Sunday, October 14, 2007

NU Re-View:Oklahoma State 45, Nebraska 14

You've all seen the scores, and the statistics, you've all read the comments, you've all felt the horrible, numbing pain if you are a 'Husker fan. After the second blowout loss in a row, this one at home to a team that got worked by Troy University, there can be no doubt about what has happened.

This Nebraska team has imploded. Bill Callahan has lost this team, and doesn't know how to get them back. The damage, in the short term and the long term, can only begin to be measured.

Like most Nebraska fans, last week I was shocked, and angry, and confused. What happened in Columbia didn't seem real, like a bad dream. Oklahoma State's domination of Nebraska on both sides of the ball on Saturday brought reality home in a big, brutal way.

The Big Red is dead. We need to mourn, but we can't spend a lot of time on it. We need to get right, and we need to get right quickly to start the process of resurrecting the program. And we're not going to get any help from the people running the program now.

'Husker fans, it's time to face reality. We've gone through the looking glass, and there's no going back in any hurry. Denying the truth will no longer be an option. It is up to us, as a fan base, to respond.

But how do we do that? How do we pick ourselves up in such a way that helps us and helps our beloved 'Huskers? Rest assured, there is a way. When Moses led the Hebrews out of Egypt, he parted the Red Sea and led them into the desert. Now, we as fans need to lead the Red Sea through the desert of mediocrity back to the Promised Land of national prominence. To do so, there are Ten Commandments that we must follows:

It seems self-evident, but it's the foundation from which everything starts. The most devastating thing that could happen to the Nebraska football program long-term is for people to stop caring, to be so sick of the poor performance of their team that they just give up and move on. That must not happen. Great teams become great teams because their fan base demands they be great. When we stop caring, the energy that drives the program stops, and entropy sets in. Caring, as painful as it is right now, is the critical element in the resurrection of the program.

This is the first corollary to the First Commandment. Saturday wasn't fun to watch, and next Saturday against Texas A&M doesn't prove to be any more fun. But just because it hurts doesn't mean you don't have to be there. Quite the opposite. The strength of a fan base is measured by how many people come to watch when it's tough to do so. We've been spoiled as 'Husker fans. Watching nine and ten-win seasons every year is easy. We've never had to sit through a 4-8 season in our lifetime. But we will now, and we will be tested like never before. We've already seen this team give up when things got tough. We, as fans, must not.

There will be those minority of fans that will adhere to the party line coming out of Lincoln, that we must do nothing but be positive and supportive. Criticism of the players or coaches, they will say, will only harm their play and hurt recruits. They are liars, or are deceived by liars. Failing to speak out about what you see is wrong is tantamount to accepting their malfeasances. Silence is assent. Steve Pederson and company are caretakers of this program, not owners. They have been given this program in trust to care for it in our best interest. When they fail at that job, it is our duty to rise up and demand the traditions we hold dear be kept, either by them or by those who are willing and capable to do so.

Nebraska fans are known as the greatest fans in college football not because Pederson used it as a clever marketing scheme, but because of our tradition of excellence. We must not allow that to be taken from us. We must continue to give our chants before and during the game. We must continue to show respect and grace to opposing fans. We must continue to applaud our opponent after the game, regardless of the outcome. Now is our opportunity for people to see us, in our darkest hour in a generation, and marvel at how we can rise above it, honoring our traditions while demanding the excellence from our program that we deserve.

After 7-7, a lot of Nebraska fans put their 'Husker gear away for better times. They didn't want to be seen as a 'Husker fan and take the barbs from those who had been waiting for decades to pile on. That must not happen again. This is the time that will test a fan. Wear your scarlet and cream now, more than ever. To show that we still care, that we will still demand excellence, we must not run when the going is tough. By hiding our colors now, we prove ourselves to be nothing but front-running bandwagon-jumpers. We're better than that, and now is the time to prove it.

While it is important to wear the colors we have now, it is also equally important not to take any unnecessary action to continue to pour money into the coffers of the athletic department. For Pederson, money equals success. For reasons stated above, we must continue to attend the games, but other than that we must no longer provide the fuel that drives the engine of this administration. If we are serious about demanding excellence as opposed to what we are getting now, we must no longer financially support this administration. That means no new Nebraska-licensed gear, no donations to the program, no more subscriptions to, nothing like that. Continuing to give this administration money is like continuing to shovel coal into a steam engine that is heading into a mountain.

When Pederson fired Frank Solich, he said that he would not allow this program to "gravitate toward mediocrity" and would not "cede the Big XII to Oklahoma and Texas." He was right in setting those goals. He has utterly failed in accomplishing them. We need to embrace those goals, and demand their accomplishment from the Nebraska athletic program. Wavering from those goals, either by accepting mediocrity or by giving up on the program altogether, will only hinder progress to the resurrection of the program.

Nebraska football is important. Anyone who tells you that "it's just a game" simply doesn't get it, and they are to be pitied for it. But Nebraska football is also not the be-all and end-all for us. We have much to be proud of, as individual people and as Nebraskans, outside of our football team. We have a lot of work to do to resurrect this program, but we must be able to do it with a spirit of joy and hope. Only those can sustain us for the long journey that lies ahead. Other great programs, like Oklahoma, Alabama, and USC, have had their time in the desert, and have returned to their Promised Land. We must be strong, and take the long view, and persevere until we too reach those blessed shores.

This sums everything up. While the performance this year has been embarrassing, I am still proud to be a 'Husker fan. I am proud to represent what this program represents. I am proud to wear the colors of my father, and of the fathers and mothers of those that have come before me. I am proud to wear the colors of the champions of the future that I know will come. I am proud to hold those colors up now, in the darkest of night, knowing I do not stand alone and that I am a part of those preserving this tradition for those to come. And I am proud to be part of the bane of those who, through incompetence or indifference, would harm the program I love.

We are entering the desert, 'Husker fans. We have a long, dark road of mediocrity, poor performance, and heartache ahead of us. We will have a lot of angry, bitter people, and we are in danger of consuming ourselves with those demons. We must not succumb. We must have faith, not in the current players, coaches, or administrators, but in ourselves and in this program we love so dearly. While its' caretakers may have failed the program, we must not. We must stand firm, and stand together. We must care for and respect each other, even when we disagree. We must remember that we all want the same thing. And we must believe - nay, we must know - that brighter days are ahead. Nebraska will rise again, because we the people will demand it, and will not rest until we are delivered. Let the haters crow and enjoy our time in darkness. We will rise above them, and we will once again be the insufferably polite fans who cheer as our team dominates all opponents.

Keep the faith. See you at 10th and Vine on Saturday. GBR, baby.


Anonymous said...

This blog is emblematic of the cult that is "Huskers Football".

You are all completely deluded in thinking that you still possess even an iota of the talent you had when you won your national championships.

You no longer dominate the recruiting like you used to, and you don't win, and its a perpetuating cycle.

Someone along the line then thought that hiring a washed-up NFL coach with a penchant for lackluster teams would help spark something? Reinvigorate an offense that had been completely outclassed? Please...

And no, I am not from Nebraska, but I have been living in this delusional college football pergatory for three years and have yet to see even a shred of evidence that NU is getting better, or even slowing the rate of deterioration.

Seriously... every week its one more predicted blow-out, or a conversation about bowl games, or beating whoever is in town to face you (although the week leading up to that game was comical in the amount of completely out-of-touch huskers fan I heard talking about beating the Trojans). If its not completely ridiculous musing about the future success of the team, its pointless nostalgic musing about how good you used to be (For what, two years?) On a side note, is anyone scared to play in Lincoln any more? Your Blackskirts are a joke, and the NU crowd can get taken out of the game in one play.... absolutely pathetic.

So, by all means, be fans.... it's not like there is anything else to cheer for in this pathetically flat and boring state. But please, for the sake of your sanity and those around you.... stop pretending that you have a shot, this year or in the near future.

Just admit that Nebraska is no longer as good as they used to be, Callahan and associates are awful and were a terrible addition, and it will probably take you half a decade to return to your former glory, if its even possible.

You might even have to come to grips with the fact that your best years are behind you.

Anonymous said...

While I am not a die hard Husker fan, I am a fan. College Football is important here in Nebraska, who else are you going to cheer for in this State? I'm from Kansas originally and I despise the Wildcats.

The fan commandments are silly.

Nebraska fans have shown themselves to be petty. It is easy to applaud your opponents when you just finished crushing them 72-6. Booing your own team shows no class. I understand people's frustrations with the coaching staff. However, I feel the criticism is misdirected. After the debacle last week, the players should feel ashamed. They flat out quit. I am NOT saying I am a Callahan fan. He is a poor coach. A good coach, coaches to his players strengths, not his "system". Our linemen were not recruited for their pass blocking skills, but their ability to run block. Our receivers were not recruited for their ability to catch the ball either....

Now, will T.O. fire them all and bring in a new head coach and coaching staff? I doubt it, but I personally would like to see them try and bring back Turner Gill. He may not be proven as a head coach, but he does have Husker blood running through his veins. I thought all along Solich was keeping the seat warm for him.

As for the anonymous comment about Nebraska being good "For what, two years?)" Um, let's see to quote Wikipedia "His 255-49-3 record gave him the best winning percentage (83.6%) among active NCAA Division I-A coaches at the time of his retirement and the fifth-best of all time. But Osborne, who went on an NCAA record 60-3 run over his final five seasons, won 250 games faster than any coach in Division I-A history." That's a bit more than 2 years.