Steven M. Sipple: Why we (still) ask about NU declining bowl bid; and turnoff talk in Omaha

Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez dives for yardage against Rutgers last December in Piscataway, New Jersey. 

It’s become one of my favorite times of the week.

Mailbag time. Thank you for all your questions. 

Why do you and other media keep asking about Nebraska’s decision to skip playing in a bowl game? #oldnews — Mick G.  

I miss covering Nebraska in bowl season. This way we can at least discuss bowl season. 

OK, it’s actually more than that. 

If the Scott Frost era at Nebraska were to end this year, the players’ vote in December to decline a bowl bid would go down as a defining moment in his tenure. The vote occurred Dec. 20, the day after the Rutgers game in New Jersey. Husker players haven’t been available for media interviews to any great extent since that time — until now. So there’s that.

By the way, a big thank you to Frost for allowing in-person media interviews with players and coaches this spring. It gives the fan base a chance to hear their thoughts on a variety of topics, including the decision to bypass the bowl season even though Nebraska athletic director Bill Moos had lined up at least two possibilities for games. 

Bottom line, I think it’s important to hear from a few more players on the subject.

If you heard (or watched on video of) Nebraska safety Deontai Williams’ passionate response to a question regarding the subject, you understand it was an important topic within the walls of North Stadium. Williams clearly thought the Huskers should’ve played in a game. It’s worth repeating that a lot of Huskers wanted to play, especially those on the defensive side of the ball. 

Williams went so far as to say Nebraska declining a bid was indicative of “a culture thing” in the program that needs to be changed for the better. 

Let’s be real, though. This is a fairly complex issue. The season was a rugged COVID-19 grind. A rugged season in general. Nebraska starting quarterback Adrian Martinez said this week that he might not have been able to play in a bowl game because of injuries. 

“If it was a week later, who knows, I think I could’ve found a way to play, but I was pretty beat up from a season and then also from the (Rutgers game) — I wasn’t in the best of shape,” he said. “But who knows?” 

Keep in mind, backup QB Luke McCaffrey opted out of the Rutgers game at basically the last minute — he made the trip before deciding against suiting up — so Nebraska likely would’ve been down to a third-stringer for a bowl game.

I’ve said it before: I understand the decision to not play. But I also feel for the players who genuinely wanted a chance to follow up the win at Rutgers. Those are the players I most admire.  

What’s with your silence regarding the issues being raised about the NCAA volleyball tournament in Omaha? What say you? — Rebecca T.  

My overarching reaction is we’ve almost gotten through a pandemic. How about a little gratitude? 

That said, some of the concerns seem valid. For instance, coaches complained that the NCAA needed to use Taraflex courts in the convention center to protect athletes. The NCAA responded. Matter resolved. 

Some of the other concerns strike me as whiny. 

The first three rounds will be played in the CHI Health Center convention center. There are four competition courts and eight practice courts. There’s been some howling about teams not having locker rooms. The NCAA says each team will have a secure changing area on site.

Is it ideal? Of course not. But we’re still in a pandemic. Hardly anything is completely normal, or ideal. Safety at a high level still matters.

You know what I’d like to hear? Coaches and players expressing thanks that they get to compete for a championship. That they get to stay in gorgeous hotels in downtown Omaha, walking distance from the arena. That they get to eat for free. That they get an incredible experience with teammates, something they can cherish for a lifetime. I like it every time I hear any coach say, “We’ll play anyone, anywhere, even in a parking lot.” Give me some of that. 

All the complaining is a turnoff. 

You hear people saying they should play matches at Ralston Arena and Creighton and UNO. Did that idea just now dawn on people? Why is that being brought up at the last minute instead of weeks ago? 

Maybe it’s all designed to draw attention to the event. 

I’m not falling into that trap. Or maybe I just did. Darn it.  

Sip, why do you think Nebraska hasn’t been able to land a solid contributor from Iowa Western? They have a solid program and are only an hour away. Do you think (Ryan) Held and S.F. are overlooking Iowa Western? — Regg C. 

Nebraska isn’t overlooking Iowa Western. Frost has offered scholarships to its players. A defensive lineman ended up going to Oklahoma, and a receiver went to Maryland. There were others. Nebraska has gone after Iowa Western’s big fish. But competition for players is tough. Recruiting guru Sean Callahan of tells of being at an Iowa Western practice and seeing coaches from Alabama, Oregon and TCU, among others. 

Frost and his staff have a good relationship with Iowa Western head coach Scott Strohmeier. Remember, players land at Iowa Western from all over the country. Bottom line, I don’t think there’s an issue here.

If Bill Moos gets the Pac-12 commissioner position, would John Cook be a possible successor and would he want it (leave his legacy role as NU volleyball coach)? — Roger K. 

Double-long shot here.

Moos getting the Pac-12 commissioner job is a long shot. An extreme long shot. There’s no news to report in that regard, by the way. 

Cook becoming Nebraska’s next athletic director also is a long shot. He’s 64. He scoffs at the notion. It’s easy to understand why, in his late 60s, he might not want to be dealing with name, image and likeness matters. With all-important social-media branding for athletes. With the god-awful transfer portal. 

This isn’t the college athletics he signed up for.  

Are we really putting our eggs in (Martinez’s) basket after literally watching three losing seasons in a row? Love the kid but come on, man — anonymous 

Yes, Martinez is the man. He should be the man. Imagine Martinez with Nebraska’s 2013 skill players: Ameer Abdullah, Kenny Bell, Quincy Enunwa, Jordan Westerkamp, Cethan Carter, Alonzo Moore, et al. Think how much better Martinez might look if he didn’t have to carry such a heavy load. Heck, think how good he looked in 2018 with Devine Ozigbo and Stanley Morgan playing so well.  

It’s on Frost to put more weapons around the QB.