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The 2007 Nebraska Football Season: Booing, Big Holes, and Broken Hopes

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The horror lives on for those with the will to remember.

Nebraska Cornhuskers v USC Trojans Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

2017 marks the 10 year anniversary of one of the worst seasons in Husker history. For some reason, our mothership decided to celebrate the 2007 season (and I mean, really celebrate it - go look at that site) and wanted the college group to all go along. It’s like being forced to go to your cousin’s fall wedding and being told there will be free beer only to find out that there is not only no free beer because she’s married a family of teetotalers, but there will be no dancing nor fun because they don’t believe in those things either.

So… here we go, into our non-fun, utterly sobering look back at the worst season in Nebraska football history (at least that any of you sunsabitches can remember).

The 2007 season didn't start out a disaster. It started out with some hope. Nebraska had finished the previous season by winning the Big 12 North, but losing in the championship game to Oklahoma, 28-7. They lost the Cotton Bowl to Auburn, 17 – 14, and finished the season with a 9 – 5 record.

Arizona State transfer Sam Keller was supposed to be the quarterback Nebraska was waiting for. Running back Marlon Lucky showed promise, the receiving corps was intact, and the offensive line returned four starters. Defensively, the Huskers had lost Adam Carriker (picked 13th overall) and Jay Moore to the NFL Draft, but returned five starters.

The season started well enough. Lucky ran wild, racking up 233 yards against Nevada in a 52-10 win. The Huskers held on against Wake Forest for a 20-17 win in in the second game. Keller threw two interceptions, but defensive back Zach Bowman picked off a pass in the end zone to preserve the win.

Then came USC.

Nebraska lost the game, 49 – 31, a score that isn’t as horrific as it was watching the game. Nebraska's defensive line and linebacking corps were completely and utterly destroyed throughout the entire game. Holes the size of Rhode Island were prevalent, frequent. Example, the screen shot below, which was pulled from a later game thread, which probably came from this article, now missing its six screen grabs of the game, all showing holes - giant, massive holes in our defense, holes the likes of which have never been seen before or since and since all copies of the 2007 Nebraska - USC game have been destroyed, only now exist in myth except for those few who have retained the memory of that night, God bless their tortured minds.

The USC game should have been a sign as to how the rest of the season would go, but fans like myself ignored it. Husker Mike and I met for the first time after the Iowa State game. Mike told me that the team wouldn’t win a game in October. I refused to believe him. The idea that my beloved Huskers would be that bad was unfathomable.

Not only did Nebraska not win a game in October, but they were obliterated by Missouri, Oklahoma State, and Texas A&M by the combined score of 122-34. The Oklahoma State game was especially horrifying. The score was 38 – 0 at halftime and a couple thousand fans left the stadium. At half. At Nebraska.

Either way it was horrific football. It was clear things were falling apart.

During the month of October, Husker fans booed.

A lot.

People across the state argued; was it okay to boo the team?

“We’re not booing the team, we’re booing the coaches!”, said some.

“It’s never okay to boo college football players, they’re just kids”, said those damned people who to this day still think a grown 20-year old, 280 lb. man is a child.

“It’s okay to boo the team, they’ve quit”, said others, probably including me, because my team wasn’t just starving my ego, it was being beat to death with a nailboard.

Families were torn apart.

Some man, probably me, tried to convince Husker fans to gather in Omaha and burn a path of destruction to Lincoln far more devastating than General Sherman’s March to the Sea.. We would find these non-booers, round them up, and burn them at the stake in a rally at the state capitol building.

Another man, much wimpier than me, said, “No, you won’t”, and began to marshal his own army - his plan was to meet us halfway on I-80 and stop us before we got to Lincoln.

The two groups - hundreds, maybe thousands of Husker fans were only a couple hundred yards apart when the news came that He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, the most hated man in the state forever and ever, had been fired.

JUST IN TIME THE STATE HAD BEEN SPARED!

I threw my Toro lawn mower blade to the ground, and ran, arms open, into the group of Husker fans I had just sworn I would hack to pieces, and embraced them, crying out, “What was I thinking?”, and they cried back, “We don’t know, you’re a giant asshole, what were you thinking?”, and embraced me all the same.

Nebraskans partied in the streets. Everyone had lots of sex (but not in one, big, sweaty pile - that would be gross), leading to the Great Nebraska Baby Boom of Nine Months After That No Good Sunofabitch Was Fired.

Tom Osborne was recalled as Nebraska's athletic director. Osborne made it clear that he would make no coaching changes during the season. I went back to that ditch on I-80 and retrieved my Toro lawnmower blade. It was exactly where I’d left it. I took it home and started sharpening it, just in case.

Then came the Texas game. It had to be the stupidest coached game that I can ever remember watching. Nebraska's run defense had been nonexistent all season, largely because defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove didn't have a single fucking clue as to how to defend against the zone read. Not a clue. Zero. Zip. NADA.

Yet here was Texas for most of that game, trying to throw the ball with Colt McCoy at quarterback. Nebraska actually had a lead for most of the game. It was as if the two coaching staffs were trying to out-dumbass each other.

Then McCoy got injured and while he was out, Texas ran one zone read play that gained 24 yards. The dumbassery standoff was broken as Texas decided to keep running the ball. Jamaal Charles ran up 216 yards in the fourth quarter alone, scoring three touchdowns as Texas won the game, 28 – 25.

The pain wouldn’t stop there. The next week, Kansas scored 76 points after scoring 19 points the previous two weeks. Read that again - KANSAS SCORED 76 POINTS IN ONE GAME AGAINST NEBRASKA IN FOOTBALL.

The week after that, Joe Ganz would go crazy as Nebraska beat Kansas State, 73 – 31. The season ended with a 65 – 51 loss to Colorado.

Nebraska finished with a losing record at 5 – 6, only the second losing season in 46 years, both coming under Bill Callahan.

Callahan was fired after the Colorado game and eventually replaced by Bo Pelini.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Kind of.

No matter how bad he was, Pelini was never as bad as 2007.


Epilogue

There seems to be still some discussion about whether or not Bill Callahan would have kept his job had he fired Kevin Cosgrove. Perhaps it's a fun discussion, (NO IT’S NOT) but it's pretty pointless. Bill Callahan had no business being a head coach. The problem wasn't his offense. His main problem wasn't even his defense, even though his defensive coordinator was inept at stopping anyone in the Big 12. His problem was his management style. When things got bad, he stopped communicating with people. It’s difficult to be a leader when you're hiding under your metaphorical desk (or behind lines like, "we’re only a few inches away" or “we’re doing well in all areas") while those around you are looking for direction. Callahan is a good position coach, possibly even a good coordinator, but in no way shape or form should he be considered a good head coach.

2007 seems to be a forgotten year amongst Husker fans, and for good reason. It was so horrific that no one wants to recall it. It is an unwritten, unspoken rule that the 2007 is not brought up, but here we are being forced to recall it. Perhaps a group discount on therapy is in order.

My own children experienced profanity so intense that I never had to worry about them learning bad things from anyone else, ever. They heard phrases I’m sure they’ll use as adults, but knew enough to never use as kids. Thank God they’ve had their mother to guide them, although I pat myself on the back from time to time for being a damned good bad example.


It was “scary story night” a few years ago at a Boy Scout camp - one of those nights where the leaders tell scary stories and try to mock-frighten the kids before lights out.

The stories went around the camp fire until they got to me.

“Let me tell you about the 2007 Nebraska football season”, I started. The other leaders screamed, “NO, JON, NO NO NO”.

I capitulated.

One of the younger boys spoke up.

“Hey, why you always carrying that lawnmower blade with you on our campouts, anyway?”

“Just in case, young man”, I said as I glared into the starlight.

“Just in case”.