It was the knee-jerk speculation as soon as Trev Alberts took the UNO job. It was the conspiracy theory that Alberts critics espoused when UNO dropped football and wrestling over a year ago.
And, right on cue, Alberts’ name popped up last week when Tom Osborne announced he was leaving the A.D.’s chair at NU on Jan. 1.
Nebraska Athletic Director Trev Alberts? The timing would be awkward.
Alberts has put his stamp all over UNO athletics since he arrived. He’s not afraid of heavy lifting. Not afraid of big decisions. He’s changed the profile and landscape of UNO sports in Omaha.
But his job isn’t done. UNO is only one year into its move into Division I. The hockey team is changing conferences in 2013. The basketball team moves to a new venue this year.
And there’s this little issue called a hockey arena, which is expected to be finalized and announced in the next six to 12 months. If Alberts left now, leaving UNO with a job search, it could jeopardize that project.
Alberts said via email that he preferred not to comment. He’s consistently said he didn’t take the UNO job to move to Lincoln. Alberts has made himself a terrific A.D. But there’s still work to do at UNO.
>> I hear some Husker fans say Chancellor Harvey Perlman needs to hire a “Nebraska guy” to fit the Husker culture. What is that culture? It’s treating people with respect, treating Nebraska traditions with respect, emphasizing hard work and good coaching and development and less emphasis on frills. But those things are not exclusive to a Nebraska alum or official. NU needs the most qualified athletic director. If it’s an in-house candidate or former Husker, great. Perlman owes it to the school to look outside for candidates who have been there, done that at the big-boy level. Someone with experience in the Big Ten wouldn’t be a bad idea, either.
>> The forecast for Feb. 9 calls for light wallets. That’s the day of the outdoor hockey doubleheader at TD Ameritrade Park featuring the Omaha Lancers and Lincoln Stars and UNO vs. North Dakota. The best seats among the 23,000 being sold are going for $50 to $80. That will be a mid-winter jolt for Lancer fans used to paying between $16 and $19 for a single ticket and Mav hockey fans who pay $17 to $22. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more than 20,000 fans, though. This is a big-event town. Most fans will pay to say they were there. For those prices, and the location away from the rink, I just hope they hand out free hot cocoa. Don’t count on it.
>> I’m not surprised by much anymore, but I was last week by the news that the WCHA media picked UNO to finish eighth. Really? I know UNO lost scorers Terry Broadhurst and Jayson Megna to the NHL, not to mention high-profile freshman Alex Broadhurst. But a Dean Blais team picked eighth? I’m expecting more at this point in Blais’ tenure here. Maybe it’s a good sign, though. UNO was picked ninth by the media a couple years ago in its first WCHA season and the Mavs finished third.
>> The Bo Pelini returns to Ohio State storyline isn’t going to get much run this week. Not that the media didn’t try to pry some emotion out of Coach Bo on Monday. It was no dice. Pelini loves his alma mater. But he is not a sentimentalist nor a story-teller. Neither were the men who recruited (Earle Bruce) and coached (John Cooper) him there, not to mention the coach before them. Guy named Woody.
>> The Ryder Cup is one of the few sporting events that delivers every time. What happened Sunday was the best TV I’ve seen this year. Don’t tell me golf will be in bad shape when Tiger Woods is gone. The USA’s young guns didn’t close, but they captured the imagination all weekend. They were the show while Tiger was an afterthought. The future of the U.S. Ryder Cup team is bright, too. Need to get Hunter Mahan and Rickie Fowler back on there. Can’t wait for next year’s PGA Tour to start.
>> Doug McDermott recently told ESPN.com that he spent a good chunk of the summer working on his ball-handling and 3-point shooting. I wouldn’t read into that that McDermott’s role is going to change this year. But if he’s able to pull other big men out on the perimeter with him, that can’t hurt. Those are also skills he’ll need at the NBA level. Whenever that comes.
>> Interesting to hear P.J. Smith on Monday say the Huskers’ defense had some issues locating Wisconsin offensive personnel on Saturday night because they couldn’t find the numbers on Wisconsin’s alternate uniforms. Assuming the Badgers had the same problem, that might be a reason to wear those Nebraska uniforms again in a big game. That would be the only reason. I still like the black helmets, though.
>> Give me Braves over Cards in the National League wild card game, then Braves over Nationals and Giants over Reds in the playoffs, with the Giants representing the NL in the World Series. In the AL, I’ll take the Yankees or Orioles over the A’s in the wild card, then Rangers over Orioles and Tigers over Yankees, and Detroit in the World Series. Then, Giants over Tigers in six. As a Dodger fan, that’s extremely hard to type. I need to go wash my hands.
>> Shout Out: To Rex Burkhead, and Team Jack, for their support Saturday night in the fight against pediatric brain cancer. Burkhead gets special props for walking Jack Hoffman, his 7-year-old bud who is fighting brain cancer, through the Tunnel Walk and lifting Jack up to touch the horseshoe. Well done, Sir Rex.
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