Now Is Not The Time for Tom Osborne

Apparently Tom Shatel cranked out a column a few days ago pointing out how Oklahoma brought Barry Switzer back into the program to resolve the rifts that had developed between Sooner fans. Husker Mike - who lives in Omaha and gets the Omaha Weird Herald print edition - references Shatel's print-only column and points out that bringing Tom Osborne back into the program might resolve the rift that's going on between Husker fans.

First, I have to ask - is the split between Husker fans really that bad? Are people still obsessing on this stuff? (They must be if Tom Shatel is writing columns on it and Husker Mike is letting us know about them.) Are there pro-Frank Solich gangs? Pro-Billy C gangs? If there are, is one side wearing red and the other white? Do they identify themselves with tattoos or do the differences only come out after a six-pack?

Or is there just a perception of a split, something that's in Tom Shatel's best interest to keep going because it sells newspapers and keeps him employed? I don't know for certain. I don't live in Nebraska any more. This is my twentieth year in Minnesota. This state barely notices that college football exists (which makes me appreciate Husker football more than you can understand), so it's pretty easy for me to ignore the problem, if there is one.

Husker Mike is correct when he says that I'll disagree with him regarding Osborne's involvement. I do not believe that Tom Osborne should be involved with the current athletic department's administration. It's not that I don't like Dr. Tom, nor not have a great deal of respect for everything he did. It's that brining him back into the program at this point in time will cause more problems than it will solve.

Mike (and/or Tom Shatel) points out that Oklahoma's fan re-unificiation came after Barry Switzer was asked to be part of the program again when Bob Stoops came on board. Barry re-united the fighting factions of Oklahoma fans and the result was championships and much rejoicing.

The problem is that we're not in the same position as Oklahoma - we're not even close. After Barry Switzer, Oklahoma went through NCAA probation with Gary Gibbs who came in and kept the program clean, but didn't win much so he was fired. The Sooners then hired the disaster that is Howard Schellenberger for a single season. Next was John Blake who had didn't do so well so he was fired to make way for Bob Stoops. Nebraska has not gone through this kind of disaster (at least in modern day). We suffered a single losing (5-6) season, but it was such a shock that we thought it was the end of all things good. What Oklahoma went through (can you imagine Howard Schellenberger as the head coach?) was hell for such a proud and storied program. They had good reason such as desperation, for being disgruntled.

The problem with having Tom Osborne get involved in the program at this time is that it puts the current administration in in a no-win situation. If Bill Callahan is unsuccessful, Husker fans will blame Steve Pederson, not Tom Osborne. If Bill Callahan is successful, then most people will say - "It's because Tom got involved in the program again." There is no win here for either Pederson or Callahan and that is not healthy for the long term of the program. The current administration and head football coach need to stand or fall on their own.

With regards to re-uniting the fighting factions of Husker fans - it will happen when Bill Callahan starts to win. First a signature win, then a Big 12 Championship, and then who knows, maybe a national title. When he does win all those grumblers who want to re-create the past will shut up or admit they were wrong, but mostly they'll be happy to have a top-notch program again and we'll experience the same sort of bliss that's happening for Oklahoma.

And if Callahan isn't successful, he'll be gone and Steve Pederson will be gone with him. Then it may be time to bring Dr. Tom back into the athletic department to save us from ourselves. That time has not yet come. Say what you want about the state of Husker football, but one word you cannot apply is desperation.

--JJ--

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