Published on 10-11-2012 04:35 AM
Number of Views: 23282
Keeping with current events, truths in an election year are off the hook. If I were to say that the debt has grown by $5 trillion in the four years of the Obama administration, that’s an indisputable truth, but simply by saying that, I’ll still draw the ire of Democrats as if I were the flag draped pachyderm himself. The fierceness of contradicting truths is a fascinating phenomenon in the internet age and the reality is my politics are more Grand Theft Auto than Grand Old Party; driving down the middle of the road and swerving side to side to hit whichever issues suit my beliefs.
The debate over the life or death decision on this coaching staff will swirl around a number of truths, skewed and otherwise, that certainly can enrage and be disputed, but truths will always remain. Speaking of truths, Nebraska’s defense is ranked 104th in the nation against the run, 76th in scoring and 51st in yards surrendered. This NU D gave up the 2nd most yards in history against an unranked team that is now 4-2 having lost to Oregon State and Cal (beating only Rice, Houston, Colorado and NU). In-fighting among coaches has been frequently visible on the sidelines of games, more fingers being pointed than thumbs. NU’s bad beats over the past 2 years have been statistically comparable with the worst in the history of NU football, the Huskers are unranked, and Nebraska is considered a longshot to see Indianapolis in 2012. Dr. Tom stated that he hired Bo because he felt the defense was the critical piece that needed addressing. Bo Pelini when asked what happened to the defense against Ohio State said “I wish I knew.” Spin it a different way if you want, but the above truths remain.
Greg Bartram-US PRESSWIRE
Stating those particular truths will draw the ire of some that wish to paint me as Steve Pederson, but reality is I’m still an undecided voter on Pelini. That said, I’m not above making comments on observations so consider this the start of the editorial and this one is about mentors.
We’re all who we are (or aren’t) because of mentors. Parents, teachers, bosses, TV, or Jimmy down at the liquor store who’s always got the best advice. The most successful coaches cite mentors all the time. So, who is mentoring Bo Pelini on being a big time college head coach considering he came to Nebraska with no head coaching experience?
The reflex answer is Tom Osborne, but facing facts, Dr. Tom has said repeatedly he’s stayed out of Bo’s way and by his own admission he feels his age has limited his sharpness. Likewise, even though Bo has never called T.O. something that rhymes with “crusty old trucker,” and he exudes obligatory respect; we neither hear nor envision Bo seeking substantive advice from anyone.
I raise the mentor issue because I’ve never seen a staff look and sound quite so stupefied as to how NU can muster momentous failures such as giving up 1150 yards, 16 penalties, 6 turnovers, and 99 points in two games. It also has never been more apparent that the team's play on the field mirrors the fumbled composure of the staff. I’ve seen Bo lambaste Papuchis, Barney, Fisher, and Beck (on the headset), but who with any steeped, relevant experience is getting inside Bo’s earpiece? All signs and demeanors suggest no one and the days of having Siefert and Sherman around are long gone.
Bo can only point the thumb for his coaching decisions, Ron Brown being the only guy who came to Bo’s staff with more than four years of BCS school experience as a full-time assistant coach. Beck has four years, but none as a playcaller, Kaczenski 4, Cotton 3, Joseph 1, Els 0, Fisher 0, Papuchis 0. Those baffling numbers also don't necessarily correlate with how many years of blue chip recruiting they have; when reality is those big time living room discussions didn't happen much more at KU and Iowa State than they did at the New Mexico States of the world. Most astounding is that NU’s legendary Blackshirt Defense now has a DC that came in with zero years of full-time coaching experience beyond the four years of being a position coach under Bo.
Older coaches like Barney, Fisher, and Els had been ushered out of big time, not finding gainful employment anywhere near the BCS school neighborhood when Bo called them up. Aside from the token “he’s a good football coach” quotes from Bo, familiarity and “trust” were the overwhelming reason given for the hires. Trust? Since when, outside of The Sopranos, does trust outweigh talent and reverse the process of natural selection that had these coaches headed away from BCS field turf and more towards the pasture?
From what I can tell, the only person Bo has ever really listened to is Barney Cotton, which is mystifying to me. Of all the people in his pro experience he likely could have tapped to be his right hand, he chooses a lightly regarded, aging mid-major coach with a so-so resume. On Barney’s advice Bo hired a young, now quickly losing his luster, Dobson for Strength and Conditioning which then translated into bringing on Kaczenski, who is having a brutal year getting the DL to show any conceptual grasp of containment. Entering the fifth year of chronically inconsistent, often whizzpoor O-line play just adds to the mystery.
You can claim truths about nine win seasons and Dr. Tom taking 25 years to win it all, but fuzzy math doesn’t hide that nine wins in 13 - 14 game seasons isn’t the same Osborne’s 9+ W run with 12 games max. Likewise, no one’s asking for a National Title from Bo, but is competing for a Legends Division crown too much to ask in year five against this B1G group of misfits? T.O. split conference titles in his 3rd and 6th years, finishing in the Top 10 in every year for over a decade. Osborne’s staff was littered with National Championship experience and the Huskers were more often on the cusp than not. Also, when Tom was asked what happened in bad losses to OU, he never answered "I wish I knew". I have doubts that answer will ever fly coming from NU's Head Coach, much less from the chief of any high expectation program.
This 2012 Husker staff has achieved none of the above and as structured I don’t believe ever will without an influx of outside experience. The coaching and recruiting experience simply is not there and the conditioning program isn't remotely turning overlooked kids from Indiana into Grant Wistroms. You can note O progress, but consistency is lacking and if it does arrive, Beck will be gone as quickly as you can say “I’ve always wanted to be a head coach.”
My prediction is Bo has at least another year to turn things around, but that it won’t ever happen without his pro-actively shaking up his trusted staff. Every year a second-tier Mattison, Mahlzan, or Orgeron-type ends up looking around for a soft place to land as an assistant for 3 - 4 years, but I doubt Bo will see it that way. There’s nothing suggesting he still doesn’t feel he knows vastly better than any outside observer of the program. Then again, a strong mentor in any business will tell you that’s the way a lot of guys are when they come walking in without any experience, over-confident, and not real concerned about all the simple truths.