Surprises in Store for Wyoming?
Bo Pelini notified former players that he was closing practices. In the past, former players and family members had been allowed to attend. This change could reflect a philosophical shift, a response to some unwanted behavior, or a specific determination to protect the element of surprise. It's this third possibility that's most intriguing as we are now less than ten days from Nebraska's opening kickoff.
Let's briefly consider the other reasons first. A philosophical shift would not be totally inconsistent with the element of surprise but it's not necessarily identical. For example, things may have become too crowded and it could be a move simply to create more space. But if that was the case, why not make the move from the very start of fall camp or even last Spring?
Unwanted behavior could explain the timing. When someone "ruins it for everybody", the response can often be swift. But you'd think if there were a clear bad actor or actors (e.g. people making noise or otherwise distracting or interfering with practice), they could simply disinvite that person or people. You also might expect a story to come out about what they'd done though. So far, we haven't heard one. That leaves the delicious third option.
The Bag of Tricks
Early in Bo Pelini's tenure, we saw some appetite for trick plays. For example, NU ran a fake field goal against Kansas in his first season that set up a touchdown. When he tried it again against Colorado, the Buffs sniffed it out and turned it into a touchdown of their own that nearly cost the Huskers the game. Since that game there haven't been as many tricks, though a fake punt that was thwarted by an Oklahoma time out in the 2010 Big 12 Championship game could have been huge.
There seems to be enough back-channel information that comes from NU practices that could undermine the opportunity to catch an opponent unsuspecting. Closing practices would reduce the possibility of loose lips sinking Pelini's ship.
Maybe we won't see the trick plays right away, but the closed practices makes it hard to rule out that it could happen the very first week. Those who think they know exactly what's coming from Pelini's team, may be in for quite a surprise.