Note:This was written before the Deadspin bomb, which won’t help Pelini, but at first scratch doesn’t seem to sway opinions from either side about the most divisive man in Nebraska. The following was not altered.
The firestorm is raging over defunding the Pelini experiment and I’m sure many have tuned in to read this writer’s Affirmative Constructive for this debate, but there are two reasons not to argue this topic.
One. Debating an issue so fiercely partisan would be like the NRA trying to convince Nancy Pelosi to gin-up one of their conventions by flashing her thigh-holstered 357 Magnum.
Two. Why debate a done deal? I have zero official knowledge, but it was obvious that Saturday’s meltdown tipped the scales. The media, message boards, Twitter, and my mailbox all said clearly that enough people are tired of the same old results, the same old tired explanations of the same old results, and simply tired of Bo Pelini.
In these controversies one side wins, the other loses, and a negative side-effect of Al Gore inventing the internet has been that civil discourse has degraded into verbal mutually assured destruction. Since the best disarmament approach starts with diplomacy, the first step will be to promote understanding by responding to the most common missiles staged by Bo loyalists.
This wildly innovative attempt at “pre-healing” is almost certain to go absolutely nowhere, but someone has to try answering the cries of “What about the children?”
Spoiled fans don’t realize it took Osborne 25 years to win a National Title
The eerie part is how 24 years of futility could go unnoticed with the game’s smartest fans on watch. It’s probably because annual National Titles were never the ask of Bo Pelini. It’s about competitiveness against better teams making a Conference Title seem possible. Skipping that step breathes no hope that someday their beloved team can catch lightning in a bottle and win it all.
Loyalty to Tom Osborne began when he pulled Devaney’s fat from the fire when Bob’s offense needed a savior. One year removed from becoming OC, Osborne’s offensive genius proved the missing piece as NU won its first and second National Titles.
T.O.’s first four teams finished ranked in the Top 10 and NU won a share of the Big 8 title in his 3rd
year with an undefeated season until the Husker’s lost their last two games to eventual National Champion OU and to #2 Arizona State in a squeaker in the Fiesta Bowl.
Likewise Tom competed with OU. A school that stakes claimed or “unclaimed” National Titles in 1973, ’74, ’75, ’78, and ’80 during TO’s early tenure. Bo has never faced a National Title winner, much less has beaten a team that has finished with less than 3 losses since 2010.
Lastly, Dr. Tom was likable. Tom Osborne didn’t care for media events any more than Bo Pelini does, but recognized the media is the window to the fan base and fans are entitled to question and feel part of the program. That kind of likeability is something you’ve either got or not. In short, T.O. got, Bo not, which is not a small thing to many whose opinions matter.
Do you really want to go back to the Callahan days?
Why would anyone want to go back to a coach whose unacceptable antics on the sidelines were an embarrassment to the University or whose Ds were unapologetically obliterated by the better-than-average teams they faced? Hold on, let’s take a step back for a minute. Which coach were we talking about again?
Bottom line, if a coach at a big-time program (yes, NU still qualifies) isn’t competitive against the better teams on their schedule, they lose their jobs. Then the next coach that isn’t competitive loses his job.
Ask Notre Dame if they regret sacking Willingham and Weis, both of whom had moments of success. Query Michigan for regrets about not giving Rich Rod more time. Check A&M for remorse about punting 9-4 Mike Sherman. Lastly, ping Alabama about 20/20 hindsight on whacking Mike Dubose a year removed from winning an SEC title or Mike Shula for having a down year following a 10 - 2 season.
But Pelini IS close with NU (to having a competitive team)
No, he’s really, really not close.
OK, a better answer is deserved. NU has averaged giving up over 550 yards in its last 5 losses while also giving up over 600 yards in a win against a Mid-major also-ran. NU has been playing football since 1890 and never has a Nebraska defense been so consistently futile and NU owned Craig Bohl and Kevin Cosgrove. When D wins titles, this team is not close and little stock gets put into one-half of football against a mentally distracted, heavy-hearted UCLA team that clearly changed gears after Hundley scrambled out of that sack.
There’s also not been one signature win in the B1G. Wins against 6 loss OSU or 5 loss UM teams, both requiring star QBs to go down, does not suggest close. A win against a 6 loss Wisky team in coaching transition that later blasted NU by 39 points is not close. A 3-6 record against ranked teams, when two of the three wins were against teams that finished unranked is not close. The win two years ago over a 3 loss MSU team that finished 14th is the closest thing to an exception that proves the rule that this team is not close.
Finally, yes, NU did earn a bus trip to Indy where "anything could happen," and they played uninspired, unprepared, and, if anything, proved they weren't competitive against a team subbing-in for another team that had blasted NU senseless weeks before. Sorry, but that's not close in NU terms after 5 years. It’s just not.
You’ve got to give more time to get acclimated to the BigTen
Nonsense. Pelini himself said “football is football” before backpedaling. The B1G is a mixed bag just like every conference today, but NU’s problems have remained consistent against multiple, spread option capable teams like UM, NW, and OSU just as it was with Texas, OU, and Mizzou with talent. If you can’t man-up against a physical team and run with a finesse team, you can’t win any conference. Football is football and half a dozen coaches have had no issues in transitioning conferences in recent years.
Pelini’s has done a great job with kids in the classroom
I expect this to be a shock to many, but Bo’s reputation of rearing student-athletes is vastly overstated and overrated. According to Scout.com’s Bootleg’s Graduation Rate reports, NU graduated 88% of its players in 2007, 83% of its players in 2008 and over the past 3 years grad rates have jockeyed back and forth between 67% and 68%.
Producing a few Academic All-Americans and maintaining strong cumulative GPAs is nice, but what does any of that matter without diplomas? Dropping 20 points on sheepskins and ranking 9th
in the B1G for grad rates isn’t doing NU any favors. In fact, in many corners of the Husker Universe, including this writer’s world, the steep drop in graduations is a fireable offense all by its lonesome, especially when GSR no longer dings for transfers and there have been few if any flights to the NFL that I can recall.
After All’s Said and Done
Sure, it’s possible Bo could finally walk his talk and “fix” some things and NU could “execute” and “make plays” and be “all about winning” a conference title, but they won’t. When Husker meltdowns have become predictable 9 months in advance, as was the UCLA game, the smart money isn’t on a within-weeks resurrection taking place; especially amidst a fevered-pitch, the real risk of an empty seat against SDSU, and 3 years of historical data suggesting otherwise.
In Part Two I’ll answer a few remaining questions including Who Would Want to Coach at NU if we Fire Bo
? Until then, I’ll just say that no one is being asked to agree or like what’s being said here, locally, or nationally about this staff, the progress of the team, or especially the mental imagery painted of a slit-skirted Pelosi playing Bond girl. The reality however, is that Bo is very likely done, which is a buzzkill for every Nebraska fan whether they want him to stick around or wished he’d done things differently 5 years ago.
After all’s said and done, there’s probably a take-away about how all NU fans generally want the best for the NU program. Maybe that's something everyone should think about the next time their finger is on “the button” about to launch a missile someone’s way.
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