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Fire Kevin Cosgrove?

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I recall an e-mail exchange between myself and Corn Blight from three years ago discussing where Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel implied that Bret Bielema could spark Wisconsin's defense when he replaced Kevin Cosgrove, much like how Bo Pelini sparked the Huskers defense the year before. Mandel further said that Husker fans shouldn't be pleased with the idea of Cosgrove replacing Pelini.

Sure enough, Cosgrove's defenses had some good weeks with Nebraska (holding Kansas to 8 points in 2004, for example). But for every good performance from the Blackshirts under Cosgrove, there usually were a couple of clunkers. Remember the prevent defense that gave Tech a 35-10 lead in 2004 before the turnovers began in rapid fire fashion?

We all recall individual games good and bad, but how does it average out? Here are Nebraska's defensive ratings over the last few years:

In 2006: #24 scoring defense, #56 total defense, #37, rushing defense, #79 passing defense

  1. #25, #26, #26, #43
  1. #71, #56, #11, #110
  1. #2, #11, #24, #11
  1. #45, #55, #49, #57
  1. #6, #8, #22, #9

How about Wisconsin?

  1. #5, #6, #34, #2
  1. #92, #48, #79, #88
  1. #9, #6, #31, #7
  1. #43, #50, #48, #49
  1. #63, #38, #51, #67
  1. #58, #81, #71, #43

So what do all these numbers say? For starters, Wisconsin's defense has been better since Cosgrove left. And Nebraska's defense was better before Cosgrove arrived.

Of course, that is simplifying things quite a bit. Cosgrove defenders will point out that many of the players on Wisconsin's defense were recruited by Cosgrove. True. But Cosgrove had been at Wisconsin since 1990, so Cosgrove also helped recruit those middle of the road defenses.

Which goes back to what Mandel said. Mandel said in 2004 that Wisconsin's defense had been a mystery in recent years, but after Cosgrove left, the defense picked up and Barry Alvarez felt confident enough in Bielema that he handed the head coaching title to Bielema. Frankly, I doubt that would have happened if Cosgrove had remained in Madison.

Now Cosgrove is under scrutiny at Nebraska; there's even a fireCosgrove.com web site. Should Nebraska seriously consider changing coordinators now?

Midseason? No way. That's a panic move. Who would replace him? Either someone out of work already or on the staff currently. Not a good option.

Let's let Coz work through this, and see where things stand at the end of the season. Perhaps it really was just one bad game.