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First-year head coach Tim Miles already has earned the respect of Nebraska basketball fans.
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          Release: 07/06/2012
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Burkhead, Osborne, Miles BTN Poll Winners

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From now on, whenever we ask Nebraska fans to show their social media muscle in a pinch, we will not doubt the force that’s out there. Thursday night, the Big Ten Network learned what ESPN already knew – Big Red devotees are big-time voters whenever their reputation’s on the line. That’s why Rex Burkhead overwhelmingly won two BTN fan polls, Tim Miles overpowered one poll and Tom Osborne crushed his iconic competition in a fourth poll that ended at 9 p.m. CT, giving Nebraska a clean sweep of the polls in which the Huskers were an option.

At mid-afternoon on Thursday, Burkhead was tied for second in one poll and third in the other. Osborne was second in his poll and Miles’ status was decidedly lower in his. When the N-Sider found the poll on BTN’s website, we decided it was worth asking Husker fans to vote and encourage others to vote, even if there was only a six-hour window. The plan worked. Nebraska’s four winners were the only polls to exceed the 80 percent level.

For the record, Burkhead sprinted right past Wisconsin’s Montee Ball as the Big Ten’s top Heisman candidate. When the poll closed, Burkhead had 83.82 percent of that vote, Ball 8.49 percent, Michigan’s Denard Robinson 5.63 percent and Ohio State’s Braxton Miller 2.06 percent. In another poll that asked which Big Ten football player would complete the best four-year term this athletic year, Burkhead accumulated 88.62 percent of that vote. Michigan’s Robinson was the runner-up with 4.09 percent.

Equally lopsided was Osborne gaining 88.9 percent of the vote that asked fans which Big Ten coach they wished they could see a second term. Bobby Knight was second with 5.95 percent of the vote, followed by Woody Hayes (3.01) and Bo Schembechler (2.14).

Miles has said he’s always been fascinated with Nebraska’s 50-year run of college football success, and he joined fellow first-year Big Ten head basketball coach John Groce of Illinois on a ballot that asked which new league head coach would have the best first season. Miles received 80.85 percent of the vote, beating runner-up Bill O’Brien, Penn State’s first-year football coach. O’Brien received 9.33 percent of the vote. Groce had 6.99 percent and Tim Beckman, Illinois’ first-year football coach, had 2.83 percent.

Last May, when Husker fans cast 72,000 votes on the last of a 10-day competitive battle with Texas A&M to bring College GameDay back to the winner’s campus, we knew Nebraska had digital clout and the Huskers were social media savvy. No Husker liked A&M winning by 2,831 votes in a battle that featured nearly half a million Nebraska and Aggie voters. But this was one time when there was honor in defeat, especially when the next closest finisher to Nebraska among all BCS schools was 166,112 votes behind the Huskers.

So congratulations Rex Burkhead, Tim Miles and Tom Osborne and kudos to Nebraska fans who jumped on their computers and iPads to reinforce Husker Nation’s reputation. May the force continue to be with you as we count down to the season-opening kickoff and prepare for the golden anniversary of an ongoing NCAA record for home football game sell-outs.

By the way, I have an important footnote to this BTN polling feature. The last of the 12 polls asked if a Big Ten football team would play in the 2013 BCS title game. The final vote: 64.43 percent of the fans said yes, and 35.57 percent said no. Let the record show that when I checked the poll six hours before it closed, Big Ten fans were strongly in the “no” category. One thing is certain. Nebraska brings BELIEF to the nation’s oldest intercollegiate athletic conference. Even though the Huskers haven’t won a national football championship in 15 years, it’s pretty obvious that Husker fans just can’t stop believing.

And here’s hoping they never do.

Send a comment to ryork@huskers.com (Please include current residence)

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