Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Bay Area Huskers E-News 12/28/11

Happy New Year Bay Area Husker Fans!

Hope this finds you enjoying the holidays!  Its been a pretty eerie December in the Bay Area without any rain or even cold cloudy days.  Don’t get me wrong…I love the sunny 60 degree days, but lets hope the rainy season shows up soon or we’ll all be rationing water next summer.

As you are all probably aware, Carl Pelini, left for a head coaching position and Bo has selected John Papuchis as his replacement as Defensive Coordinator (see info below).  The Huskers seem to be enjoying their time in Orlando as they prep for the Capital Bowl next Monday.  The way the press is talking the SC Gamecocks are 20 feet high, are made of steel and spit nails…so Pelini has his work cut out for him keeping our players focused on the game, and we hope they play the way they did against Michigan State and Iowa.  Go Huskers!

The Husker Round Ball team stubbed their toe last night in their conference opener against Wisconsin, but they have had a good pre-conference season, so keep your fingers crossed that they have better success as the season continues.  Lots of other stuff below about post-season awards, academic success and graduations.  Makes you proud to be a Husker fan when these athletes not only do well on the field of play, but they also kick butt in the classroom! There’s also an interesting USA Today article about the NCAA’s ill-timed plan to try and compensate college athletes. 

Enjoy the reading and we’ll get back to you next year!

Go Big Red (White and Blue)!

Watch Parties:

I’m sure all of our favorite watch sites are going to be showing non-stop bowl games next Monday, January 2nd.  So if you feel like heading out and joining other Husker fans to watch the Capital Bowl, get there early, wear red, yell loud and have a great time!  Kickoff for the game starts at 10 a.m. Pacific Time and will be broadcast on ESPN.  Our game will be on at the same time as the Outback Bowl (Michigan St vs. Georgia) and the Gator Bowl (Ohio State vs. Florida), so there may be some competition for screens and seats.   See our website: for more info about our watch sites.



Orlando, Fla. -
The Nebraska football team hit the practice field in Florida for the first time on Tuesday morning, working out for nearly two hours in helmets and shoulder pads at Freedom High School.

The Huskers, who arrived in Orlando on Monday evening, practiced for the first time in a week after the players were given a Holiday break. Head Coach Bo Pelini addressed the media following practice and said his team was focused in its first practice from the bowl site.

"I thought the tempo was good. I thought the focus was good, and I thought there was a lot of retention from our earlier practices from before the holidays," Pelini said. "I thought it was a good start to the week."

Nebraska also practiced for the first time with a new defensive coordinator, as John Papuchis was promoted to that role last week. Assistant Coach Rick Kaczenski also participated in his first Husker practice, after being announced last week as Papuchis' replacement as Nebraska's defensive line coach.

"It was a pretty obvious choice to me," Pelini said about promoting Papuchis to defensive coordinator. "He's been a guy who's been around me for a long time now. He knows how I like to work. He's a bright young guy.
"The chance to get Rich Kaczenski as our defensive line coach, I think he's an outstanding football coach. He has a lot of energy, and I think it's a really good fit for us."

On Tuesday, Pelini also announced that linebackers coach Ross Els will take over Papuchis' role as special teams coordinator, beginning after the bowl game. Pelini said he will also replace Papuchis as recruiting coordinator with another member of the staff, but that an announcement on that would come at a later date.

In player news, Pelini announced that sophomore offensive lineman Andrew Rodriguez did not make the trip with the team, as he continues to rehab a foot injury. Rodriguez will not play in the Capital One Bowl, but could join his teammates later in the week. Junior tight end Ben Cotton returned to practice on Tuesday and is expected to play in the bowl game.

Following Tuesday's practice, the Huskers will spend the rest of the day at Walt DisneyWorld. Nebraska will strap on full pads for Wednesday morning's practice, as the Huskers continue preparation for their matchup with South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl on Jan. 2.



The Nebraska football team hit the practice field on Tuesday for their final workout before a five-day break for the holidays. The Huskers practiced for a little over 90 minutes inside the Hawks Championships Center helmets in shoulder pads as they continued preparations for their upcoming match up against South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl on Jan. 2.

Head Coach Bo Pelini spoke to the media following Tuesday’s practice and talked about the upcoming break his players get to enjoy before leaving for Orlando on Dec. 26.

“We gave them some workouts and they’ll be back on Christmas day,” Pelini said. “I said be careful and enjoy your family, enjoy your time off. Make sure you get your workouts in that we asked them to do and come back with the right mindset and be ready to go.”

South Carolina features one of the top wide receivers in the country in Alshon Jeffery, and will be matched up on Nebraska All-Big Ten corner back Alfonzo Dennard for much of the game. Although Dennard was hampered by injury earlier in the season, Pelini says Dennard is one of the top corners in the country, and probably didn’t receive all of the recognition he deserves throughout the season.

“I don’t think he’s gotten quite as much (recognition) as I think he probably deserves,” Pelini said. “I find it hard to find a better corner in the United States than Alfonzo. I think he’ll get his due come the NFL draft because people watch him play and see the type of player he is. He’s got some recognition. He was Defensive Back-of-the-Year in the Big Ten. He’s gotten some accolades, but like I said, I think he’s a first-team All-American, but I don’t do the voting. I think he’s a tremendous football player. He’s been a great player and great leader for this program.”

Pelini also touched on the status of several Huskers for the bowl game. Pelini said the he will make a decision on senior center Mike Caputo soon, and noted that he did practice today. Pelini also said sophomore defensive end Eric Martin will play in the game.

On the injury front, Pelini said he expects guard Andrew Rodriguez to be available to play in the bowl game, while junior tight end Ben Cotton will continue to be evaluated as he progresses through his rehab from a shoulder injury.

“He’s (Cotton) ahead of schedule and we think that we’ll get him practicing down there as long as he keeps progressing in the rehab like he has the last few days, and see where he is from there,” Pelini said.

Nebraska and South Carolina will kick off from the Citrus Bowl on Jan. 2 at Noon (CT). The game can be seen nationally on ESPN. Check back to for continued coverage of the Nebraska football team.



Nebraska Head Coach Bo Pelini announced on Thursday that he has promoted John Papuchis to defensive coordinator and hired Rick Kaczenski as the Huskers' defensive line coach.

Papuchis has been on Pelini's Nebraska staff for the past four years, serving in multiple roles, including coaching the Husker defensive line which has been among the nation's best during his tenure.  Kaczenski joins Pelini's staff after spending the past five seasons as the defensive line coach at Iowa, where the Hawkeyes fielded some of the nation's top defenses during Kaczenski's time on staff.  Kaczenski is expected to join the Nebraska coaching staff for its trip to the Capital One Bowl.

The re-shuffling of the defensive coaching staff comes after four-year defensive coordinator Carl Pelini was named head coach at Florida Atlantic earlier this month.

"I'm pleased with how the defensive staff has taken shape," Pelini said. "John Papuchis is an outstanding coach in every area-on the field, in the meeting room, as a recruiter-and he is more than prepared to take the next step in his coaching career. He has worked alongside me for seven years, going back to our time together at LSU, and I have complete confidence in his coaching abilities.

"Rick Kaczenski is a great addition to our coaching staff, and fits our football program perfectly. I have great respect for the program at the University of Iowa and their defenses have annually been among the best in the nation. Rick's track record of developing defensive linemen speaks for itself. When I've watched Iowa's defense and in particular the defensive line, I see players that have great technique and fundamentals, who also play with a high level of intensity."

The 33-year-old Papuchis moves into his new role after serving as defensive line coach, special teams coordinator and recruiting coordinator for the 2011 season. This fall, the Husker defensive line persevered through numerous injuries throughout the season, led by honorable-mention All-Big Ten defenders Cameron Meredith and Baker Steinkuhler.

In 2009 and 2010, Nebraska field one of the nation's top defenses, led by a dominant defensive line. Ndamukong Suh became one of the most decorated defensive players in college football history in 2009, helping Nebraska lead the nation in scoring defense. In 2010, Jared Crick earned all-conference honors for the second straight season to help Nebraska again rank among the nation's top defensive units.

Nebraska has also owned one of the nation's top special teams units under Papuchis' direction the past four seasons. After Alex Henery become the most accurate kicker in NCAA history, Papuchis has helped develop another outstanding kicker in Brett Maher, who became the first player since 2001 to earn first-team All-Big Ten honors as both place-kicker and punter in the same season. Papuchis was one of four finalist for the Special Teams Coordinator of the Year Award in 2010, and his special teams units have ranked in the top 20 of Phil Steele's composite special teams rankings each of the past three seasons.  

Kaczenski, 36, joins the defensive staff after building an impressive resume on Kirk Ferentz's staff at Iowa. The play of Kaczenski's defensive lines played a key role in Iowa's success the past five seasons. With Kaczenski as a member of the full-time coaching staff from 2007 to 2011, Iowa has reached a bowl game each of the past four years, including an appearance in the Orange Bowl following the 2009 season.

In 2010, Iowa ranked sixth nationally in rushing defense (101.5 ypg) and seventh in scoring defense (17.0 ppg). A year earlier, the Hawkeye defense ranked in the top 10 nationally in four defensive statistical categories, including pass efficiency defense, total defense, scoring defense and passing yards allowed. The play of the front line played a big part in the defensive success as Iowa posted an 11-2 overall record and a victory over Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl.

The 2008 Iowa defense also ranked highly across the board. Kaczenski's defensive front keyed a group that limited opponents to just 94.0 rushing yards per game to rank ninth in the country. Iowa also ranked fifth in scoring defense, fifth in pass efficiency defense and 12th in scoring defense en route to a 9-4 record and Outback Bowl berth in 2008. In his first season as a full-time assistant in 2007, Iowa ranked third in the Big Ten and 13th nationally in scoring defense, while also leading the conference in turnover margin.

Under Kaczenski, Iowa has produced outstanding individual performers on the defensive line. End Adrian Clayborn became the 21st player at Iowa to earn consensus All-America honors in 2010.  He was named as the national Defensive Performer of the Year by College Football Performance Awards in 2009.  Clayborn was named first team all-Big Ten in both 2009 and 2010. 

Clayborn was the 20th pick in the first round by Tampa Bay in the 2011 NFL Draft, and was one of three Hawkeye defensive linemen selected in last year's draft.  Defensive lineman Christian Ballard was taken in the fourth round by Minnesota, while Tennessee selected defensive lineman Karl Klug in the fifth round.

Defensive tackles Mitch King and Matt Kroul led Iowa's defense in 2008.  King was named Defensive Lineman of the Year in the Big Ten while earning first-, second- and third-team All-America honors.  Kroul earned second team all-Big Ten honors after setting an Iowa record with 50 consecutive starts.  Both King (Tennessee) and Kroul (N.Y. Jets) signed free agent contracts immediately following the 2009 NFL draft and have remained in the NFL the last two seasons. In 2007, King was named first team all-Big Ten and senior defensive end Bryan Mattison earned second-team recognition.

Overall, seven of Kaczenski's defensive linemen have been drafted or signed an NFL free agent contract over the past four seasons.

Before taking over as defensive line coach, Kaczenski served two seasons as a graduate assistant at Iowa in 2005-06, working specifically with the offensive line. Kaczenski joined the Iowa staff after serving as the offensive line and tight ends coach at Elon University in 2004. He served in the same capacity at East Tennessee State in 2003 and was the offensive line coach at South Carolina State in 2002.

Kaczenski was on the staff at South Carolina from 1999 to 2001 under Head Coach Lou Holtz. He was a graduate assistant with the Gamecocks, working in recruiting, while assisting with the offensive line and wide receivers. Kaczenski began his coaching career in 1998 as an assistant coach at Erie (Pa.) Cathedral Prep, his high school alma mater. 

Kaczenski played collegiately at Notre Dame from 1994 to 1997, where he was a three-year starter at center from 1995 to 1997. While with the Irish, Kaczenski helped Notre Dame to four bowl appearances, including a trip to the 1995 Fiesta Bowl and the 1996 Orange Bowl. Kaczenski played in a total of 40 games, and during his career Notre Dame finished in the top 20 in rushing three times, including sixth in 1995 and eighth in 1996.
Kaczenski is a 1997 Notre Dame graduate in sociology and is a native of Erie, Pa.

Kaczenski Coaching Career
2012--Nebraska, Defensive Line
2007-11--Iowa, Defensive Line
2005-06--Iowa, Graduate Assistant (Offense)
2004--Elon, Offensive Line/Tight Ends
2003--East Tennessee State, Offensive Line/Tight Ends
2002--South Carolina State, Offensive Line
1999-2001--South Carolina, Graduate Assistant (Offense/Recruiting)
1998--Erie Cathedral Prep High School, Offensive Line



Senior linebacker Lavonte David and junior I-back Rex Burkhead topped the list of honorees as the Nebraska football team gathered for its 2011 team banquet on Friday evening. The event was held at the Cornhusker Marriott with nearly 500 people in attendance.

Burkhead and David were two of three players elected by their teammates as 2011 season captains. They were joined by junior kicker/punter Brett Maher who represented the special teams.

Burkhead and David shared two other prestigious honors on Friday evening, being named co-winners of the Team MVP award, and co-Lifters of the Year. It marked the second straight Lifter of the Year Award for Burkhead, the first player to win the award in consecutive years since Kyle Vanden Bosch in 1999 and 2000. Burkhead was a first-team All-Big Ten running back in 2011 after rushing for 1,268 yards and scoring 17 touchdowns.

In addition to his MVP and captain honors, David was named the winner of the Guy Chamberlin Trophy, an award that is voted on by members of the media that dates back to 1967. David led Nebraska with 122 tackles and earned first-team All-America honors during his senior season.

Maher also picked up Special Teams MVP honors for his breakout season. Maher ranks 10th nationally in punting average, while checking in at No. 11 in field goals made per game.

With David and Burkhead sharing the overall team MVP honors, quarterback Taylor Martinez was presented Offensive MVP honors, while cornerback Alfonzo Dennard received the Defensive MVP award.

Senior defensive tackle Jared Crick, a native of Cozad, Neb., earned the Cletus Fischer Native Son Award, which is given annually to a Husker senior who is a native Nebraskan. Senior defensive tackle Terrence Moore and senior center Mike Caputo were co-winners of the Tom Novak Trophy, which is determined by a media vote.
The award is the oldest senior award, dating back to 1950. The Chamberlin, Novak and Native Son award winners will also be honored at the Outland Trophy banquet in Omaha on Jan. 12.

Several other awards were presented at Friday evening's banquet. Nebraska continues preparations for the Capital One Bowl against South Carolina with practices in Lincoln on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday before a Christmas break. The Huskers head for Orlando on Monday, Dec. 26. A victory in the Capital One Bowl would give Nebraska 10 wins for a third straight season.

Award Winners
- Offense: Rex Burkhead, Defense: Lavonte David, Special Teams: Brett Maher
Team MVP - Rex Burkhead, Lavonte David
Special Teams MVP - Brett Maher
Offensive MVP - Taylor Martinez
Defensive MVP - Alfonzo Dennard
Chamberlin Trophy- Lavonte David
Novak Trophy - Mike Caputo and Terrence Moore
Fischer Native Son Award - Jared Crick
Bobby Reynolds Award - Lance Thorell
Lifter of the Year Award - Rex Burkhead & Lavonte David
Walk-On of the Year - Spencer Long
Off. Scout Team Player of the Year - Bronson Marsh
Def. Scout Team Player of the Year - Wil Richards
Character Award - Terrence Moore, Rex Burkhead, Curenski Gilleylen
Pat Clare Award - Marcel Jones
Husker Heart AwardLuke Lingenfelter
Burnell Student Manager Scholarship - Tanner Dunbar


Senior linebacker Lavonte David earned another All-America accolade on Wednesday, as he was named a second-team All-American by the Associated Press. The 2011 campaign marks the second straight year that David was chosen as a second-team All-American by the organization.

A native of Miami, Fla., David was selected as the inaugural recipient of the Butkus-Fitzgerald Big Ten Linebacker of the Year award this fall. He was also a finalist for the Butkus Award, a semifinalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award and a quarterfinalist for the Lott Trophy this season.

In 2011, David leads Nebraska with 122 tackles, 11 TFLs, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and two interceptions heading into the Capital One Bowl in Orlando on Jan. 2, against South Carolina. He ranks third in the Big Ten in tackles per game and 18th nationally.

In his two-year career, David has totaled 274 tackles, the fifth-highest total in school history. His 152 tackles in 2010 were a school record, and his 274 career tackles are the most ever among two-year players in Nebraska history. David's career average of 10.5 tackles per game ranks fifth among all active players nationally.

2011 Honors
» First-Team All-American (AFCA, CBS,,, Phil Steele)
» Second-Team All-American (Walter Camp, Sports Illustrated. AP)
» Butkus-Fitzgerald Big Ten Linebacker of the Year
» First-Team All-Big Ten (Coaches, Media,,, Phil Steele)
» Butkus Award Finalist (1 of 6)
» Chuck Bednarik Award Semifinalist (1 of 16)
» Lott Trophy Semifinalist (1 of 8)
» Lombardi Award Preseason Watch List
» Bronko Nagurski Trophy Preseason Watch List
» Lott IMPACT Player of the Week (vs. Ohio State; vs. Michigan State)
» Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week (vs. Iowa)
» School Record Holder for Most Career Tackles by a Two-Year Player (274)



Senior safety Austin Cassidy, junior running back Rex Burkhead and junior linebacker Sean Fisher were named to the Capital One Academic All-America Division I football team on Thursday, as chosen by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).

Cassidy was a first-team selection for the second consecutive year, and was joined on the first team by Burkhead, while Fisher earned second-team honors. Nebraska was one of three schools with two players named first-team Capital One Academic All-America team, including Army and Montana. With its three overall selections, Nebraska was the only school with three players on the first- and second-team lists.

The selection of the three student-athletes continues Nebraska's Academic All-America tradition. Nebraska now has a nation-leading 67 first-team CoSIDA Academic All-America selections in football, including 14 double winners. Cassidy became Nebraska's first two-time first-team selection since Kyle Vanden Bosch in 1999 and 2000. Overall, Nebraska increased its total to 102 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans when including 35 second- or third-team honorees.

In addition to leading the nation in football Academic All-Americans, Nebraska also leads the nation in honorees across all sports. With today's announcement, Nebraska now boasts 294 all-time CoSIDA Academic All-Americans, which is 72 more than second-place Notre Dame.

Cassidy was one of four repeat selections on the Capital One Academic All-America Division I first team. A Lincoln Southwest graduate, Cassidy played the 2011 season as a graduate student after earning his degree in psychology last May and completing his undergraduate work with a 3.91 grade-point average. Cassidy is pursuing his M.B.A. and has a 4.0 grade-point average in his graduate courses. On the field, Cassidy was an honorable-mention All-Big Ten safety. He is fourth on the team with 68 tackles, has a pair of interception and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.

Burkhead carries a 3.38 cumulative grade-point average in history, and was a first-team All-Big Ten performer on the field. Burkhead rushed for 1,268 yards in the regular season and scored a total of 17 touchdowns. While Nebraska has had two fullbacks earn first-team academic All-America honors in recent years, Burkhead is the first Husker I-back/tailback to earn first-team Academic All-America honors since Jeff Kinney in 1971.                                   
Fisher continues to excel as one of the nation's top student-athletes. A graduate of Millard North High School, Fisher carries a perfect 4.0 grade-point average in business administration/pre-medicine. On the field, Fisher was a regular at linebacker for Nebraska, earning four starts in 2011. He tallied 24 tackles, including three tackles for loss.
Burkhead, Cassidy and Fisher were three of five Nebraska players to earn CoSIDA Academic All-District VII honors in November, earning a spot on the national ballot. Offensive guard Spencer Long and tight end Ben Cotton also earned all-district honors and Nebraska's five academic all-district picks led the nation.

The three CoSIDA Academic All-America selections in 2011 gives Nebraska six football Academic All-Americans in Head Coach Bo Pelini's first four seasons. Receiver Todd Peterson and linebacker Tyler Wortman were second-team selections in 2008, and Cassidy was a first-team pick in 2010.

On Wednesday, 27 Nebraska players were named to the Fall Academic All-Big Ten team, the second-highest total in the conference.



- A huge class of 55 current and former Husker student-athletes across all sports earned their undergraduate degrees from the University of Nebraska during commencement exercises on Saturday morning at the Bob Devaney Sports Center.

The large class of December graduates represents 17 of Nebraska's 23 varsity sports, while the individuals in the class came to the University of Nebraska from 18 states, Jamaica, Canada and Croatia.

Coach Bo Pelini's Nebraska football program filled the list of Husker student-athlete graduates with 22 current and former players. Eleven Huskers from the 21-player 2011 senior class will earn degrees, giving Nebraska 13 seniors who will enter the Capital One Bowl with degrees in hand. In addition, five members of this year's junior class (Kenny Anderson, Will Compton, Ben Cotton, Baker Steinkuhler, Josh Williams) will receive their undergraduate diplomas prior to the bowl game.

Coach Gary Pepin's Nebraska track and field program also will be well-represented during graduation ceremonies, with 10 current and former Huskers earning degrees. Track and field's contingent of seven male and three female student-athletes is headlined by the 2011 Nebraska Male Student-Athlete of the Year Nicholas Gordon. Gordon was the 2009 NCAA Indoor Long Jump champion and a CoSIDA Academic All-American.

Coach Pablo Morales' swimming and diving program expects to graduate six student-athletes, while Coach Dan Kendig's women's gymnastics program will add five student-athletes to the list of graduates.

Coach John Cook's volleyball program, Coach Mark Manning's wrestling program and Coach Bill Spangler's men's golf team will each add a pair of graduates. Baseball, softball, soccer, bowling and women's golf will each add one graduate.

Nebraska continues to feature one of the highest graduation rates in the nation, while leading the nation in the number of CoSIDA Academic All-Americans (294) and NCAA Top Eight Award winners (16) across all sports.



Lincoln - Four Nebraska volleyball players were honored Wednesday morning, as the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) announced its 2011 All-America team. Junior outside hitter Gina Mancuso led the charge as a first-team selection, while junior outside hitter Hannah Werth, sophomore right side hitter Morgan Broekhuis and junior setter Lauren Cook were chosen as honorable-mention selections.

Nebraska continues to lead the nation with 71 AVCA All-America certificates (first, second and third team) by 35 athletes with at least one Husker earning All-America honors in 30 consecutive seasons. In 12 seasons at Nebraska, Head Coach John Cook has coached his players to 36 All-America honors.

A key asset to the Huskers this season, Mancuso did not disappoint in her junior year as she was named an unanimous All-Big Ten First-Team pick and led the Huskers in kills, totaling 407 for an average of 3.60 kills per set. She also notched 2.66 digs per set. Her efforts kept her ranked in the top ten in the Big Ten Conference for total kills during the entire season. She notched at least 10 kills in 27 matches during 2011 and posted a career-high 25 kills against Kansas State. She was also named the Big Ten Player-of-the-Week two times in 2011. Mancuso is the latest in the long line of successful attackers at Nebraska, as a total of 24 All-America certificates have been earned by Husker outside hitters since 1996.

Werth earned honorable mention All-America honors after a stellar junior season. The Springfield, Ill., native averaged 2.80 kills per set and 3.11 digs per set, while ranking second on the team in total digs with 348 on the year. Werth tabbed at least 10 kills in 18 matches, while notching at least 10 digs in 19 matches. She produced 11 double-doubles as a junior and was a two-time Big Ten Player-of-the-Week as well as the Sports Imports/AVCA National Player of the Week on Nov. 22.

Broekhuis earned honorable-mention All-America honors for the first time, as she had a breakout year for the Huskers during her sophomore campaign, averaging 3.04 kills per set and a total of 344 kills while notching 1.58 digs per set. In just her second year as a starter, she tabbed at least 10 kills in 19 matches and a hitting percentage of .247. She recorded a total of 97 blocks in 2011, while hitting at least .300 in eight matches this season, including a season-best .692 against Jackson State. She tabbed a career-high 22 kills at Michigan on Oct. 1.

Cook put together a strong season in her first full year as a starter to earn honorable-mention All-America accolades. She averaged 11.03 assists per set, .49 kills and 2.79 digs per set. She ranked fourth in the league in assists, while notching a team-best 18 double-doubles (assists-digs). Cook helped Nebraska hit .300 or better in 10 matches, including a season-high .438 against Jackson State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. She totaled 50 or more assists in seven matches, including a career-high 62 assists against Kansas State.


The Nebraska men’s gymnastics team was picked to finish sixth in the Big Ten Men’s Gymnastics Preseason Coaches’ Poll, the conference office announced on Wednesday.  Illinois topped the list of seven schools after winning their third consecutive conference championship in 2011, with Michigan and Penn State rounding out the top three.

In addition, a pair of Nebraska all-arounders were selected to the 2012 Gymnasts to Watch list. Senior Andreas Hofer and sophomore Wyatt Aycock were listed among the 14 conference gymnasts. Hofer has competed in the individual all-around finals at the NCAA Championships two times and finished in a tie for 11th at the 2011 NCAA Championships. Aycock will be looking to improve on his freshman campaign in which he posted a school record mark of 88.60 in all-around competition against Iowa and Minnesota.

The Nebraska men’s gymnastics team will begin their first season of Big Ten competition in 2012 after notching a top ten finish at the NCAA Championships last season. The Huskers return 12 letterwinners from last year’s squad and will also look for contributions from six newcomers.


Unfair NCAA plan belongs on scrapheap
By Christine Brennan, USA TODAY
Updated 1h 46m ago
The NCAA's plan to pay an extra $2,000 to Division I athletes on full scholarships was bad from the beginning, a ramshackle idea that saddled already-strapped athletic departments with another financial burden while also asking them to do something that appeared to be against the law.
By Tim Dillon, USA TODAY
David Berst, NCAA Division I vice president says of the proposal to give athletes a $2,000 stipend: ''Nobody intended to create a situation where you were going to fall out of compliance with Title IX.''
Nonetheless, the boys who run the NCAA loved the proposal, which was concocted at a retreat for 55 college presidents in August, and they rushed it along, making it official just before Halloween.

Seven weeks later, however, 97 schools — well more than the 75 needed — have told the NCAA to go back to the drawing board in January to reconsider, and perhaps get rid of, the whole idea. It's a rare thing indeed for universities to rise up and override an NCAA decision, but that's just what has happened, according to David Berst, NCAA vice president for Division I. He estimated in a phone interview Wednesday that out of about 100 pieces of legislation a year, there are just one or two overrides.

This one deserved it.

The last thing college athletic departments need at the moment, in the midst of the most scandal-ridden time in college sports history, is to be told they should spend more money on athletics, specifically their big-time stars in football and men's basketball. Not only is this asking for trouble, there's another problem that few realize: Most athletic departments don't have the money.

There are 331 Division I schools, yet in the 2009-10 school year, only 22 of them had athletics departments whose generated revenue was more than their total expenses, according to a USA TODAY analysis. Yes, just 22 out of 331 turned a profit. Almost everyone thinks that football pays for itself and brings in enough money for every other athletic program too. At 22 schools, all in Bowl Championship Series conferences, that's the case. At 309, it's not.

Curious, isn't it, that the NCAA would ask these schools to give out money they don't have, up to almost $300,000 a year, and do so seemingly in direct defiance of Title IX, the nearly 40-year-old landmark law that mandates gender equity in sports?

The NCAA formula for giving out the money at each school focused on the maximum of 98 men and 47 women who participate in full-scholarship sports rather than those in which athletes commonly are offered partial scholarships.

Apparently, only in the NCAA does 47 equal 98.

People noticed. Men, women — even old football coaches.

"We can't give twice as many men a stipend as we do women," Nebraska athletics director Tom Osborne said in November on the radio show Sports Nightly, according to The Daily Nebraskan. "Therefore we would have to select 47 men out of 98 to give the $2,000, or we give every one of our 98 maybe a little less than $1,000."

When a crusty warrior such as Osborne has to teach the NCAA about the law, it's downright embarrassing.

Berst maintains that the NCAA was well aware of the discrepancy. "Nobody intended to create a situation where you were going to fall out of compliance with Title IX," Berst said. "If that's the interpretation, that's going to get fixed in January."

One option, he said, was paying out the $2,000 stipends in fractions commensurate with athletes' partial scholarships, to make sure that, in total, female athletes were being paid the same as the males at each school.

Or something like that. If this idea appears forced, rushed and poorly thought out, that's because it was. All this bustle and nonsense came out of a working group on "student-athlete well-being" at that summertime retreat, Berst said. When you hear who chaired that group, you almost won't believe it.

He's no longer chairman, because he's no longer a university president. He ran Penn State. Yes, it was Graham Spanier.


The decision by Ben Nelson, 70, to retire makes it a wide-open race for his seat and hurts Democrats’ chances of holding on to control of the Senate (PLUS VIDEO)
Nebraska's first Big Ten basketball game ended up as ugly as its conference opener in football, with both black eyes coming at the hands of Wisconsin. Just like in the 31-point loss in football, a close game early in the second half Tuesday night turned into a blowout, with the No. 11 Badgers pulling away to a 64-40 victory in front of 10,812 fans at the Devaney Center.

Figuring out how No. 11 Wisconsin wins a lot of basketball games is as easy as 1, 2, 3. The Badgers, who play Tuesday night at Nebraska, are No. 1 in the country in fewest points allowed (44.7); No. 2 in field-goal defense (33.8 percent); and No. 3 in 3-point defense (23.7 percent). Wisconsin (11-2) also leads the country in fewest turnovers committed (8.3), as it has each of the previous two years.

My paltry present to you: A flurry of football takes for the day after Christmas in place of the usual Rewind structure. Enjoy, preferably with those ham/cream cheese/pickle rollups on the leftover tray in your fridge.

Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini has never lacked for trust in John Papuchis. As defensive coordinator at Louisiana State, Pelini didn’t hesitate to ask more of Papuchis than the average GA or intern.

When the regents will vote on extending coverage to domestic partners is unclear.

Connie Yori seemed pretty ticked at Jordan Hooper. The Nebraska women's basketball coach met the star player near midcourt Wednesday night for a quick, vocal session on transition defense. After the timeout, Hooper found a seat at the far end of the bench. Just a minute later, Yori walked down to Hooper and waved the sophomore forward from Alliance, Neb., back into NU's game with South Dakota State.

Nebraska finished non-conference men's basketball play Tuesday night with a 72-69 victory over Central Michigan. The Huskers (8-3) saw an 11-point lead with 12:39 to play whittled to one at 57-56 with 5:02 to go. But Central Michigan missed its next four shots, and NU got seven points combined from Bo Spencer and Caleb Walker to stretch the lead back to eight points with 2:20 to go.

Nebraska Athletic Director Tom Osborne said Tuesday he has no reason to think Bo Pelini will not be the Cornhuskers' coach in 2012. In the face of reports linking Nebraska's football coach to the opening at Penn State, Osborne said he has no sense that Pelini is unhappy with his job or situation at Nebraska. "I think things are fine,'' Osborne said.

A Nebraska initiative helps rural areas reload with more hunting and better habitat provided by farmers

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