In the Husker’s 43-36 win against Arkansas State, the new 3-4 scheme and Bob Diaco’s first effort at the defensive helm were only supposed to be an off-season bullet point in the list of things announcers, media, and pundits talk about leading up to the first game of the season. It could have been easy to just chalk up the elastic Husker defensive effort to the first game of season jitters and learning adjustments to the new system. It would have been simple to move on to the Ducks from there. But then a not-so-simple thing happened (or did not happen), Defensive Coordinator Bob Diaco did not talk to the media after the game.
Like it or not, this void of communication about the defense was then only partially filled by Head Coach Mike Riley, a few players, and then vastly overpowered by the media and internet in general. The story this week was likely just going to be about how the Huskers might have to keep pace with the Ducks, or prevent them from hanging 70 on the scoreboard. But now there will be an ever increasing microscopic eye to every 10 to 15 yard cushion a corner has on an Oregon receiver. And now even the casual fans are going to be reading about the adjustments to look for in the second half.
Oh wait, the Husker fans were going to be doing this anyways. But it was not going to be a big deal, just business as usual with the normal amount of over-analyzing heading into Eugene, Oregon. Now, the effort put forth by players like JD Spielman and Tanner Lee are getting slightly overshadowed in what should be a time for them to shine. In the collection of Lincoln Journal Star and Omaha World-Herald late Saturday night into Sunday, there were a few inches above the fold devoted to just the fact Diaco did not show up and speak to the media. Husker fans on the internet seemed to be in a slight panic until this well written piece by an ex-cohort Brandon Vogel made the rounds: https://hailvarsity.com/s/2054/nebraskas-defense-will-be-fine.
On Monday, Diaco spoke profusely to the media. There were coach-isms, statistics, and upcoming opponent analysis. He was compensating. The fan in me was accepting of this, seeing that he knew he made a mistake and this is rectified for the season. The wanna-be journalist in me feels a share of the mild rage of having to fill a void with commentary on the post-game antics of a key defensive coach, something we were hoping to avoid in the Mike Riley era. (Whadda YOU think?). Whether intentional, a miscommunication, or a public relations mistake, it will be clear Diaco will be speaking after every game the rest of the season and we can get back to focusing on the football, rather than any thought about the behavior of a coach again.