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Jon’s Post-Life Crisis Episode 4: Faux Pelini and the Hype Train

Why Is The National Media More Hyped on Nebraska Than Husker Fans? with Special Guest @FauxPelini

Jon Johnston

This week Faux Pelini joins me to answer a specific question:

Why Is The National Media More Hyped on Nebraska Than Husker Fans?

About the Transcript

Keep in mind that the following is a transcript. . I use a service that automates the first draft. As much as “artificial intelligence” is included in the description of every bit of technology these days, it’s clear that computers understanding human speech is more artificial than intelligent. The transcript has been edited to take out human speech bites, you know, um, okay, uh, but it’s not been edited to be an “article”.

Please keep that in mind.


Jon Johnston

Welcome to this episode of Jon’s Postlife Crisis. On this episode, we welcome the most well-known and wisest fake football coach in the universe, Faux Pelini. I don’t think I need to introduce him any more than that - he should be well known to Nebraska fans.

How are you doing today?

Faux Pelini 1:52

I’m doing great. Jon. Great to be here. It’s quite an introduction. Thank you for that.

Jon Johnston 2:02

What I want to discuss today is a specific topic. That is the fact that the national media seems to be more hyped about Nebraska’s upcoming 2019 football season than actual Nebraska fans are. This is the weirdest offseason that I can recall. We appear to be exporting the Kool Aid instead of drinking it.

Why do you think this is? Why do you think the national media is that hyped?

Faux Pelini 2:34

It’s a good question. It’s kind of funny to be in that position. I agree. It’s weird.. It’s a reverse of how things have been in for a few years? I don’t know, personally, I think there’s probably a couple reasons for that, a couple theories. One is I’d say about it is that the national media is covering hundred teams, right? 125 teams. And when they’re doing that, they don’t have time to drill down all the way down on most of them all the way down to every bottom of the roster of every college football team, even the ones in the big conference.

So when they look at Nebraska, they see that you got the coach, you got a coach with a name, that seems to know what he’s doing, though the media seems to like Nebraska out there, Coach they check that box. They got a quarterback who’s got a name and seems to have huge upside. And it’s fun to cover and all those things. So if you’re a national media guy going through your preseason list of teams, those are the two most important boxes to check. So as you’re going by Nebraska, you say like they as a coach, they got the quarterback, let’s see what they got time to go tentative a time for Nebraska have a great year and I think that if you’re, if you’re not looking deeply into the detail, you just, you may think we’re better than we are just because of those factors.

And the other side is I think the national media wants Nebraska to be good. I think they like it when the Nebraska is good. I think it makes the sport of more interesting, as a whole, whether they whether they want to see Nebraska national championships or something like that as a different story. I wouldn’t go that far. But it’s a name that I think gets people going.

Jon Johnston 4:30

Is it still though? I mean, I want Nebraska to be good, because I’m Nebraskan and and I love us. But I mean, Nebraska still carries that weight out there. Do you think?Faux Pelini 4:39

It’s a good question. I, I do think it’s still got a name cache’ at least for the over 30 crowd, over 35 crowd, which is going to be a lot of the old, established national sports writers. They remember the glory days, I think that works out. So I do think that they know it’s a brand, it’s a national brand. It’s like Florida State is still that even when they’re not good, they get more attention than they should, Miami probably still fits that mold. Notre Dame certainly fits that mold.

Even you see, like UCLA and teams like USC, when they’re pretty good, they’re covered like crazy. And I think Nebraska may not be at that level of some of the teams, as I just said, but they’re in that mix, where they’ll draw ratings, and they’re familiar, and they’re a big name, it doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily attached to reality, and that, that means they’re going to win, that they’re that they’re back, I still personally feel like we’re probably a year away. We check those two boxes - the coach box and the quarterback box. And that’s definitely good to have, but feels like where are at a bunch of other positions is still a talent deficit, kind of across the board. Another year gets across getting the guys in there, get the strength program going and getting that stuff going, then we’ll really see. But my target is like eight wins this year. I’d like to see that happen? Anything more than that’ll be gravy.

Jon Johnston 6:27

We’re favored in almost all our games this year.

Let me ask you this. Are you being conservative because you don’t want to be hurt again?

Faux Pelini 6:40

There is probably an element of that. But I do, I really do think we’re still not there. We’re still not there yet. I think by the end of the year, we may be really, really good. And there may be a lot of momentum with a couple frustrating, inexplicable losses. So I do think that Nebraska fans having lower expectations and lower expectations than the national media is really a good thing because I’d hate to see, like, look, if they go 7- 5 or something that would not be unheard of. I think 7-5 probably as likely as 9-3. And if that happens, this is in a lot of ways, still a throwaway year. I think this is a year where you want to see good signs, you want to see grow, to want to see the guys stepping up, be fun to watch Martinez, it’s fun to watch a lot of things. But, it’s Frost’s second year, for God’s sake, I just don’t want to get carried away. I’m talking mostly to myself. When I when I say that I fully admit it.

Jon Johnston 7:59

You mentioned the phrase, “throwaway year”. I think this is my 13th year running CornNation. We have had arguments, we’ve had arguments for years, about that nine win barrier. I mean that if we had a coach that didn’t win nine games a year, they were in a position to be fired. That’s completely gone now, isn’t it?

Faux Pelini 8:23

But sometimes when they win 9 games, they’re still in a position to be fired? Right? Well, I think there’s a different barrier for each coach, I think Frost has a different barrier than Pelini had, than Riley had. It would take a lot for for Frost to get that. You’d need three or four, five and six win years in a row before people started saying this guy is not the guy.

But I think that it’s true to say that when when he’s got his guys, and when the things really rolling, I think the expectations totally are for 9, 10, 11 wins. Whether they actually take the step of firing him probably depends on a lot of other variables, because he’s the favorite son, if there’s no character issues, and he’s winning nine games a year. I think he’d probably stick around as long as he wanted to stick around. Because when you’re winning nine games, there’s always the feeling and the hope that it’s going to actually turn into 10 and 11. No, there’s never a deal where it’s only nine. Even with Pelini, right, you still think like next year might be the 11 or 12 win here. So as long as it keeps, as long as there’s hope attached to it. I think he’ll be there as long as he wants to be.

Jon Johnston 9:49

I’ll go back to that. national media wanting Nebraska to be good. Right now the Big Ten West is a crapshoot, some people would say it’s a mess. Do you think they do you think the national media wants Nebraska to be good so that there’s a clear picture of what they can do every year in the Big Ten West? Because right now, it’s kind of like who’s going to take it? Nobody knows. Does that make it more difficult for them to write about? Does that factor into it?

Faux Pelini 10:21

I think the Nebraska Stories write themselves. Everybody’s already got their Nebraska resurgence story on a shelf in their brain. The National writers like when the Nebraska wins the Big Ten West this year, for example.

We already know what the stories are going to say, is Nebraska back, is this for real is for us? The guy do they have you know, this the natural place for Nebraska to be and that kind of thing. So it definitely makes our job easier when Nebraska is good. I don’t know I think some chaos is probably more interesting to write about, if you have Northwestern, going to Indianapolis, that’s the fun story to write too. So I don’t know if it makes things more orderly necessarily for them.

But it is a more Nebraska being good is more familiar thing. If only by the way. When I say I want I think the national media is comfortable or enjoys when Nebraska is good. That doesn’t mean to imply that I think there are Nebraska fans and that they want to see Nebraska do well, because they would just have just as much fun writing the story of Nebraska falling off the cliff again.

Jon Johnston 11:28 Yeah, that’s true.

Faux Pelini 11:30

Or not being back, or the college football’s changed so much that Nebraska can never be good again. You know, they they like those stories, too. So it’s just having Nebraska be a factor in a variable that they can use. I think this makes it makes it fun for them.

Jon Johnston 11:49

I don’t know what else you got. This is a fairly short podcast, but I didn’t want these things to go on for hours. I could probably say that most of the reticence that comes to you or Nebraska fans, is that we are offensive and defensive lines aren’t there. We just got past watch list time of the year, which like everybody on the planet, it’s on a watch list. There have been zero offensive lineman, no Nebraska offensive lineman on a watch list for way too long. Yeah, that’s why everybody’s really kind of holding back, isn’t it?

Faux Pelini 12:35

Yeah, that’s real depth that I think I mean, the Michigan game was not that long ago. When you look at it, it was like, kind of the schedule, but it’s probably seven games ago, in our history, and that they just got blown off the ball on both sides of the ball, every play of that game. That score could have been whatever Michigan wanted it to be. And that was wasn’t that long ago, and things haven’t changed that much. You know, and Michigan was a good team, but not a fantastic team last year. Ohio State showed different signs of us taking show different signs of there was a lot going on at Ohio State. So, you know, I think that’s, that’s probably the main reason that I’m, when I say I feel like we’re still another year away, it takes a while to get to get back there to get the offensive and defensive line to a point where they’re going to actually compete and dominate people and those kind of things.

The good news is, once you get there, you can create a pipeline and kind of stay there. It might be easier to stay there than to get there. But to expect that they’ll that that will be solved in 2019, I just think is not realistic. I think they’ll be signs it’s getting solved. I think it will be stronger. And there. You have another year in the system and everybody be playing well together. But to feel that going into 2019 that, you know what happened in the Michigan game is ancient history. We’re talking about a lot of the same guys. Some of the same guys. I just don’t want to expect too much.

Jon Johnston 14:14

Riley really turned our program into mush, didn’t he?

Faux Pelini 14:19

He he just did what Mike Riley does, you know, I don’t think I don’t think that was his fault. I have a feeling about Riley. I mean, when you hire the wrong guy. It’s not really the guy’s fault. You know, it’s the fault of the people that hired him. He did the best he could have been Mike Riley, he was doomed to do what he did. He’s just not, he’s just not a top level coach and didn’t deserve to be in Nebraska. And he was the wrong hire.

So I don’t put the blame on him. You know, he did the best he could. He delivered exactly what Mike Riley is going to deliver. There’s a lot of mess to clean up. Yeah, but it looks like Frost is on his way. And hopefully he is.

Jon Johnston 15:03

That’s a lot more gracious than I am. Because if I’m at one of my customer sites, and somebody asks me, somebody brings up his name, it’s all I can do to stop from shouting massive amounts of profanity. And even then that failed miserably at it.

Faux Pelini 15:21

Like, that doesn’t mean that I haven’t done that either. Because I have. I mean, he’s, he’s a coach, and he expected to do something, he’s making a lot of money. And he deserves that shouting, and he gets fired.

That’s what happened. And he signed up or he took the job, he could have said, No, I can’t do it. He took the job and said I can do it. And he failed. So I’m not saying he doesn’t deserve any blame. Because of course he does. Just he’s not the main point.

It’s kind of like if your if your cat pees in the basement regularly, Is it really the cat’s fault? Or the your fault for letting the cat in the basement? At a certain point, it’s not on the cat? You know?

Jon Johnston 16:06

This is this is why you got the big job of writing for The Athletic, isn’t it? this kind of stuff?

Faux Pelini 16:13

Cat pee talk?

Jon Johnston 16:15

Yes. So how is that going? We’ll talk about you for a couple minutes, and then we’ll be done.

Faux Pelini 16:24

How’s The Athletic going? I really like writing there. I really like people and kind of the opportunity there. Really, and, you know, when I when I started writing there a couple years ago, I didn’t really know what to expect out of the site. I think everybody who’s honest about it, had no idea if it would just fall on its face the subscription model and the no ads, no video, pure subscription-based model. So I didn’t know what I was doing.

I’m in a different position than the full time writers there, I’m just contributing there. But, man, it’s really exceeded expectations in terms of the talent they’ve been able to attract and also, the growth and just kind of the legitimacy you see out there, sense that I get in terms of being you know, a really high profile accepted source of a lot of news, even breaking news these days. So it’s been it’s been really good, really good to be surrounded by that kind of that kind of talent able to contribute there. And they give me full flexibility and freedom to do what, whatever crazy idea pops in my head. So it’s going great.

Jon Johnston 17:40 You really have to up your game.

Faux Pelini 17:44

It’s true. Being in a place where there’s a lot of talent makes it makes it fun. But it does, it does kind of bump everybody up. Everybody’s come up a level.

Jon Johnston 18:01

All right. Anything else about the 2019? season you want to say? Or?

Faux Pelini

I mean, it’s gonna be fun to watch. This is the first season I can remember in a while, that it seems like just pure fun going into it. And it’s not like annoying from day one. Last year was like that, too. But it quickly became obvious that it was way too early to get any kind of excitement. I mean, this year, we got a quarterback and we got a system. Even though I think we’re a year away from any kind of real expectations.We’re gonna have a real football team. That’s fun.

Jon Johnston 18:41

One more thing. Last year, at the Troy game. I shot the Troy game. I was sitting on the field. I mean, it was like 120 degrees on the field. It was nasty, okay, but I’m sitting in one shaded area next to another well known photographer, and we watch Troy, run motion, and run our linebackers right out of the middle of the field. Troy runs up a hole the size of a semi sideways, I don’t know, it was huge. The guy turned and looked at me and he said, “you and I could have ran through that hole”. And I thought, “Oh, my God, what is this going to be?” And then you know, we continue to 0-6. But that was last year. I know you’re excited. I’m kind of… I’ll be honest with you. I’m a little terrified. I’ll use the word terrified. You know, and I mean, I just want us to play the first game. And then things will be fine. You know what I mean?

Faux Pelini 19:44

Yeah, for sure. That’s what happens when there’s expectations. I can talk a big game about having, you know, settled expectations and realistic expectations that all every year that goes out the window when you turn on the TV, and there they are in this kickoff and I turn into every other fan with high expectations, you know that the logical part of your brain goes out the window pretty quick.

Jon Johnston

Yes, it does.

All right. We’ll be done. Thank you to Faux Pelini for joining me. Maybe we’ll have you back someday. Maybe I’ll keep doing these and I’ll actually be successful. Maybe this episode actually recorded. That would be a bonus.

Thank you Faux and thank you all for listening to Jon’s Postlife Crisis.

Take care.