Randy York's N-Sider
On Monday, Mark Packer made his first-ever visit to Lincoln. Houston Nutt, his sidekick on SiriusXM’s College Sports Nation Camp Tour, returned to Nebraska’s Capital City for the first time in 31 years. Perhaps that’s why both were gushing about almost every aspect of Nebraska Athletics during three full hours of interviews on nationwide satellite radio. Shawn Eichorst did an admirable job anchoring the first hour of interviews, and Tom Osborne was a worthy cleanup hitter that ended the third and final hour of Nebraska campus interviews in Memorial Stadium’s North lobby.
Packer and Nutt were both “blown away” by everything they saw and heard from Nebraska’s Director of Athletics and the Hall-of-Fame football coach who was his predecessor. Charlotte-based Packer described his first experience in Lincoln as something similar to "walking through the College Football Hall of Fame." Nebraska Coach Bo Pelini and his two coordinators, Tim Beck and John Papuchis, were skillful interviews, and Packer raved about the highly focused academic visions of three offensive players – Taylor Martinez, Ameer Abdullah and Spencer Long – plus defensive players Ciante Evans and Jason Ankrah.
The most intriguing news hook emerging from SiriusXM’s Lincoln stop, the third on a 20-school nationwide campus tour, was Packer asking Osborne if he'd be interested in becoming the “czar” for the College Football Playoff which will replace the Bowl Championship Series in 2014.
Packer: Committee of 24 Needs a Leader
SiriusXM's hosts and Osborne discussed the state of college football and agreed that the first playoff is guaranteed controversy. Packer pointed out how a committee of 24 athletic directors and "other special college football people" needs a leader, especially when it comes down to which school should be the No. 4-seed in a four-team national playoff and which school(s) should sit at home and watch that historic event on national television.
Packer asked Osborne if he’d be interested in becoming “a czar, the president, the guy in charge” of the College Football Playoff Committee. “I don’t know. I tried to be governor and couldn’t make that. I don’t think I could make a czar,” Osborne said, drowning in his own laughter. The son of legendary college basketball analyst Billy Packer, "The Packman" pressed on. “If I said to you, ‘Tom, I know you’re going fishing, but for people who say college football needs a czar, would you be the guy? What would you say? If someone said ‘Listen, you’re the guy!’ Would you give it some thought or would you just be flattered and let it go?"
Osborne Would Consult with Wife Nancy
Osborne answered a series of serious questions semi-seriously. “You never know till the time comes,” he said, pointing out that “I have this lady I’m married to …”
“She might want you back out of the house by then,” Packer quipped.
“I drug her through 36 years of football and five years of Congress and five more years as AD,” Osborne said. “So that’s something she’d have to think about as well as me. I don’t know about this czar thing, but I do hope that whoever makes that decision … they need some football people involved because, you know, ADs and conference commissioners add a perspective, but when it comes right down to it, you need to have somebody who knows the difference between a 4-3 and a zone defense and a cover 2 and what good offensive line play looks like. I think the line play is as important as the kicking game and plays into it. I think they ought to involve some football people. I think that would be good. It will be interesting to see how it all works out.”
Packer, Nutt: No One Would Be Better than T.O.
At the end of the day, I asked Packer and Nutt about their views on the answer they were seeking from Osborne. Would he be a worthy czar for the College Football Playoff?
“He’s Tom Osborne,” Packer said. “He would be a great czar for college football. I think he would be fantastic!”
“I think he would be the best out there,” Nutt said. “I mean, how could you argue? He knows football, and we all want somebody with integrity and honesty.”
“He even understands politics,” Packer interjected.
“That’s why you want somebody who understands every single aspect of the game,” Nutt chimed in.
“I mean, if somebody wanted to break a tie, I’d have Tom Osborne break every tie,” Packer told me.
Nutt added another bullet-proof fact. “Whatever Tom Osborne says, goes,” he said, “even if Nebraska's involved because with him, it doesn’t matter. He will always do the right thing.”
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