Things I know, and things I think I know:
The Big Ten Conference has a reputation for being a bit haughty, perhaps a little too highbrow for its own good.
I never felt that way about the Big 12 or Big Eight while covering Nebraska in those conferences — except, of course, for the whole Texas Longhorns thing.
At any rate, black eyes and haughtiness are a bad combination, and the Washington Post just served up another black eye for the Big Ten.
Big Ten presidents and chancellors are facing questions about transparency after a report by the Post revealed an effort to conceal certain conversations about the coronavirus and the schools’ reactions from the public view.
Emails from officials at public, taxpayer-funded universities and colleges can be released under Freedom of Information Act laws (Northwestern is a private institution). Knowing this, Mark Schlissel, president of the University of Michigan, and Rebecca Blank, chancellor at the University of Wisconsin, discussed how to communicate and handle messages without having them subject to public records laws, according to a story published Friday.
According to the Post, representatives of several of the 14 Big Ten universities used the conference’s Nasdaq Boardvantage software — designed to facilitate meetings and collaboration — to discuss plans and share documents. Consequently, records requests to see the material shared on Boardvtantage have been denied by multiple schools, the Post reports.
OK, I understand to a certain extent why university leaders such as University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Ronnie Green might be aversive to having every one of their correspondences be open to public scrutiny. Big Ten leaders are handling an onerous situation in real time. The challenges are immense. But transparency is integral. The Post story makes you wonder if dodging transparency is par for the course in the nation’s university ecosystem.
Keep in mind, the Big Ten presidents/chancellors in mid-August pulled the plug on playing college football in the fall in the name of player safety during the pandemic. Less than five weeks later, they decided to begin a truncated season in late October.
Stop and consider the level of embarrassment faced by the Big Ten if it had stuck to its original decision as other major conferences pushed forward with a fall schedule.
As it was, the condensed schedule almost cost the conference’s best team, Ohio State, a chance to play for a national title — which would have been an even darker black eye for Big Ten.
Stop and consider the level of embarrassment for any Big Ten university president who pushed hard in writing for playing in the spring. In that regard, it’s no wonder they might want to conceal their words, although it clearly works against public trust.
“The idea that government officials would intentionally use a technological platform, seemingly with the intent of evading public records laws, is both troubling and wrong on the law,” Adam Marshall, a senior staff attorney at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, told the Post.
The Post story shifts the focus of criticism from Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren to the presidents and chancellors. I acknowledge being too hard on Warren at times. Bottom line, the Post story is another black eye for the conference, and arguably the most troubling one of all.
* I know this: Some people are dealt a remarkably challenging hand in this life.
But some of them somehow manage to keep pushing harder and harder and, incredibly, keep putting the welfare of others ahead of themselves. Those stories are particularly awe-inspiring.
Andy Hoffman was particularly awe-inspiring and courageous, to say the least.
For many of us, it’s sometimes challenging to just get through the day. Hoffman clearly gained strength by helping others get through their days, largely through his Team Jack Foundation, which has raised $8.4 million for pediatric cancer research.
You don’t have to know Andy Hoffman to understand the sort of impact he had on others — countless others — while dealing with his own pain.
* C’mon, it had to be sort of weird seeing Tom Brady every day.
Right, Khalil Davis?
“It was. Every time you walked by him, it was like, ‘Man, that’s really Tom Brady,'” said Davis, a former Husker defensive lineman who just completed his rookie season with the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“It was surreal, but you couldn’t be a fan girl around him,” Davis added with a grin.
He recalls signature day during Super Bowl week.
“When the rookies went up to him, he was the nicest ever about it,” Davis said. “He said, ‘Oh, whatever you guys need, I’ll sign it.’ He was incredible.”
Father Time probably agrees.
* Here’s something you perhaps didn’t know: One of NU baseball coach Will Bolt’s freshman starters, infielder Brice Matthews, was the starting quarterback for his high school, Atascocita, in the Houston area. In fact, he made the 2019 Texas Associated Press Sports Editors Class 6A all-state team.
The right-handed gunslinger finished his senior season 233-of-372 passing for 4,001 yards and 43 touchdowns, with 12 interceptions, while adding 108 carries for 744 yards and 11 scores.
Just a little something to file away.