Category Archives: Huskers News

Big Ten Tournament Notes: Scoreless Streak Ends for Husker Freshman Matt Waldron

Nebraska’s freshman starter lost his lengthy scoreless streak and wasn’t as sharp as he’s been, but still managed to give NU a chance to win Thursday.

Right-hander Matt Waldron had gone 182⁄3 innings without allowing a run when he stepped on the mound in the Huskers’ elimination game against Indiana. The Hoosiers broke through against him in the fourth, scoring twice — but Waldron managed to keep the game close until he was pulled in the sixth inning of NU’s 6-2 loss.

Waldron walked three for the first time all year. He needed 12 pitches to retire the first seven hitters he faced, but lost his command after that.

“I struggled a little bit with keeping it down in the zone,” Waldron said. “I tried to keep the ball on the ground and let the defense play. They did a great job.”

An error on a two-out grounder by third baseman Jake Placzek allowed Indiana to tie the game 1-1 in the fourth. The next batter, Brian Wilhite, put the Hoosiers in front with a bloop single that landed just in front of a diving Jake Meyers in right field. But Placzek also turned a key double play to help limit the damage in that inning.

Waldron pitched at least five innings in all 10 of his starts this season.

Hoosiers rise and shine

The Hoosiers had early wake-up calls on back-to-back days. And that didn’t bother them one bit.

Indiana followed the same path in the 2015 Big Ten tournament. IU played in the first game, lost, then had to come back for the next morning’s elimination game.

The Hoosiers lost to Maryland 5-3 Wednesday morning. They bounced back to beat Nebraska on Thursday.

The alarms started blaring at 5:30 a.m. The team ate breakfast at 6. The team bus left the hotel at 6:30.

The Hoosiers might use that same routine Friday — though they won’t play until 5 p.m., when they’ll face the loser of the Maryland-Michigan State game.

“We’ve played four the last two years, so we’re trying to flip our game (Friday) to a 9 a.m. game,” Indiana coach Chris Lemonis said, smiling. “That was the first thing (the players) asked: ‘What time do we play (Friday)?’”

Better attitude pays off for IU

The Hoosiers may have been trying too hard to make things happen during their recent stretch of defeats, senior starting pitcher Caleb Baragar said.

They had a shot at the regular-season championship during the final series at Haymarket Park last week, but made mistakes and lost all three contests to Nebraska.

They opened the Big Ten tournament Wednesday, knowing they had to win the whole thing to keep their season alive. And Maryland sent them to the losers bracket.

But Indiana took the field Thursday with a better attitude, Baragar said.

“At this point, we’ve just got to win,” Baragar said. “I thought everyone had a lot of energy (Thursday) — that was really good.”

The Hoosiers have been the Big Ten’s most successful program lately, qualifying for three straight NCAA regionals. They won the league’s regular-season and tournament titles in 2013 and 2014. But they may have felt the pressure to live up to that standard.

“We flew in last week with a lot of expectations, and nothing has gone right for us until (Thursday),” Lemonis said. “So I give our kids a lot of credit.”

Bits and pieces

» The TD Ameritrade grounds crew covered the infield right after Michigan secured a 3-2 win over Minnesota. The tarp was never removed. Two games were postponed until Friday. No. 6 seed Maryland and No. 7 seed Michigan State will play at 9 a.m., while No. 4 seed Ohio State will meet No. 8 seed Iowa at 1 p.m. No. 3 seed Indiana and No. 5 seed Michigan await the losers for a pair of Friday night elimination games, set for 5 and 9 p.m.

» Nebraska has lost five consecutive conference tournament games, dating to 2014.

» Minnesota and Nebraska, the two top seeds, both went 0-2 this week. It’s the first time the top two Big Ten tournament seeds have been eliminated without recording a win since the league moved to a six-team field in 2000 (and then eight in 2014).

Huskers Go Two-and-Out at the Big Ten Tournament

The pitches most susceptible to hard contact were the ones Nebraska’s hitters watched sail by, and the rest of the offerings could only be softly knocked into the field of play.

That’s how NU’s top prospect summed up the Huskers’ short stay in the Big Ten tournament, a disappointing showing from the local favorites who were bounced from the double-elimination event before lunchtime Thursday without much of a fight.

No. 2 seed Nebraska managed just three runs on six hits during its two defeats in Omaha — while its opponents, scrappy and determined, battled in almost every single scenario, rewarded often with some clutch hits that NU’s lineup simply could not regularly produce.

No. 3 seed Indiana (32-23) sealed the Huskers’ tournament fate with a 6-2 victory Thursday. Nebraska (37-20) does appear to have a good case for an NCAA regional at-large bid, but junior Ryan Boldt and his teammates surely didn’t intend for a punchless attack to define their brief appearance at TD Ameritrade Park.

“We just didn’t get it done. That’s the bottom-line,” said Boldt, NU’s talented center fielder. “It felt like we were ready to play, but when the first pitch goes out, we just didn’t come right offensively with a good enough approach to score some runs.”

Their opponents didn’t make it easy this week, either.

Michigan State left-hander Cam Vieaux, a 19th-round MLB draft pick last summer, set up camp in the bottom of the strike zone for 8-2/3 innings with a low-90s fastball and a deceptive slider. Indiana left-hander Caleb Baragar, who’d held opposing batters to a .210 average coming in, attacked for six innings with a late-moving, chest-high fastball Thursday. IU relievers Thomas Belcher (a side-arm throwing right-hander) and Jake Kelzer (a 14th-round pick last year) had no trouble finishing Nebraska off Thursday.

But despite the other teams’ pitching talent, coach Darin Erstad thought the Huskers should have been better.

They had just one inning with multiple base runners in two games. Their leadoff man reached just three times. They only struck out six times in Omaha — but they popped out to the infield seven times Wednesday, and then ended up with 15 harmless popflies Thursday.

“That’s this time of year, you’re going to face quality pitching,” Erstad said. “But we’re better than three hits a game.”

Freshman catcher Jesse Wilkening did deliver a two-out single in the sixth inning Thursday, a line drive to left field that scored Boldt and tied the game at 2-2. But Indiana answered right back.

Sophomore Logan Sowers and freshman Luke Miller each had two-out, RBI-hits against senior reliever Jeff Chesnut in the seventh inning. Sophomore Laren Eustace launched a two-run homer into the right-field bullpen in the eighth. All six of the Hoosiers’ runs Thursday came with two outs.

“Everybody contributed,” Sowers said. “It seemed like a lot of guys had big hits. Just a lot of guys doing their job.”

The win for Indiana, which was swept by NU at Haymarket Park last week, keeps the Hoosiers alive in the Big Ten tournament loser’s bracket. They have to win a championship and earn the league’s automatic bid to work their way into an NCAA regional.

Nebraska, however, has already done enough to keep playing into June — at least according to Erstad. As of Saturday afternoon, the Huskers were 44th in the RPI and had produced a 14-13 record against the metric’s top 100 teams. The NCAA projections all included NU at the start of the week.

“We’re going to continue to prepare like we’re going to play (in a regional),” Erstad said. “We put ourselves in this situation. I feel like we’re deserving. When we’re full strength, we’re pretty good. Hopefully we have an opportunity to show that.”

Nebraska didn’t have slugger Scott Schreiber (abdominal injury) at the Big Ten tournament. His timetable for recovery is unknown, according to Erstad.

But jumpstarting NU’s offense again may require more than just adding its No. 1 power bat back into the mix. The Huskers never looked comfortable at the plate this week, and if they’re fortunate enough to continue their season, they don’t have much time to return to form.

“We faced some very good teams, but I’d like to see our boys play some more baseball,” Erstad said.

The full 64-team field will be announced beginning at 11 a.m. Monday. The NCAA will release the tournament’s 16 regional host sites Sunday night.

Andrew White III to Return for Senior Season

Lincoln – Andrew White III announced Wednesday evening that he has withdrawn from the NBA Draft and will return for his senior season at the University of Nebraska.

“I felt good about the pre-draft process, White said. “It was encouraging, and I gained as much ground as anyone throughout the process. I wanted one more year to fine tune my game and put myself in better position for the NBA next summer.  I want to thank the teams who invited me their in-house workouts, and Nebraska for supporting me during this process.  It has been very helpful in gathering information in preparation for my future Thank you to everyone who has been following my progress throughout the spring and being understanding and supportive, as I evaluated whether to turn pro or return for my senior year.”

White, a 6-foot-7, 216-pound guard, earned honorable-mention All-Big Ten honors in 2015-16, averaging 16.6 points and a team-high 5.9 rebounds per game. He ranked among the Big Ten leaders in scoring (sixth), rebounding (15th) and 3-point percentage (fourth) in his first season as a Husker.

White reached double figures in 28 contests, including a pair of 30-point efforts. He had a career-high 35 points, including six 3-pointers, against Penn State on Feb. 13. White also topped the Huskers with three double-doubles in his first season at Nebraska.  White, who had nine 20-point games in 2015-16, closed the year with a 25-point performance against Maryland in the Big Ten quarterfinals.

“We are excited to have Andrew remain with our program,” Nebraska Coach Tim Miles said. “This has been a valuable time for him, as he has tested his skills against some of the best competition and received very important insight from key NBA personnel.  We look forward to continuing to help Andrew’s development to improve his NBA profile even more than he already has done through this process.  I believe next year could be our most complete team with a great opportunity for success in the Big Ten and NCAA tournament, I’m happy Andrew will be with us to go out and prove it.”

White’s return bolsters Nebraska’s lineup, as six of the Huskers’ top eight scorers return for 2016-17 as part of a group of seven returning letterwinners. In all, the group combined for nearly 69 percent of its scoring and 70 percent of the team’s rebounding last season. White’s 16.6 ppg is second among all Big Ten returnees entering 2016-17.

White is one of four players who started at least 16 games last year. Fellow rising senior Tai Webster averaged 10.0 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game while Glynn Watson Jr. (8.6 apg; 2.4 apg) and sophomore forwardMichael Jacobson (4.7 ppg; 4.3 rpg) both were starters as true freshmen in 2015-16.
NU also welcomes Louisville transfer Anton Gill, and a three-member freshman class (Jeriah Horne, Isaiah Roby, Jordy Tshimanga) which were all ranked in the top-150 seniors nationally by Rivals.com.

Approximately 2,000 Nebraska Football Season Tickets will be Available to the Public June 1

LINCOLN — Nebraska has approximately 2,000 football season tickets available after going through its renewal process for 2016, and will make those seats available to the public on June 1.

Diane Mendenhall, the NU associate athletic director for development and ticket operations, said Wednesday that the renewal rate from 2015 was consistent with most years at about 95 percent.

Those were handled through the online “Seat Yourself” process for the third year and were completed Tuesday. That step also covered those who previously had been on the Huskers’ request list.

Mendenhall said the remaining season tickets are located throughout Memorial Stadium, and expected to be in solid demand.

“If you use last year as a benchmark, it took about 30 hours,” she said. “So we anticipate there will be a high interest. We’re enthusiastic about how fast they will sell, especially right now when it seems there’s a positive vibe about the 2016 season.”

Starting at 10 a.m. on June 1, the season tickets become available atwww.Huskers.com/tickets, by visiting the NU ticket office across from Memorial Stadium or by calling 1-800-8BIGRED. Individuals can purchase up to eight tickets.

Also, Nebraska has made single-game tickets immediately available to the Fresno State, Illinois, Purdue and Maryland home contests. Those come from those visitors — through contracted allotments with non-conference opponents or communication with conference opponents — that are not planned to be used.

Fans currently can file request for single-game tickets to the other three home games, but with allocation or availability to purchase not happening until July.

Mendenhall said Nebraska has made some tweaks to the Seat Yourself system to “make it even more user-friendly.” The Ballena Technologies site was first used in 2014, and helps visitors see where tickets are available, get a feel for the view of the field from that spot and know what accompanying donation is required, if there is one.

She said Husker fans take advantage of it for more than just renewing and staying put.

“We have somebody monitoring it all the time, and it’s interesting to watch,” Mendenhall said. “For instance, we had a family in the upper North Stadium that moved to the 40-yard line on the west. It’s interesting to see how people move around the stadium. And people with four tickets might pick up four more.”

Mendenhall said Nebraska currently is the only school to use the Seat Yourself for five sports — football, baseball, volleyball and men’s and women’s basketball.

“Our fans absolutely love it,” she said. “It’s a very transparent process.”

Nebraska will start next season with an NCAA-record 347 consecutive sellouts. Crowds exceed 90,000 since the East Stadium expansion project.

During a recent Huskers tour of the state that included football coach Mike Riley and Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst, NU development officer Jack Pierce told a crowd in Columbus that the sellout streak was in jeopardy for three games last year, according to the Associated Press. Pierce said he had to call on friends of the program a few days before each of those games to handle tickets that had been returned by the opponent.

Mendenhall said if you look at industry standards, there are always returns as events get closer. She said Nebraska fans are conditioned to know that game-week tickets often become available, but that development officers also can help out, and that “Jack is one of our better voices” and with a large number of friends.

Mendenhall said NU is confident with selling the remaining season tickets, and glad that new fans can come aboard.

“You always have that natural attrition that occurs,” she said. “There’s always an opportunity every year, and we want to really create an awareness so people can continue that tradition with their families and get into Memorial Stadium.”

Nebraska Women will Play at Virginia Tech in ACC/Big Ten Challenge

The Nebraska women’s basketball team drew a road game at Virginia Tech for the 2016 ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The Huskers are 2-3 in the event, with both wins coming at home in the last two seasons. NU is 0-2 on the road, with losses at Georgia Tech and North Carolina. NU was beaten at home by Maryland in 2012.

Both the Hokies and Huskers played in the WNIT last season, and both teams feature first-year head coaches. Virginia Tech hired Kenny Brooks from James Madison after the school fired Dennis Wolff, who had four losing seasons in five years. Nebraska hired Amy Williams after longtime coach Connie Yori resigned from her position amid an investigation into her program.

The game in Blacksburg continues what may be Nebraska’s toughest nonconference schedule in many years. The Huskers will have a game at rival Creighton, which could be a preseason favorite in the Big East, a spot in the generally rigorous preseason WNIT, and a home game with Connecticut.

2016 ACC/Big Ten Challenge schedule

Wednesday, Nov. 30

Michigan State at Syracuse

Notre Dame at Iowa

Florida State at Minnesota

Purdue at Pittsburgh

Wake Forest at Illinois

Thursday, Dec. 1

Indiana at NC State

Nebraska at Virginia Tech

Duke at Rutgers

Penn State at Boston College

Maryland at Louisville

North Carolina at Wisconsin

Michigan at Georgia Tech

Virginia at Northwestern

Miami at Ohio State

Big Ten Baseball Tournament Notes: NU has Freshman of Year, 8 Total Honored; Beware of Box-Office Lines and More

Eight Nebraska players were honored by the Big Ten with postseason awards Tuesday, including freshman of the year Chad Luensmann.

Luensmann, a reliever from Altoona, Pennsylvania, is the first Husker to earn the award in the Big Ten. He tied for the league lead with 13 saves (an NU freshman record), recorded a 1.26 ERA and held opponents to a .171 batting average. He was a unanimous choice to the conference’s all-freshman team and was also named to the All-Big Ten second team.

Sophomore Scott Schreiber, who led the conference with 16 home runs and finished second with 55 RBIs, was named to the All-Big Ten first team. Schreiber, from Menasha, Wisconsin, played first base and right field for much of the year. He batted .320.

Junior center fielder Ryan Boldt and senior shortstop Steven Reveles were second-team honorees, along with Luensmann. Sophomore pitcher and right fielder Jake Meyers and junior Ben Miller were named to the third team.

Freshman Matt Waldron was a unanimous selection to the Big Ten’s all-freshman team. Senior catcher Taylor Fish was nominated for a sportsmanship award.

The league named Minnesota’s Matt Fiedler the player of the year, Illinois’ Cody Sedlock the pitcher of the year and Minnesota’s John Anderson the coach of the year.

Beware of box-office lines

Fans planning to purchase single-day tickets at the ballpark box office Wednesday may want to plan for long wait times the closer it gets to Nebraska’s 1 p.m. Big Ten tournament opener.

More than 4,000 fans bought walk-up tickets the day of NU’s first game in this event two years ago. TD Ameritrade Park officials are preparing for a similar showing.

Nearly 8,000 (all-session and single-day) tickets have been sold in advance of Wednesday’s game. A crowd of more than 10,000 is anticipated for the Nebraska-Michigan State matchup.

The TD Ameritrade Park box office is scheduled to open at 8 a.m., one hour before the 9 a.m. Indiana-Maryland game. Fans are allowed one re-entry pass per game.

Schreiber still ‘day-to-day’

Nebraska will likely be without its top slugger for the first day of the Big Ten tournament and possibly the entire event.

Schreiber missed the final two regular season games because of what was initially thought to be a groin injury but has been since diagnosed as a lower abdominal strain. He didn’t practice Tuesday. His timetable for recovery is unknown.

The timing of the injury is especially unfortunate for Schreiber, who had homered five times in his last three games.

“It’s day-to-day,” coach Darin Erstad said. “I just don’t have any updates right now.”

Nebraska has gone 6-2 without Schreiber, its home run and RBI leader.

Plans in place for rain delays

The week’s weather forecast includes the probability of rain on nearly every day, and Erstad notes that it could impact how coaches handle their pitching rotations.

In-game delays. Postponements. Suspended games.

Anything is possible. So the teams, particularly their pitchers, will just have to react in the moment.

“We’re going to have to deal with it as it comes,” Erstad said. “It can get to be challenging as far as managing the pitching, but fortunately we have some depth and guys that can go multiple innings. Everybody’s in the same boat, so we’ll see.”

If there are rain delays, the coaches have agreed not to start any games later than 10 p.m. It will take about one hour between games for teams to warm up and for the grounds crew to prepare the field. At this point, only two games are scheduled for Friday, so there could be room to fit in a couple of extra games.

Sunday’s title game is set for 1 p.m. The NCAA selection show is Monday.

Big Ten Baseball Tournament Capsules

No. 1 Minnesota

Record: 34-18, 16-7

RPI ranking: 46

Last 10 games: 5-5

Record vs. the field: 8-6

Big Ten hitting stats: .304 batting average, 5.8 runs per game, 21 home runs, .440 slugging percentage

Big Ten pitching stats: 2.99 ERA, 7.6 strikeouts per nine innings, .241 opponent batting average, 10 saves

Players to watch: Jr. C Austin Athmann (.376, 11 HR, 38 RBI), Jr. DH/RHP Matt Fiedler (.383, 7 HR, 36 RBI; 7-2, 3.67), Sr. LHP Dalton Sawyer (7-5, 3.31), Jr. RHP Toby Anderson (7-1, 3.28)

No. 2 Nebraska

Record: 37-18, 16-8

RPI ranking: 36

Last 10 games: 8-2

Record vs. the field: 5-4

Big Ten hitting stats: .290 batting average, 5.6 runs per game, 11 home runs, .394 slugging percentage

Big Ten pitching stats: 3.91 ERA, 6.0 strikeouts per nine innings, .254 opponent batting average, 11 saves

Players to watch: Jr. CF Ryan Boldt (.300, 5 HR, 29 RBI), So. 1B/RF Scott Schreiber (.320, 16 HR, 55 RBI), So. RF/LHP Jake Meyers (.322, 2 HR, 29 RBI; 6-1, 1.38), Fr. RHP Chad Luensmann (1-2, 1.26)

No. 3 Indiana

Record: 31-22, 15-9

RPI ranking: 91

Last 10 games: 4-6

Record vs. the field: 6-6

Big Ten hitting stats: .258 batting average, 4.4 runs per game, 15 home runs, .367 slugging percentage

Big Ten pitching stats: 3.66 ERA, 7.2 strikeouts per nine innings, .247 opponent batting average, 8 saves

Players to watch: Jr. OF Craig Dedelow (.315, 5 HR, 36 RBI), So. OF Logan Sowers (.267, 8 HR, 22 RBI), Sr. LHP Kyle Hart (10-3, 3.09), Jr. RHP Jake Kelzer (3-2, 1.66)

No. 4 Ohio State

Record: 38-17-1, 15-9

RPI ranking: 57

Last 10 games: 8-2

Record vs. the field: 7-5

Big Ten hitting stats: .243 batting average, 4.1 runs per game, 17 home runs, .370 slugging percentage

Big Ten pitching stats: 2.63 ERA, 7.2 strikeouts per nine innings, .241 opponent batting average, 9 saves

Players to watch: Jr. OF Ronnie Dawson (.300, 12 HR, 41 RBI), Jr. OF Troy Montgomery (.270, 8 HR, 28 RBI), Sr. SS Nick Sergakis (.352, 8 HR, 44 RBI), Jr. LHP Tanner Tully (7-3, 2.31)

No. 5 Michigan

Record: 35-19, 13-10

RPI ranking: 37

Last 10 games: 3-7

Record vs. the field: 6-8

Big Ten hitting stats: .296 batting average, 6.7 runs per game, 17 home runs, .432 slugging percentage

Big Ten pitching stats: 4.77 ERA, 8.4 strikeouts per nine innings, .260 opponent batting average, 2 saves

Players to watch: Jr. C Harrison Wenson (.300, 8 HR, 56 RBI), Sr. OF Cody Bruder (.384, 2 HR, 52 RBI), Jr. 1B/RF/LHP Carmen Benedetti (.332, 3 HR, 32 RBI; 1-1, 2.45), Jr. LHP Brett Adcock (7-4, 2.66)

No. 6 Maryland

Record: 28-25, 13-11

RPI ranking: 58

Last 10 games: 4-6

Record vs. the field: 7-5

Big Ten hitting stats: .237 batting average, 4.2 runs per game, 12 home runs, .326 slugging percentage

Big Ten pitching stats: 3.00 ERA, 6.7 strikeouts per nine innings, .228 opponent batting average, 2 saves

Players to watch: So. SS Kevin Smith (.267, 8 HR, 33 RBI), Fr. OF Marty Costes (.264, 8 HR, 34 RBI), So. RHP Taylor Bloom (6-4, 2.46), Jr. RHP Mike Shawaryn (5-4, 3.30)

No. 7 Michigan State

Record: 34-18, 13-11

RPI ranking: 83

Last 10 games: 4-6

Record vs. the field: 6-9

Big Ten hitting stats: .278 batting average, 4.7 runs per game, 12 home runs, .390 slugging percentage

Big Ten pitching stats: 2.98 ERA, 8.4 strikeouts per nine innings, .255 opponent batting average, 8 saves

Players to watch: Jr. 1B Jordan Zimmerman (.386, 8 HR, 34 RBI), Jr. 2B Dan Durkin (.330, 6 HR, 30 RBI), Jr. LHP Cam Vieaux (6-4, 2.41), So. RHP Dakota Mekkes (3-1, 1.35)

No. 8 Iowa

Record: 27-25, 12-12

RPI ranking: 86

Last 10 games: 6-4

Record vs. the field: 8-10

Big Ten hitting stats: .274 batting average, 4.2 runs per game, 10 home runs, .362 slugging percentage

Big Ten pitching stats: 3.86 ERA, 5.9 strikeouts per nine innings, .251 opponent batting average, 7 saves

Players to watch: Sr. OF Joel Booker (.344, 5 HR, 32 RBI), Sr. SS Nick Roscetti (.312, 3 HR, 35 RBI), Sr. 1B/RHP Tyler Peyton (.320, 4 HR, 23 RBI; 4-5, 4.28), So. RHP Nick Gallagher (7-3, 2.84)

Nebraska’s Shawn Eichorst, Others in Big Ten Favor Earlier Paid Visits, Early Signing Period

College football may be closing in on significant change to the when, where and how of recruiting.

“More so than ever, there is optimism,’’ Nebraska Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst said at the Big Ten meetings. “The devil is in the details. I have not heard folks are totally opposed to revisiting the entire recruiting calendar.

“I think you have to. Recruiting has totally changed. This is a national recruiting situation. I get the regional stuff if you are in a region with population, but a majority of us don’t have that. So I think you need to look at it from a national platform.’’

The machinery for change appears in place following the NCAA’s retooling of its governance system, essentially allowing Power Five schools to craft their own rules.

The Big Ten has two prominent people in that structure.

Eichorst is on the Division I Football Oversight Committee. And above that, Northwestern A.D. Jim Phillips is chairman of the NCAA Division I Council.

That doesn’t mean these men can force change, but both will be intricately involved in what’s to come.

“We’re at a time with our structure where we can definitely preserve what we have but also improve and enhance the game from A to Z,’’ Eichorst said. “Big Ten people are interested in recruiting, early signing, camps and regional clinics.

“If you are thinking about early signing, you have to think about earlier access. And now that we are able to pay for parents to make official visits, we have to look at staff sizes to handle that.’’

Big Ten schools have different ideas on what recruiting calendar changes to consider.

West Division schools, which generally are farther from large population centers, are interested in allowing paid official visits in the summer. The current calendar, which allows official visits once the fall semester begins, often limits how many recruits can come from long distances.

Schools in both divisions differ on whether a December signing period is worthwhile.

One thing apparently all agree on is that Big Ten schools aren’t disadvantaged in the current world of recruiting, despite the oversigning that occurs most often in the SEC and ACC.

“I really don’t see us disadvantaged,’’ Michigan State A.D. Mark Hollis said. “I chose and love being in the Big Ten. There are pros and cons that come with that.’’

Eichorst said he also hasn’t heard any excuse-making from conference colleagues.

“We have so many incredible strengths in the league,’’ he said. “And then, look at the output. We’ve been doing pretty well.’’

Still, change often is good, and new roads have been built to consider change.

“Today is a different day,’’ Eichorst said. “It’s a new structure. The oversight committee has certain authority and autonomy to try to bring fundamental fairness.

“The level-playing-field thing is not a reality, but I think there is fundamental fairness.’’

Eichorst said he holds monthly teleconferences with Big Ten athletic directors and football coaches to let them know what the committee is talking about and to get input for future conversations.

“There are times you have to put on your (Big Ten) hat based on where you’re at,’’ he said, “and then there are times you have to take it off in the room with other committee colleagues.’’

The NCAA governance process has long been more like a march through mud than a speedy freeway ride. The new system gives hope that those in charge can address more issues in far less time.

“For me, nothing is off the table,’’ Eichorst said. “You’ve got to keep football as healthy as we possibly can, at all levels.’’

Nebraska to Face Clemson in Big Ten/ACC Challenge

Nebraska will face Clemson for the first time in men’s basketball as part of next season’s Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

The Tigers will host the game Nov. 30 in Littlejohn Coliseum. Tipoff time and television information will be announced later. ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU will combine to televise all 14 games of the three-day event that matches teams from the two conferences.

Nebraska has made four appearances in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge under Tim Miles, going 3-1 in those contests. Only three teams from the conference have a winning record in the challenge. The Big Ten won eight of the 14 games last season.

Nebraska fell in overtime to a ranked Miami team in last season’s Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

Clemson finished the season 17-14 overall and 10-8 in the conference. The Tigers are 9-7 all-time in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge and lost last year to Minnesota.

This gives Nebraska a fifth nonconference game away from home for the 2016-17 season. The Huskers will travel to Kansas on Dec. 10 as the first leg of a home-and-home series. NU will also head to California to participate in the Wooden Legacy (Nov. 24-27), an eight-team tournament with Texas A&M, UCLA and Dayton, among others.

Pitchers’ Attacking Mentality Fuels Huskers’ Surge Heading to Big Ten Tournament in Omaha

LINCOLN — Nebraska freshman Matt Waldron pulled aside his pitching coach Saturday morning to extend his appreciation for the strategic pitch selection that helped him cruise through eight innings of shutout baseball a day earlier.

Ted Silva, who’s called pitches from the NU dugout for the last five years, told Waldron the same thing he’s said to every other pitcher he’s worked with, and anyone else who’s considered crediting Silva for providing a tactical edge.

“It has nothing to do with the pitch called,” Silva said.

An inside fastball can suddenly look appetizing to a hitter if it tails back over the heart of the plate. A breaking ball intended to be buried in the dirt can get scorched if it floats into the hitter’s sweet spot. Sometimes the batters guess right. Other times they just end up creaming what a pitcher thinks is the best offering.

Darin Erstad has said a number of times that Silva constructs a plan of attack for his pitchers, adjusting during the action to stay one step ahead of opponents. NU pitchers have been complimentary, too.

But Silva insists that the men on the mound are typically the ones most responsible.

“It comes down to execution,” Silva said. “You can go through a number of pitches, but if you’re not executing those pitches, then it doesn’t matter what you call.”

That’s the difference in the Husker pitching staff lately, Silva said.

He’s watching his guys, carrying more confidence and fearlessness to the mound, firing pitches in the locations they’re aiming for. Their improvement is the source behind Nebraska’s recent surge.

The Huskers have won 15 of their last 19 games, and their starting pitchers have worked into at least the sixth inning in 18 of them. That only happened 12 times in NU’s first 36 games.

Nebraska pitchers have recorded an ERA of 2.38 and issued an average of 2.5 walks per game since April 19. The team ERA was 4.85 before that. The walk rate was at 4.8 per game back in mid-April.

The mentality has changed, sophomore starter Jake Meyers said.

“(Early in the year) I feel like we went out there and someone would freak out if something wasn’t going their way,” Meyers said. “But honestly, the pitchers have stepped up down the stretch and here at home. They’ve just gone out there, pitch-by-pitch, and have done a great job.”

The entire team seems to feed off the success.

The Husker hitters, who hit 31 home runs in the first 36 games and averaged about six runs, are averaging about one homer every two games now while still scoring 5.4 runs per contest.

The attacking mentality of the pitchers also keeps defenders on their toes. The Huskers have committed 15 errors in their last 19 games and risen 42 spots in the national fielding percentage rankings (they’re now 31st at .976).

“I will say, when you’re walking a lot of guys, it’s very difficult to play defense,” Erstad said. “But now when you’re pounding the zone and throwing strikes, you’re in the rhythm of the game, that can really help. Those two go hand in hand, together. That’s what we’ve had so far the last few weeks.”

NU’s pitchers could be the difference this week at the Big Ten tournament in Omaha. Junior Derek Burkamper is set to start Wednesday’s first-round game, with Waldron and Meyers available after that. Junior Max Knutson has recorded a 1.96 ERA over his past four midweek starts.

Michigan State is expected to start ace Cam Vieaux on Wednesday, and even though the junior left-hander has been recovering from an injury lately, he’s still a legitimate MLB draft prospect. Vieaux has a 2.41 ERA in 13 starts this year.

The Husker coaches are convinced the way they’ve played during this late-season hot streak is the blueprint for success in the postseason. Effective pitching, mistake-free defense and timely hitting.

“When you face quality pitching, you’re not just going to roll out a bunch of hits,” Erstad said. “You have to be able to do the little things in baseball. With the way we’re throwing strikes and playing defense, that gives you a fighting chance.”