Confession time: I was a puker as a high school football player. At first I resisted it -- who wouldn't? -- but in time I learned to deal with it. I'd feel it coming on early in a workout or a practice -- Yup, this is gonna be one of those days -- step aside when the time came, vomit, and then get back after it. Well, I almost always stepped aside. Once, in practice, I vomited directly onto the right arm of the teammate I was blocking. Sorry, Thomas.
Unpleasant as the act was, post-puke felt much less miserable than pre-puke, and so once I felt the first inkling of upchuck brewing in my gut, my subconscious started turning the gears to get it over with as soon as possible. Easier to embrace it than deny it; 10 grueling seconds were better than two angsty hours.
Still, you know what was better than vomiting as soon as you felt the need? Not needing to vomit at all.
Nebraska's offensive linemen wouldn't know. Scott Frost says his offensive linemen are vomiting 15-20 times per practice, which works out to about one puke per player, per practice.
“It’s not because they’re not in shape – he’s just working them hard,” Frost told the Omaha World-Herald. “I think they love it. He’s kind of freed them up to go be aggressive and I love the way they’re coming off the ball.”
"He" is new Huskers offensive line coach Donovan Raiola.
Undrafted out of Wisconsin, the younger brother of longtime Detroit Lions offensive lineman Dominic Raiola lasted six years in the NFL, primarily as a practice squad player. When practices are your games, you learn quickly that wringing the proverbial towel dry each and every day is your path to a paycheck.
Having left his final practice squad in 2011, Raiola returned to his native Hawaii to coach at the high school level in 2012. He's been a GA and an assistant under renowned offensive line coach Harry Hiestand at both Notre Dame and with the Chicago Bears, but Nebraska represents his first job as a lead O-line coach above the Division III level. The stakes couldn't be clearer: his first year at Nebraska will also be his last if the Huskers don't perform well enough for Frost to keep his job, coming off the 3-9 disappointment of 2021.
And it appears Raiola's plan to improve the offensive line is to work their guts out, literally.