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Steven M. Sipple: Davison says he’ll tell it like it is, even with friend Frost on sideline

August 6, 2018

Things I know, and things I think I know:

Matt Davison says people ask him the question frequently.

How critical will he be of Nebraska’s football team as the Husker Sports Network’s color analyst on radio broadcasts? Will he be more hesitant nowadays in that regard? It’s a fair question considering his close relationship with first-year Husker head coach Scott Frost, not to mention his new gig as associate athletic director for football.

“The whole thing is, I want Nebraska to win and always have since I’ve been doing the games (since 2007),” he said. “Am I a homer? Yes. I want us to win and I’ll be the first one to say that. At the same time, if there’s a big mistake that’s made somehow, I’m going to have to point it out.

“We have smart fans. They deserve to hear what’s going on, especially if they’re not watching the game. If something comes up in a game, I’ll deal with it as we go. I don’t know what I’m going to say. Every situation is different: score, time, game management. Scott’s always been great at that sort of thing.”

In a sense, I appreciate that Davison hasn’t given the question much thought. We’re attracted to sports largely because of the inherent spontaneity. So why should we expect Davison to know exactly how he’s going to handle those moments when the head coach makes a poor decision?

Frost does make an occasional questionable decision, right?

Right?

Of course he does.

Said Davison, a teammate of Frost’s on Nebraska’s 1997 national championship squad: “I’m not going into a game thinking, ‘Hey, I can’t say this about these guys or this coach or whatever.’”

Bottom line, Davison thinks his game broadcasts will improve because he’s closer to the program than he’s ever been. He said he’ll be extremely well-prepared for games because he watches practice daily. He’ll better understand what the coaches are trying to accomplish schematically. He’ll know personnel inside and out, almost at the level of a coach. It all makes sense.

Davison notes he also had a close relationship with Bo Pelini, who was 67-27 (.713) as Nebraska’s head coach from 2008-14. Davison spent ample time talking defense with Pelini.

“I had dinners at Bo’s house, I knew his family and children, and he knew mine,” Davison said. “But he understood that I had a job to do. No matter who’s been the coach, I try to be fair. But this is definitely going to be different for me. I don’t think there’s any question about that.”

He paused before driving home what seemed a valid point.

“It’s easy to get caught up in, ‘Oh, can Matt be critical now?’” he said. “That’s what everybody wants to think about. Well, how about you think about the 98 percent of the broadcast where I’m just breaking down the game and analyzing what’s happening? In that aspect of the game, which is the majority of it, I’m going to be better at my job, I would assume, than I’ve been in the past.”

I think most fans are just glad he’ll still be in the booth alongside Greg Sharpe.

* Davison, however, no longer will be involved in the pregame and postgame shows. As for his role as Nebraska men’s basketball analyst, it’s over after 15 years. He said he simply doesn’t have enough time given the demands of his new job.

“I’m going to miss the hoops portion of it, but it’s a grind. I knew that was going to be one of the sacrifices in taking this new gig (as associate AD),” he said.

Davison enjoyed being right near the court for basketball games, as opposed to calling games from near the clouds in massive football stadiums.

* Look for sophomore guard Thomas Allen to “take a big step forward” in 2018-19, Davison says.

The 6-foot-1 Allen averaged 3.2 points in 9.9 minutes per game last season while shooting 35.4 percent from three-point range (17-for-48).

He’s capable of being in the 40 percent range from distance. He has a pretty shot.

* Former Husker safety Kieron Williams’ abilities on special teams, particularly as a kick blocker, could help him make an immediate impression on the Alliance Phoenix, a team in the fledgling Alliance for American Football. Williams signed with the franchise last week and will be coached by Rick Neuheisel.

I just hope Neuheisel keeps doing his radio show on SiriusXM. He’s a natural — insightful and humorous. Doesn’t take himself too seriously.

* Ben Stille, the Nebraska sophomore defensive end from Ashland, recalls the times when he had one of Frost’s parents, either Carol or Larry, as a substitute teacher at Ashland-Greenwood High School. The Frosts live near Ashland.

Carol Frost made an impression on Stille with her math wizardry.

“She’s crazy-smart with math,” he said. “If you had math with her, even if it was a high-level class, you were working hard that day.”

I always preferred subs who specialized in looking the other way.

* Programming note: Nebraska’s first three practices this month — Friday, Saturday and Sunday — had no media availability afterward. That changes Monday morning when defensive coordinator Erik Chinander and other defensive assistants will meet the media horde.

Just 26 days until the opener. But who’s counting?

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