The Weekly Rundown: Will every December look like this going forward?
We've seen a wild and crazy month of December around college football with roster movement and more. Is this the new norm?
We hit on that and more as we start your Monday off in the Weekly Rundown Column.
You have to feel pretty good about these things right now:
Nebraska Volleyball: There are very few sure bets with Nebraska athletics other than volleyball.
I think what most people appreciate about John Cook's teams more than anything is how they continue to improve over the course of a season and they compete with an intensity level Nebraskans all can be proud of. They are the standard right now for Husker Athletics. I'll be curious to see what the final television number is for Saturday's national championship match vs. Wisconsin.
Kedon Slovis is the new top QB target: A week ago at this time LSU's Myles Brennan was NU's top quarterback target in the transfer portal. The week before that it was Fresno State's Jake Haener. Both Brennan and Haener have chosen to stay at their original schools.
Now the focus appears to be on USC's Kedon Slovis. One report out there stated Slovis is down to NU, Cal and Arizona. Cal just recently added a quarterback in Purdue's Jack Plummer. The chips continue to fall in favor of Slovis being the guy the Huskers potentially take from the transfer portal.
Transfer portal offensive linemen: Of all the transfer portal needs, the offensive line may be the biggest one, along with the quarterback position. You can bet on the Big Red adding at least two portal offensive linemen.
Bill Busch joining the full-time staff: Head coach Scott Frost more or less tipped his hand this week that things continue to trend in the direction of Bill Busch joining the staff in a full-time capacity. Busch continues to also recruit as if he's a full-time member of the staff.
Mickey Joseph's Louisiana connections: New Husker assistant coach Mickey Joseph continues to open up doors for Nebraska in Louisiana. He's been far and away the most active coach on the recruiting trail over the last two weeks, and nearly all of his new offers have come in the state of Louisiana.
These were my surprises of the week:
Former Husker RBs in the NFL: Rex Burkhead has been in the NFL now nine seasons, while Ameer Abdullah has played in the league for seven.
The pair of former All-Big Ten running backs continue to produce on Sundays. Abdullah had eight touches for 55 yards and one touchdown this week, while Burkhead had 17 touches for 47 yards.
It really makes you realize how spoiled the Huskers were at running back from Cory Ross to Brandon Jackson to Marlon Lucky to Roy Helu to Rex Burkhead to Ameer Abdullah. That was a hell of a run from 2003 to 2014. All of those guys played on Sunday with Lucky being the only one that didn't make an active roster.
Landing Decoldest Crawford: Credit Joseph on this one. He knew the lay of the land with Shreveport (La.) wide receiver Decoldest Crawford after the coaching change at LSU. He used his inside knowledge of the situation to help close the deal on Crawford.
This roster keeps growing over 85: Today Nebraska's scholarship number for 2022 is pushing 90. There are obviously three or four more players on the current roster that could potentially move on.
It just goes to show you the numbers crunch Nebraska faces after signing just 14 traditional recruits and now adding five transfer portal players. I think we still could see the Huskers add another four or five players.
The jury is still out
Questions still surround these things:
How will Donovan Raiola reshape this line: New offensive line coach Donovan Raiola is a no-nonsense guy. He made that very clear at his introductory media session with reporters on Wednesday.
How will his approach reshape this offensive line? Of the current returning starters, how many will hold onto their jobs and what type of additions will Raiola make in the transfer portal?
Attrition: In order to take full advantage of the new 25 + 7 NCAA scholarship rule, players had to make their transfer intentions known before the end of the first academic term.
That has led to a mad December rush of attrition meetings with players across college football. We saw it this week with linebacker Jackson Hannah and cornerback Malik Williams.
Both Hannah and Williams were not going to be in the mix going forward, and you get the sense "the end of semester" deadline for the +7 rule played a factor in the timing of their portal entries. Going back to Branson Yager on July 26, NU has now had seven players enter the transfer portal.
This has my attention
Moving forward, this has my attention:
Amenities at Pinnacle Bank Arena: The play of Nebraska's basketball team has obviously been a struggle the last few years, but one thing that continues to keep people coming is the great game-day atmosphere at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
It's really remarkable, to be honest, a team with NU's track record in hoops can rank towards the top 10 nationally in attendance.
However, this year we have seen quite a slip in the overall fan experience offered at PBA, which is not something the Nebraska Athletic Department has any control over.
I have been a season ticket holder at PBA since the arena opened, and this year the overall fan experience offered by the arena has taken a major dive. I know arena officials have blamed it on the pandemic and staffing issues, but I've talked to Creighton fans in Omaha, and even Husker fans that traveled to Atlanta for the Auburn game, and they saw no dropoff in terms of concessions and amenities. Why are we seeing it at such a drastic level in Lincoln?
On Sunday, I would say Pinnacle Bank Arena was around 80 percent full, easily over 10,000 in attendance to watch a struggling Husker basketball team. In the entire lower bowl, they had just one major concession stand open as you come up the escalator, which has been standard all year, and then another pair opened in the open end. All of the other ones along the sidelines have not been opened this season, including the Chimney Rock Cantina, State Fair Classics, Valentino's Pizza and Sandhills BBQ.
Colby Ridge has gone from having three fresh-popped popcorn stands on the main concourse, to just one. Freshly popped popcorn is a simple thing, but something people at a basketball game enjoy. Those stands consistently had the longest lines at PBA, and they have gone from three to one on the entire lower concourse.
On Sunday, Colby Ridge workers told a long line of fans the wait would be 20 minutes for more popcorn after the crowd had already waited over 15-20 minutes. That's just not acceptable. Nebraska fans deserve better than this. Athletic Director Trev Alberts needs to get to the bottom of PBA's concession woes because the lack of service and amenities to fans could end up eventually driving people away. What's the point of spending thousands on season tickets if you can't even get proper service in the venue? Fans showing up should not be taken for granted, and sooner or later the lack of service provided is going to cost both NU and the City.
Northern Illinois RB Jay Ducker: The former Bellevue West product was named the MAC freshman of the year after rushing for 1,184 yards for Northern Illinois and being named the MVP of the league championship game. Word is Ducker could be entering the transfer portal this week.
Is this someone Nebraska would show an interest in? He would be a very good replacement for Marvin Scott III and Sevion Morrison, who by the way were who the Huskers recruited over Ducker in high school. Regardless, Ducker is going to draw plenty of Power Five interest if he enters the portal. I would not be surprised at all if Iowa showed an interest.
It also makes you realize the little guy in college football has little to no chance. Any time they produce and develop a good player, the transfer portal is always going to be an option.
2023 Quarterback recruiting: What will things look like under Mark Whipple leading NU's 2023 quarterback recruiting? Two regional guys that have my attention are Akeney (Iowa)'s JJ Kohl and Maize (Kan.) standout Avery Johnson.
The new college football December: We got a small taste last December at the impact the transfer portal would have on college football recruiting. This year we got the full thing. December from here on out is going to be a constant roster management juggling act of moving players in and out from the transfer portal all at the same time of managing your 85-man scholarship numbers.
Teams are going to be forced to make quicker decisions on players and their futures. I still wonder though if we are going to see signing day pushed to January, and college football going back to having just one? Everything about this December has felt so rushed. Is that a good thing for the health of the game?
Sean Callahan can be reached at email@example.com and he can be heard each day at 6:45 am and 5:05 pm on Big Red Radio 1110 KFAB in Omaha during the football season. He can also be seen on KETV Channel 7 in Omaha during the fall and each week he appears on NET's Big Red Wrap-Tuesday's at 7 pm.