Before the season began, who would have thought Bo Pelini's coaching career might hinge on the outcome of the Northwestern game? Maybe that discussion is a bit premature, but make no mistake, this is a HUGE game for Nebraska, especially for a football program and coaching staff trying desperately to avoid falling farther south.
To be sure, lose this game and it could get ugly among the Husker "faithful." Especially if Nebraska has another OSU-like meltdown. And if the Huskers come out with a win, that will only temporarily stop the bleeding. After NW, Denard Robinson and the Michigan Wolverines come to Lincoln. UM is fully capable of embarrassing a Husker defense (can't call them Blackshirts) prone to giving up chunks of real estate to offenses with mobile quarterbacks.
Should the Huskers lose the next two games (gasp), NU would sit at 4-4 and 1-3 in the conference. Let that one sink in for a minute. But win both and the Huskers might be able climb back into the Top 25 and could still be in contention for a conference title.
For the record, Bo's career record is 19-5 during the six final regular-season games. Lose two more games and NU would end the regular season record at 8-4 with an invitation to a leftover bowl game.
A GUMP CALL I'm not going to predict the outcome of this Saturday's game. My track record so far this year is abysmal. But we all know one thing: This season, the Huskers have been consistently inconsistent. It's like the line from Forrest Gump. "Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get." I'll be watching the game this Saturday afternoon with 550 of my closest friends in Lincoln at our "Husker Fans Salute The Troops" football watch party.
CORNHUSKING THE "REAL" WAY What's a writer to do during a Husker bye week? Husk corn, that's what. After all, it is harvest time in Nebraska. For about three hours Thursday afternoon, I rode shotgun with Gordy Shrader (Shrader Farms) in his brand new, $400,000 combine. By the end of the season, he will have harvested about 10,000 acres of corn and beans. I learned about snouts, spouts, guess rows, grain carts; the cost per acre for fertilizer, herbicides and irrigation. And because he's a big-time operator, Gordy takes advantage of all the latest technology. In the spring, he does his planting with the help of GPS navigation. In the summer, he uses his cell phone to turn off any sprinkler that is malfunctioning. And a computer screen in the cab of the combine lets him know when his bin is full and needs to be augured into the tag-along grain carts.
SPEAKING ENGAGEMENT The reason I was up in that area was that I was the featured speaker Saturday night at the annual Knox County Manure Spreaders convention. It seems that they felt that my writing most closely matched their mission statement...
THE REAL REASON Okay, so I wasn't a guest speaker anywhere last weekend, okay? But I was in and around Verdigre, Nebraska seeing family and friends. One of the highlights was touring the new Verdigre High School (www.verdigre.esu1.org), which opened in August of 2011. Principal Chuck Kucera (who is HUGE Husker football fan) took my brother and me on a behind-the-scenes tour of the school. VHS has a state-of-the-art computer lab with rows of laptops; they can do video conferencing, and all classrooms have smart boards. It's first class. I doubt if there are many (if any) towns with a population of 600 that have school like this one.
THE BEES HAVE IT Unfortunately for the Verdigre/Niobrara Cougars, they lost their game with the Bloomfield Bees Friday afternoon. A win would have put V/N into the district playoffs.
50 AND COUNTING Looking back at 50 years of being a Husker football fan, here are the Top Ten best hires. 1961 Husker AD Tippy Dye hires Bob Devaney as the head coach 1962 Bob Devaney hires Tom Osborne as a grad assistant. 1967 Devaney hires Tom Osborne as a full time assistant 1969 Devaney hires Tom Osborne as his offensive coordinator 1973 Devaney names Osborne as his successor at Nebraska 1982 Tom Osborne names Charlie McBride to succeed Lance Van Zant as D.C. 1992 Husker Chancellor Graham Spanier hires Bill Byrne to succeed Devaney as A.D. 2002 Head Coach Frank Solich hires Bo Pelini to succeed Craig Bohl as his D.C. 2007 Chancellor Harvey Perlman hires Tom Osborne to succeed Steve Pederson as A.D. 2007 Tom Osborne hires Bo Pelini as head coach.
Yes, the jury is still out on Bo Pelini. But he was hired to shore up the Husker defense and for a while, he did just that. It helped that he had some great talent when he arrived, but at least the bleeding was stopped.