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Steven M. Sipple: You know what would cheer up the AD? A few early upsets by the Huskers

Steven M. Sipple: You know what would cheer up the AD? A few early upsets by the Huskers

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Bill Moos felt deflated Saturday.

Deflated and defeated. 

Let's be clear on something, though. The Nebraska athletic director wasn't whining. That wasn't his tone. OK, maybe a tad. But he sounded more like a prize fighter who trained hard for a fight and did his best, but came up short. 

Moos was 0-for-3 as it pertained to what he sought from the Big Ten Conference for Nebraska's 2020 football schedule. To wit:

1. He recommended that, for this (pandemic) season only, the Big Ten's divisional champions would be decided by using division games only. Strike one.

2. He sought a total dismantling of the original Big Ten schedule. That way, Nebraska wouldn't have to play both Ohio State and Penn State in crossover games. He obviously didn't get that wish, either. The conference ended up using the original schedule as a guidepost. Strike two.

3. He sought fairness in "who we play and when," he said. So much for that. Nebraska plays three AP preseason top-15 teams in the first four games, including an opener against Associated Press preseason No. 2 Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio.

Strike three. Back to the dugout, sir. 

"I don't like being a loser," Moos told the Journal Star. "I don't like going 0-and-3 in anything." 

Again, Moos wasn't whining. This was more about Moos feeling he fell short in his role as the Nebraska AD. Remember, he was a member of the conference scheduling subcommittee that put together this year's edition. He went into the job last month thinking he could use his influence to give the Huskers a much more manageable ride than what was unveiled Saturday morning. Alas, he didn't have as much influence as he thought he did.

"My job is to provide my school with the very best opportunity in a great conference to have success, and this one's going to be tough," he said. "This football team has a chance to be really good, but it doesn't look like we're getting a lot of breaks here." 

There's a school of thought that says Nebraska shouldn't expect too many breaks from the Big Ten going forward. After all, eight Husker players last month filed a lawsuit against the conference days after it postponed the season Aug. 11 (the lawsuit since has been dropped), and even the state attorney general has gotten into the act. 

Doug Peterson recently issued a letter to the Big Ten notifying commissioner Kevin Warren that the conference appears to be out of compliance with the Nebraska Nonprofit Corporation Act. Long story short, the attorney general is seeking more transparency from the conference, especially as it pertains to deciding the fate of football seasons during a pandemic. 

The eight players also sought more transparency from the league. It was courageous. It made sense. Well, here's some transparency for you: How about opening the season against Ohio State — which has 11 NFL-level players in the starting lineup on offense, according to Urban Meyer — and following that with a home game against No. 12 Wisconsin, which has beaten dear ol' NU eight times in the teams' last nine games?

If that weren't enough, how about Nebraska going on the road to play traditional pain-in-the-rear Northwestern in Week 3, and following that with a home game against No. 7 Penn State? That would be the Penn State outfit that amassed 369 rushing yards in defeating Memphis 53-39 in last season's Cotton Bowl. The Nittany Lions return an impressive stable of running backs, not to mention five offensive linemen with starting experience.

The Huskers would do awfully well to go 2-2 in those first four games. 

Have I mentioned that Moos isn't singing a "poor Nebraska" tune? Whining isn't his style. He's brash. He's a salesman. He's a can-do optimist. He felt all along Nebraska could navigate the pandemic, all the while keeping its players safe. His head coach, Scott Frost, also has wanted to play all along. Frost voiced his intentions from the get-go, even talking openly Aug. 10 about NU playing its own schedule if it came to that. 

Not as a member of this conference, Warren said Aug. 11. 

Nebraska never seemed particularly intimidated.

"Hey, you know at the end of the day, a large reason we're even playing this fall (in the Big Ten) is due to Nebraska," Moos said. 

He's not wrong. Ohio State also rattled its saber loudly enough to get the attention of everyone in the nation. The Buckeyes have slightly more pull than those scarlet-and-cream mavericks of the plains. 

"Rogue, maverick, renegade — I've been called a lot worse," Moos said.

To be sure, Nebraska's critics are louder and more prevalent than they've been in some time. The negative noise will rise in volume if the Huskers endure significant struggles this season. It obviously could happen. If those first four games weren't challenging enough, NU ending the regular season with road games against Iowa and Purdue, followed by a home game against Minnesota, well, it's going to be an interesting fall, isn't it?

Just as we like it in Nebraska, right? I was heartened by how many Husker fans looked at the schedule and said, "Bring it on." 

You earn respect by performing well on Saturdays. By winning. I heard that sentiment, too. 

Maybe that will cheer up Moos. 

"It's inevitable that a man will lose occasionally," he said. "The key is to avoid making a habit of it."

Makes sense. Boy, did it make sense on this day. 


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