Nebraska Cornhuskers

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 17: Head coach Mike Riley of the Nebraska Cornhuskers looks on during the fourth quarter of the game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers on October 17, 2015 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota.Nebraska defeated Minnesota 48-25. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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Mike Riley issues statement after gang-rape victim spoke to his Nebraska players

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When it comes to college sports in general and football specifically, sexual assaults and how to raise awareness to the escalating problem have been front and center of late. Wednesday, Mike Riley put his Nebraska Cornhuskers face-to-face with one such victim.

Nearly two decades ago, Brenda Tracy, a single mother to two young kids at the time, was gang-raped by four men, two of whom were football players on Riley’s Oregon State Beavers. The details, suffice to say, are disgusting.

“[W]hile visiting the apartment of her friend’s boyfriend,” the Lincoln Journal-Star wrote, “[Tracy] accepted a drink of gin and orange juice she will forever believe was drugged, and lost consciousness while she said four men took turns sexually assaulting her over the span of seven hours. In the morning, she said there were condoms and garbage stuck to her naked body.”  The Oregonian described the assault as Tracy having been “gang raped, sodomized, [and] robbed.

The four men were arrested but never charged, and Riley came under fire for suspending the players involved for just one game each. He also came under fire, especially from the alleged victim, for referring to their actions as merely “a bad choice.”

In 2014, however, Riley, following the publishing of Tracy’s story in a powerful article from The Oregonian, invited the victim to speak to his OSU football team.  While Tracy didn’t accept the invitation at the time, the two stayed in touch following Riley’s move to the Cornhuskers, with that long-distance relationship culminating in first a face-to-face meeting Wednesday followed by Tracy speaking to the Cornhuskers football players and sharing her story.

Following what was most certainly an emotional experience for all involved, Riley issued the following statement:

As part of our ongoing educational efforts, I invited Brenda Tracy to Lincoln, to share her experiences with the young men in our program. Brenda has suffered immeasurable pain and has shown the strength and willingness to share her story. Her story today was powerful and I know that it left an indelible imprint on our student-athletes, staff, and myself.

“Sexual assault and harassment are serious issues on campuses across America. We try to recruit young men of character with core values, and once they are here, we educate them on making good decisions and treating all people with the utmost of respect.

“Prior to speaking with the team, Brenda and I had a chance to meet at length. I expressed my sincere gratitude for her willingness to come and I offered my support in her efforts to impact others around the country. Out of respect to Brenda, I will not share details of our conversation but I hope to have the opportunity to continue our dialogue.

“This has been an important day for me and for our football program and we must keep the focus on the victims, and on preventing inexcusable acts in the future.

On her own Twitter account, Tracy posted a photo of her with Riley.

Nebraska, Buffalo set future gridiron date

LINCOLN, NE - SEPTEMPER 6: The Nebraska Cornhuskers play the McNeese State Cowboys  at Memorial Stadium on September 6, 2014 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nebraska defeated McNeese State 31-24. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
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Nebraska announced Tuesday the Cornhuskers will play host to Buffalo in five years.

The visit from the Bulls on Sept. 11, 2021, completes the Nebraska nonconference schedule.

The Cornhuskers will play Northern Illinois at Memorial Stadium on Sept. 4, and Nebraska will travel to old rival Oklahoma on Sept. 18.

Buffalo, which is no stranger to big-name non-conference opponents, is coached by Lance Leipold, who worked at Nebraska from 2001-03 as a member of the recruiting staff.

“This is a great opportunity for our program to compete against a revered program like Nebraska,” Buffalo director of athletics Allen Greene said in a news release. “The experience and exposure gained by playing this game will be invaluable.”

His football program also announced future dates with Rutgers and Delaware State in 2018.

“Playing Big Ten programs like Nebraska and Rutgers is an exciting opportunity for our players and helps us gain valuable exposure as we are always looking to expand our recruiting footprint,” Leipold said in the release.

Big Ten reportedly set to cash in again

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 30: Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany and Big Ten Network president Mark Silverman pose with the Big Ten mascots and Natioanls mascot Screech before the game between the Washington Nationals and the Colorado Rockies at Nationals Park on June 30, 2014 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
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The other Big Ten sports broadcast rights shoe is reportedly ready to drop, and it is full of cash for the oldest major conference.

Sports Business Daily reported Monday morning ESPN has agreed to pay $190 million per year for six years to continue broadcasting Big Ten football and basketball games.

Of course that figure gets more impressive when we recall it is for only roughly half of the conference’s games. The other half already went to Fox Sports for a reported $240 million per year, and CBS is expected to retain some basketball games for $10 million per year.

Then of course there are still the rights owned by the Big Ten Network.

How does it all add up?

SBJ offers some perspective:

The $2.64 billion deals with Fox, ESPN and CBS average $440 million per year and nearly triple the amount ESPN and CBS had been paying for the same programming. ESPN signed a 10-year deal worth $100 million annually in 2006 — a payout that increased to $150 million this year due to the addition of Nebraska, Maryland and Rutgers to the conference. CBS paid an average of around $6 million for its current basketball-only deal.

Also of note: Fox managed to secure the first choice of which weeks it will get first choice of games, meaning the network could pluck away the storied Ohio State-Michigan game that traditionally takes place in late November as the season finale.

That game has been fixture on ESPN/ABC for decades.

Previously, ESPN generally had first pick of games with the Big Ten Network taking what was left.

Price tag for Nebraska dumping Bo Pelini, staff? Nearly $8.5 million

Bo Pelini
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Overhauling a major college football coaching staff is never cheap, and Nebraska is the latest that can attest to that fact of Power Five life.

Following the end of the 2014 regular season, the Cornhuskers fired head coach Bo Pelini, with only one of Pelini’s assistants being retained by Mike Riley.  According to information obtained by the Omaha World-Herald, “[p]arting ways with… Pelini and the rest of his Husker football coaching staff after the 2014 season cost Nebraska close to $8.5 million when tallying the final money paid to his assistants.”

Pelini is on the “Charlie Weis pension plan” as the current Youngstown State head coach is receiving monthly payments of $128,000 from the athletic department and will continue to receive that monthly amount through February of 2019.  The World-Herald writes that “[t]he final buyout for Pelini will cover almost $6.54 million, with mitigated earnings [from the YSU job] lowering that from around the original $7.9 million.”

As for former Pelini assistants, those eight coaches were paid a combined $1,941,501 as compensation for the housecleaning, bringing the total to just shy of $8.5 million.

The buyouts, incidentally, were paid out through athletic department reserves.

Nebraska commit deletes tweet about putting Leonard Fournette to sleep

LSU running back Leonard Fournette (7) scores a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Texas A&M in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015. LSU won 19-7. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)
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Few would argue LSU running back Leonard Fournette will be one of the top college football players entering the 2016 season. Fournette appeared to be the runaway Heisman frontrunner for the bulk of the 2016 season until he and LSU ran into a brick wall against Alabama and were knocked off course as a Heisman favorite and national title contender. Fournette ended the season averaging 162.75 rushing yards per game, roughly 15 more yards per game than his next closest competitor, Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry of Alabama.

So as we inch closer and closer to the start of a new college football season, many are anxious to see Fournette bounce back and reclaim the frontrunner status for the Heisman Trophy in a race that will likely feature the likes of Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson and Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey and perhaps even Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett. Many have reason to fear Fournette, but one confident commit heading to Nebraska in 2017 showed no such fear behind his computer keyboard.

Avery Roberts , a four-star linebacker recruit in the Class of 2017, responded to a tweet praising Fournette yesterday posted by Keith Miller of XOS. With a picture of Fournette running with the football, Miller asked, “What you gone do when this [tiger] comes around the corner?” Roberts, one who has never faced Fournette on the field and likely never will, showed a bit of confidence in his own abilities and suggested he would make the tackle with authority. He didn’t quite say it that way, but that was the implied response.

“Same thing I would do to anyone else,” Roberts said. “Tell him good night and put him to sleep!”

Roberts later deleted the tweet, which is shame because there was nothing too bad about showing that kind of confidence. Perhaps putting someone to sleep was a bit over the top given the sensitive nature the football world is showing to head trauma, and maybe that was part of the reason for taking down the tweet. But if you are a Nebraska fan, you want to see that kind of confidence and intensity from your incoming players. A player who feels he would make the stop on a talent like Fournette should be praised, not bashed.

Yes, Fournette has a track record of making defenders look absolutely silly, but Roberts showed he is not intimidated to go up against the best of the best college football has to offer. Unfortunately, he will likely never get a chance to back up that kind of talk against Fournette. Fournette is expected to head to the NFL in 2017, just as Roberts is coming to Nebraska, and the two programs last faced each other in 1986, which means it could be a while before we see them on the same field again anyway even with a handful of Big Ten-SEC bowl matchups lined up.