July 29, 2014 - Nathan Arneal
The maps of ag...
I came across this website the other day featuring many interesting maps, with the majority dealing with agriculture, food and their changes over the decades.
A couple of observations:
Map 3: Interesting that Nebraska is mostly blue dots, showing a gain in number of farms. Obviously, there are a lot fewer farms than there were 30 years ago. But the preponderance of blue dots in Nebraska on this map shows us that the number of farms has increased since 2007. Now, this make sense in the western part of the state where advances in irrigation have opened up new ground to farming, but most of the blue dots are clustered in the eastern half of the state.
Map 6: I was surprised to see both Iowa and Nebraska deeply red, showing a majority of crops being soybeans. I thought it would be more corn, or at least a pretty close mix of the two. Driving around, it seems like corn dominates the landscape, but this map would tell us its soybeans.
Map 18: Man we're fat. Was also surprised how recent of a phenomenon obesity is, coming on in the last 20 years or so. From 1988 to 2010 Nebraska went from an obesity rate of less than 10 percent to more than 25 percent.
Then when I saw the rest of the maps were about fast food and pop, I understood why. I wonder what happened (see chart No. 20) in 1998-2000 that made our fats and oils consumption jump so dramatically?
May 7, 2014 - Lincoln Arneal
The legacy of Gary Smith...
As promised, here are links to some of Gary Smith's best articles.
My personal favorite is Crime and Punishment, a tale about Richie Parker and how 15 minutes that resulted in a sexual assault conviction resulted in a series of explosions that blew up his life and those around him.
Here a number of Sports Illustrated writers select their favorites, you'll see many of them echo the praise for Crime and Punishment as well as a dozen of others:
Thomas Lake, senior writer
Chris Hunt, special contributor
Lindsay Schnell, staff writer
Grant Wahl, senior writer
Chris Burke, SI.com NFL blogger
Feb. 7, 2013 - Nathan Arneal
Championship opportunity denied...
UNO’s Sami Spenner has the best score in the nation this season in the pentathlon and third best in the world. But like last year, she won’t be able to compete in the NCAA national championship meet. When a school moves up a division, such as UNO did a couple years ago when it moved from Div. II to Div. I, it is not allowed to compete for national championships for a five-year period. I understand the reasoning. They want to make sure that schools aren’t hopping divisions just to take advantage of their team’s strengths in a particular season. The NCAA wants the school to show a long-term commitment to the move.
But such rules always have unintended consequences (or maybe one could argue that this consequence is very much intended by the rule). One of the nation’s best won’t get to prove it on the nation’s largest stage. I guess she will just have to wait for the 2016 Olympics.
Sami Spenner is a graduate of Columbus Scotus. She was on the freshman basketball team my last year coaching for the Shamrocks. She was a skinny little thing, but when she popped her feet for a jump shot, she showed some great hops. A few years later I “substitute coached” for Scotus early in the track season, filling in for their pole vault coach who was out of town for a while. Spenner was now a senior and in her first year of competing in track and field (she had played soccer her first three years of high school.) I remember standing by her at the UNK Indoor Invite watching the triple jump. “You know,” I told her, remembering the spring she showed in freshman basketball, “you would be pretty good at this event.”
“Yeah, I think it would be fun to try,” Sami said. She eventually did try it. And got third place in the state track meet that May.
An appeal to allow Spenner to compete in NCAA nationals was denied last year, and it doesn’t look good for this year either. Here’s a link to Sami’s story in her own words. I hope the NCAA finds a heart and lets her go for the gold this spring.
Dec. 5, 2013 - Nathan Arneal
Florida State is undefeated and has high hopes for a national title. There is a lot of credit to go around, of course, but most of the credit goes to "Red Lighting." You'll enjoy his highlight video below:
This might be the best highlight video I've seen since Husker recruit Mike Nobler:
Nov.13, 2013 - Nathan Arneal
Do you know who I am...
In this week's "From the Banks of Maple Creek" column I mentioned a couple of "sports star undercover" videos. Here's the one featuring Danny Woodhead (then) of the New England Patriots:
Here's Ron Kellogg III doing something similiar on the UNL campus the week after his big Hail Mary throw. It just proves that not even a third-string walk-on is anonymous in Nebraska (though I am sure the Hail Mary helped raise his visibility).
While we're at it, here's a video of AcroDunk, the slam dunk team that performed at the Pinnacle Bank Arena pep rally the NBC fifth throguh eighth graders attended last Friday. This is from their 2009 appearance on America's Got Talent. At least three of the guys from this video (and possibly a fourth?) were among the four guys who perfromed in Lincoln last week:
Oct.29, 2013 - Nathan Arneal
More than Bo to blame...
So now, a week after Nebraska's embarrassing loss to Minnesota, I'm right back to where I was in the second half of the UCLA game, pre F-bomb-gate. I'm just going to sit back and see how this plays out. I'm not going to defend Bo and his staff at this point, but I'm also not going to lead the charge to have him fired. As I wrote in the last Web Log entry, firing a coach will set back our program, and I am not looking forward to that.
Here's a piece posted by the creator of Tunnel Walk of Shame that I thought hit all kinds of nails on the head. I highly encourage all Husker fans to read it. Do we need better coaching? Perhaps. But there's more that needs to happen to keep Nebraska football relevant and competitive. Oh, and if you're not familiar with Tunnel Walk of Shame, it's high comedy with a Husker theme. And by "high comedy" I mean lots of dirty words and adolescent jokes. So be forewarned about some adult language, but it's still very worth a read.
Sept.19, 2013 - Nathan Arneal
Off the fence about Bo...
Last Saturday, watching Nebraska collapse against UCLA in the second half, I was undergoing some introspection from my seat in the West Stadium.
I had always been in Bo’s corner, if for no other reason that I hated the alternative. If we stick with him, there is a chance he continues to grow as a head coach and gets things figured out. There is a chance that some day Bo will be a championship coach and we will all have a good laugh remembering how some of us wanted Bo gone once upon a time (not unlike the way we now look back on a time when much of the fan base wanted Tom Osborne gone).
While I admit there is also a chance none of that might happen, I’d rather take those chances than undergo the certainty of program upheaval while we look for our fourth head coach since Tom Osborne stepped down in 1997. A coaching change means sacrificing an entire recruiting class. Another three years of hearing how players are still adjusting to the new offensive and defensive systems. After all that, we’re still left with the very real possibility that our newest head coach might not be an improvement over our current coach. Or the one before him. Or the one before him.
I have always been slow to come around to the realization that a coach has outstayed his welcome and needs to be replaced. I eventually got there with Danny Nee after he started picking and choosing when to play an injured Cookie Belcher. I don’t know if I ever got there with Frank Solich, but by the time that happened I was OK with it. I was rushed there in a hurry when the team clearly quit on Bill Callahan in 2007. My instinct has always been to give a coach the benefit of the doubt, even when most everyone else has long since bailed.
Recently, it’s been the blowout losses that have been getting under the skin of Husker Nation. Did our defensive guru forget how to coach defense? Last Saturday, my eyes were telling me that this wasn’t the case. Time and time again we had players in position to make a play that would hold UCLA to a gain of a couple of yards. Instead, the black-clad defender whiffed on the tackle and the Bruin ripped off another 30 yards. The coaching and scheme had put the player in position to make the play. At that point, it is up to the player to make a tackle.
My eyes were telling me we weren’t that far away–erase about three or four missed tackles and one dumb roughing penalty on third down and Nebraska wins that game. With freshman making up a large chunk of our defense, I knew the Blackshirts still had a chance to develop into a very good unit.
Even though my eyes were giving me hope, my heart was growing weary. Here we were again in the national spotlight embarrassing ourselves. Maybe the detractors are right. Maybe Pelini just doesn’t have “it” as a head coach. I wasn’t ready to bail on Bo, but I realized that if the Huskers continued to fall on their face, I could be there by the end of the season. I will take a wait-and-see approach, I told myself there in the West Stadium. Maybe I wouldn’t publicly defend Pelini as much when others began to bash him. Wait and see.
That was Saturday. Now, just a few days later, here I am publicly defending him.
Maybe in three months I will be ready to replace Bo Pelini as Nebraska’s head football coach. That decision will be based on the performance of the Husker football team and Bo’s coaching of said team. You know what is going to have zero impact on that decision? A snippet of audio secretly recorded two years ago and released by some coward on Monday.
In his e-mail to Deadspin while providing that website with the infamous recording, the leaker writes, “Attached is an audio clip that has been heard by very, very few people and it’s only fair that the fanbase of Nebraska know what Pelini thinks about them.” (sic. Very sic.)
Oh, he did this out of “fairness” to us fans! Thanks a bunch, anonymous hero of the masses!
Let’s see, what could possibly come out of sharing this piece of audio? It could sink this year’s recruiting class. It could possibly divide the team and certainly divide the fan base. It will distract a team that clearly needs to focus on getting better right now.
And you thought all that would only be “fair” to the fans?
Clearly this was done by someone hoping to tear down Bo and his staff and get him fired. Why this leaker thought this would be a good thing with at least nine games left in the season boggles my mind.
First of all, Bo made some pretty accurate observations in his tirade. He called Nebraska fans “fair weathered.” Mind you, the fans he was talking about left at halftime of the game he just got done coaching minutes ago. That’s pretty much the definition of fair-weather, isn’t it? Never mind the fact that those fans missed the greatest comeback in school history.
Off the field, Bo has been a great representative of the University of Nebraska. Ask Zack Darlington and Jack Hoffman about that. He graduates players. His players stay relatively trouble free. The jury is still out on Bo Pelini as a head football coach, no doubt. But that verdict should be based on how the Nebraska football team performs, not on comments made two years ago after a very emotional game in what was thought to be a private conversation.
I am a fan of the Nebraska football team. I was a fan last week, I am a fan this week, I will be a fan next week. I am glad the UNL administration made the decision to not overreact to this blatant attempt to undermine coach Pelini’s ability to coach his team. Let Bo’s fate be determined on the football field, not by some back-stabbing anonymous leaker with his own agenda.
Last Saturday, I had one foot on the lower rung, ready to swing myself up on the fence. Now, thanks to an anonymous idiot, I am firmly on Bo’s side of the fence.
Here's a few links I think are worth a read on the situation:
• Steve Sipple writes "Weasel tipster seizes the moment" and actually writes "F--- that" in the Lincoln Journal-Star.
• Damon Benning is nails. He always has a rational take and is willing to concede to the other side when he thinks the argument is fair. In Segment 1 of the Sept. 17 podcast of his "Sharp and Benning in the Morning" radio show, he hits a home run. Definitely worth a listen, no matter what side you fall on. The whole segment is 41 minutes long, but if you only listen to part of it, listen to Damon's monologue starting at the 19:50 mark. I don't know how long this will be available to listen to, but it will probably be available on iTunes longer than the 1620 website linked above.
August 20, 2013 - Nathan Arneal and others
More stories of coach Lambley...
This week's (Aug. 21) Morse Bluff Eagle featured a double truck spread on the retirement of Fred Lambley after 51 years of coaching track and field. As part of that we solicited some of his former athletes for their memories and stories of running track under Mr. Lambley. We got a lot of really good stuff from those guys- too much to include all the stories in the paper. But I thought they were all worth reading, so I am going to include them here. Hope you enjoy:
Matt Musiel, NBC Class of '85, 1985 3200m relay state champ, track coach at Lincoln North Star
In cross country we were very fortunate enough to have I believe some of the biggest teams in the '80s. Our CC tradition was very strong during those years (‘82-'85) because coach Lambley would get runners out because they wanted to be a part of something, that family attitude, and belong to something successful. Some of the trips “across the river to God's Country” Morse Bluff, as Coach Lambley would call it, for training would rank as some of the best and toughest memories, consisting of Bohemian hill training and river running close to his place. The closeness and the team thing was always strongly talked about. His strong work ethic was ingrained in us every day, either in the classroom or out on the roads, track, or court. During those years Fred was still running with us on distance days, which I thought was one of the coolest things ever. To have your coach running miles with you... wow. To this day I think of that at times as I’m out there with my kids running and training either in the summer or fall getting ready for CC, or in the spring during track.
For me, track would probably have the greatest and most memories. I was one of those “dime-a-dozen sprinters” with some success growing up and in middle school. He knew I loved running, loved competition, and knew our high school years we all could be very good. I think he sort of groomed us each year. He would slowly move me up to the 400/800/1600r/3200r events. It was because of him and Sam Nelson that I knew those would be my true events. Long talks about this be done maybe in the hallways, opportune times in the classroom, and at practice.
We always had great, intense competition at practice. Training wise I have always said either in clinics or camps that I might speak at that I think coach Lambley was ahead of his time when it came to CC and track training. He would always be very strategic and had tremendous variety to his workouts. He was never afraid to push us.
Van rides to and from the Nebraska State Track Meet would have to be some of the best memories I would have in high school track. From the generation gap of then '80s music to his '60s choice to us making fun of his wardrobe (he was known for his red plaid clothing), to his Coach Lambleyisms and jokes that were never very funny to us at the time and laughing at him instead of those funny jokes he would tell.
Coach Lambley is the only head coach I would have in high school as a cross country/basketball/track athlete. He would be that second dad to me, as he was for many of his student-athletes. Having one of his sons in my class (Scott) who would be one of my best friends was also something special. Bryce and his class would really set the tone for CC. Track at NBC and being a three-sport teammate to Kevin to a young Jason would all create even a stronger bond.
Now entering my 24th year of teaching and coaching, I still to this day thank coach Lambley for the influence he had on me. From my first years at Bellevue West to now my years at Lincoln North Star HS I still hear myself and see myself saying things to my athletes he said or wonder to myself, "What would have Coach Lambley done in this situation?" Relays to me are very important and I know they were very important to him too. There is no greater joy or reward than being a part of a relay or team and all four striving for one ultimate goal.
I know that probably one of my greatest days in my coaching career in CC or track would have to be in 2001 when my Bellevue West girls team won state track championship the same year Fred's boys team brought home the title for North Bend. Long story short, the Class B boys award ceremony was followed by my Class A girls team on the awards stand. I will never forget the hug on the infield at Burke. For both me and my coach to be part of state championship teams within minutes of each was awesome. The Nebraska Coaches Association State Championship dinner in Lincoln in August would be even more special with NBC alumnus Todd Nott joining us as his Plattsmouth cross country team also won the previous fall. It's something we still bring up to this day.
Along with this memory would also have to be the Saturday morning before the meet begins with the 800m races. Every year it seems the flagpole by the coaches tent would be a magnet for NBC alumni and ex-coaches to meet. From Fred, to Todd Nott- Plattsmouth, Scott Lambley- Dundy County, Bryce Lambley- Fremont, Sam Nelson- Lincoln Christian (retired), Steve Shannon- Wahoo, Bob Talbitzer- Kearney, myself to our assistants always would make for an entertaining conversation.
Cody Main, NBC class of 2011, state qualifier in 800m
Jeff Voss, NBC Class of 1987, Head coach of NBC girls track team
It has been a great deal of fun coaching along side of him over the years as well. It has been nice to get his advice from time to time about things. (Along with coaching track along side him, I was his assistant basketball coach for him his last year of basketball.) I have found myself from time to time looking over to see what he had his guys doing for a workout or watching him make a point to one of his jumpers. I usually found him on the backside of the track during a meet and we would talk things over about how our teams were doing that day. The best thing has been having his support, especially since I have been head coach. He is always one of the first people to offer congratulations if we had a good meet or would offer an ear if things didn’t go as well as one would hope. He, coach Watson and their qualifiers came down to the state meet Friday this year even though they didn’t compete, and coach Lambley said they came down to support the girls team. Those things have meant a great deal to me.
Coach Lambley was and is always quick to laugh and make a joke of something. After the workouts were over we could laugh and joke about things, especially in CC and track. I remember being very at ease talking with him as a teenager, so much so I let the word “shit” slip one time when talking to him and not ever realizing it until some of my teammates began laughing hysterically. I was extremely embarrassed, turning four shades of red which Coach had a hard laugh over. He didn’t let me forget that for several years. Also he still reminds me of a time when he had a detasseling crew out by our farm and he claims he witnessed my dad cracking the whip on me and my brother because we were being a bit slow. I hear that one every year, and I still don’t agree with his version of the story! Also he developed a nickname for me in high school - he called me "Hi-C." He still calls me Hi-C from time to time and to this day I have no idea where he came up with that name. I also always get a good laugh at his black socks and camo gear!
Coach Lambley was a great influence on me as teenager and great influence on me as a coach. He has had a tremendous coaching career and has influenced so many young men in a positive way. I consider him a good friend and mentor but he is and always will be coach Lambley, never have called him Fred once! I know he will enjoy his freedom in the spring but I do plan on seeing him around the track some as well.
Bryce Lambley, NBC class of 1980, Fremont High track coach, son
We had a deep stable of long and middle-distance men at the time. We had a lot of invites where we'd place three guys in the half, the mile and two-mile in the same meet, and I just remember the extreme energy being involved as part of those types of finishes all four years. The camaraderie was outstanding, and I don't recall us fretting over who finished where so long as we beat everyone else. Guys like Barry Wilson, Tim Satorie, Greg Emanuel, Mark Flamme, Brian Heese, Rick Limbach, Bob Taylor, Dave Robinson and I and others all figured into those sweeps. We were equally as deep in most field events and would sometimes score three in the hurdles too. That kind of depth just wears people out, and that's the atmosphere we always had at North Bend.
Our track was so hard back then, we marked out a quarter-mile oval on the grass and did all of our interval training on it. We beat that thing down to dirt by season's end, but I believe it saved us from injury. Another thing Dad would sometimes do is have us train for the 4x800 with batons filled with sand.
Another memory was that you could never trust the throwers or pole vaulters not to raid the distance runners' lunches at meets. I sort of recall the coaches making those guys sit up front by the coaches.
I know certain coaches and programs even now who only coach the most talented kids and largely ignore the others. Or they only work on the events they have talent in. That's not treating the sport or the kids with the respect they deserve. North Bend has been fortunate to have had Dad (and assistants) who coached all of us and all 17 events. Which is why NBC just wore other schools out at track meets; we just kept hammering away, every event, even nickel-and-diming in those events we were weakest in.
I think that's why it's so gratifying that North Bend's state champion team was not comprised of just a couple superstars, but a whole bevy of great athletes at the same time who were brought up through the ranks believing in the team first and that every place was important. The end result was incredible. The 2001 state champions were the most prolific Class B team in Nebraska history at that point, and they scored at state the way most good teams score in invites. Being one of the smallest schools in Class B makes that feat all the more impressive. That team would've made a good run at the Class A title.
Neil Hines, NBC class of 2002, 2-time state medalist, 2007 Big 12 decathlon champion
Chris Witthuhn, NBC class of '03, 8-time state medalist, former 100m school record holder
Mr. Lambley treated the members of his team like they were family. That family atmosphere led to strong bonds between his athletes, and I feel that is a big reason Tiger track has been so successful throughout the years. Mr. Lambley was also quick to point out everyone on the team's successes and celebrate the achievements of each individual and not just the best athletes. His photos that he had taken of each athlete on the team and awards he handed out at the end of the year just goes to show how great of a man and coach he is. He cared deeply for all of his athletes and wanted everyone to succeed.
August 6, 2013 - Nathan Arneal
Nebraska from above...
If you have out-of-state friends who think Nebraska is nothing but a bunch of flat corn fields (and face it, that's pretty much what everyone outside of Nebraska thinks we are), then go ahead and show them this video, and I promise they will be surprised and impressed. For those of you Nebraskan's, even you will be impressed with the majestic images contained within:
August 4, 2013 - Nathan Arneal
If you aren't pumped for football season yet, this brilliant Dick's Sporting Goods commercial will get you there. It puts you right in the middle of the field, and for me brought back a lot of memories (you know, minus all the black players). As you get older, you can still play pickup basketball, join a baseball/softball league, or run road races. But for 98% of football players, we are forced to leave the sport behind at the age of 17 or 18. For all you high school football players gearing up for practice to start pretty soon, take time to enjoy every minute of it. You only get a brief, brief window in life to play high school football before it becomes nothing more than a memory.
August1, 2013 - Nathan Arneal
This. This is what I think. I've railed against overly-"creative" baby names before in my column. This column from GQ pretty much nails my thoughts perfectly. Please don't sentence your kid to a lifetime of constantly correcting people who misspell their names. Enjoy, and read carefully, prospective parents.
April 26, 2013 - Nathan Arneal
The Chart of Nebraska High School Mascots..
Why? Because we love tedious work that serves no real purpose and we are fascinated by team mascots. Not to mention, we had a gaping hole on our sports page after every NBC sporting event was cancelled last week on account of weather freakiness.
Right away, we should point out that the title of our chart, “The Chart of Nebraska High School Mascots,” is a bit of a misnomer. It’s really a chart of team nicknames, not mascots. For example, David City Aquinas is classified under people since its nickname is the Monarchs (the rulers, not the butterflies). However, their mascot, which represents the team on their football helmets and in various art around the school, is actually a lion.
Likewise, Lincoln North Star’s nickname “Navigators” was classified under people/explorers, even though their mascot is an alligator.
The Papillion-LaVista Monarchs also represent the human rulers, though we suspect the nickname may have been originally inspired by the insect. Papillon is the French word for butterfly.
We classified 303 high schools, 176 of which were nicknamed after animals, 108 after people, 10 after nature, and nine after objects.
Some were a little tough as to where to classify them. At first we had the Centura Centurions under professions, but we switched them to ancient people, even though they are not a race of people that they are subclassified under. They could have easily gone in the warriors box as well. They also could have fit in the self referential box since Centurions was obviously taken from the name of the school.
Generally, a nickname had to represent at least three schools to get its own box, although we did give the Wisner-Pilger Gators their own box as the only reptile in the state.
For some reason, we find the history of high school mascots a fun one to study and discuss. We also like unique mascots that are representative of the particular school or region. Unfortunately our own school, North Bend Central, is neither. Tigers is one of the most common mascots in the state (tied for third behind Eagles and Bulldogs) and the animals are certainly not native to Nebraska.
Before North Bend was the Tigers, its school colors were orange and black. When the students decided they needed a mascot, they picked one that fit their existing school colors (take that Tekamah-Herman). The Tiger was introduced as the official mascot of North Bend High School during a pep rally in January 1929.
If we were to start a high school today, we would pick the fox as its mascot. It’s unique and would lead to some handsome school colors.
The Eagle’s Mascot Chart Team would like to express our disappointment in Sandhills/Thedford, who co-opped and picked a new mascot in 2008 when the Sandhills Panthers and Thedford Trojans joined forces. With a name like Sandhills, how about something cool like the “Sand Dunes.” They could been the “Yucca” and joined Columbus Scotus as the only plant mascots in the state. The could have chosen the very Nebraskan “Medowlarks” and have the mascot on every license plate in the state. How about the “Sandhill Cranes” or just “Cranes,” a nod both Sandhills High School and the very famous crane migration that makes its way through the area?
We would like to salute the schools that chose regionally significant nicknames such as the Bison, Buffaloes, Longhorns (as much as it makes us gag to write that, Texas does not have a monopoly on raising Longhorn cattle), Pioneers, Plainsmen, Coyotes and Cyclones.
It’s interesting to note that while many schools have copied the fight song of the University of Nebraska, no one has co-opted the Cornhuskers mascot. It is quite common for high schools in other states to follow suit with their local university in selecting a nickname.
April 16, 2013 - Nathan Arneal
The Chart of College Sports Teams..
In this week's Eagle we ran a chart classifying all 303 Nebraska high school mascots. That project was inspired by Pop Chart Lab's Chart of College Sports Teams that hit the internet last week. Click here to see it. For a mascot fan like me, it's pretty easy to waste a bunch of time perusing this chart. Sure, you can find classifications to disagree with (of course, I am referring to the college chart, since the Eagle's high school chart is flawless). For example, they put the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the state nicknames group. While Nebraska is nicknamed "The Cornhusker State," the state was nicknamed after the university, not the other way around. I would have filed the Cornhusking under professions, or possibly under the profession subclass of resource extraction. They put the Wichita State Wheatshockers under professions, and corn husking and wheat shocking are essentially the same thing, just with different crops.
Feb. 3, 2013 - Nathan Arneal
So God made a farmer...
Was this the best commercial in Super Bowl this year, or the best commercial in Super Bowl history? I'm sure this brought a tear to many an eye around these parts. Very well done, Dodge.
In other commercial news, I was caught by surprise when I saw a former student of mine in a Super Bowl commercial. Clearly all that stuff she learned in sophomore English is taking her places. She wasn't the only local in a Super Bowl ad, though. I also made my national TV debut in the Calvin Klein commercial.
Nov. 14, 2012 - Nathan Arneal
Huskers a legit 8-2...
During a recent conversation I had a friend ask me, "Is the Husker football team's 8-2 record legit?" An interesting question.
Are we a legit 8-2? I guess that depends on what you mean by legit. Nebraska just played at Northwestern, Michigan, at Michigan State, and Penn State in successive weeks and went 4-0. That's pretty legit. Not even the biggest Husker fans were predicting wins in all four of those games before the season.
Taylor Martinez has actually developed to the point where I now trust him with confidence as our quarterback. Three double-digit second-half comebacks will do that for you. Dude makes plays. Add in all other our weapons, Turner, Abdullah, Kenny Bell, Enunwa, etc. and our offense is pretty legit. Even our running game, which has been so hit and miss in recent year, is looking very good. We rushed for 313 yards against a Michigan State defense that was only giving up 91.2 yards per game.
The defense has also come around. I was majorly worried after we gave up the most yards in the 120 year history of Nebraska football to UCLA. How a defense can go from the worst ever to what we're seeing now boggles my mind.
Now, are you asking are we a legit 8-2 team because we benefited from a couple of dubious officiating calls to get those wins? I don't know. But I do know if either one of those calls had gone the other way (the pass interference in end zone against Michigan State and the non-TD fumble against PSU) doesn't necessarily mean Nebraska would have lost those games. Against, MSU, we still kick the field goal at go into over time with the momentum. If the TD had counted for Penn State, they get seven more points, but we still won that game by 9, didn't we?
So even without those questionable calls, we could still easily be sitting here at 8-2.
So "legit" is still open in interpretation, but it has been entertaining.
October 17, 2012 - Nathan Arneal
Aound the back roads of the Midwest...
I was able to see a lot of country during my recent road trip to Columbus, Ohio, for the Nebraska-Ohio State game. (Even through I want to save the keystrokes, I have trouble calling them OSU. In my mind, OSU still means Oklahoma State. I suppose that will change after a few more years of Big Ten brainwashing.)
As I like to do on these trips, I stuck to the smaller two-lane back roads and avoid interstates unless I'm in a time crunch to get somewhere. There is a limit to my quest for back roads though. My general rule has been to stay off gravel roads. I broke my own rule on this trip.
Thursday night I stayed at a cousin's place in a town of about 3,000 people in central Indiana. From there I headed due west. Nearly every road in Indiana is paved. What would be a gravel road in Nebraska is covered with asphalt in Indiana. However, I did come across at least one gravel road. It was heading in the right direction (west) so I took it.
Overall, the state of Indiana gets my official seal of approval. It is a lot like eastern Nebraska with a more wooded areas. Most of the corn was still in the fields and the trees were at the height of their colorful fall splendor.
You know how the big advertising push by... whoever pays for public service announcements... about not texting and driving? That leads to other problems. Shortly after snapping the picture on the right as I crossed the Indiana-Ohio border on a back road, I pulled over into a driveway to check the map on my phone. As I was sitting there, a guy in a car pulled up and asked if I was lost. "No," I said. "Just using my phone."
I'm pretty sure he thought I was casing his house so I could return and rob the place later that night. I got those looks a couple of times pulled over on the side of roads as I used my smartphone.
After the game, I traveled to southeast Ohio to visit the graves of some relatives, and then crossed the state diagonally toward Toledo. During that stretch I came across a section of the Lincoln Highway. I briefly entertained the thought of following the Lincoln Highway as best I could all the way back to North Bend, but I didn't think I had the time. Maybe next time.
September 6, 2012 - Nathan Arneal
The K-State mask...
It's college football season and fans everywhere are pumped up, even at Kansas State. Here's a sneak peak at the video the Wildcats team will be watching in the locker room before this Saturday's game, with a reminder that nothing makes a great college football player better than waking up with the roosters:
At first, I thought this guy, the Mask, was another colossal failure along the lines of the K-State Power Towel video. But as I watched this, I realized that this guy is really a comedic genius. If you want to know more about this mysterious figure of the Kansas plains, be sure to watch the up-close and person interview with him.
July 18 , 2012 - Nathan Arneal
State's best coming to North Bend
• You know, for it being the middle of July, I sure am watching a lot of basketball on TV. Between the Team USA playing Olympic warm-up games, NBA summer leagues on NBA TV and the WNBA, I'm getting a unusual amount of mid-summer hoops in.
• As you know, North Bend is hosting the Class C state baseball tournament starting this weekend. The Eagle will not just be covering the local team as the Black Sox participate in the tournament with an automatic host bid, but we will be covering the entire tournament as a event taking place in our town. Much like the Omaha World-Herald covers all the teams that play in the college world series, we will provide coverage of the entire state tournament.
Much of that coverage will come through this web site. You can get to the tournament's home page by clicking the button above or the one like in on the northbendeagle.com home page. We have all kinds of goodies planned for the tournament, so make sure you check in frequently. And make sure you go out of your way to welcome the visitors from around the state as they spend some quality time (and hopefully money) in North Bend this coming week.
• It's really too bad what has happened to the North Bend-Morse Bluff legion juniors. Just a few weeks ago, they looked like legit contenders to win the state tournament in their home ballpark. Now they are down four starters (though one will be back for the state tournament) that have been replaced with younger players called up from the Ponies. While those pony players are good ball players in their own right, there is a noticeable difference between those eighth graders and the high school juniors they're playing with and against. After racing to a 14-3 record, the juniors have now lost three of their last four games, including two district games that weren't particularly close. A chance to win a state championship is usually a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, if that, and now it looks like a pretty remote possibility for the Black Sox.
Nevertheless, if you're in the field, you have a shot. So make sure you come out and support the local boys in their first-round game Saturday at 8 p.m.
• Just kidding in that first paragraph there. I don't really watch the WNBA.
July 9 , 2012 - Nathan Arneal
The evolving internet
I am linking a blog post I found particularly interesting, titled "The Aughts Internet is Over." Unless your still a kid, we've all lived through the internet explosion during the last decade and a half. Most of us can't imagine life before TVs or telephones or cars, and we'd be equally surprised at how those inventions were treated in their infancy. For example, in the 1890s, a car could not be driven in England unless a man with a red flag and a whistle walked in front of it.
A decade ago, the internet was hailed as a medium of free-flowing ideas, where you could encounter thoughts and opinions of all varieties. Has that changed? Has the internet become, for lack of a better term, too corporate?
A snippet from the article:
"Most internet writers were empowered by the internet’s growth last decade, when websites emerged as the preeminent vehicles for entertainment, news, and commentary. Personal blogs, in particular, anointed a new class of informed, passionate people who could suddenly fashion themselves as writers and pundits. With nothing more than a hyperlink, an embedded YouTube video, or a photograph lifted from somewhere else, anyone could publish opinions, serve as a filter, and attempt to lead a conversation. Accordingly, the aughts yielded wonderful compositions, dazzling creativity, and a generally smarter level of discourse about everything for any reader interested in finding it. ESPN no longer had to dictate terms of the debate about Vince Carter, the New York Times no longer enjoyed a monopoly on vicarious political rage, and music magazines became totems of a sillier time."
Take time to read the whole article. Will we one day look at the Aughts internet as walking in front of a car with a red flag and whistle?
June 20, 2012 - Nathan Arneal
Rain, rain... come back next week.
The hint: At right is the hint to this week's Where in the Bend challenge. Do you know where in the Bend this site can be seen?
As I type this, the weather is kind of gloomy and rainy out. Oh, and muggy. Don't forget muggy. I don't mind a few dreary rainy days in the summer for a nice change of pace, but right now I am hoping Mother Nature gets it out of her system before Old Settlers this weekend. I can't remember the last time it rained during Old Settlers, but I can't think of anything that would ruin Old Settlers more, short of a tornado (*quickly looks around for some wood to knock on*). Sure, it stormed last year Sunday evening, but by that time everything had pretty much wound up. A quick look at the weekend forecast looks good so far: high 80s, light winds and 0% percent chance of rain.
I'm not requesting that the rain go away, because it seems like when you do that, it tends to stay away for months. So, rain, just take a little break and hit us hard next week.
If you've come this far, I'm sure you've already read the piece we ran about Jean McVicker's memories of the birth of North Bend in 1856. It's fascinating reading. What we ran is less than half of what was originally printed in 1925. Hopefully we'll be able to print the entire piece someday, which will mean retyping the whole thing. For some reason, they didn't have the foresight to burn all their stories to CD back in 1925 (of course, back then "burning a CD" probably meant taking a torch to the local bank).
One last comment about the NBA playoffs. Right now the Heat lead Oklahoma City 3-1. First of all, it's weird to type "Oklahoma City" in relation to the NBA Finals. Secondly, remember a week ago when everyone was declaring the Western Conference Finals as the "Real NBA finals." Heck, as of now, it looks like the Celtics are going to give the Heat a tougher push than the Thunder are. Maybe the East was the "Real Finals."
See you this weekend!
June 6, 2012 - Nathan Arneal
They ain't dead yet..
I know I've posted this before, but has there ever been a more fitting, dead-on, premonitory promo?
Just last week I wrote an obituary for the Celtics 2012 season, just hoping that they would avoid a sweep at the hands of the vaunted Miami Heat. Now here we are 10 days and I'm lamenting a Game 2 collapse that prevented Boston from dispatching the Heat in five games.
What happened? First of all, it turns out that Ray Allen is alive after all. At the end of the Philadelphia series, he was useless and hobbled to the point fans were asking for him to be benched, saying he should just get the ankle surgery he needed now and skip the rest of the playoffs. Well, the ankles are feeling better and Ray is once again knocking down 3-pointers and doing Ray Allen things. And his defense had not been the sieve that I wasI expecting against Dwayne Wade. Having Ray Allen back is a huge factor in these playoffs.
Paul Pierce looks like he has recovered from his twisted knee suffered in the opening round against Atlanta. That's right, in contrast to what you would expect, these Celtics are actually getting healthier as they progress deeper into the playoffs.
Then you have a revitalized KG being KG and doing KG things. His level of play at age 36 continues to amaze me. An argument could be made that he is the MVP of these playoffs so far (or maybe I should say of the Eastern Conference playoffs with apologies to Kevin Durant).
You can't totally blame Dwayne Wade and LeBron James for the Heat being down 3-2. They are playing well. It's just that even with two of the best eight players in the world, the Heat still aren't as good as everyone thought they were.
That said, this series is not over yet. Miami could easily come back and win these final two games and advance to the finals. Boston saw this same scenario just two years ago in the 2010 NBA Finals, when they led the Lakers 3-2 but dropped the final two games. Of course, those final two games were both in Los Angeles. Thursday's Game 6 will be in Boston, where the Heat are 1-15 in their last 16 games.
• Good job, good effort by the Heat. One storyline that's taken off since the end of last night's game is the kid at the Miami tunnel yelling "Good job! Good effort!" as the defeated Heat trudge by. If you watch the linked clip, you'll notice that you can hear the kid well after the camera turns the corner down the hallway to the Heat locker room.
I remember noting the kid's over-enthusiastic condolences watching the game live, but I quickly moved on. Not everyone did. Since last night's game, the "Good job!" kid has become an internet sensation. Within 10 minutes of the end of the game, he had his own parody account @goodjobkid. I was follower 49 moments after the game. Now, 15 hours later, he is already over 3,000 twitter followers. You can also buy a T-shirt inspired by the eternal optimist.
• The hint: At right is the hint for this week's "Where in the Bend" challenge. Do you recognize it?
• In this week's paper we had coverage of the Warrior Basketball Classic all-star games, where Kale Wietfeld came up with some big plays in the final minute of the game to seal the win for the boys White team. That includes blocking the possible game-winning shot with two-seconds left. I have to give credit where credit is due, and Evan Nordsrtom of the Fremont Tribune got a great shot of that final block.
What else can I say, but "Good effort! Good job!"
May 30, 2012 - Nathan Arneal
This morning a Department of Roads crew was out tarring the cracks in Main Street, North Bend.
It's only been four years since a brand new road was laid on Main Street, North Bend, and the rest of Highway 79. What was a shiny ribbon of blacktop in 2008 has faded since then. With the addition of the tar stripes jutting in random directions this morning, the road now looks like it's been around for decades.
I'm sure it helps extend the life of the road and makes it smoother for drivers, but the tar tends to age the look of a road in a hurry.
• The clue: This week's "Where in the Bend" clue is to the right. It is the same image as published in the paper, but seeing it in color might help you out.
• In this week's Eagle (May 30) we told the story of how we came to identify a North Bend filling station in a 1923 photo. The insurance maps that helped us, a snippet of which was printed in the paper, are fascinating. They are an excellent guide to where buildings and businesses were located nearly a century ago. We like to extend a big shout out to Ryan Chapman who brought the maps to our attention and sent us an electronic copy. Until he sent them to us, I had no idea such maps existed. I am sure they will be a big help in future historical research.
• I'm sure the rest of the local media has been all over this, but TripAdvisor has named Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo as the best zoo in America recently. I went to the Omaha zoo last summer (actually, I think it was two summers ago now that I think about it) for the first time in over a decade, and it really is a treasure to have in our own backyard. It's like our own version of Disney World right here in the Heartland. I was also interesting to note that the San Diego zoo, perhaps the most famous zoo in the country, was all the way down at No. 6 in TripAdvisor's list. Admission to the San Diego zoo is also four times as much as the Henry Doorly.
May 28, 2012 - Nathan Arneal
Hmmm... last night after the Thunder-Spurs game, both Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley picked the Celtics to win the Eastern Conference Finals in six games. What are they seeing that I am not?
I am assuming that there is no way in heck Boston wins tonight's Game 1, not with only a day's rest after a Game 7 when a younger, healthier Heat team has two days' rest. What I would honestly do if I were Boston is basically forfeit Game 1. I wouldn't play Ray Allen at all and play Pierce and Garnett token minutes, maybe 10 each. That way they enter Wednesday's game 2 with essentially four days' rest. It's the only chance for them to get some desperately needed rest during this series.
If they can come out of Miami with a 1-1 split, that's about as good as they can expect.
Celts limping into the Conference Finals...
Finally, the Celtics put away the pesky Philadelphia 76ers last night, after squandering several opportunities do so earlier in the series. My excitement was tempered, however, by the thought of what lies ahead: the Miami Heat with only one day's rest.
As recently as two weeks ago I was proclaiming Boston had a very good chance to beat the Heat. Boston had the best record in the East since the all-star break. They had beaten Miami 3-of-4 times during the regular season, and the one Heat win came back in December.
On April 1, Boston killed Miami in Boston, leading by 29 at one point. A week later, the same two teams met in Miami where a pissed off Heat team... lost by 8.
If these two teams met fully healthy, I really like Boston's chances a lot. But that's not the case.
Ray Allen in playing on bum ankles that will get operated on as soon as the season's over. He's averaging just 9.9 points in the playoffs while shooting just 27 percent from 3-point land. A career 92 percent free throw shooter, he's shooting just 65 percent in these playoffs. Something is clearly wrong. And he can barely move on defense.
Paul Pierce twisted his knee in the Atlanta series, and while he's still scoring 19.3 ppg, he's not the same either. Of course, he's going to get a workout guarding James in this series.
Perhaps the biggest blow was losing Avery Bradley for the rest of the playoffs to shoulder surgery. He is one of the best perimeter defenders in the league and was the C's Dwayne Wade stopper. Now, Wade will have to be guarded by... the aforementioned Ray Allen, he of hobbled ankles. Advantage: Miami.
Unfortunately, the above injuries will likely waste a turn-back-the-clock playoffs from Kevin Garnett, who is playing out of his mind right now, looking like a spry 26-year-old in his prime rather than the 36-year-old that he is. Then there's the triple-double in waiting, Rajon Rondo. If the Celtics are going to make this competitive at all, Garnett and Rondo will have to carry them on their shoulders. The Heat have no one that matches up with either of those players. Boston has to hope for one of LeBron James' classic disappearing/choking acts and a big series from Mikael Pietrus, both in guarding James and knocking down 3-pointers.
Boston had a great chance to get plenty of rest, but they blew it by allowing Philly to push them to seven games. The Celtics should have swept the Sixers. Games 2 and 4 were totally unnecessary losses by an unfocussed Boston team. The rest they could have gained by a sweep while Miami battled Indiana would have been crucial. And maybe Bradley even survives the series.
As I said, two or three weeks ago I would have put money on Boston. Now I am just hoping they don't get swept.
I expect you all to be cheering for the Celtics in this series. If not, you are supporting a team that thought this was a good idea.
It could happen. Never doubt the heart of a champion. Let's just hope their legs and knees are up to the task as well:
May 22, 2012 - Nathan Arneal
Best wedding picture ever...
Just had to pass this along, my new all-time favorite wedding picture:
To see the full story of this Kansas couple who had a couple of unexpected guests at their wedding, click here.
• Once again, we didn't get "Where in the Bend" into the paper this week. We'll get to it next week, I promise. I'm sure the suspense is about to reach a boiling point. Sorry.
• Speaking of weather phenomena, here's the color version of the eclipse picture that was on the front page of the Eagle this week:
A little more impressive, no? Of course, if you subscribe to the Eagle e-edition, you have already seen this picture, and every other picture in the Eagle, in glorious color.
May 16, 2012 - Nathan Arneal
Gas guzzling required...
A few years ago I wrote a column complaining about the pace of technological advancement when it came to our car engines and the gas mileage they get. I said we should take the brightest engineers in the country and lock them in a room Manhattan-Project style until they came up with a better solution than paying billions of dollars for oil to countries where large portions of the population want to kill us.
I found the following video interesting. Apparently there are cars that get 60-70 miles per gallon in Europe, but they can't be sold here in America.
I can vouch for part of what he said about depending on gas taxes, which are being diminished because of better fuel efficiency. When I spoke with state senator Charlie Janssen a couple of weeks ago for the story about the Highway 30 project, he confirmed this. As quoted in the story:
“We need a different way to fund our roads,” Janssen said. “In the past, it was all gas tax, gas tax, gas tax. The good thing is that we have more economical cars now, but the bad thing is that there is less revenue generated by gas taxes. We needed a new funding mechanism."
Another interesting point is that the gas tax is a set dollar/cent amount. It is not a percentage, like a sales tax. So as gas prices get higher, the amount being brought in by the gas tax remains the same. And as less gas is consumed... you get the point. Clearly we need to continue to fund and improve our road system, but we shouldn't do it at the cost of withholding superior options from American consumers. There has to be another way to do it. In Nebraska, we passed LB 84, which diverts some sales tax money to the roads and is the only reason the Highway 30 expressway around North Bend is going to be possible.
I don't know if the loss of gas tax revenue is the whole reason or even part of the reason why we can't get these super high efficiency cars here in the U.S., but it seems silly that they are not available here, especially with a president who keeps banging the drum of all things "green."
• The hint: see the May 11 entry. We did not get "Where in the Bend" into the paper this week, so we'll have to continue it to next week.
• College football playoffs: It looks like a four-team playoff is almost a sure thing at this point. The Big Ten has recently backed off its preference that the semifinals be played on home college campuses and is now pushing for them to be played in bowls. This stinks for many reasons, in my opinion, only one of which is my deep-seeded annoyance concerning the Rose Bowl. I may address this in next week's "Banks of the Maple Creek" column. In the meantime, here's a pretty good take on the situation that sums up a lot of my feelings.
May 11, 2012 - Nathan Arneal
Time flies by...
The hint: For your hint in this week's "Where in the Bend" challenge, I'm going to use the same picture that was published in the paper. It printed a little dark, so this version of the image should give you more texture and a better view of what you're looking for. An further hint: you'll find it somewhere on Main Street, North Bend.
The final days of the Class of 2012's existence as a unit are upon us, and they really snuck up on me. A senior walked into the Eagle office today wanting a sports highlight DVD to play at her graduation party tonight. "Your party is tonight?" I asked. In my mind I was thinking her party was a week early. But no, graduation is this Sunday already. I've been invited to more parties this year than I ever have been before, including my teaching days. I haven't even really looked at the invitations closely yet to see when all the parties are. I'm sure there were a couple last week already that I missed. Oops.
With the all the work we put into last week's record 32-page issue, and then district track on Thursday, graduation really slipped onto the schedule unnoticed. Anyway, this has been one of my top three favorite North Bend graduating classes of all time. Thanks for six years of great memories, guys. And those won't change, even if I don't/didn't make it to your graduation party.
Relays are one of the fun things about track. Even though they are one of the most inefficient ways to score in a meet since they take up four athletes to earn one place, having a good relay is great for morale. Because it takes four athletes to make a relay, it really says something about the quality of your track team, and the teamwork required provides a sense of bonding and unity that individual events don't provide.
When a relay dominates, it boosts everybody's spirits. It can also work the other way. When the Tiger boys' 400-meter relay was disqualified after winning its race Thursday, it put a damper on the whole day. The time put up by Sam Lowe, Charles Miller, Brady Renter and Kale Wietfeld was the third fastest relay run across the state Thursday, and only 0.4 seconds away from the best time. Instead, an exchange judge ruled that Wietfeld received the baton before the exchange zone on the third handoff, thereby DQ'ing the Tiger relay and sparking a celebration among the second-place David City relay. From overhearing the conversation between the exchange judge and the meet referee, it sounds like the exchange was clearly out of the zone and the call had to be made.
It's unfortunate because the illegal exchange didn't even give NBC an advantage. It appears that Wietfeld took off to early, and when he realized it, he came to nearly a complete stop. This caused Renter to run up on him and hand off the baton before the pair reached the exchange zone. With the baton in hand, Wietfeld had to take off from a near stand-still, which obviously would be a major disadvantage to any relay.
The 400-meter relay is a dangerous one to get too excited about. It doesn't matter how fast your runners are, one minor mistake can make nullify all the speed in the world. Unfortunately, it was a lesson the NBC boys had to learn at the worst possible time.
April 28, 2012 - Nathan Arneal
So the forecast for Saturday ended up being not quite as drastic as we thought it was going to be. As the week wore on, 20 degrees was added to the predicted temperature. While it was cool in the morning, it turned out to be a great day for the East Husker Conference track meet in Lyons today. It was another windless day, giving us two this week, Tuesday and Saturday, and both happened to be track meet days, although the days in between made up for it with winds aplenty.
As expected, the NBC girls rolled to the conference title today, while the boys were in a dogfight with Logan View and Oakland-Craig. The same teams met Tuesday in North Bend when the Tigers came out on top, but today was a different outcome with NBC finishing third in a tight three-team race. After running only the 100 Tuesday, Logan View's Nathan Kreikemeier ran his full compliment events today, winning the 100, 200 and placing second in the pole vault, and that obviously had a big effect on the standings. Plus, there were several close races where North Bend came out ahead on Tuesday and fell just short today. In a meet this tight, every little point counts.
You can't ask for a better ending, though. Going into the final event, Oakland-Craig, Logan View and North Bend were all within two points of each other. It came down to OC winning the mile relay and Logan View finishing second to give the Knights the conference title. NBC finished fifth in the race to end up third overall.
As usual, we'll have blowout covereage of the EHC track meet in next week's paper.
• Speaking of championships, the NBA playoffs are underway. The big news on day one was Chicago's Derrick Rose going down with and ACL tear. While you have to feel bad for the guy (or whatever I have to write here to pretend like I genuinely care about his well being), it does change the entire outlook of the playoffs.
With the Bulls and the Celtics scheduled for a potential second-round matchup, it certainly looks like the C's door to the conference finals is open a bit wider now. Does year five of Danny Ainge's three-year plan have a chance to make it back to the finals? We shall see...
In the meantime:
Oh, it's on.
April 25, 2012 - Nathan Arneal
Two Tiger track titles so far this week. More to come?
It was 90 degrees yesterday for the North Bend Track and Field Invite. Now I see the forecast for Saturday's East Husker Conference meet has a high in the 40s with a chance of snow flurries? Only in Nebraska. If that forecast comes to fruition, that has to be the wildest weather swing between two meets five days apart.
Tuesday's NB Invite was a great day for many reasons. Not only was the weather perfect (how often do you get a windless day in the spring?) but both North Bend teams won the meet. It has to be a big lift especially to the Tiger boys, who have lost to Logan View both times they had faced the Raiders this year. Logan View won the Tiger-Cadet Invite with 136 points back on April 4 while NBC finished 65 points behind in fourth place. A week later, NBC finished second to the Raiders at the Logan View Invite by just eight points. Then on Tuesday, North Bend beat Logan View by 47 points. That's a 112-point turnaround during the month of April.
Every meet is different, depending on what the other teams bring to the table, but the top three EHC contenders, NBC, Logan View and Oakland-Craig (though Stanton may be a player as well with its distance corps), were all in attendance and the Tigers came out on top. You have to believe North Bend is in great position heading into Saturday's conference championships.
Of course, Logan View rested one of the best athletes in the conference Thursday in Nathan Kreikemeier, who was nursing an injury. He competed in just one event, winning the 100 meters, but a healthy Kreikemeier would also be a favorite to win the 200 and pole vault as well as provide a boost to one of the Raiders' relays. Figure him being good for another 20 to 24 points for Logan View, if he indeed goes full bore Saturday. But don't automatically hand Kreikemeier the gold medals if he shows up in Lyons. North Bend's Sam Lowe has been coming on with some great times recently. Lowe lost to Kreikemeier in the 100 meters Tuesday on a finish-line lean (see the picture on the front page of northbendeagle.com if you are reading this entry within a few days of it being posted).
Who knows how the chips will fall come Saturday (for example, I don't know if NBC will be able to get 16 points out of the 800 like it did Tuesday, and I don't know if OC or LV were resting others with an eye on the conference meet), but I'm liking the North Bend boys' chances a lot more that I did a couple of weeks ago. Selfishly, I'm just hoping that the meet won't be postponed. If it's moved to Monday, your Eagle may be a day late next week.
• I'm not going to spend a lot of time on the girls EHC race, but North Bend should be solid favorites to regain the conference crown. The Tiger girls are really hitting on all cylinders right now. But you have to keep in mind that North Bend has not yet seen the greatest challenger to its title hopes this season, last year's EHC champ Wisner-Pilger.
• The calm weather on Tuesday helped future Husker Sean Pille of Oakland-Craig set a new Class C state record in the 110-meter high hurdles. The wind has to be nearly still to qualify for a state record, measuring no faster than 2.0 meters per second to be allowed. As still as Tuesday was (and what wind there was appeared to be a cross wind which wouldn't register on the wind meter) the wind still measured 1.7 meters per second. This was the second time I've been close to a state hurdle record. A few years ago I helped set the table for Aaron Brandt to set the Class B record by running a 13.8 (handheld) at the Centennial Conference meet. But even if all the conditions are perfect, the athlete still has to step up and run the fastest race in the history of the sport, so a hearty congratulations goes out to Pille. As a former EHC champion hurdler myself, the 110s has always been a special event for me, and it's a beautiful thing to see when someone does it that well.
• One more thing before I wrap up the over-analysis of Tuesday's North Bend Invite. Tiger Stadium has become one of the best places to watch a track meet in the area. With all the sidewalks, trees and shade around the track (thanks to Mr. Feurer's work with the arboretum), it's a very fan-friendly venue. Whether it's the field events or the track races, there's a shady spot to watch the action from.
• The hint: There's no visual hint to this week's "Where in the Bend" challenge, but here's a clue as to where to find this week's mystery object: Think south.
• The tagline under the Eagle flag on the front page of this week's paper reads "Fighting for World Peace without the elbows." That refers to this incident by Metta World Peace last week. And yes, the ironically named World Peace has now been involved in one of the most vicious elbows in recent NBA history, as well as the biggest brawl in NBA history, the infamous Malice at the Palace in 2004. Oh, and if you don't remember that fight and watch that last link, you may think it's all over by the two minute mark. It's not.
March 28, 2012 - Nathan Arneal
Talk about the weather...
I have written before about how mundane and predictable conversations about the weather are, but I also realize there are times when conversations about the weather are compulsory. The past couple of weeks have been a prime example of this. Our March weather has been more suitable June around these parts.
Maybe all this good weather has given the NBC track teams a boost. There were all kinds of outstanding performances at Tuesday's Scotus Relays, the Tigers' first outdoor meet of the year, especially on the girls' side. If things continue to develop, the Tigers could be in for an outstanding spring.
• The hint: At right is the hint to this week's "Where in the Bend?" challenge, a little broader view of the clue printed in the paper. Does it look familiar?
It seems like people are having a good time with the "Where in the Bend?" contest/game/challenge/whatever-you-want-to-call-it. We're glad we could add a bit of spice to your already thrilling lives.
March 21, 2012 - Nathan Arneal
A Dier sponsor...
I'd like to start out today by welcoming a new sponsor to northbendeagle.com, Diers Ford of Fremont. We have an ongoing goal for the Eagle website, and that is not to lose money. We have to pay a monthly fee for our domain name and to get the website hosted, and our online advertisers, including Platte Valley Bank, Landmark Property Rentals, and now Diers Ford, help offset that cost. Northbendeagle.com is not a money maker, especially considering the time that goes into it, but we hope it provides a useful community service.
So we encourage you to click through to our sponsors and tell them you saw their ad on northbendeagle.com. And next time you're in the market for a new vehicle, talk to North Bend native Jason Wehner at Diers Ford.
• The hint: At right is this week's hint in our "Where in the Bend" game for the 1915 clue published in the March 21 issue. We have already had one reader call in with the answer, and he didn't need a hint or to even be in North Bend or Morse Bluff to recognize it. Warren Reznicek, an Eagle subscriber and former North Bender now living in Louisville, called the Eagle office Wednesday afternoon to identify the location of the picture. He got it right, can you?
• This week's tag line below the Eagle's flag on the front page reads "Where we're mad Boston College didn't make the tournament." That's not me talking, that's the screaming Eagle talking. He's a big Boston College fan, for obvious reasons. (If the reason isn't obvious to you, see if this helps you out: his favorite NFL team is Philadelphia.)
March 13, 2012 - Nathan Arneal
Hints and freeze frames...
At right is your hint to this week's "Where in the Bend?" game. For those of you who don't get the print edition... you know it's only $29 a year, right? But getting back to topic, in the paper we print a close-up picture of some outdoor feature from the North Bend-Morse Bluff area and readers are challenged to either recognize or find it. If you need a hint, we'll usually post a larger picture here in the Web Log. The picture at right gives you a little more context as to where to find this week's feature (the image in the paper just shows a close up of the 82.) In next week's paper we'll show you where the picture came from and have a new image to find.
There's no prize or anything, but this week's unofficial winner was Ethan Mullally (I hope I got his first name right). Less than an hour after the paper was out, he stopped in the Eagle office to tell me where he found the 82.
We hope this will be a fun feature for the Eagle. Happy hunting!
• Here's the video from the Class D-2 state championship game that I talked about in my column this week. Keep in mind that Giltner (the team in white) is down by three points with 1.9 seconds left.
Great moment, great play, no doubt. But I think it's pretty clear that the shot did not get off in time. (Here's video of the TV feed). The officials reviewed the video and ruled that there was inconclusive evidence to overturn the original call that the shot was good, so the game headed to overtime, where Giltner won by 11.
The freeze-frame image at the right shows 0.0 on the clock and the red end-of-game light on. The ball is also still in the shooter's hand. I suppose you could argue that you cannot actually see the hand touching the ball in this shot, but any common sense will tell you that it's still in his hands, unless this kid is the first shooter in the history of basketball to make a 3-pointer without using his arms. Try to shoot a 3 without your arm extending above your head. Of course, this is a home video and the game officials did not have this view, but they did have a look at the TV feed and saw the same thing from the opposite direction.
Oh, well. I'm guessing there's not to many people across the state who feel to sorry for Howells missing out on another state championship. But if I was one of those Howells players or coaches, I'd feel pretty sick about this.
• I also talked about the "I believe that we will win" chant in the "From the Banks of the Maple Creek" column this week. It was started, I believe, by the Utah State student body. Observe:
Pretty cool, eh? Unfortunately, everyone is doing it now and it's kind of lost some of its spark. I thought the following chant, again by Utah State, was pretty clever as well. (In case you can't hear it, whoever is leading the cheer starts out by asking a question which the student body answers. ie "Is that not the scoreboard? YES, THAT IS THE SCOREBOARD," etc.)
There must be something about Aggies (Utah State and Texas A&M) and organized cheers.
March 7, 2012 - Nathan Arneal
Through these gates...
I thought the video below was pretty cool. The filmmaker looks at what Nebraska football means to its fans and the state. The first bit the filmmaker makes an appeal for funding, and for some reason he does this while standing in a ditch, but the main part of the video, titled "Through these gates..." follows.
March 2, 2012 - Nathan Arneal
Huskers hire new coach...
The Nebraska football team announced the addition of a new defensive backs coach in Terry Joseph today (a cousin of Mickey Joseph). He comes to Nebraska after having served as a DB coach and recruiting coordinator at Tennessee. The Eagle has a great scoop for our Web Log readers with an exclusive interview with coach Joseph where he explains why he left Tennessee:
March 2, 2012 - Nathan Arneal
Welcome back to the ballpark...
I am forcing myself to be a Husker baseball fan this spring. Actually, I am always a Husker baseball fan, but it usually takes a while before I get into the season. It takes a while to get to know the players and I usually wait until conference season to really start following the team. And with the last couple of dismal seasons, it's been tough to get into it no matter what point of the season it is.
This year, with the excitement brought by Darin Erstad as coach, I've made an effort to start following the team right out of the gate. I've listened to at least part of all eight games on the radio so far. The thing is, I like baseball, but I'm a fair weather fan. I can't just turn on a random game and be interested. I have to have a rooting interest. I used to be an avid Royals fan until the strike of '94 and the decision by the Royals to no longer compete. If they weren't going to try, why should I? Shortly after I gave up on the Royals, Husker baseball became relative. So that's where I get my baseball fix nowadays. Here's a little something to pump you up:
• With the winter sports season now complete at NBC, I have started to work on the highlight DVD for the winter sports banquet. I really like the songs I'm using. They fit right in with a highlight video. One of the songs I picked out about five years ago and I've been saving it for this year. It's always a little bit tougher to do the winter video compared to the fall DVD because you're working with just two sports compared to four fall sports, so the variety of highlights isn't as great. Though I really like a couple of the video clips I got this year...
• I thought this was pretty good. Papillion-Lavista South opened ten years ago, when the movie Remember the Titans was out (Great movie by the way). Like many other new schools at the time, they were inspired by the flick to pick the Titans as their mascot. In fact, PLVS freshman watch the movie every year and write an essay on it.
For the tenth anniversary of the school, they want Denzel Washington, star of the Titans movie, to visit. Here's the video they made to invite/entice him:
• I finally started a separate twitter account for myself, which you can see on the right column of this page. The North Bend Eagle (@northbendeagle) twitter account has been a great success. It's the best way to follow the Tigers with live updates from NBC sporting events and other breaking North Bend news. Because of the sports updates, I know a lot of people get the twitter updates texted directly to their phone. But some times I have comments that just need to be made, but aren't important or appropriate enough to put on the Eagle feed and have texted directly to phones of Eagle followers. So that's what led to the separate account @njarneal, where I'll post thoughts and observations that maybe couldn't get through the censors and all the bureaucratic red tape that it takes to get something posted at @northbendeagle.
Feb. 29, 2012 - Nathan Arneal
Ramblin' on in February...
Happy New Year! We're only two months into the year. That's still pretty new, right? There's a variety of things we need to hit up Web Log style...
• First off all, let me say something about the term "web log." As you may have surmised, popluar culture long ago shortened the phrase into the much more common term "blog." I am fully aware of this, and it's actuall the inspiration of the name "Eagle Web Log." It's supposed to be ironic. Intentionally square, if you will. Last year one of the judges in the Nebraska Press Association's annual contest wrote, "It's strange to still be using the phrase 'web log' in 2011," when critiquing the Eagle's website. Well no kidding, Mr. Judge. That's why it was chosen.
• The NBC winter sports season has now come to a close, and with it the incredible high school basketball career of Kale Wietfeld. The 6-3 guard was no doubt one of the most explosive players in North Bend history. He ends his career holding nearly every NBC scoring record, though he never did get the single game mark of 41 that I mentioned in the last EWL entry (his game-high this season was 37). Often times coaches shy away from heaping praise on an individual to much in fear of overshadowing the rest of the team, but Wietfeld's historic career and play deserves some individual attention.
In the future, when discussing North Bend's best players of all-time, I will recall Wietfeld's sublime 18-point third quarter against Fort Calhoun on Feb. 9. I was taking photos when I realized something special was happening before my eyes, so I put the camera down and shot some video to capture the moment. Wietfeld was truly in the zone, draining deep 3s (four of them in the quarter) and slicing through the Pioneer defense for acrobatic layups. It was fun to witness.
Kale finished his career as the all-time leading scorer in North Bend history with 1,471 points, topping Mike Settles' old record by more than 300 points.
• The girls basketball team also had quite a finish to its season. Entering this weekend's state tournament, Norfolk Lutheran Northeast is the No. 1 ranked team and the top seed, but the Eagles needed overtime to get past North Bend in the subdistrict final. The Tigers were holding the ball with the lead and a minute and a half left, but an NBC turnover gave Lutheran a chance and sent the game into overtime. In the district final, Lutheran beat Pender (a team that beat NBC twice during the regular season) to advance to the state tournament.
It was simply an outstanding effort by the girls in black and orange. Lutheran had North Bend completely outsized, including a 6-2 post, but the Tigers played great post defense, rarely allowing Lutheran to get the ball inside. When the Eagles tried to lob the ball in, it was either stolen or swatted away by the Tiger D. At one point, the Lutheran coach was yelling at his girls to no longer even try to throw lob passes inside. When you can take away the bread and butter of the No. 1 team in the state, you are doing something right.
Unfortunately, the only part of the Tigers' game that wasn't clicking was the free throw shooting, where NBC shot 3-of-13 in the first half, including misses on its first seven attempts. A three-point lead at the half could have been nearly insurmountable had the Tigers made just 50 percent of their free throws.
All in all, it was a grand effort by the Tigers girls in a game where no one gave them a chance.
• I know certain products often like to use French to make themselves seemed more sophisticated, especially beauty products. But when you call something that is supposed to go in your hair "douche," do you really think that is helping sell your product to American consumers?
Nov. 30, 2011 - Nathan Arneal
Tiger basketball teams start off on right foot...
The NBC basketball teams got the 2011-2012 season off to a strong start Monday [Nov. 28] with a pair of exhibition wins over Howells.
The boys 72-68 win was particularly impressive considering Howells won this game by about 40 last year. Kale Wietfeld led the way with an remarkable 44 points- which would be a school record had it been a regular game. Even thought he record still stands officially, something tells me that the school record of 41 points (set by now assistant coach Bob Hartman in 1981) might not last the season. Of course, the Howells boys entered the game with exactly three practices under their belt since less than a week earlier the Bobcats were playing in the state football championship. Their first practice was the day after Thanksgiving- four days before they played NBC.
Could the Tigers be poised for a break out year? Possibly. But coach Fred Ladehoff better have something ready to go to counter the array of junk defenses NBC is going to get thrown at them. I wouldn't be suprised to see some opponent run a triangle-and-two, with the two both chasing Wietfeld.
The NBC girls 40-36 win over Howells was equally impressive considering Howells was is the reigning Class D-1 state champion with most everyone back. The Bobcats are also ranked No. 1 in the Omaha World-Herald's preseason rankings published today.
Speaking of preseason ratings, the Tiger girls debuted at No. 6 in Class C-2. A nice placement, but that still puts them no higher than fourth in their district. If the Tigers want to get to state, they will have to fight their way through No. 1 Homer (the defending state champion and team that knocked NBC out of districts last year), No. 2 Norfolk Lutheran, and No. 4 Pender. All three of those teams have an overabundance of 6-footers and will post a tall task for a diminuative North Bend team (all puns intended).
Also on the schedule for the Tiger girls are No. 3 Aquinas, whom NBC should see in the holdiay tournuament, and Class C-1 No. 3 Wahoo. Or course, the Tigers will also likely see Pender twice during the regular season.
North Bend has a talented, experienced, senior-laden group, but if they want to reach their goals this season, they are going to have to bring their A-game every single night.
Nov. 8, 2011 - Nathan Arneal
The 2011 Husker football team has been a tough one to figure out. Just when it looked like they had turned the corner with a big win against Michigan State, causing Lee Barfknecht of the Omaha World-Herald to put Nebraska atop his Big Ten ratings, we fall on our face against Northwestern. This week Lee rated us in the middle of the Big Ten pack at fifth, behind both Ohio State and Michigan State, teams we've beaten in the last month.
We looked darn good in the Michigan State game, which made us forget something about this Husker team: it isn't very good. We are a deeply flawed team, especially on the defensive side of the ball. We cannot stop the run - at all - a fact Northwestern reminded us in the second half of last Saturday's game. Before the game I was chatting with a parent of a Northwestern player and I told him that we couldn't stop the run. He told me not to worry, since the Wildcats couldn't run the ball anyway. Well, they sure could against our defense.
Entering the year, many people had Nebraska losing three or four games this year. Then a valiant comeback against Ohio State and an outstanding effort against Michigan State made us start to think that maybe the Huskers were a little better than that.
Now, it seems that the Michigan State game is the fluke here, not the Northwestern game. Anyone who has tried has been able to go right through our defense for 5 or 6 yards a carry. That goes back to last year as well, but luckily for us few teams in the Big 12 were interested in trying to sustain a running game against us. In fact, we haven't been able to consistenly stop the run since 2009, when we had an all-universe defensive tackle.
For some reason, after breaking runs of 6, 8 and 11 yards on the first three plays of the game, the Spartans went away from the run. Equally confusing, when they tried to throw the ball they kept going after our All-American cornerback, and Alfonso Dennard was up to the task. For the most part, Northwestern stayed away form Dennard and instead picked on Ciante Evans and Lance Thorell, who were constantly chasing several steps behind receivers on crossing routes.
So to me, the Northwestern game was a hard jerk back to reality. Should we have lost to that team? No. Obviously the emotion was not there and two turnovers in the red zone killed us. But I think the real 2011 Husker team is a lot closer to what we saw against Northwestern rather than the one we saw against MSU.
But it could be worse, right? We could be Penn State.
Oct. 26, 2011 - Nathan Arneal
The case of the missing card...
It finally happened. I drove up to Stanton Thursday for the volleyball triangular and when I got there I discovered I didn't have a memory card for my camera. Therefore, no pictures were taken that night. I did try to borrow a card from a couple of mothers, but their cards were not compatable with my camera. So when you see the pictures with the volleyball story this week, they won't be from the Stanton triangular. This will be our little secret. Actually, I never try to pass off pictures as something they're not. If I pubish an old sports picture with a story, I will aways say it's from an early game. I don't want to try to trick you and have someone look closely and figure out the picture is not from the game I say it is.
The last time this happend was at the girls basketball district final a few years back between NBC and Fort Calhoun. Nothing like not being prepared for the biggest game of the year, right? Luckily I noticed during warmups and since the game was at Midland College in Fremont, I was able to dash to Wal-Mart and get a card before the game started.
The tag line: The last two week's tag lines go together. Oct. 19 said "Looking good, Billy Ray!" and Oct. 26 said "Feeling good, Louis!" These are quotes from a movie. Do you know which one? I'll post the answer in a couple of days.
A couple of videos to share: The following is from jest.com about NBA players trying to fend for themselves during the NBA lockout. It co-stars Morse Bluff's own Joie Bauer (hint: he's the white guy).
In this linked video a member of the British Parliment is speaking about the (then) upcoming game between the Tampa Bay Bucs and Chicago Bears before their Oct. 23 game in London. At about 1:10 in, he starts to talk about how his love for American Football began. Not to spoil it, but his reason is the reason I am posting this. (I can't tell for sure on the video, but is that a familiar lapel pin he's wearing?)
Sept. 27, 2011 - Nathan Arneal
This next week (Oct. 5) will be the annual vacation Eagle. This means our usual coverage of things will be curtailed, mainly because I will be out of town.
Tomorrow morning I will be heading in the general direction of Madison, Wisconsin, for Saturday's big match up with the Badgers. Last Saturday, while watching Wyoming march through our defense, I was convinced Wisconsin was going to beat us like a rented mule. I've come around a bit to a very cautious hopefulness. My only reason for optimism is that Wisconsin has played a very weak schedule, far weaker than ours. Perhaps they aren't as good as we all think they are. I just keep telling myself I'm going up there to enjoy the atmosphere and have a good time- if the Huskers do pull off the upset (we're 10-point underdogs as I write this) then that's just gravy. Right now, I just fear we're horrible overrated.
I do have a sneaking suspicion that whoever wins this one will have the upper hand in a possible rematch in the conference championship game though... unless they're just that much better than us and it doesn't matter. If you can't tell, I'm pretty down on the Huskers. But maybe Bo and Carl can pull off a miracle with our defense this week...
• Lady Gaga doesn't have a prominent place on my iPod, but her latest song, "You and I" has grown on me. It helps the the video, below, was filmed in Nebraska, south of Omaha. Nebraska is also a common theme throughout the song. Apparently Lady Gaga's boyfriend is from here. If you're not familiar with Gaga's work, she's weird. Prepare for weirdness (a mermaid in a barn?). I can't begin to explain what this video means, but it does have some cool shots of a Nebraska landscape we are very familiar with around here. Enjoy, and I'll talk to you next week.
Sept. 22, 2011 - Nathan Arneal
This and that...
A few random ramblings as I look for my ruffled shirt for the Homecoming dance:
• It's Homecoming weekend at North Bend, featuring a big football game between Lakeview and North Bend Friday night. You also have the cross country team making its only home appearance of the year this afternoon (Thursday), along with a home softball doubleheader against Aquinas. The volleyball team isn't at home this week (and won't be until Oct. 4), but will be playing at the David City Invite Saturday.
In case you missed my earlier tweet, the NBC Homecoming royalty candidates are: Jared Kreikemeier, Sam Lowe, Tate Emanuel, Zach Swanson, Braden McCurdy; Amy Baumert, Alyssa Brabec, Mallory Hull, McKenzie Hartman and Clarissa Hall.
• Speaking of tweets, my report of the final score to last night's final softball game was the Eagle's 1,500th tweet. If you're not following the Eagle twitter feed, it's time you get with the times. If you're not familiar with twitter, here is some more information about what it is and what you can do with it.
• If you've been trying to follow the college conference realignment process, your head is probably spinning right now. One of the best places I've found to make sense of it and keep up with the latest scenarios is a blog called Frank the Tank's Slant. It's good reading if you're a college football fan. Says Frank on the latest development of the Pac-12's claim it's not going to expand right now: "While the Big 12 isn’t safe in a warm and fuzzy family way, it looks like it’s safe in a maximum security prison way. No one’s getting out of there even if they want to very badly."
• I'm working for a column this week about things I'm done with. I'm talking about things that have served their purpose and now they're just annoying and it's time they just fade away. One thing that will make my list is Flo from the Progressive Insurance ads. She was mildly entertaining for a while, but her shtick has worn thin now. What are you done with? Have any suggestions? Send them along to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me at @northbendeagle. (Is it redundant to say "at @"?)
• The tag line: I had help writing this week's tag line under the main front page Eagle flag, the help of about a three or four flies that kept flitting about and driving me nearly nuts. It's that time of year when the office fills with flies because it's so nice out that we can't stand to have our door closed, but the open door invites a lot of uninvited guests (by which I mean the flies).
• Ever since I wrote the title to this post, "This or that," that song from those Kia commercials has been running through my mind: "Now you can get with this, or you can get with that." Did you know that song, titled "The Choice is Yours," was released by the group Black Sheep in 1991 (not to be confused with Blackstreet, which I did initially- no diggity)? It's probably getting more air time on the Kia commercials that it did originally.
• Is Ndomakong Suh a villain? A very good article by ESPN about "Detroit's New Bad Boy" examines his affect on the resurgent Lions and the NFL. The former Blackshirt (not to be confused with Blackstreet) is becoming an NFL phenom, if he wasn't already. The article also talks about Suh spending time in Lincoln training with the Cornhuskers during the NFL lockout and why he chose Nebraska. It's well worth a read.
• No, I am not going to the homecoming dance, and no, I don't now or have I ever owned a ruffled shirt. Those were a hot a little before my time.
Sept. 18, 2011 - Nathan Arneal
Husker notebook vs. Washington
I never like it when someone asks me to predict the score of a Husker football game. I just don't know what's going to happen, and the fun of it is watching the games to see what does happen. It's better to ask me what I think after the game (I'm usually better at predicting the score after the game too...)
Except for this week. I don't know what to think about this Nebraska team. After the first couple of weeks I had come to accept that were weren't going to be very good on offense because we were simply too young on the line. You don't win big games with sophomores and freshmen up front. At least we have our defense to carry us through and keep us competitive.
Or so I thought. During yesterday's game against Washington, I came to the realization that our defense isn't any good. So far, both Washington and Fresno State have put up season-high offensive totals against us. Fresno, who piled up 444 yards against Nebraska, managed just 323 against North Dakota this week. In their opener, they squeaked out 210 against Cal. Same with the Huskies. Washington had only 250 total yards against Eastern Washington, then 388 against Hawaii. The sprung for 420 against the Blackshirts. I never thought I'd see a Pelini defense so porous.
But then suddenly and unexpectedly, our offense starts looking like a juggernaut. Our O-line was making holes. We were pounding away for 4 to 6 yards a crack. We had actual drives, not just two no-gainers followed by a 65-yard touchdown play.
So I don't know how good (or bad) this team is. The one thing I am certain of, is that we are not the ninth best team in the country.
I was pretty discouraged about our chances for the rest of the season Saturday night. Last week I began to tell myself that I am going up to Wisconsin to enjoy the experience, and that I shouldn't let a Husker loss ruin the trip. Now I'm just hoping we don't get blown out by the Badgers.
But then Sunday, I was surprised to read the rather upbeat and hopeful tone in World-Herald columns by Tom Shatel and Dirk Chatelain. The Journal-Star's Steve Sipple was also waxing ecstatic about our newfound potency on offense. So maybe I was being a little too negative, I thought. Maybe our defense will come around. Maybe Andrew Green won't always look like Bambi on ice when covering a flag pattern.
Most people attributed the fourth quarter to a team letting its foot off the gas pedal after building a 37-17 lead. I just saw a defense getting torched repeatedly. Let's hope we get some things figured out before our Oct. 1 date in Madison.
• Did you notice some differences in Taylor Martinez's running of the option? If you will recall my Sept. 4 Web Log, I talked about several things Martinez and offensive coordinator Tim Beck could do to get better timing on the option. Namely, incorporate a reverse pivot or a drop step delay to let his fullback and/or pitch back get out in front of him. Martinez did both Saturday. Clearly, Beck is a loyal Web Log reader.
• There was a lot of purple in town. I even stopped into the Haymarket bar where the Washington alumni association was hosting a pregame party. There I had some fun, friendly conversations with a lot of purple-clad folk. While looking at the light mist falling, I made the comment that I hoped it didn't rain too much during the game. One Huskie fan retorted, "Rain? This isn't rain." Right, I reminded myself, these people are from Seattle.
Sept. 14, 2011 - Nathan Arneal
Cringing at mistakes...
I know mistakes happen in any publication, but it burns me up when typos or other mistakes make their way into the Eagle. If you ever see one... keep it to yourself. Pointing it out to me will just anger me (at myself for not catching it, not at you for pointing it out). While I hate mistakes, I'd rather not know about them because by the time they're in the paper, there's nothing that can be done if fix it. If you really want to do some good by pointing out mistakes, show up at the Eagle office around 8 p.m. on Monday and you can help proof. Of course, if the mistake is important, such as a wrong telephone number or a relevant factual error, please let us know so we can issue a correction. But if it's just a typo such as transposed letters or a meaningless misspelling, there's nothing it can do but ruin my day.
Some little typos are bound to slip through. It's the major mistakes, especially in headlines, that get to me. This week I found two of them. One I'm not going to mention. After all, if you didn't notice it on your own, why go out of the way to point out our flaws to you? The other is the headline of the Eagle Football Challenge, which is the same as last week. I didn't change it when I changed the rest of the contest content. Sometimes you get so caught up in proofing the minor stuff that you miss the major screw ups staring you in the face. And of course, by "you" I mean "me."
The tag line: I'm going to try to make this a running feature of the Eagle Web Log. Each week there is a little tag line under the main Eagle flag at the top of page one, a little saying that changes week to week. Sometimes the meaning of the saying is more obvious than other times. So as a bonus to our Web Log readers, I'll try to explain the meaning behind the tag line each week, if possible, just in case you didn't get it. This week's "We're a big play newspaper" is a reference to the Nebraska Husker offense, which struggles to scrape out a first down against I-AA opponents, but is good for a few 60+ yard touchdowns per game. So far, anyway.
Coming up: Two North Bend churches have recently selected new pastors: the Presbyterians and Lutherans. Interestingly enough, both have decided to hire their interim pastors on a permanent basis. In next week's paper (Sept. 21) we'll profile Rev. Calvin L'Heureux, the "new" Lutheran minister, who was officially installed this past Sunday (Sept. 11). We'll also profile the Presbyterians' Rev. Neal Allen sometime down the line, probably around the time he is officially installed.
Sept. 8, 2011 - Nathan Arneal
Behind the Big 12 music...
Speaking of the Big 12 imploding, here's a funny piece about the Big 12 done in the style of a VH1 Behind the Music interview. There's some harsh language, but it's a pretty good depiction of the life and times of the band of misfits known as the Big 12.
Sept. 7, 2011 - Nathan Arneal
Exploring super conferences, or When getting bigger means getting smaller...
With the implosion of the Big 12 looking more and more possible, there's been plenty of talk out there about where this all ends. Many speculate that when the dust settles, we'll be left with four 16-team "super" conferences. If that indeed comes to pass, it will be really interesting to see how this would work for football scheduling.
For one thing, going bigger would really mean going smaller. A 16-team conference would in reality be more like going back to 8-team conferences. I don't know how the Big Ten would handle this. A team would play seven games within its division. I'm guessing you'd still have one permanent cross over game (for no other reason that to protect the holy Michigan-Ohio State game) then the ninth game would be a floating crossover game against the other division. That means you would play certain teams in your own conference no more than once every seven years... and at home once every 14 years. And to think some Big Ten teams complained about taking two-year breaks in one of their 27 "rivalry" games.
So really, the only teams that matter are the teams in your division.... which is why I say 16-team conferences are really more like 8-team conferences.
Of course there are other ways to go about this. The Big Ten could realign the divisions so Michigan and Ohio State are in the same division and float both non-division games.
Or, as has been discussed in other places, you go with four pods of four teams instead of two divisions. This would leave room for six floating games, allowing the possibility of playing every team in the conference every two years (or twice in a four-year span). You'd play the other three teams in your pod and two teams in each of the other three pods. But then how do you pick the two teams who play in the conference title game? I'm assuming the NCAA doesn't allow for conference semi-final games.
I hope one of the solutions is not to go to a 10-game (or more) conference schedule. Heck, I'd rather stay at 8 than go to the 9-game model. I like the variety of playing different teams from around the nation.
Super conferences would be very hard to work out when it comes to football scheduling. That's why I think the 12-team model is actually the best for conference play. In fact, (and I know this is a phrase rarely uttered) I like how the Big 12 did it, you know, back when it actually had 12 teams. You play all the teams in your division (five games) and half of the other teams in the other division (three more games) for a total of eight conference games. The only thing I would change from the Big 12 model is that I'd switch the non-divisional games every year, so you never go more than a year without playing any one team in your conference (in the Big 12, you went two years without playing non-divisional foes).
As you can see, there's a lot to work out and a lot of tough decisions to be made, which is one reason we may not see 16-team conferences any time soon.
Sept. 4, 2011 - Nathan Arneal
For everyone who was predicting that Nebraska's new offense under Tim Beck would look like 2007 Kansas, where Beck was the passing-game coordinator for a 12-1 Orange Bowl team, I guess you can throw that theory out the window. The 2011 Huskers looked a lot more like 1987 Nebraska than 2007 Kansas. We saw a lot of I-formation. We saw a lot of option. I'm sure a lot of Husker purists and traditionalists were loving it.
The problem is that we are really bad at the option right now. As a former quarterback coach who specialized in the option, I saw us doing some things Saturday that I wouldn't allow from a high school JV quarterback. One of the primary things I noticed was quarterback Taylor Martinez trying to stretch the option too wide. You always coach an option quarterback to attack the inside shoulder of the read man. In the illustrations at right, 'X' is the read man, the man left unblocked who will be, in this case, the pitch key. In Figure 1, the quarterback attacks the inside shoulder of the read man. The read man has to make a decision. Does he pinch down on the quarterback, or does he float out with the pitch man (in this example, the I-back)?
If the quarterback reads that the read man (X) is pinching down to tackle him, he pitches the ball to the I-back. The quarterback's job is to make sure defender X is now out of the play. The quarterback must make X commit to tackling the QB. If the QB pitches too soon, it allows the read man to still make a play on the pitch man. When the read man dictates a pitch, quarterbacks are coached to break down, step toward the pitch man as the pitch is made, and to fade toward the pitch man to soften the blow of the defender. Breaking down is important not only for the accuracy of the pitch, but if you run into the defender at full speed, it's going to hurt. I always told my quarterbacks that if the didn't get hit after pitching the ball, then they didn't do their job. If the defender hits the quarterback, then it is too late for him to make a play on the pitch man. Of course, if the read man floats wide, the quarterback keeps the ball and cuts up the field.
If the defender who forced the quarterback to pitch the ball then makes the tackle on the pitch man, that is a sign of a poorly executed option. Unfortunately, that's what I saw several times Saturday. The problem is, Martinez would not attack the inside shoulder of the read man. Instead, he would stretch the play out by going too wide (as in Fig. 2). This allows the read man to not only pressure the quarterback into making the pitch, but it lets him naturally proceed to make a play on the pitch man since he is already running in that direction. This is allowing one defender to defend two offensive players, which ruins the numbers advantage you are trying to create with an option play.
Of course, another factor in a good option play is your offensive line. If the quarterback is forced to bow away from the line of scrimmage because the offensive line isn't getting a push, it makes it harder for the QB to take a good angle on his read man. There is a very good chance this played some role in Saturday's lackluster option game, because our line was unable to do much against the small Div. I-AA line it was playing against. Not a good sign.
There are a few people still bouncing around the north stadium offices that have more knowledge of option football in their national-championship-ring-bearing finger that I have in my whole body, so there's a good chance much of these problems can be ironed out. Plus, now they have some good game film to emphasize to players what needs to be done and why it needs to be done.
A few other notes and observations from Saturday's season opener:
• How about Brett Maher? It looks like Nebraska's Class A pole vault record holder can kick a little too. Seeing him nail field goals of 50 and 48 yards, plus his booming punts and kickoffs, was a great relief for Big Red fans going through Alex Henery withdrawal.
• Man, do I love me some Damion Stafford.
• In my opinion the player that we miss the most from last year is DeJon Gomes. Time after time Saturday UTC receivers were running open on short crossing routes with Justin Blachford three steps behind them. Gomes lived on snuffing out these crossing routes. Right now, that appears to be the weak spot on our defense (along with covering backs in the flats). Blachford doesn't look like he is capable in filling Gomes' nickleback shoes. Hopefully, Ciante Evans or Andrew Green gets moved into that spot once Alfonzo Dennard returns. Or maybe one of the safeties like the aforementioned Damion Stafford.
• Another problem with the sprint option we tried to run: Martinez is just too darned fast. Of course, that's a good problem to have, but his fullback, who is supposed to be a lead blocker on a sprint option (where there's no dive fake), couldn't get out in front of him. Watch Martinez's long sprint option for a touchdown down the left sideline (where Burkhead went the wrong way). The fullback is trailing Martinez from the very snap. Either we will have to offset the fullback to playside, send him in a shuffle motion just before the snap, or most likely, Martinez will have to take a longer delay before he starts sprinting. Watch Tommie Fraizer run the sprint option. Upon taking the snap, he would pivot and pause a brief second before starting down the line. This allows the fullback to get out in front and the I-back to get in proper pitch relationship. Another alternative, which we used with Tommie and others as well, is to have the quarterback reverse pivot after getting the snap.
• I watched the game on DVR when I got home. I was not impressed at all with the Big Ten Network's production of the game. I think Kevin Kugler did a great job announcing, but the camera work was terrible. On may plays the camera is zoomed out way too much. I was trying to watch replays of some of the line play, and you couldn't really see what was going on because we were so far away. Plus, the camera work was often shaky and lost track of the ball. It was like the BTN hired college interns to do its camera work. It sure didn't look very professional. And as for Ahman Green's sideline reporting: man, he was a great running back.
• Nebraska fans are always on the lookout for the next name to howl along the lines of "Suuuuuuuuuhhhh" and "Ruuuuuuuuuudd." I nominate "Cooooooooooooooooop" for Corey Cooper. I was hoping it would get its start when the redshirt freshman made a big tackle on the 3-yard line on kickoff coverage. We'll have to work on that.
• And finally, just get Jamal Turner the damn ball!
Sept. 1, 2011 - Nathan Arneal
Tiger netters get rated...
The North Bend Central volleyball team showed up in the Omaha World-Herald's preseason ratings published today, and if the ratings hold true throughout the season, there could be a very interesting - and tough - postseason ahead.
The Tigers start the year at No. 9 in Class C-2. Flanking NBC in the rankings are a pair of sub-district foes in Yutan, ranked 8th, and Bergan, ranked No. 10. Whoever comes out of that sub may have to face another rated foe as No. 6 Shelby/Rising City sits on the other side of the district. To summarize, that four rated teams in North Bend's district. That figure doesn't even include David City Aquinas, who also sits on the other side of the district along with Shelby. The Monarchs aren't rated, but they have a pair of 6-foot hitters that are bound to give any team fits.
North Bend could face Bergan as early as this Saturday in the Northeast Nebraska Classic. Also participating in that tournament is the top-ranked team in C-2, Norfolk Lutheran, as well as West Point CC, ranked No. 4 in Class D-1.
Other ranked teams of interest to North Bend include EHC rival Wisner-Pilger, who checks in at No. 9 in Class C-1. Columbus Scotus, who will be visiting town for the North Bend Invite Sept. 10, is No. 3 in C-1. That probably the lowest ranking the Shamrocks have brought into North Bend in quite some time. Another rated local team, though not one that NBC plays, is Dodge, who is ranked No. 2 in Class D-2.
August 31, 2011 - Nathan Arneal
Oh, you silly Wildcats...
I have some cousins that attended Kansas State. On occasion we trade some good-natured ribbing regarding allegiances to our former Big 12 North alma maters. Last time one of my cousins and some of his friends came up for a game in Lincoln, the best they could muster was making fun of Lil' Red. He is a silly blow-up doll of a mascot they claimed, while forcing themselves to laugh a little too hard. Honestly, they could not have said anything that could have offended me less. First of all, Lil' Red isn't our main mascot. He was invented to entertain kids, and he does that quite well. Plus, the blow-up mascot is pretty common. I've seen them at high schools.
But seriously, K-State fans making fun of Nebraska's athletic department promotions is like throwing stones when you live in a house made of bubbles. That's right, it's not even made of anything as strong as glass. Their house is made of bubbles. I say this because no university in the land comes up with as many bad ideas as Kansas State.
Their latest is "Ecokat," pictured at the right. I am not making this up. Someone at Kansas State thought this would be a good idea to promote recycling (her costume is made up of 90 percent "repurposed" materials, by the way) and green living. Some administrator thought this was just the thing to spur college kids into giving a hoot and not polluting.
This isn't the first tragically bad idea Kansas State has come up with. No they are old hats at being national punch lines. Remember this little gem? (And yes, the cutting edge graphics and production was done in 2007, not in 1982).
This was actually produced and approved by the KSU athletic department, not a gag video made my a Kansas fan. I can't wait till they see what they come up with next.
August 26, 2011 - Nathan Arneal
The beginning of the end for ESPN?
The summer hiatus for the Eagle Web Log is over. One of the issues I've been thinking about over the past few months is my slowly growing dislike of ESPN. This was probably brough on by ESPN's $300 million investment in the Longhorn Network. Not just because I pull an eye muscle rolling my eyes everytime I heard something about Texas, but because it really makes me question how ESPN can portray itself as an objective reporter of sports news when it is so financially tied to well being of specific schools, such as Texas.
If Texas is involved in a Miami-style NCAA crime spree, do you think ESPN would give the story the coverage it deserves? When providing commentary on who the best teams on an episode of College Football Live or College Gameday, do you think ESPN might give a little more attention to the Longhorns than their on-field performance deserves, knowing that the more interest there is in Texas, the better chance the network can recoup its investment in the LHN?
I am pondering a future Banks column on my growing distrust of the "Worldwide Leader."
In the meantime, here's an interesting take claiming that the decline of ESPN's influence in the sports world has already begun. I disagreed with some of it- perhaps you'll still be able to see my comment below the story- but I agree and hope that ESPN's monopoly will soon be ending.
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