"Contrary to what you guys think, I haven't forgotten how to coach defense and how to stop the run."
- Bo Pelini, Sept 29, 2012
It’s not the record that bugs me really.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, Melvin Gordon going for 408 yards in basically 33-ish minutes of gameplay pisses me off. Especially when Montee Ball & friends did the same damn thing 2 years ago to the same staff, but different players for the most part.
What bugs me is the same looks that we had on players faces in 2011 in Madison, and 2012 in Indianapolis. And the same things were said by the staff, and some fans. And the feelings, ohhhh the feelings. They suck in ways you can’t imagine, or I bet you can time and time again.
Yea, the sun came up this morning. You know what else came up? Highlights of Gordon's afternoon against Nebraska. It isn't even about Wisconsin winning, because that's an afterthought, as sad as that is to type. It's how Gordon got the freaking record.
The Nebraska Cornhuskers lost a lot on Saturday night. While a B1G West Division title is not technically dead, it’s on life support and just signed a DNR after the knowledge of Wisconsin having to drop their last 2 games comes abound. Ameer Abdullah’s Heisman campaign met it’s final death blow as Gordon’s plane ticket to NYC was purchased with Bo Pelini’s credit card.
It’s year seven. "I don’t know" shouldn’t be a excuse anymore. Neither is that Bo needs to have more time, nor is his staff or he learning as they go. If you weren’t disappointed at the very least by Saturday’s outcome, I have to ask you what you expect out of Nebraska Football. But, back to that in a few.
If we knew what was broken with Nebraska’s multi-million dollar program, one that is a big cog in the school’s identity, we’d fix it immediately. The problem is that some folks do not see a problem. To them, they think that just winning 9 games, graduating players and looking fashionable at tailgates and during the game with selfies are good enough.
Some of the folks who told you that it’s just a game at the end were the same ones that cheered and slammed their chest on Saturday at the 14:12 minute mark of the 2nd quarter when Nebraska took that 17-3 lead.
Truly, I did that too. I felt like this program was about ready to turn a big, gradual corner and the embarrassments of years past were gone. And 2 hours of real time later, I was hurt and disappointed in this team. Again.
56 straight points is the fault of everyone in the program. The players, coaches, support staff… it all falls on them. No #RogueBeck or John Papuchis hate is singled out.
Between Nebraska’s touchdowns, the offense ran 41 plays. Total. They gained 76 yards on those plays. The offense failed.
Wisconsin averaged 9.8 yards per play on Saturday on 64 plays. The same amount of plays Nebraska ran Saturday as well. However, Big Red only averaged 2.8 yards per play. The Badgers gained 627 total yards, and passing (67) accounted for just over 10% of that. Furthermore, the 2 worst Rushing Defense performances in school history have come against the Badgers in the last 2 contests, the worst of the 2 being yesterday. So yes,the defense failed.
There’s an identity crisis after this game in Lincoln. Nebraska’s fanbase begs to be relevant. There was "what-if" talk about College Gameday coming to Lincoln if Nebraska & Minnesota won Saturday. That turned into a 11am bloody mary festival next Saturday for Senior Day instead. There was wondering if Miami could beat Florida State to help the CFB Playoff picture of the Huskers. That turned into.. well, a thought of next year. Good for the Cubs, but frustrating for Big Red.
The big, dangling elephant in the room is that Nebraska is simply good. Bo Pelini is good. And, because of that, Nebraska will never be great. Why? Because what Nebraska does in recruiting, strength and conditioning, adjustments and overall performance is good enough to keep people in nice houses. However, good isn’t good enough to win a Big Ten title, nor to win against a ranked opponent on the road when the Huskers are dogs.
Is it fair to the kids who come here? Not really. Granted, they are the ones who play the game, but at the same time, they do make the sacrifice to get better. But, again, when you’re good enough to get by most of the time, you’re rarely asked to be great. Coaches? Well, when you recruit just good enough to have better talent and five heart walk-on’s around you, then you don’t feel the need to get better and become great.
This is where I tell you what needs to be fixed. Well, I’m going to be honest and not say that it’s up to Bo Pelini. He’s not going to quit, nor will he be fired. At the same time, however, when your staff is just good enough to win the games you’re supposed to, you’re not going to get upset at them when they can’t become great. That’s why it shouldn't be in the decision of Bo.
The decision to find out what is keeping this big, monster program from being good to great MUST fall upon Shawn Eichorst, the AD. It’s time to find out what’s keeping Nebraska from being great. Nothing should be out of the microscope. From the top of the program in Pelini and Jeff Jamrog all the way down to how the Gatorade is mixed in the buckets during practice.
If Eichorst wasn't disappointed or even embarrassed sitting next to his mentor in Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez in what his program offered the Badgers in Camp Randall, then you should question him too. However, I’d like to hope that it made him as red as his hair.
Now, for those that clamor with the typical "Bo is a good guy, Osborne took 21 years to win something" chant after games like this, I have to ask you this…. Didn't yesterday upset you? At all? Don’t you get tired of having to run this argument time after time?
And please, do me a hot solid & spare the story of how long you've been a fan and how people should just shut up and support the team. The team is supported with a soldout stadium since the Kennedy administration. The team is supported with a red-out in Chicago every other year. The team will be supported with the 4, 8 and 80 jerseys and the t-shirts and novelties you’ll buy for Christmas here in a few weeks.
We’re all fans here, and we’ve been fans since insert random year when you were in grade school here. Kids graduate? Every program in the country does that, but that’s the reason their student-athletes, regardless of what conference they are in or even division. So, those superlatives are out of the argument.
The Huskers haven’t won a Conference title in the present century. It’ll be 16 years in all likelihood. This doesn’t piss you off? If it doesn’t, well, I can’t help you there. However, it should light a fire that the one thing that you brag to your cousins out of town will go to another afterthought of a bowl game this winter that you’ll have to look up where it will be on TV.
I have no evidence that Bo Pelini isn’t trying, and I believe that he’s a good guy, but as the week moves on, his team that he’s paid $3 million "to win championships, no excuses" (his words, not mine) will fall short in a year that they were the favorites to truck a division and a chance in the B1G Title game.
And, if he can’t find fault in that, well, then he’ll just have you convinced that a team that farted the bed for 3 quarters vs. Michigan State and was an illegal formation & Abdullah superhero TD from losing to a FCS school this year is just good enough.
Furthermore, according to Pelini, Eichorst and everyone close, this staff has received EVERYTHING they have asked for. More people for recruiting, a bigger Assistant Coaching budget, planes to go everywhere to see kids they want, top notch facilities for SA's... they have it.
Honestly, it’s the same theory when the thought of hiring the "next Bill Callahan" creeps in the mind of those that defend Bo after games like this. You can’t fire a good coach like Bo Pelini, so you keep him… and that keeps you from being great. The same ones that remind you that Nick Saban & Pelini are the only ones to win 9 games a year for 6-7 years in a row. Problem is, Nick has a big ass ring collection. Pelini has a whale trophy and whatever they gave for the Gator Bowl last year.
What is the identity of the program? Are we just selling a sold-out stadium when we recruit? What exactly is Bo Pelini’s Nebraska? Is it about winning titles or temper tantrums caught on TV? Is it about cats on twitter, GPS’s on facemasks and "The Process"? Are we about the rings, or just graduating good young men that don’t crack the 2 deep at times but don’t get in trouble?
It’s time for everyone that cheers for Nebraska Football to stop worrying about being good and instead become great. And if that means getting rid of what makes you good, then you should embrace it.