How much does $600,000 cost?  Idaho State University found out on Saturday

Remember how you felt when the ISU women’s basketball team went to Spokane, Wash. to play Miami in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last spring?  It didn’t turn out so well for the ladies, but we all expected that to happen.

I had similar feelings about the Bengal football team’s chances at Nebraska on Saturday, and I ended up being wrong.

It was worse.

I think we all knew ISU probably wouldn’t walk out of Lincoln with a “W” and it was no surprise that Nebraska played extremely well. Still, no one can feel good about what happened.

A 73-7 beat-down is never fun.

Don’t get me wrong, the Bengals did a few things well. Whenever you can force three turnovers against a perennial top 25 team, you’re at least executing properly in some areas. Donovan Henley picked up a huge interception and the team recovered a couple of fumbles.

But does that make up for allowing 385 rushing yards and 569 overall?

Maybe a little bit.

Head coach Mike Kramer wasn’t too happy with how his team played either, specifically the defense.  “Eleven guys got blocked on almost every single play,” he said. “Excuse me, 10 guys got blocked on every play and the 11th guy didn’t make the tackle.”

It wasn’t any more fun to watch midway through the first quarter, which was around the same time Nebraska’s backup quarterback came in for mop up duty.
Right about now is when I have to bring up the question: Was it all worth $600,000?

It appears that no one on Idaho State’s team suffered any sort of injury. So the answer to that question for this particular squad at this moment is yes, it was. The gamble paid off. Now ISU’s athletic department has collected five percent of its $12 million budget and it only took three and a half hours of humiliation.
Nebraska was wreaking havoc all over the field. Its defense was hitting like a freight train and its offense was mowing through Bengals like they were nothing more than a warm breeze.

The gamble doesn’t always pay off. ISU got lucky.

So is it right to put the well-being of 18 to 22-year-olds at risk so that the volleyball and soccer teams can continue to play?

None of the players seemed too upset about it during the last two weeks of preparation. Every word during press conferences was positive about the experience the team was about to have. Until athletes start complaining about a once in a lifetime opportunity and refuse to play, the previous question doesn’t need to be answered.

But what about when the Bengals begin conference play next Saturday against Sacramento State? Are they better off having faced the Cornhuskers?

That answer to this one isn’t as simple as the money question. There’s no doubt ISU won’t face another team even close to as good as Nebraska. The only way to get better is to play better teams.

But when is a loss so demeaning that there’s nothing to learn from it except for the proverbial “let’s never do that again?”

That may have been the case for ISU on Saturday. But we probably won’t know until the Hornets roll into Holt Arena in six days.

Now the games really count.