You can't mention hip-hop/rap without mentioning Kendrick Lamar, and apparently Mike Riley is well aware of that fact.

The Nebraska head ball coach had a big surprise waiting for his players after several weeks of hard, grueling work in fall camp. Fall camp isn't easy, especially for incoming freshman and transfers or those players entrenched in position battles.

A smart coach knows that, and a good coach recognizes the importance of taking a break or a day off once in awhile.

A player's coach knows how a gesture or a gift can go a long way.

I'll say it again: you can't mention hip-hop/rap without mentioning Kendrick Lamar, and apparently Mike Riley is well aware of that fact.

And Kendrick Lamar concerts aren't exactly cheap. Tickets for several future concerts all range above $75 or more with fees on websites like Stubhub and Seat Geek. Factor in the number of Nebraska football players and it's a pretty penny.

But this gesture wasn't about the money. It wasn't about the break or the day off. It was about Riley's ability to read his team. It was about relationships.

In football, a good relationship between players and coaches can make all the difference. Riley comprehends that, and he used a Kendrick Lamar concert to help continue the progression of building rapport with the young men he'll lead onto the gridiron.

There's the old cliche of players being willing to "run through a wall" for their coach, manager, teammate and so on. When players feel that way about a coach and the channel of respect flows both ways, teams accomplish feats greater than they imagined.

And while I don't think it'll be Nebraska winning the Big Ten West in 2017, I do think Mike Riley understands the guys on his roster and how to get the most out of each individual. He's exhibited an understanding of who his players are over the years, whether that be at Oregon State or in Lincoln--he's even pushed to get In-N-Out Burger in Nebraska.

Talented players and coaches win football games. Talented players and coaches who respect each other and care for each other win championships. Mike Riley appears to have the respect factor; now do he and his players have the talent?

***On a side note, I'll be honest, the celebration from Nebraska football players was a little underwhelming. We've seen guys at North Carolina go bonkers for new shoes, so I was hoping for more. Still, there isn't a player in that Husker locker room that doesn't appreciate Riley or his gift.

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