Football Magazine

NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Going Under the Microscope with Kevin Kugler Part II

By Huskerlocker @huskerlocker

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By Erin Sorensen
Yesterday, Husker Locker had the opportunity to learn a little about Kevin Kugler and how he achieved his current status as a sports journalist. Even after having the opportunity to cover many different teams in various sports, Kugler still has a soft spot for Nebraska.
During today's discussion, he talks a bit more about his profession, how he became a Cornhusker fan, and his predictions for the rest of the season. Kugler even shows that his job can be unpredictable (if not a little bit funny) by rehashing the great “TD Ameritradgey” that occurred during last summer’s College World Series.
ES: You graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1994. Were you always a Nebraska fan?
KK: There’s no doubt that when you grow up in the state, especially in the time that I grew up, you gravitate towards Nebraska. My grandparents had season tickets, so we got the chance to go to quite a few games, assuming we could talk one of them out of their tickets!
I can remember interrupting Coach Osborne and his family at a Sunday dinner at the “Pantry” restaurant in Lincoln for an autograph as a young boy, so I’d say that I grew up as a Nebraska fan. Even now, as someone who covers the team, I have a great appreciation for just what Nebraska football means to this state.
ES: You have handled play-by-play for college and professional football, college baseball and college basketball – Do you prefer one sport over any other?
KK: I really don’t. I love to call the sports that are in season. Baseball is my first love, but I’ve called so much more football and basketball, so I probably enjoy those sports even more. I will say this: there’s no atmosphere like the atmosphere at a college football game.
I’ve had the chance to call games at LSU, Tennessee, Florida, Oregon and almost every other big stadium, and the energy and electricity in those places is by far the best in sports. Big college basketball games can be pretty awesome as well, but it’s really hard to beat the atmosphere at a college football game.
ES: How do you prepare for a game when you are calling play-by-play?
KK: It’s easier to prepare today than it was even when I started out, thanks to the internet. We have the opportunity to read every article about the teams we’re covering in the local papers all week long.That’s part of my preparation - lots and lots of reading.
As a play-by-play guy, I put together spotting boards which are charts that approximate a two-deep for each team on both sides of the ball. Each of those charts is 11x17, and each player has a box surrounding their name where I put notes, bio information, etc.
ES: You are also the co-host for both Unsportsmanlike Conduct on 1620 The Zone and Big Red Wrap-Up on NET – How does that differ from play-by-play?
KK: Well, the radio show is different from everything else I do. I’m a host on Big Red Wrap-Up, moving the show from point A to point B, facilitating discussion and trying to get our guests to offer good opinions and good conversation.
On Unsportsmanlike Conduct, my job is to be that opinionated guy. I’m paid to offer an opinion. I’m paid to provide informative, entertaining sports talk. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t!
My job is to offer opinions, and when those opinions cross into controversial waters, people can get bothered. I’m also the guy who moves from point A to point B, and gets us in and out of breaks, but on the radio show, I have four hours a day. That's as opposed to one hour a week on TV, so my opinions have more time and opportunity to be revealed.
Bill Doleman, a good friend of mine and a terrific broadcaster, told me in college that you can never over prepare for a broadcast, and I took that to heart. I probably use five percent of what I put down during a game, but it’s there just in case I need it. Those charts take up a good part of my prep time, which usually is about 15-20 hours per football game per week.
ES: Nebraska is 5-1 heading into this weekend’s game against Minnesota. How do you predict the rest of the season will go?
KK: I’m excited to see what will happen, because outside of this Minnesota game, which I think is a cake-walk win, there aren’t any gimmes on the schedule. Best guess? I’d go with 9-3 at the end of the year.
I still think Michigan is a tough task for Nebraska on the road, especially considering the defensive play we’ve seen up to this point. I think they’ll also drop one other game along the way, so I’ll go with a 9-3 finish in 2011.
ES: Are there any key Nebraska players to watch for this weekend in Minnesota?
KK: I’m anxious to see Chase Rome and the defensive line rotation without Jared Crick. I’m not sure that this will be a great test to fully gauge what they will do the rest of the way, but this will be a great team to break in against as a starting defensive lineman.
I’m also going to be watching Stanley Jean-Baptiste at cornerback. We saw him make a great play against Ohio State, but how will he be full time out there? Again, this is probably not a great test weekend, because MarQueis Gray doesn’t throw well for Minnesota, but I’m looking to see if he can make some plays this weekend.
ES: What do you believe Nebraska’s chances are at going to Indianapolis for the Big Ten title game?
KK: They have a great chance to go to Indy, provided that the defense can continue to improve. Michigan and Michigan State are the biggest hurdles left in the Legends division.
Of course, the Penn State game on the road is a tricky game considering how the Nittany Lions play defense. If Nebraska plays in the second half of the season the way they played in the last quarter and a half against Ohio State, they can beat anyone remaining on their schedule.
ES: From my understanding, you were also at TD Ameritrade during the great “TD Ameritragedy” – Can you walk me through that experience?
KK: (Laughs) That was quite a night at the College World Series. First, the wind - that awful, awful wind. We lost a good Famous Dave’s tent that night. Then, the rain - Buckets and buckets of rain.
Then the evacuation from the press box after the wind and worst of the storm had passed through the area. The TD Ameritragedy was born that night. Mainly from the minds of several loopy broadcasters who were killing time in the midst of a long, long rain delay!
Catch Part One if You Missed it
Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinKugler
Follow Erin on Twitter: @helloerinmarie
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