust in the Big Ten and SEC offices could figure out a way to avoid these wet-rag rematches. Not that anyone is complaining.

If you get passed up by the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, you don't want to gripe about it.

The Gator Bowl gives NU another chance to beat an SEC foe — and get to work on changing that image.

» Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman had a whirlwind 24-hour trip to Omaha on Sunday, arriving in time for the Creighton-Nebraska game. She asked to sit among the fans, not on press row. She spent most of Monday meeting with Creighton coaches of every sport. Then she flew out Monday afternoon.

“It was her first trip to Omaha,” Creighton Athletic Director Bruce Rasmussen said. “I know she was very impressed with the atmosphere, the presentation and the facility. She said this is every bit as good as an NBA presentation.”

» No wonder Doug McDermott was taking those NBA-distance 3-pointers against Nebraska. Or it could have been all the NBA scouts in the house.

» When Creighton plays with that kind of purpose, and No. 3 plays with that kind of energy, this is a team that can go deep in the NCAA tournament. Very deep. What we saw Sunday was a group of seniors who wanted to make sure their last Nebraska game was memorable. Mission accomplished.

» If CU had maturity and purpose, Nebraska had the opposite. The Huskers' start on Sunday was just plain weird. They looked shell-shocked. It was a good lesson for Tim Miles' young program, and things like playing with urgency and pride have to be instilled over time. Good for them that they clawed back. Or maybe that was just Grant Gibbs and Terran Petteway.

» Loved the gray jerseys. Don't know if it was intentional, but it was a nice nod to Georgetown and the Big East. Wear those again, please. Also, thumbs up to the new Big East banners. The new mascot has attitude. It also looks like the Miami Marlin.

» Sure, you may have to hold your nose, but the Big Ten needs Urban Meyer and Ohio State — or somebody — to get in that national championship game and win it.

» I'm not allowed to say who I voted for, or the Heisman Trust will send a SWAT team to my house. Let's just say I voted for Tommie Frazier this year. I'm still trying to make it work.

» Iowa State vs. Iowa on Friday night feels like a Sweet 16 game. Or maybe something out of 1985.

» So if you're hungry today, stop by the Omaha Press Club at noon for my “Sports With Shatel” series. You can get a great lunch and I'll be full of baloney. I'm bringing a surprise guest today. No, it's not Urban Meyer.

» One more and I'm outta here: Anyone remember the old Trackside Lounge, on 60th Street near the Ak-Sar-Ben Racetrack? The place where you could mull your winnings over a chicken basket closed, but Anne Konen is looking to revive the bar.

Konen sent me an email recently saying that she is planning on re-opening the place, with the new name “Tracks,” complete with chicken and Ak-Sar-Ben racing memories. She wanted to know if I had any suggestions on where to find old Ak-Sar-Ben horse racing photos, to hang up around the place. I told her I would ask around. So that's what I'm doing right now.

If you have any photos, or ideas, for Anne, send her an email at

Contact the writer: Tom Shatel    |   402-444-1025    |  

Tom Shatel is a sports columnist who covers the city, regional and state scene.

Crack ring's leaders join others in prison as a result of Operation Purple Haze
A voice of experience: Ex-gang member helps lead fight against Omaha violence
Church is pressing its case for old Temple Israel site
Bats anonymous working for Husker baseball team
Finalists announced for Iowa School for the Deaf superintendent
1930s-era Iowa grandstand secures revival with grant
Request for mistrial is denied in doctor’s painkiller case
Divided Iowa Senate approves apprenticeship measure
Grand Island mayoral debate scheduled for Monday
Former Cedar Creek village clerk accused of taking nearly $80,000
OPPD board holding public forum, open house May 7
Intoxicated man with pellet gun climbs billboard's scaffold; is arrested
Iowa races for U.S. Senate, House have racked up $12 million in donations
Learning Community Council OKs $350K to outfit new north Omaha center
Saturday forecast opens window for gardening; Easter egg hunts look iffy on Sunday
Last day of 2014 Legislature: Praise, passage of a last few bills and more on mountain lions
Maha Music Festival announces lineup; might be its best yet
Sen. Ernie Chambers tries to undo Nikko Jenkins' convictions
Bluejays guard Zierden avoids knee surgery
The thrill of the skill: Omaha hosts statewide contest for students of the trades
Developer wants to transform old Millard Lumber site with housing, commercial buildings
Dip in Nebraska economic index doesn’t reflect outlook
Post Holdings buys Michael Foods
Business digest: Target expands subscription service, adds discount
Annie, drop some bereavement knowledge on these yuppies

Deadline Deal thumbnail
The Jaipur in Rockbrook Village
Half Off Fine Indian Cuisine & Drinks! $15 for Dinner, or $7 for Lunch
Buy Now
< >
Blog: Dirk's 'Mad Chatter'
Dirk Chatelain offers his thoughts on the latest news from around the sports world, complete with links to the best articles, opinion columns, YouTube videos and more.
Civic Auditorium Timeline
World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel asked readers for their favorite memories of the Civic Auditorium. We combined their submissions with a few key events or moments in the auditorium's history.
CWS: Banner Years
The College World Series historical database, a growing home for historical information about past NCAA baseball championships, which have been played in Omaha since 1950.
Downtown Omaha event map
Discover the area surrounding the CenturyLink Center, TD Ameritrade Park and downtown Omaha -- including restaurants, arts & entertainment venues, hotels and local retail outlets.
Facebook: Tom Shatel's page
Get Tom Shatel's sports columns delivered straight to your Facebook feed.
Follow Tom Shatel on Twitter
Get instant analysis and commentary from World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel on Twitter.
Nebraska high school basketball's greatest night
Four elite teams. Two buzzer-beaters. One packed house. On March 11, 1989, the stars aligned and produced the best night in Nebraska high school basketball history.
Shatel's blog
Check out the latest from World-Herald sports columnist Tom Shatel.
Shatel: Tom's Take on 20 Unforgettable Years in Sports
Get World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel's book "Shatel: Tom's Take on 20 Unforgettable Years in Sports."
Super Bowl: Through the years
The Super Bowl is a yearly media madhouse. See how The World-Herald sports section's front pages portrayed each of the Super Bowl victories won by those players celebrated in our Mt. Rushmore of Super Bowl QBs.
Talk sports with World-Herald reporters
World-Herald reporters log on to talk about the latest news surrounding the Huskers, Jays, Mavericks, high schools sports and more. Check out the upcoming chat schedule or replay the latest discussions with the fans.
The disappearance of small-town football
Friday night lights across rural Nebraska are going dark. But one town, in its last season of gridiron independence, proved that school spirit is stronger than ever.
The Nebraska 100
In an historic 2005 series, The World-Herald selected the state’s all-time top 100 athletes. In a new web exclusive, see the digitized collection for the first time.
2013 college football preview
View our 2013 college football preview, a 26-page, three-part section filled with coverage of the Huskers, Big Ten conference and more.
Big Red Bowl Retrospective
See complete historical results, game recaps and photo coverage from the Nebraska Cornhuskers college football bowl game appearances, from the 1941 Rose Bowl up to today.
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »