Spoiled or settling? Fans of Nebraska Cornhuskers football have been applying these labels to each other lately, but neither is appropriate and the new sheriff in Lincoln is making that subtly clear.
There's been plenty of discussion about how the 2012 Nebraska football team actually performed.
On one hand, many believe that the 10-4 campaign was fine and another part of The Process.
Others are asking why those four losses saw an average of 53.5 points put on the scoreboard and featured enough yardage for cause to utter Kevin Cosgrove's name again. Which is it? Did the 2012 Huskers have a few bumps in the road or stink out loud?
While it's a matter of perception, getting under the big spotlights again only to have cream-colored helmet shells bashed in isn't impressing anyone.
Justin Rowland of the Yahoo! Sports/Rivals.com network, a colleague I follow on Twitter, recently made mention of Bo Pelini as a coach that just "isn't going to get it done" at Nebraska. Needless to say I was intrigued.
Have come to believe NU fans really are a different breed. Too respectful, too patient. They need a badass HC to change culture— J.Rowland (@RowlandRIVALS) January 2, 2013
Really now? Mr. Rowland and I are on the same page when it comes to the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers football team. When a program reaches the heights that the Huskers did in the 1990s, the bar was permanently raised.
Do I, as an observer, as an individual critiquing performance see expecting excellence as a poor trait? Absolutely not. How can you truly fight for greatness if you admit that defeat, let alone 39-point losses, can be accepted in due time? That despite clear problems, everything will straighten itself out?
An outside observer sharing my feelings was interesting, but what really made my eyebrows rise was an e-mail recently sent out by Nebraska athletic director Shawn Eichorst a.k.a. The New Boss.
It was clean and professional. I dug that. What I really liked, though, was the following statement made early in the correspondence:
When I accepted the director of athletics position last fall, I made a commitment to Husker Nation that we will compete for Big Ten and National Championships in everything that we do.
Some immediately compared this statement to Steve Pederson's nefarious promise to not let Nebraska gravitate into mediocrity.
I'll be taking the word of Barry Alvarez over anything thrown at me about Pederson/Eichorst comparisons, let alone his actual body of work.
While Mr. Eichorst didn't emphasize any wording in his e-mail, the message was clear. Nebraska has the tools necessary to compete every year.
Win it all? Not necessarily, but compete. Not give up a record number of yards, not lose in the biggest of games time and time again, not sit idly by while other teams head to Omaha.
It's clear Eichorst wants coaching staffs who are willing to fight, scrap and claw for the opportunity to be champions. That sounds like what the blue-collar, lunch pail Nebraska fan of my youth asked for.
Not participation ribbons, but rather lessons be learned from a loss' mistakes and applied immediately.
The idea that recruiting takes care of itself by putting up more wins than losses is a statement of apathy. Recruiting staff, players and every other aspect of a quality program begets winning. Selling an idea, an identity, a worthwhile cause creates true competition.
That scrap and desire to never say die, to hold one's self to a higher standard, to learn from one's mistakes, that is what breeds champions.
This is the identity that has caused many of Nebraska's athletic programs to become the pinnacle of their sport.
I believe Eichorst can bring this identity back.
Are Nebraska fans that want a better product put on the field spoiled? No. They know what it takes to breed a champion and they're not seeing it.
Are wholesale changes the answer? I don't know for sure, but I have noticed a number of people defending the status quo getting more and more restless with that decision.
Google the Christian Peter pump up video on YouTube. You know the one. That attitude can compete for the top spot every year. Do you, as a fan of Nebraska athletics, see that passion today?
It appears that Eichorst will eventually.
Follow Brandon on Twitter and join in on the conversation.