Husker coaches tour state, 5.30

Nebraska athletic director Bill Moos (right) answers a question from event moderator and former Husker football player Brenden Stai during a stop at the Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum on Thursday during the Big Red Blitz, which also made stops in Norfolk and Fremont.

Things I know, and things I think I know:

In a recent two-hour discussion with Nebraska athletic director Bill Moos, we obviously covered a lot of ground. At one point, I started reeling off the Big Ten's revenue numbers for fiscal 2018 that were disclosed in a report by USA Today.

My heavens, the conference is flush financially. Its $759 revenue total, driven by TV agreements that took effect at the start of the 2017-18 school year, resulted in payments of roughly $54 million to each of the 14-team conference’s 12 longest-standing members.

What does it all mean?

"First of all what it means is Jim Delany," Moos said.

As we get to know Moos, a few traits become evident: He's ultra-competitive, has a big imagination and thinks big. Yes, sort of like Delany. So, it makes sense that Moos thinks highly of Delany, who announced in March he will retire at the end of his contract in June 2020.

"He's smart, he's savvy, he thinks outside the box, he played the game at this level in a championship program," said Moos, referring to Delany's time as a guard at North Carolina for legendary coach Dean Smith.

Moos continued, "He commands a room and most importantly, he can communicate and realizes that the athletic directors are the ones who he needs to communicate with most."

During his time in the Pac-12, Moos didn't know much about Delany -- except, of course, that Delany was instrumental in creating the Big Ten Network, which launched in 2007.

"When I was out west, he was perceived as a villain, a bully, and I prepared myself for it," Moos said.

But guess who was the first person to call Moos when he took over as Nebraska's A.D. in October of 2017?

It was the "villain." He told Moos he has "to get Nebraska back to being Nebraska." The Big Ten money obviously helps in that pursuit.

Moos puts it simply: "We have the means to be champions."

It's difficult to imagine Delany's 30-year run as commissioner ever being replicated.

"I have the utmost respect for him," Moos said. "I'm happy for him that he'll be able to retire without being a 'gee-iffer.' And I'm happy for me that I got to work with him for a couple years."

* A "gee-iffer?" In Moos' world, that's someone who sits around saying, "Gee, if I only would have done this with my life..."

Nobody can say that about Moos. He was thinking about athletics at a high level even during grade school back in rural Washington. Yes, age 10 or so. I'm not exaggerating. I'll have more about why Moos was destined to be an A.D. in a Sunday column.

* Seems like a good time to remind folks about Moos' recent comments on eighth-year Nebraska baseball coach Darin Erstad.

“I believe in Darin and the program," Moos said right before the Big Ten Tournament last month. "Darin Erstad is my kind of guy.”

He added, "He wears it on his sleeve, he’s a proven champion, he loves Nebraska, he’s a Midwest guy. He’s proven he can win. And here we are right back again."

Right back again, as in the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in the last six years. Granted, Nebraska's stay in Oklahoma City over the weekend was rough, leaving Erstad at 2-8 in the NCAA event. But remember Moos' expectations for all Husker teams: "We should be year in and year out in the upper half (of the league) and making noise toward the top."

Bingo. Nebraska baseball this season was in contention until the final day of the regular season for its second regular-season conference title in three years. The Huskers then lost in the Big Ten Tournament title game. Saturday night, they were on the verge of taking control of the Oklahoma State Regional until the home team's stunning uprising in the ninth inning.

Yes, Sunday's loss was an eyesore. But under the circumstances -- a ridiculously quick turnaround following an incredibly emotional loss -- it was hard to expect a win.

Fan venom toward Erstad is peculiar and borderline ridiculous. He was a beloved All-American at Nebraska who loves his school and pushed his program forward this year. Bottom line, the A.D. has Erstad's back. Firmly. That's good to hear.

* As an undrafted free agent, former NU great Stanley Morgan faces a stiff challenge to make the Cincinnati Bengals' roster.

Bengals head coach Zac Taylor laid it out in plain terms.

"You usually carry about 11 or 12 receivers (this time of year), and you typically keep anywhere from five to seven," Taylor told me last week. "They have to prove they can learn everything and execute the details that we ask of our receivers in the system."

One gets the distinct impression Taylor, also a Nebraska alum, doesn't give Morgan anything that resembles special treatment. In fact, Taylor can't afford to do that because you can bet the other players would notice.

"Stanley came in with two other free-agent receivers, and he's been really focused -- you can tell football's important to him," Taylor said. "He's got a good football IQ. He's in good shape. So those are great starting points for a guy who's trying to make an impression as an undrafted player."

At Nebraska, Morgan prided himself on his diligent practice manner. Has that been evident to Cincy's first-year head coach?

"I would say so," Taylor said. "But for me, it's about learning 90 guys right now, not just him."

Makes sense.

* Finally, a high five to former Husker offensive lineman Tanner Farmer, who's on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers preseason roster.

The CFL season begins later this month.

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


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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