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Let's take a drive and talk about the new year. We'll focus on what may be coming down the pike in sports.

We hope it's a happy and prosperous 2019 for you.

1. We begin with a question that might torture Nebraska fans a bit: If you could pick one of the following options in 2019, which would it be: A Husker win in the NCAA men's basketball tournament or a first-place finish by the NU football team in the Big Ten West Division?

Obviously, the ideal would be both occurrences. But that wasn't an option put forth last week by the esteemed Jake Sorensen, who co-hosts "Early Break" (93.7 FM) from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. weekdays with yours truly. 

A couple words might come to mind as you ponder the question: novelty and enormity.

"Novelty" because Nebraska seeks its first-ever win in the NCAA men's basketball tournament. If it finally happens, the novelty factor would enhance the excitement. It would be an incredibly exciting and memorable time in our state.

Incredibly exciting? In the NU hoops realm, I think back to "No Sit Sunday" at Pinnacle Bank Arena on March 9, 2014, the final day of the regular season. Nebraska defeated ninth-ranked Wisconsin 77-68, and the energy in the steamy building that afternoon was overwhelming. The Huskers headed into the postseason riding a wave of momentum.

Never mind that they dropped back-to-back games to end the season -- against Ohio State in the Big Ten Tournament and Baylor in the Big Dance. Instead, take yourself back to the electricity and intensity in PBA for that game against Bo Ryan's Badgers. If Tim Miles and company were to win in the NCAA Tournament, it would cause even more of a frenzy in this state. Don't underestimate the novelty factor.

It all would feel enormous.

But let's face it, Nebraska football commands the market in our state when it comes to enormity. Even small occurrences can feel enormous. "No angle too small when it comes to Husker football," an editor once told me.

Think about the fervor that would accompany Nebraska winning its division in football and advancing to the Big Ten championship game for the first time since 2012. If that were the case, it's likely the Huskers would have a double-digit win total -- which could mean Adrian Martinez in the Heisman Trophy conversation.

It would mean Scott Frost's reclamation project is ahead of schedule, and likely would create a wave of momentum in recruiting. In fact, such a scenario would energize the entire state and boost the economy. Yes, that enormous.

Bottom line, football is king in this state. Always will be. So there's your answer.

Am I wrong?

2. Former Nebraska quarterback Zac Taylor is going to be an NFL head coach.

It's not a question of if, but when.

I'm guessing it could happen in a matter of days. This just in from USA TODAY: The Los Angeles Rams have become a hotbed for coaching candidates lately under Sean McVay and that’s not likely to change this year. After losing Greg Olson and Matt LaFleur to offensive coordinator jobs this past offseason, quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor could be the next to leave. According to multiple reports, the Arizona Cardinals have asked to interview Taylor for their head coaching job, which opened up when Steve Wilks was fired Monday.

A 35-year-old native of Norman, Oklahoma, Taylor already has had an eventful coaching career, including a short stint as the Miami Dolphins' offensive coordinator in 2015 and the same role at the University of Cincinnati in 2016.

However, "I learn so much from Sean McVay every single day that I'm around him," Taylor told me last January.

Which is saying a mouthful because Taylor thinks the game at a high level himself. But McVay has reached the top of his profession for good reason. He spends the offseason learning about how defenses attack his offense. He never stops learning.

What's more, "Sean's recall is different than anybody I've been around," said Taylor, the Big 12 offensive player of the year in 2006, when he led Nebraska to the Cotton Bowl. "I'd like to think I have good recall of games I've been a part of and plays I've been a part of. But this guy's recall is unmatched.

"He just remembers every film clip he watches instantly. He can regurgitate it three days later, six months later, a year later. He's got recall that I just don’t think is normal. He's just got some rare traits. And he works harder than probably anyone I’ve ever been around."

Yes, the work is hard in the NFL. The hours can be long. But Taylor is having fun -- and he appears to be on the verge of a pay raise.

3. Another former Husker, Jake Peetz, is currently preparing for the national championship game as a member of Nick Saban's staff at Alabama.

A native of O'Neill, Peetz is actually in his second go-round with Saban. He also worked for the Tide in 2013, when his main tasks were focused on the passing game.

"People ask me the secret to coach Saban," Peetz told me in March 2017 when he was the Oakland Raiders' quarterbacks coach. "I tell them it's so simple that you're not even going to write it down, and you're going to think I'm hiding something from you.

"It's this: Everybody has a defined role and expectation, and you're held accountable to that. That's what it is to the nth degree. Your role is defined. You're going to have a very high expectation, and you will be held accountable, and you're going to be given every opportunity to succeed.

"I think I'll look back at that experience, working for Coach Saban, as the defining moment in my learning and my understanding -- and being pushed to the limit."

Saban has put together a machine in Tuscaloosa that's really something to behold.

4. If I seem overly fixated on the fact former Nebraska great Dave Rimington was the 1981 Big Eight offensive player of the year as a center, well, you're right. It's an accomplishment that boggles my mind to this day.

The subject came up the other day as I interviewed Rimington about the Rimington Trophy, which will be awarded to Garrett Bradbury of North Carolina State on Jan. 12 at the Rococo Theatre in downtown Lincoln.

A legend in his own right, Rimington invoked the name of another Husker legend as a factor as to why so many NU greats of that era won conference and national honors.

"Don Bryant was such a good sports information director," Rimington said of the late Bryant, a Lincoln High graduate. "I mean, we had really good teams. But 'Fox' knew everybody. There hasn't been a guy like 'Fox' since he left. He was a special guy."

5. We can all agree that social media has made the world louder and angrier than ever. It's part of the reason major-college head coaches are under more pressure than ever.

Mark Richt was under contract through 2023 at Miami, yet walked away from the head coaching job Sunday, essentially leaving $20 million on the table. He said he resigned because it was in the "best interests of the program." But you wonder how much the noise on social media following Miami's 35-3 loss to Wisconsin in the Pinstripe Bowl contributed to his decision to retire at age 58.

The noise from fans and media gets louder than ever -- more quickly than ever.

It can get debilitating. Ask any former Nebraska head coach.

If you have millions in the bank, maybe it's easier to just say the heck with it all.

6. I don't mind saying it, I sometimes miss the hell out of the 1970s ...

Reach the writer at 402-473-7440 or ssipple@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraSip.

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Husker columnist

Steven, a lifelong Nebraskan, newspaper enthusiast and UNL grad, joined the Journal Star in 1990 and has covered NU football since 1995.

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