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Nebraska Football’s Song Hasn’t Changed In 15 Years, And That’s The Problem

The Huskers loss to Northern Illinois is just a microcosm of the issues everyone in this program, down to the fans, have had.

Northern Illinois v Nebraska Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

I suppose there’s some of us in the Nebraska fanbase that think they are in a Groundhog Day sequence. And, for the most part, they’re right. But it’s not just since Mike Riley’s been in Lincoln.

He hasn’t helped the cause. But, before you get your nostrils up in a hizzy about what needs to be done TODAY about Mike Riley, Shawn Eichorst and any other son of a bitch in North Stadium over losing to Northern Illinois, we got to call ourselves out.

We first have to remember when things changed for Nebraska football. It’s been a while.

5776 days.

For those that don’t feel like thinking right now, here’s a easier timeline: 15 years, 9 months, 24 days.

That was when the magical run of Nebraska Football died. Do you all know that? I mean, that’s when the Husker magic really kinda spewed its final breath. The burial was at the Rose Bowl later that year as Miami put it down on the Huskers for a NC.

But see, that’s the thing. Sometimes, the program and fanbase of Nebraska Football gets a little bit of success, and we think Nebraska is back. They get to the conference title game in Kansas City, only to shit the bed there, and in Dallas, and against Ball State and thereafter.....

They get beat on a fluke at Virginia Tech, only to create a monster in Faurot Field on a rainy Thursday night. Which is fine, then the Cyclones come to town with 8 turnovers, four inside the five yard line. Then followed by :01 left after a thrown away pass in Cowboys Stadium....

It’s beating Colorado and being up 17-0 in the second quarter of the same game in Cowboys Stadium, only to lose that, then get physically embarrassed by a team you beat by five touchdowns in a bowl game where you claimed you were back a year before.

It’s winning your last six games in a row to make a new conference championship game and playing a 7-5 team, only to give up 63 points in the first 45 minutes. Then, for good measure, getting shut out the last 24 minutes vs. a SEC team in Orlando.

It’s being up 17-3 in the second quarter of a game for your division, only for 408 to happen against a team that’s owned your ass ever since you got in that new division. Still does.

See, what happened Saturday against the Huskies, it’s kind of not even a rip on Riley, although the reaction to it will be. Again, more later.

What it is is when even the smidge of success is even attainable to this program, fanbase, we tend to clamor about how things are back. But, when it goes in the shitter, we hearken to the days of Doctor Tom, who knew what play to call at the perfect time, and got the most out of kids! Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t, but in the end that’s what folks remember.

500 yard rushing days, a defense that had as many bad apples as playmakers, and by god that’s The Nebraska Way!

But, really, The Nebraska Way is what folks clamor for every time things go bad. Going back to that 2001 team, it had guys that were there from when TO gave the reins to Frank Solich.

That team had those TO disciples in Turner Gill, Dan Young, Milt Tenopir, Craig Bohl, George Darlington. The team had those five-hearters in Ben Cornielson, Chris Kelsay, Mark Vedral.. I could go on. They lost to Colorado, then Miami.

Then 2002 came along. Asskickings by the hands of Penn State, Iowa State, Kansas State & Colorado came. The heartbreak of the Texas game that Chris Simms threw for 419 at.

The fanbase wanted some asses. Craig Bohl was sent packing. Frank Solich became a bad play caller. George Darlington was shipped out for Bo Pelini’s pick in Marvin Sanders. The record was better, the losses were just as embarrassing though.

Ever since then, it’s fire someone and find someone better. That is, until that guy is a fuckup then fire him and find someone else. It doesn’t matter what position coach, coordinator, AD, Pepsi salesman. Someone loses their job over losses of football games. It satisfies people, plain and simple. The golden egg choices names show up, but never happen. It’s really a never ending cycle.

Now, as you read this and think that I’m not advocating change with the current staff, you’re wrong. Mike Cavanaugh probably cost himself a job, whether it’s tomorrow morning, last night, or at the end of the year. Reggie Davis, maybe, I dunno. Mike Riley and Shawn Eichorst? Well, I dunno about that one. Both have shown the ability to not only hold on for too long, but also to quickly get rid of folks who don’t fit.

Eichorst isn’t happy, or else he’s a hell of an actor in these videos.

Shit has flown downhill ever since Black Friday 2001. The Nebraska Way got its shit pounced that day and has never come back. Which, you have to ask, is that what you want from this program? Is losing all right as long as this program gets back to a magic bullet that lasted a long time?

You see, the fanbase thinks they have this correlation with success and how things happened in the 1990’s, thinking that if that comes back, things were all right. Nebraska has gone back to it, then gone away with it, then gone back to it, and gone away from it in the 15+ years since Nebraska, doing what it does best, got its shit packed in by Bobby Purify.

There is supposedly a magic pill that Nebraska should run the I formation, option, fullback dive, and things will be all right. Never mind the defense, that’ll figure itself out. And if it doesn’t, well fire that guy and find a guy who can work his magic as quick as possible. Until it stops working out, then fuck that guy and get another one. And if I formation guy doesn’t work out with all the five heart talent, then fire that son of a bitch and get another one.

Nebraska has been a great program historically. I mean, we all know that. Non-fans, they know it better because we tell em! However, what people tend to forget is that it has needed to rebuild itself ever since that day. Fifteen years, four head coaches, several OC/DC’s, line coaches, a metric ton of secondary coaches... you name it.

No one has any evidence that Mike Riley doesn’t get what’s going on. No one had any evidence that Bo Pelini didn’t want to win, or Bill Callahan. But, they didn’t win the ones that mattered, as Shawn Eichorst said the day he told Bo to leave. His anger today may have ended his honeymoon with Riley. Mike and Danny Langsdorf may have finally had enough of Cavanaugh. Maybe Billy Devaney, the guy cloaked in shadows but seemingly in Riley’s ear about moving coaches (Diaco for Banker) or players (Tanner Lee’s arrival in Lincoln) needs to answer some things.

We don’t know if it will happen sooner than later, but there are folks ponied up to a bar in downtown Lincoln, hoping someone lost their gig over it. That has to happen sometime, but when Nebraska stops getting into the business of pining for the glory days of yesteryear and start building for the next Nebraska run of greatness, it should happen then. When is then? No one knows, and that’s where the want of blood. Fans want it sooner than later. They’ll preach patience and growing, but then want pink slips if one step is taken back. Like today, not that it’s not justified, but it’s time to tear it apart.

I don’t think the Nebraska offense is as bad as it was today. It didn’t help when in three drives totaling 35 plays, they scored a grand total of 3 points. It didn’t help when they kept the ball for 36 minutes total, ten of those in the third quarter but didn’t take over the game. But, in the end, folks think people should go because Tyler Hoppes missed a block in the first quarter. Why? Because Nebraska lost and that’s why.

In the whole grand scheme of things, building the Nebraska football program should be the focal point. That includes not only winning, competing, but also being sustainable. Pelini was as close as it probably has gotten since 2001, but it didn’t work for reasons that had nothing to do with wins and losses.

You can want to both win & do it the “right way,” with dignity and such like Shawn Eichorst pines for and dictates. However, does it mean that the fanbase has to change? I dunno if they will, because the taste of success only makes them want it just that much more, and the cycle begins again. Getting out of it, no matter who is involved or how the theory gets there, is what matters more.

Realism of the Nebraska program should be metered in that the program and any success to come in the future should be not a hope of hearkening old days, but rather creating something for the next period of Nebraska football greatness, no matter when that is. We hope it’s sooner than later, but we have no idea.

Mike Riley’s money is now going to be earned getting something back to save this season, to get him to 2018. Past that, who knows what will happen. Who knows who will be brought in to run the OL until the 1994 pipeline isn’t brought back. Until the OC fails by calling a close to 50-50 run-pass split. Eventually, Riley will be gone and then someone else, no matter of Nebraska ties, will be brought in. And they’ll do things they think matter until they get on the field.

As long as someone gets fired for the failures though, that’s all that matters, right?