Jenni Carlson: You’re playing in the Big 12 championship game, and as a senior, you’ve seen it all — coaching changes, injuries, ups, downs. Is your perspective on this game different because of that?
Phillip Dillard: The last time we were in this game, I was here but I was injured. I didn’t get to play. It wasn’t the same then as it is now. The atmosphere ... it’s like everyone is buying in. It’s been the most fun I’ve ever had. JC: Nebraska loves its football, but it sounds like the vibe is different. PD: Oh, yeah. They’ve been ecstatic. In prior years, you’d go to the store and it feels like the whole town died. Now, everyone’s upbeat. It’s just a whole upbeat tempo. JC: So, grocery shopping is fun again in Lincoln? PD: Now, it is. (Laughs.) JC: With your injuries and the program’s coaching changes, was there ever a point along the way where you thought, "Man, I don’t know if I’m ever going to get to a Big 12 title game”? PD: Kind of. Not while this coaching staff’s been here, but before they got here, yeah, maybe. But when they got here, it was like, "There’s gonna be a change. This is different. All we’ve got to do is just work hard and buy in, buy in no matter what happens.” It ended up paying off. JC: OK, let’s do some word association. I’ll throw out something, and you tell me whatever comes to mind. First, your head coach, Bo Pelini. PD: Very, very intense. JC: What about his brother and your defensive coordinator, Carl Pelini? PD: Sometimes he can be even more intense. JC: Memorial Stadium. PD: Oh, that’s the best college atmosphere I’ve ever seen. JC: Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne. PD: Very solid.