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Follow-up I: Remember that I said that high goals and expectations are needed to make any downtrodden or downspiraling program a success.

That’s true for all sports programs, and that includes what we’ve heard out of the camp in Lincoln, some 110 miles to our west.

No doubt, Scott Frost has his sights set high and, having come from a culture where expectations were high, nothing short of Nebraska being a national title contender on an annual basis will be acceptable.

I mean, this was a team picked by sportswriters to win the Big Ten West title.

That statement will need to be revised as I see it.

Unless big changes are made and quickly, this team may make it to six wins and a minor-tier bowl game, but that goal of being a top-10 powerhouse appears to be a pipe dream.

I don’t think much needs to be said about the debacle involving Ohio State last Saturday night. Many of you saw what was supposed to be ESPN’s GameDay spotlight game and all eyes focused on Memorial Stadium.

Instead, Adrian Martinez threw three interceptions as the Cornhuskers were basically de-tassled, shelled and harvested by a far-superior Ohio State team.

Sure, the Huskers scored against the first team defense in the end, shortly before Buckeyes coach Ryan Day pulled his starters, but only after the score was 48-0. But the disparity between both teams was clear early on.

I mean, Nebraska rolled up 700 yards a week earlier against Illinois and still nearly lost the game! The Illini are mediocre at best!

As a non-Huskers’ fan — you know I’m partisan Iowa Hawkeye black and gold — it is clear much work needs to be done in recruiting, off-season work, attitude and competitiveness, among other things to truly get Nebraska back to national prominence. That may happen someday, but unless something changes fast or the Big Ten West is that weak, this year is a stepping stone rather than the second year of a two-year fix.

Follow-up II: Not so much a follow-up per se as a post-script on the Chicago Cubs.

I won’t regurgitate what many sportswriters have already said about Joe Maddon. He was the man who brought magic to Wrigley Field and for the first time in 108 years brought back a World Series title.

But as we all know, things have slowly slipped since then, and it all imploded in 2019, particularly in September. Mediocre pitching especially in the bullpen (which I’ve written about), a lack of timely hits and so much more came to a head, and it soon became clear that Maddon needed to go.

He’ll do well elsewhere and deserves all the best. He also deserves our gratitude, which I’ve seen so much in my social network feeds.

Whomever comes on board in 2020 will have work to do, but it can be a successful season with the right moves in all pieces of the game.

(Interesting to note: September 2019’s downslide comes exactly 50 years after another free-fall by the Cubs, when they went from being on the brink of winning a pennant race to probably hearing those voices from Billy Sianis: “There’ll be NO World Series at Wrigley!” Like the 2019 season, where there was some key mismanagement, fans might point to key errors by field manager Leo Durocher as being part of the Cubs’ late-season collapse.)

Follow-up III: I’ve tried writing follow-up comments on my impressions of the continuing debacle involving the Des Moines Register several times, and have revised what I’ve written several times.

In the end, there’s not very much to say that hasn’t already been said, other than the comments in Saturday’s Register showed me they basically learned nothing. All the editorial did was basically reaffirm the “altruistic” justification in publishing a piece of information that had less than zero relevance to the Carson King fundraiser.

Nothing has changed.

I just think that, unless fundamental changes come about, this seemingly insignificant piece will compromise for a very long time the Register’s ability to publish legitimate investigative pieces on such things as corruption, fraud, conflict of interest, criminal activities, etc., involving those in the public trust and the public treasury.

And, at this crucial juncture in history where we have a president who may soon be fighting for his job and trust in the mainstream media is absolutely critical, it won’t be the impeachment inquiry coverage that sews the final seeds of a free press ... but rather a story about an Iowa fundraiser, who tried to do good for a children’s hospital in Iowa City, that included details that never needed to see the light of day.

That, and all the fundamentals of journalism and a free press that we spent years learning in college, our fathers and forefathers fought and sacrificed their lives sometimes to fight for, reporters have been jailed for (and sometimes have died for) will all be laid to waste by wrong decisions made by the newspaper whose slogan was at one time “The Newspaper Iowa Depends On.”

A complete revision of policies in reporting, news gathering and related conduct need to happen. This includes respecting one’s privacy.

Other than that, I see no useful purpose in continuing to comment. Irreparable damage might have been done.

To reach Brian Rathjen, send correspondence to sports@ant-news.com or phone (712) 243-2624.