Doc Sadler has been here before.
Basketball purgatory, that is.
Five years ago he was the head coach at UTEP when the Miners decided to leave the WAC for Conference USA.
He spent two years as the boss in El Paso, one leading UTEP to a WAC title, the other taking the Miners to the NIT as a member of C-USA.
So if anyone is prepared for the unsettling year that Nebraska and Colorado are about to endure as short-timers in the Big 12, it is Sadler.
“No doubt it’s a little different,’’ Sadler admitted. “I think once the season starts, once the games start, it’s all the same. It’s all the other stuff that takes up your time. Right now we know who we’re playing, our schedule is set, we know where we’re going. The biggest thing is once it does happen, the newness of it, the not knowing is hard.’’
Right now the biggest shift for both Sadler and new head coach Tad Boyle will come in a short two weeks. The summer recruiting season is right around the corner and as the two staffs prepare to hit the road, they go out with completely different focuses.
Boyle, who will jump to the Pac-10, said he’ll concentrate his attention more heavily on California.
“We still need to recruit at the highest level and we need to get great players,’’ he said. “We’re not going to change on that front. But I think maybe the move to the Pac-10 will allow us to concentrate a little more in California.’’
Really the geographic switch isn’t nearly as great for the Buffaloes as it is for the Cornhuskers. Colorado to Cali isn't crazy.
Nebraska, which has relied heavily on Sadler’s southern ties (he’s an Arkansas native with coaching tentacles in Texas), will have to switch its entire direction to the Midwest, where Nebraska and basketball don’t exactly resonate.
Sadler will have to go head-to-head with programs that have deep roots in those recruiting beds.
Sadler said he and his staff already are making adjustments. They’ll hit just one tournament in Texas next month and concentrate more on games and players in the Midwest. He has already spoken to players he’s been recruiting, making sure their interest lies with Nebraska, not with the Big 12.
“The recruiting is what changes more than anything,’’ Sadler said. “You have to ask kids, find out what they want. If they want to stay in the league, it doesn’t make sense to recruit them any longer. We have to adjust. This has opened up a lot of areas we haven’t recruited before.’’