Saturday, January 04, 2014

Nebraska Football : Reality Check

Stories about the bowl victory over Georgia said Coach Pelini was not willing to resurrect his “Nebraska is back and we’re here to stay!” declaration made after the 2009 bowl victory. Why is Nebraska NOT back after 6 years of a coach making SEC money?

Nebraska beat Clemson in the Gator Bowl 5 years ago. Where have the two programs gone since then? We’re still scuffling in the Gator Bowl at 11 a.m. against a middle-of-the-pack SEC team while Clemson is beating the Big 10’s glamor team in a prime time BCS bowl. How did Dabo Swinney at Clemson beat Bo Pelini at Nebraska in getting a BCS bowl victory?

Obviously the recruiting and coaching at Clemson have been far superior to ours. I do not understand how NU officials can say Pelini is doing a satisfactory job. If Pelini had amassed this body of work at another school, there is no way NU would hire him.  

In recent years, we have beaten Missouri and Baylor as well as Clemson, all teams with much less football tradition and equal or lesser football resources. Those programs are now Top 10 BCS bowl game competitors. We struggle to beat non-Top 25 teams and are embarrassed several times a year.

Since the Callahan talent cycled out of the program, Pelini defenses have been giving up the kind of numbers that got Callahan fired. This season we were ground into our home field turf by a good UCLA team, a great Michigan State team, and a decent Iowa team, and we were dominated on the road by a mediocre Minnesota team. We were fortunate that Wyoming did not do to us what we did to Northwestern – another game in which we were outplayed on our home field.

Fans endured the insult of Callahan declaring that he was doing a great job as we watched the program fall to pieces. The difference now is that Callahan was competing in a brutal Big 12. Pelini has the benefit of weaker Big 10 competition. Otherwise we would not be racking up 9 wins a year.

Pelini was outraged that fans left the 2011 Ohio State game early. My brother was at that game with his young children. A cold rain was falling that night. The week before, at Wisconsin, we were blown off the field in our Big 10 opener. The same thing was unfolding against Ohio State – at home!

That game was on the same track as this season’s UCLA game – the visiting team going down the field and scoring at will. If Braxton Miller had not injured himself, that game would have become part of the litany of meltdowns on Pelini’s watch – meltdowns that have been happening for 3 seasons with healthy, veteran players, not just during the admittedly injury-plagued 2013 season with inexperienced players.

So my brother was one of those who left, not wanting to subject his youngsters to the possibility of pneumonia by continuing to watch the sad excuse for Nebraska football on display prior to the Miller injury.

It is expensive to be a Nebraska football fan. I’m not talking about the skybox crowd that feels no financial pain and may not give a hoot about football. I’m talking about everyday folks who love Nebraska football and for whom it is a significant sacrifice to pay for season tickets, to pay the much-more-expensive booster donation to get access to the season tickets, and to pay for travel and food and block out a day for a home game and a weekend for a road game.

The dismal turnout at the bowl game is a sign that the fan base is fatigued and distrustful.

The administration apparently is 100% behind Pelini, so don’t insult us, coach. Just tell us the truth. What you’ve been putting on the field for several years is substandard. And don’t keep blaming “execution.” Execution is the result of recruiting players talented enough to execute in games, and coaching them well enough to make it happen.

I think fans will rally to Pelini if he would just admit failure and announce that he is hitting the reset button. What blocks me and others from rallying to Pelini is the sense that he, the million-dollar athletic director, and other NU elites despise us and treat us like idiots, laughing and cursing at us in the skyboxes, locker rooms, and other elite hangouts, believing that they can declare bad football great and we will stupidly nod along and accept it.

May recruiting go well and Pelini figure out how to build a Top 10 BCS contender.

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