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Nebraska Football Mailbag, Part II: Bowl Game or Bust, Basketball Woes, and CORN—RANKED

Who’s got better corn: Iowa or Nebraska? Should Matt Rhule be bowling or bust in 2023? We take your calls in the order in which they were received...

Proposed Keystone XL Pipeline To Run From Canada To Gulf Of Mexico
Imagining this, but the Arthur fist-clenching meme.
Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Did you enjoy Iowa Week? I hope not.

Here is some Nebraska Cornhuskers content to whet your appetite on this, the Monday of AMERICA WEEK.

Nebraska in the Big Ten

Trev Alberts went on record saying that Nebraska requested Minnesota and Wisconsin as protected opponents.....but was only given Iowa.

1) Why do you think that Nebraska did not request Iowa? Passive-aggressive dig at the Hawkeyes? Tired of getting beat by a neighbor that they somehow still feel is inferior to them? Does the fanbase really consider two teams that they don’t share a border with more of a rival?

2) Will the B1G’s decision to give Neb none of their requested teams play into the Husker fanbase’s “The B1G hates us” theme that we’ve seen from them in the past?

Jesse: 1) Actually, Iowa was the first protected team he submitted and then he expanded it to Wisconsin and Minnesota. Apparently Nebraska and Iowa had agreed to it all along so there you have it.

2) Um... See above? I think the no to the other two was actually because it needed both schools to agree to make it happen. I don’t think rational people think the Big Ten hates anyone.

Dead Read: I don’t think there is a controversy here. Nebraska wants to play Iowa every year, and they will. Too bad the other two could not be locked in.

BRT: I love the attempt at making this into a soap opera though - I guess he is an “acting coach,” so it checks out. :)

At a school with so much money in the boosters, why can’t Nebraska get basketball right?

Jesse: I think some of it interest at the high school level although that’s getting better. The other part is that there was a serious lack of investment for a while which put development behind. They’ve played catch up for a whole now and there you have it. I have hope they’ll eventually figure it out.

Dead Read: I have a half century of pattern recognition under my belt, so I long ago abandoned Nebraska (Men’s) Basketball out of self-preservation. I have only one thought on Nebrasketball, and it is evergreen: The arc of Nebraskbetball is long, and it bends toward losing.

BRT: I think that volleyball stole MBB’s lunch money as the “second sport” at Nebraska. They’ve had measurable, sustained success and built a massive fanbase. Without VB taking on that role, perhaps more interest and money goes to MBB. Or maybe not. I’d like to let the record reflect that while I do enjoy (“enjoy”?) Nebrasketball, I’m not mad at this order of fan interest and priority. It’s a crying shame more women’s programs don’t have that kind of support.

In terms of fan interest, measured in average TV viewership (OTE writers aren’t part of this metric), Nebraska/Iowa are close enough to be considered tied in the B1G:
* behind tOSU, tTUN, USC, PSU, Wisc/Sparty/UCLA (almost tied)
* ahead of Indiana, NW/Minni, MD/Purdue, Illini/Rutgers

(1) Is Nebraska more likely to move up, down, or stay the same in B1G fan interest?
(2) Any other B1G programs you expect to make notable movement in this list?

Jesse: This feels about the right place from a fanbase + population perspective. I’d assume most of this stays about the same unless maybe someone like Maryland gets really good. That could be a big fanbase but they can’t figure it out consistently and don’t have the same history to kind of create a media floor.

Dead Read: Remember, Nebraska has fewer than 2 million people. Nebby is close to rock bottom, so things can only get better (fallacy alert)!

I see possible upside in Minnesota and MD. I see potential downward movement in MSU, USC, and UCLA.

BRT: I think Nebraska stays in roughly the same place. They benefit from being the only game in town. They are hurt by being in a state with a small population that will probably struggle to grow in the near future thanks to its political climate.

I think Sparty is in the most danger of downgrading. Some of the lightning appears to be leaking from Mel Tucker’s bottle, and Izzo has to retire sometime, right? I could see them joining us in the middle tier.

Matt Rhule

I get the excitement for Matt Rhule. I think he was a good hire, too. But he never beat a ranked team at Baylor. What’s your reasonable best case scenario for Nebraska football under Rhule?
—Kind of...

Jesse: This year? I dunno, a bowl game would be nice. I think long-term, he really is a developmental guy. I admittedly don't know what the ceiling is but a floor of regularly bowling would be kind of what I'm looking for with some lightning-in-a-bottle seasons along the way.

Dead Read: He didn’t beat a ranked team at Baylor? He did beat teams, though. That is a step in the right direction. I think a reasonable rosy projection is that he wins eight games by year three, and averages that many wins over his tenure, be in the top third of conference regularly, and not have a losing season after the first year.

BRT: Yay, beating teams! This is where Nebraska is at now. :( I think I’m more in line with Jesse - CFB is a new world, and Nebraska is not on top of it. It’s unreasonable to think they can get themselves to the top. Probably the mushy middle is a reasonable hope. I do think he can beat a ranked team with Nebraska though, or maybe I just hope he can.

Questions: I thought Frost would be great but he wasn’t. Why will Rhule be better? What would Nebby fans consider a success this year?
—Free Beer Tomorrow

Jesse: This year? Six wins. That would be amazing. Short of that? Not absolutely blowing our own limbs off in the 4th quarter of games would be a success.

Dead Read: Jesse is a gentleman. He means he doesn’t want to see us regularly shoot our own dicks. Going bowling would be a great outcome.

How many games until Rhule beats a ranked opponent?

Jesse: Like, how many ranked games or games on general? Because I dunno. I bet he snags one within two years.

Dead Read: It looks like he will have many opportunities in ‘24, given the schedule. I agree that he will get one by the end of year two. He might get one this year. If he does, the commentariat will say that the vanquished team was overhyped.

BRT: I think there just tend to be chances to do that in the Big Ten because you have solid-but-not-great teams like Iowa or Minnesota who skate along and win what they need to until there’s no choice but to rank them because they’re in a major conference (that’s not a knock - winning what you need to is a great quality of which I am jealous!) But then they’re sitting there with a ranking that isn’t necessarily commensurate with the quality of the team. A decent coach with a decent team could theoretically grab some wins in those sorts of scenarios. I will stay away from putting a timeline on that, thanks. :)

Miscellaneous Nebraskiana

Please give us your corn and corn product power rankings, and in so doing answer whichever of these questions speak to you: Does popcorn count as corn to Nebraskans? Is bourbon the automatic winner? Why is white corn syrup a thing? Do white people know how to do anything with huitlacoche, or does its foreignness trump its corn-relatedness? Do a higher percentage of Nebraskans wear corn-themed clothing than Marylanders wear flag-themed clothing? (If not, why not?) Does it upset you that Michigan calls its yellow “maize”? Does it make you smile that when I Googled “corn products” the Nebraska Corn Board was the first result and the University of Iowa was the second?

Dead Read:

‘nuff said

Jesse: Um... I'll make up a top ten. Sure.

1. Cream Corn (the real southern shit that's basically pudding)

2. Cornbread

3. Corn on the cob

4. Corn Chowder (spicy)

5. Corn Tortillas

6. Pozole

7. Arepas

8. Fritos (bonus for Frito Pie)

9. Corn Fritters

10. Popcorn (I'm saying it fits)

I dont drink so I can't put Bourbon first although I do recognize it's likely first.

Would there be a boycott if Runzas were no longer offered in the concession stands? How much longer until liquor is sold at games? and could that slow down or even stop the smuggling of beverages into the game?

Jesse: I went to a game with a fellow writer who had no fewer than 4 beers and a flask. It was impressive. So to start from the back, lol no. Oh shit, the runza question. It would be very loud if they didn't sell runzas. Like, REAL loud. I bet liquor is sold after the renovation when wifi isn't hell at memorial. Not a second before that though.

Dead Read: The absence of Runzas would spur a revolt. Hard liquor will not be sold in Memorial Stadium during Tom Osborne’s lifetime.

BRT: I can’t imagine a scenario where Runzas were not sold at Husker sporting events! I live in a town of about 25,000 and there are three Runza restaurants, or one for every 8,333 people. We must have Runzas. The people demand it. Also, they are essential as hand warmers at cold games.

How many of the Nebraska writers (okay, I’m mainly looking in BRT’s direction) have seen the Broadway musical Shucked? And if so, please share your thoughts.

Jesse: I do love musicals but haven't seen this so I can't offer anything here. Sorry.

Dead Read: I haven’t been to a Broadway show in years, but it looks like a good production. That’s all I have.

BRT: I also love musicals and haven’t seen this. I’d give it a chance though! I’m always a bit leery when New York loves a show about simple country folks, but I’m also open-minded about its potential merits. And I have to say I love the branding and merch - they appear to have just really gone there with the corn, and I’m ear for it.

Dead Read: Nice.