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2007 Husker Failure Easily Understandable - Needs Weren't Being Met

Nebraska players continue to purge themselves of the past  as yesterday as Cody Glenn talked about how his trust in former running backs coach Randy Jordan deteriorated as the season went on.  

The Husker senior running back said his trust in former NU running backs coach Randy Jordan deteriorated markedly last season. Glenn said Jordan would tell Glenn he was going to play in a particular game, then Glenn would remain on the bench.

Earlier in the week, we heard from 2007 pre-season All Big 12 guard Matt Slauson, as he stated he didn’t know who was going to start until 10 minutes before the game


"There was definitely a frustration for the team, one, but for me especially," Slauson said. "Because I kind of feel like I got jacked around a little bit, switching positions all the times, switching playing time all the time, playing a few plays here, a few plays there. I was really frustrated the whole time ... I had no idea what was going on the whole year. I think (it) just messed with my head a little bit. I don't know if there were head games they were doing or what, but I just didn't feel comfortable where I was."
Slauson said guys usually didn't know who was going to start until 10 minutes before the game. He said he wasn't sure who was making the final call on who started.

The statements by Glenn and Slauson reflect a tendency by coaches (or a head coach) who viewed the players as objects that could be moved around like pegs on a board. However, college football teams are made of individual human beings, not the computer-generated players with assigned stats you’d find in EA Sports NCAA Football 2007.

Human beings are messy - we have needs beyond that which can be expressed in simulations. These needs are best expressed in a hierarchy as defined by Mazlow.  Good leaders recognize the hierarchy and can use it to maximize the potential of everyone on the team, whether it be in the workplace or the 2007 Nebraska Cornhuskers football team.

Some needs are very simple - shelter, food, and protection. Others are more complex, like social needs which include a need to be loved and to belong. After social needs come self-esteem, which include the need for respect, prestige, recognition, or a personal sense of competence.  At the highest level is the need for self-actualization, that being defined as ‘the need to fulfill oneself; to grow and use one's abilities to the fullest and most creative extent’.

What’s clear is that at some level neither Glenn’s nor Slauson’s needs were being met. Therefore they were never going to perform at their highest level. Keep in mind that both of these guys are on the offense, the side of the 2007 team that did very well. One can only wonder at what level the defensive players were attempting to function.

As previously stated, good leaders are able to recognize this hierarchy and use it to their advantage. Given  Tom Osborne’s doctorate in educational psychology, it’s not difficult to understand why his teams were considered as overachieving. With regards to the 2007 coaching staff, leaders must be focused on other’s needs instead of constantly seeking to fulfill their own, therefore, at what level were the members of the 2007 coaching staff? I’ll leave you to ponder the answer.

On a related note, Brandon the Hi-Plains Drifter asks (about the comments by Slauson and Glenn):

"My question is this: is there value in that sort of revelation? Both for the team and the fans?

The same attitude is echoed in some of the comments at the Husker Extra blog.

Let’s be honest - nearly anything to do with the Cornhuskers gets the kid gloves treatment in Nebraska. Perhaps it’s Bernie Goldberg’s fault, but we’re pretty darned sensitive about anything that might be negative said about our beloved team, whether it’s written by in-state media, national media, or posted on a blog somewhere. In fact, some times we go looking for an agenda when there isn’t one.

I believe statements like those made by Glenn and Slauson are ultimately healthy. There hasn’t been anything said that’s so bloody awful anyone is going to burst into tears. If you’re going to be in the public eye in any way today -  which describes all the coaches and all the players -  you’d damn well better have thick skin. The players aren’t saying anything that any one of us wasn’t thinking at times last season, and in fact, have shown a fair amount of restraint about it.

What about the fans? Well, the same goes for us, especially the thick skin part. I’d add that if you’re willing to dish it out you’d also better be willing to take it. Given that Corn Nation is full of people who supported Solich/hated Callahan and vice versa, maybe we should just get everything out of our collective system so that we can all move on.