10 Ways Bo Pelini was Dead Wrong

18 Dec

While I think there were some moments of truth and honesty in Bo Pelini’s comments to his former players after being fired from Nebraska, it is sadly obvious that there are many more pieces of spin, delusion, and possible fabrications.

Since I don’t really feel like splitting hairs or getting caught up in spin, I’m going to point out ten quotes where Pelini was completely, unequivocally, dead wrong:

1.  “I didn’t really have any relationship with the AD.”

I include this one not from a fact or crap point of view, because I have no idea what type of relationship Bo and Shawn Eichorst had – nor is it really relevant to the point.

I include it because if Bo did not have a relationship with his boss, his direct supervisor – the guy who could fire him – that’s on him.  I’m not saying that Bo needed to be a brown-noser or bestest buddies with ol’ Shawnie, but if I was concerned about being fired – or more appropriately, wanting to avoid being fired – I’d make sure my boss knew who I was, what intangibles I bring to the table, the names of the kids who be uprooted if I’m canned, etc.

I know Bo was a little busy trying to build a football team good enough to win championships and silence 1.8 million critics, but that doesn’t excuse not making an effort.

2.  “(Eichorst) was never going to come out in the paper and support (us).”

From an ESPN.com story dated August 13, 2014:

  • “I really enjoy what he brings to the table.”
  • “I think we’re stable. We have a seasoned coach who has won a bunch of games. We’re resourced the right way. So we should be optimistic. We have good kids in our program. It’s never been about a lack of effort or passion.”
  • “We’ve done everything they’ve asked us to do, within reason, so to me that should be a sign of support right there.”

All three of those quotes were said by Shawn Eichorst in regards to Bo Pelini.  Writers from the Omaha World-Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, and Associated Press were in the same interview so Eichort’s words of support definitely made it into the “papers”.

3.  “I went to a couple of the members of the board…and I said ‘Hey, you know what, if this guy ain’t gonna do his job, and if he doesn’t have the balls to go out there and support me, support these kids, support this program, then do me a favor and get rid of me.'”

Going over your boss’s head to the board is an underhanded jerk move in almost all situations.  For a man who touts accountability and doing things the right way, this really makes him look hypocritical.

4.  “And I said, ‘Hey bud, you can’t support somebody underneath a f—— rock.’ I said, ‘To do your job at this level, at a place like this, you gotta be a grown a– f—— man to lead something.'”

Without diving into a massive tangent about Eichorst’s style, his critics, and his performance to date, I will say that one of the things an employee has very little control over is how their boss leads and supervises them.  Some bosses are micro-managers who need to be involved in everything.  Some work best in the shadows, allowing their people to perform on their own.  Smart employees figure out how their boss functions.  Successful employees adapt and change.

Clearly, Eichorst’s behind the scenes leadership style is not what Bo Pelini felt he needed to be successful.  But it doesn’t mean Eichorst’s style does not work or that he cannot be a strong leader of Nebraska Athletics.

5.  “And fellas, this all stays here.”


Pelini may be wise to spend some of his buyout money on some sort of anti-spy technology for the that blocks recording devices.

Or maybe not trash his boss, fans, and/or media when in the company of anybody outside his immediate family.

6.  “I am going to speak my mind, and that probably bothered (Eichorst) and bothered the chancellor.”

I would hope that Bo was encouraged to speak his mind while he was at NU.  When Bo was given a topic that he was passionate about, he always came through with interesting and poignant things to say.  Off the top of my head, Bo’s comments on recruiting reforms, marijuana usage, the decision to play the Penn State game after the Sandusky story broke wide open, and his concerns about ESPN’s involvement with the SEC Network were all well thought out and a welcome change from the non-answer clichés most coaches give.

But, yeah, I’m sure Eichorst and Harvey Perlman were bothered when Bo dared them to fire him last year.  You just can’t do that.

7.  “I would have resigned a year ago. Because there was some things that were going on that were making me miserable…I said I could suck it up.

As numerous others have mentioned, the majority of this speech is a case study on the many ways Bo Pelini is deluded.

But if Bo Pelini ever seriously believed that he could “suck it up” and not let the litany of injustices he perceived get to him for an entire season….wow.  That may be the most self-unaware thing he said at Nebraska – and this speech has plenty of strong contenders.

8.  “It’s a b—- here.”

Yeah, the expectations at Nebraska are greater than those at 90% of the schools in the FBS, but so are the resources, traditions, and passion level.

I’ll be honest:  this may be the quote that pisses me off the most.  I would like to believe that after seven seasons as the head coach, Bo Pelini had a greater affinity for Nebraska (the program and the state).  Instead, he comes across as some ungrateful jerk who was too busy crafting his Messiah complex after another blowout loss to appreciate all of the advantages he had at his disposal.

Is Nebraska (the state or the program) an ideal spot for a college football powerhouse?  Of course not.  I could give you 2,015 words on the limitations Nebraska’s coach faces in 2015.  But don’t go calling my school or my state a bitch – especially to 100 guys who you recruited to come here.

9.  “I thought you guys were more mentally beat in (the Wisconsin) game than we got physically beat. It’s a culmination of the negativity.”

Okay, scratch what I said in #7.  THIS is the most self-unaware thing Bo Pelini said at Nebraska.

Or is it…

Now that I give it a second thought, it occurs to me that Nebraska ended the first quarter with a respectable lead over the Badgers.  Was that a culmination of the negativity?  Or what about when Bo dressed down Daniel Davie on the sideline?  That sure looked like a mental beating to me.  Coincidentally (or maybe not) that is when the wheels started to fall off.  Maybe the Wisconsin game WAS a culmination of the negativity – the negativity that Pelini infused in the team.

Or maybe trying to blame the media, fans, and other external noise for a blowout loss is incredibly stupid.

Take your pick.

10.  “I’ve been to these other places and it ain’t quite — the scrutiny, the negativity, it ain’t like that everywhere.”


The reason you didn’t face scrutiny and negativity at Oklahoma and LSU was mostly because those teams were successful.  There is surprisingly little scrutiny and negativity when a team (like the 2007 LSU squad) wins a National Championship.

Oh wait, that shouldn’t be a surprise.

Let’s look at your alma mater:  I’m guessing there was more scrutiny and negativity at Ohio State in 2011 when Luke Fickell went 6-7 than 2010 when Jim Tressel went 12-1 or 2012 when Urban Meyer when 12-0.  Wonder why that is?

*   *   *

A few assorted odds and ends from the Pelini transcript:

Who leaked the audio?  I’m not surprised that it was recorded.  Heck, if you told me 10 different guys recorded it, I’d believe you.  But who was the one who shared it with the World-Herald?  Was it a player?  Another coach?  A member of the support staff?  If it was a player, was he an upperclassman or a younger guy?  Was he a starter, backup, or somebody buried on the depth chart?

“But at the end of the day, what I wanted to make sure, if there was gonna be a change, that I would have time to get on my feet. They gotta pay me.”  I believe as much as anybody that Pelini loves and supports his players, but it is worth noting that he says this sentence way before he states any sort of concern for the players.

What the hell is Bo talking about with “when they forced coach Osborne out”?  In a brief interview with the World-Herald, Osborne said “I wasn’t forced out”.

I tend to take Osborne at his word (he’s earned that respect from me), but I will gladly listen to any and all conspiracy theories.

“If it’s true what (Eichorst) said — someone told me, that it ‘crystallized’ for him on Saturday night”  Am I to interpret from this quote that Pelini did not watch (or has not read quotes or seen clips) from the press conference announcing his firing?

I don’t think that the Pelini family gathered in the theater room that Sunday afternoon to watch Eichorst issue his statement and answer questions, popcorn in hand.  But Bo seems like the kind of guy – as reinforced by this speech to his players – that would probably watch to make sure that s.o.b. Eichorst isn’t trashing him.

“Let me tell you, you go back a year, fellas, when I said what I said after the Iowa game? I was trying to press — I wanted to find out then where they stood. And unfortunately all I found out then was that they were p—— and they were gonna do what was politically right, or what they thought was the politically right thing to do.”  Two reactions to this one:

1.  I find it interesting that his outburst was a calculated move (or so he claims now).  I wonder if his coaching in that game was also a calculated move – because I will always believe he coached that game like guy who wanted to be fired.

2.  How was Eichorst’s decision to retain Pelini and publicly support him “politically right”?  If you’re talking about the politics of getting people to support your decision, I could easily argue the “right” choice would have been to fire Bo last year.

Or is “politically right” a reference to a certain conservative U.S. Representative who is rumored to have played a role in Pelini being retained?

Has any former Husker football player gone on to work at (or own) a McDonald’s?  Let me know in the comments.

Pelini makes many references to the “support” he did not get from Eichorst.  What exactly did he want?  Did Bo expect Eichorst to make a public statement of support after the Wisconsin or Minnesota games?  Were there resources or other needs that Pelini asked for but did not receive?  Was Pelini wanting Eichorst to be a more hands-on boss and a more visible presence at practice?  Did Pelini expect an open-door policy from his boss?

What level of support was Bo getting from Tom Osborne when T.O. was Pelini’s boss?  Maybe I’m not remembering correctly, but if feels like Osborne gave Pelini as much public support as Eichorst gave:  a few words of support as part of a bigger interview on the athletic department.

But behind closed doors, it must have been a different story.  My guess is Osborne really played a role in mentoring Pelini.  I suspect Osborne gave him guidance, advice, and the reaffirming support from somebody who has walked in his shoes.

This is pure speculation on my part, but I think this quote from Pelini’s address to his former players supports my theory:

“It’s difficult when you don’t feel you have any support and nobody’s behind you.”

That sure sounds like somebody who wishes he had his mentor to lean on.

“There is a lot of things that go on there, and if you don’t have a grown man standing in front of the thing saying, ‘Hey, I’m behind it,’ getting everybody, rallying them — I can do it all I want, but they’re b——- at me, too. If they don’t get somebody to rally this whole thing together, it’s hard.”  This quote is so telling to me.  I see this as validation of the Bo-leaver belief that Pelini can be a top-level coordinator but is not equipped to run a program.  I see this as Bo looking for somebody to be a deflector for the program’s criticism so he can keep his focus on football.

The part that intrigues me the most is the impression I get Pelini expected his AD to fill that role.  Again, maybe my memory is failing me, but I don’t recall Osborne playing that role when he was the AD – at least not publicly.

How many Nebraskans are waking up today regretting that purchase they made from the Youngstown State bookstore?  It’s amazing how quickly this audio has changed perceptions.  Tuesday night, I drafted a couple of paragraphs about how Pelini seemed to be walking into an ideal situation at YSU.  I fully expected many of the fans who still feel a fondness and loyalty for Bo to become Penguin fans this fall – much in the same way that Ohio University merchandise was found in many Nebraska stores in 2004.

But today?

I’m sure Pelini supports still exist, but you’d have better luck finding a liberal Nebraskan west of Kearney than getting somebody to express their support for Pelini.



Twenty Ways Bo Was Right

17 Dec

Fans and media members are reacting to the leaked audio of Bo Pelini’s farewell address to his team from a few days after he was fired.  Most of that reaction is rightfully critical as Pelini was very harsh – both in language and in message – in attacking his former boss, fans, media, and University leadership while portraying himself as somebody who was not supported by the administration.


There are several areas of Pelini’s speech where the coach is right, speaking the truth, or unintentionally stated an absolute fact.

Here are the nuggets of truth mined from the Omaha World-Herald’s transcript of the speech:

Continue reading

Thought of the Day – 12/15/2014 – Pick up the Pieces

15 Dec

A marketing tip to help you from wasting your money this holiday season:

Almost without fail, if a product’s packaging touts the number of pieces you’re getting (“24 piece set!”  “72 pieces!”  “101 pieces!”), at least a quarter of those pieces are complete garbage or things that you will never, ever, ever use.

Even the world’s greatest mechanic or craftsman is probably not going to use all of the sockets and screwdrivers and whatnot in that big tool set.

Do you even know what all of those tiny spoons and forks are for in your set of formal tableware?

Unless you want your preteen niece to look like a rodeo clown, do not get her a big kit with 83 different colors of eye shadow.

Seriously, go for quality over quantity.


Adoption Humor FAIL

11 Dec

I subscribe to a daily email from the fine folks at the FAIL Blog that contains highlights from their popular website.  They send me a dozen or so images and links a day.  For the most part, I get some chuckles and the occasional belly laugh.

However, one of their recent images left a little to be desired.  The caption of the post was “When Dad Joke Go Too Far”:

So funny I forgot to laugh

So funny I forgot to laugh

Ol’ Dad went past “funny”, through “lame dad joke”, and landed smack in the middle of “hey, look what a moron I am!”.

Oh my…where to start?  Let’s go message by message:


Our Father of the Year actually starts out with some good advice.  Adoption IS a good thing.  In my experience, the decision to adopt was one of the smartest decisions I’ve ever made.  While adoption may not be for everyone, I would encourage everyone to consider it – or at least advocate for it.

Plus, I think it would be best if the genetic code that make this Dad…um…special (his horribly inappropriate jokes, inability to type the word “you”, and abuse of exclamation points) is not passed onto another generation.  It’s bad enough that the recipient of these message is tainted with Dad’s defective DNA – why would you intentionally harm a child with a big does of the Stupid Gene?


Bravo, good sir:  “ur” humor is absolutely hilarious.  Aren’t you the guy who opened for Carrot Top at the 1992 Nebraska State Fair?  That had to be “u”.

P.S., I can only hope that when mom found out about this, she cut you off – figuratively or literally.  It makes me no difference.


This final message is where Dumb Dad really starts to piss me off.

Why should the recipient be crying?  Because being adopted is such a negative stigma that kids cry when they find out?  Moron.

As for “Ur mine”, I can guarantee you that the three children in my house are most definitely “mine”.

Also, “watch(ing) ur mom have u” does not necessarily mean that the child is yours.  If Mom has any brains, she cheated on Dumb Dad with somebody with a high enough IQ to produce a viable embryo.  When you’re on Maury next month, you may want to ask for the paternity package.

The lesson here, my friends, is if you think that “ur adopted!” is a good punchline for a joke (or a funny put-down) you need to stop.  Or better yet, head down to the airport and make some jokes about explosives.  You’ll probably have better results.


Husker Hot Takes – 12/11/2014

11 Dec source: pic2fly.com

Fill your Christmas stockings with a fresh batch of Husker Hot Takes:

What in the holy Incarnate Word is going on with Nebrasketball?

That was a meltdown of epic proportions.  Fouling a shooter taking a three pointer.  Twice.  Throwing away in-bounds passes.  Mental lapses and physical breakdowns.  All while a less than capacity crowd watches quietly.  Somewhere in Indiana, Barry Collier said “Damn, that’s a bad loss.”*

*He probably didn’t say that.

I heard a conspiracy-minded person hint that maybe Nebraska lost on purpose (for reasons that are still unclear to me).  My response:  “If they were trying to lose, they would not have been as obvious as what happened”.

So what now?  Obviously, there are issues both physical and mental going on with this team.  This team isn’t going to develop a dominating post game anytime soon, nor are they likely become three-point marksmen.  My guess is Tim Miles will figure out what his team does well and try to accentuate it.

But if you’re panicking about not making the NCAA tournament or seeing the program backslide, it is important to remember just how unlikely – and incredibly ahead of schedule – last year’s run was.  You may not agree that Coach Miles is playing with house money right now, but surely you can appreciate all of the big steps forward this program has taken – even if they took a giant step back Wednesday night.


Mike Riley is winless as Nebraska’s coach – and his old boy network of assistants is to blame!!!

I am bemused by the hand-wringing over Mike Riley and his future staff.  He’s bringing too many guys with him.  He’s not keeping enough of the current staff.  He should be getting Scott Frost and an all-star cast he’s never worked with before.  Why is he not paying millions for a big name coordinator?  Did you see Oregon State’s defensive stats?  Nebraska is doomed!

Relax.  Take a deep breath.

It should go without saying that Riley wants to surround himself with the best possible staff.  He didn’t come here to lose.  In his mind, the only thing he’s going to gravitate towards is a championship.  If that means bringing along people he knows, trusts, and believes in, I’m okay with that.

Admittedly, my initial reaction to the Riley hired was rather underwhelming.  But, that initial disappointment was not as great as when Nebraska introduced some unknown coach named Tim Miles.  I’m not saying Riley will replicate Miles’s success or popularity, but maybe we should wait until September (or even October) before we call the hire a failure.  Okay?



Jack Gangwish is not going to be PETA’s Man of the Year

Sheesh, you club one little raccoon to death with a crescent wrench and you have to deal with PETA sending letters to your athletic director implying that you are on the fast track to domestic violence.

All joking aside, let’s call that PETA letter what it is:  an attention-grabbing stunt that is unfortunately far too common from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.  It’s a ridiculous “me-too” move from an organization that derails any positive work they could do with stupid antics like this.  I know I’ve already given them far too many pixels.

The whole story is silly.  College aged male sees raccoon on side of road, improbably* thinks “this would be a great photo opportunity!” and attempts selfie.  Raccoon feels camera-shy and bites man, who reacts quickly and harshly with a crescent wrench.

*I say “improbably” for those of us who are not males in the 16-22 demographic, as my wife would never think to take a selfie with roadkill  But for boys in that particular age range, almost no idea is improbable. 

As for Jack, my affinity for tough, hard-working walk-ons is well documented (Mackovicka, Jeff & Joel; Rigoni, Brandon; etc.) and Gangwish certainly fits that bill.  As legend of this grows, I suspect it will only make me a bigger fan.

I am bummed that he announced that the rabies test came back negative.  Not that I want Gangwish to have rabies, but I love the idea of him lined up against some Trojan tackle in the bowl game, foaming at the mouth.  In other words, use this to your advantage!


Are the Huskers secretly working to destroy Wisconsin?

Let’s recap:  Husker AD Shawn Eichorst fires Bo Peini (1-3 vs. Wisconsin with three big losses). Eichorst replaces Pelini with Mike Riley, creating a vacancy at Oregon State.  Oregon State hires Gary Anderson, leaving Wisconsin to have to replace a coach that just took the team to the Big Ten Championship game. Rumors swirl that Anderson bolted for Oregon State because he did not like working for Nebraska grad Barry Alvarez.  Alvarez now will coach the bowl game and will hire another head coach.

Is this all part of some elaborate plot that Eichorst and Alvarez cooked up to neuter Wisconsin and give Nebraska a clearer path to the Big Ten West title?  Probably not.  I won’t claim to know (or want to speculate) why Anderson thinks Oregon State is a better job than Wisconsin, but it’s not a great look on Wisconsin.  But if Eichorst and Alvarez are conspiring on anything, it should be to get rid of the ugly-ass Freedom Trophy.


Erstad on Hall of Fame ballot.

The former #1 draft pick and veteran of the Angels, White Sox, and Astros appears on the ballot for the 2015 Baseball Hall of Fame.  Erstad would need to appear on 75% of the ballots to be inducted.  However, with Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz also appearing for the first time, his chances are not that great.

The balloting process for the Hall of Fame has been under criticism for a while.  My suggestion is to make it an online fan vote.  With Husker Nation behind him, Erstad would be elected for sure.




Now What?

5 Dec

By the time you read this, Mike Riley will have been formally introduced as the new coach of the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

Much has already been written and said about Riley – a guy who was completely off the radar in the Huskers’ coaching search.  I don’t have much to add that has not already been said elsewhere.  Besides, I think it is time to more forward.  Today.  Now.

To that end, I have some to-do items and friendly suggestions for all of the stakeholders in the Nebraska Football program

Head Coach Mike Riley

You have the most to do, so you go first.

Earn the trust and respect of your players.  As you probably know, Bo Pelini was extremely beloved by his players.  They were shocked and hurt when he was fired, so some may view you as the bad guy (or the agent of a bad guy).  Job one will be to get your new players to trust you, respect you, and ultimately buy into the culture you’re going to create.

How do you do this?  Well Coach, I’m hoping you know the answer better than some amateur writer.  I’m putting my trust in you that you can get this done.

Hire the best damn staff you can.  The need to hire a talented staff full of teachers and recruiters is of the utmost importance.  You’ll probably get some pressure from the fans to look at an offensive coordinator who works down the road from where you used to coach.  You can investigate that if you want.  Frankly, I’m more concerned about putting this program in a position to win titles than in the number of guys with Nebraska ties.

I assume you’ll bring some guys from your Oregon State staff, and that’s fine – especially if they are the best person for the job.  I would humbly suggest that you give serious consideration to a handful of Bo Pelini’s assistants.  There are some guys there who can help you.

Also – I absolutely love your idea to hire a full-time special teams coordinator.

Immerse yourself in the culture and tradition.  You said you are a history major, so you have come to the right place.  Nebraskans value and cherish the rich history of this program, and a healthy respect for where Nebraska has been will serve you well.

Learn to love walk-ons, Blackshirts, Runzas, and red hot dogs fired out of an air cannon.  Talk in reverent tones in how Devaney’s 1971 team kicked the crap out of the Alabama team you played on.  Speak with respect of what Tom Osborne did.  Give some love to the players from the Solich, Callahan, and Pelini eras.  There are lots of good guys from those teams that are worthy of your respect.

Recruit, recruit, recruit.  Salvage this class and land some surprises.  Make a (positive) statement for how you will do things at Nebraska.  I’m hopeful that you are a helluva coach, but your job – and your ability to meet the standards of Nebraska fans – will be much easier if you bring in NFL-caliber talent.

Decide what you want to be, and build your team around that.  I have my ideas on what would work both offensively and defensively, but nobody is playing me $3 million for my football strategies.

Use the talent at your disposal – and make no mistake, the cupboard is far from bare.  Understand the conference you’re playing in, and the weather concerns of this great state.  Then build a winner.

Tear down the wall.  You’ll hear a lot about the “us against the world” mentality that Pelini often operated in.  As a result, this team often felt into that mindset.  The result was an unhealthy, toxic environment that led to mistrust, players and coaches on the defensive, and ultimately, Pelini’s dismissal.

You need to blow up that wall.  Get the team out of their bunker and into the light.  Let the fans and media embrace your program and throw their tremendous support behind you.

Nebraska players

It’s okay to still be hurt by what happened on Sunday.  It’s okay to still feel a love and loyalty for Coach Bo.  I’ll even tell you that it is okay to question if Nebraska is the best place for you going forward.  These things are natural.

Here is what I suggest:

Throw yourself head first into bowl preparations.  By Sunday night, you’ll know who you’re playing, where, and when.  Hopefully it is a good team in a fun destination.  At some point (maybe as soon as Monday) you’ll start diving into your practices and prep for that game.  Do whatever you can to improve yourself and prepare yourself to play a great game.

There’s going to be a lot said about the direction of the team during the bowl preparations – coaches hired, schemes discussed, etc.  Try to block that out and focus on the here and now.

If you want to dedicate your performance to Pelini and the coaching staff that recruited you, developed you, and gotten you to where you are today, you should absolutely do that.  I’m guessing the last 30 days haven’t been a lot of fun, and the season has probably been disappointing for you.  But you owe to yourself and your teammates to finish this season strong.  Give it all you got.

Think about your future.  Once the game’s over, feel free to consider what is best for you – academically and athletically.  Maybe you think that your skill set will not work in Coach Riley’s schemes.  Maybe you don’t feel a connection with the new coach.  As I said above, it’s natural to question these things.


Don’t make hasty, impulsive decisions – especially if transferring may cost you a year of eligibility.  Talk it over with Coach Riley and his assistants, your family, and other people in your life that you trust to be honest and supportive.  Think not only about your playing career, but about your education and your life after football.  Where do you want to be, and how will you get there?

If, after all of that, you feel in your heart that somewhere other than Nebraska is right, do what is best for you, and ignore the small percentage of “fans” who are hurt by your decision.  Know that most Nebraska fans will respect your decision and wish you well.

Go all in.  If you’re staying with the Huskers (and I hope you do) then my advice is simple:  go all in.  Throw your faith in Coach Riley and his staff.  Help them adjust to Lincoln, and help build the culture and team that Coach Riley envisions.  Be a leader in offseason workouts and be ready to dominate in 2015.

Trust me, you can buy into Coach Riley and still be respectful to Coach Bo.  Besides, if you don’t, your playing time may be diminished.

Nebraska Media

Help us get to know the new coach and his staff.  Mike Riley seems like an interesting guy with a lot of experience and expertise.  Write the stories and profiles that help us know who this man is, what he believes in, and what his strategies and beliefs are.

Keep the criticisms honest and constructive.  It felt like, to me and other fans and observers of the program, that some of your criticisms of Pelini and his staff were rooted in personal conflict with the coach.  Many felt like certain media members took thinly veiled shots at Pelini, his staff, or players.  That needs to stop.

Nobody will deny that the media has a job to do, and that job sometimes involves being critical of decisions and asking tough questions.  That’s fine.  I hope the majority of Husker fans understand and respect this.  But the media needs to recognize the role that they (either collectively or personally) have played in the divide in the fan base.

Try to avoid Pelini comparisons.  I know that with every decision, change, and strategic move Riley makes, it will be very easy to compare and contrast that with what Bo Pelini might have done.  Don’t.  You’re better than that.  As for those of you appreciating the irony of this, given the previous point, I am hopeful that will be my final comparison.

Shawn Eichorst

You have led one of the better coaching searches in recent memory.  It was quick, quiet, and efficient.  The rumor mill churned out some names, but none of those were leaked from you or your office.  But your job’s not done:

Open the checkbook to let Riley hire a top-notch staff.  The rumor mill is churning out some big names who would make a splash.  It’s unlikely that all of them will come to Lincoln, but do your part to help Riley be successful by giving him a big, big budget for his assistant coaches.

Say “Yes.”  If you truly want this program to win conference championships and compete at a national level, be sure to say “Yes” when the coach asks for something.  That’s not a veiled accusation of anything that may or may not have happened in the past two years – frankly, I have no clue – but a simple reminder that you need to put your money where your mouth is.

Don’t completely retreat back into your bunker.  Be there to support your guy – especially if he loses a game or two this fall.  Loosen your stance on commenting on coaches during the season during his first year.  Let Coach Riley – and more importantly, Husker fans – know that you support him 100%.

Nebraska Fans

I’ve saved us for last, but that does not diminish the work we have ahead of us.

Embrace Mike Riley (figuratively).  I know many of you were hoping for a different coach (Tressel, Frost, etc.) or are underwhelmed by Riley’s resume or W/L record.  I get that.

But it is time to move forward.  Throw your support behind the coach and help him be successful.

Come Together.  Bo-leavers and Bo-lievers:  put aside your differences and unite behind Coach Riley.  I won’t tell you how you should feel about Coach Pelini or his tenure, but it is time to put that in the rear view mirror.

Relax on the local media.  You’ll notice I asked the media to take it easy on Riley and the players.  I think it’s needed.  But you need to reciprocate.

Not every article, column, or blog is an attack on the program.  Let go of your grudges against Dirk, Sipple, Lee, or any other writer who doesn’t agree 100% with your point of view.  We are fortunate to have some talented folks in the local media, and I have a hard time believing that any of them are intentionally stirring up conflict for clicks or kicks.

Be patient.  I have no idea how Mike Riley will do in his first year or two.  Maybe we’ll win the West and go to Indianapolis.  Maybe we’ll struggle and barely make a bowl game.  I don’t know.

But I do know that judging his first year or two solely by wins and losses is going to be a narrow-minded, short-sighted approach.  I’m more curious to see how his system is put in place and grown, how he and his staff develop the talent they have into something more, and the progress they make in big games (not getting blown out will be a great start).

Relax, take a deep breath, and be patient.

Now…how many days are left until the Spring Game?

State of the Huskers Survey – my responses

3 Dec

Since I asked all of you for your opinions on the State of the Huskers, and over 6,000 of you were kind enough to oblige, I figure the least I could do is share my responses and a brief justification*.

*Author’s note:  I composed this prior to Pelini being fired by Shawn Eichorst (that dude is really screwing with my writing schedule), so the responses refer to Bo in the present tense as Nebraska’s coach)

Here are the answers I provided when I took the survey last week.  Just promise you won’t hold any of these answers against me…

State of the Huskers header

1. What is the biggest issue facing the Nebraska football program?

Schematic deficiencies
Reason:  I feel Nebraska has the talent to win the West, but I question the approaches taken on offense and defense.  Yeah, you probably could say this is on the coordinators, but I look at it like this:  bring in the coordinator of your choosing.  If he runs the exact same scheme as what’s being done now, would he be successful?  On the flip side, would Beck or Papuchis look better with a different scheme?
2. What is the primary issue holding back the offense?
Offensive Line
Reason:  It starts up front for this team.  When the line is playing like “hell in a helmet”, the offense moves very well.  When they play like “Grandma Helen in a helmet”, Armstrong and Abdullah have problems and Beck looks bad.
3. What is the primary issue holding back the defense?
Defensive coordinator / scheme
Reason:  The Big Ten is a run-first league, but NU’s defense is designed to stop the pass.  As a result, teams often run at will against NU even if they have a below average QB.  (see also: Wisconsin, 2014).  You can put that on Papuchis (the guy with the coordinator title) if you want.
4. Do the fans and local media have unrealistic expectations for the Nebraska program?
No, as Tim Miles says “You get what you tolerate”
Reason:  If I had it to do over, I’d preface this question with a question defining what you believe the expectations are for Nebraska.  Without that, it’s tough to say they are too high or out of touch.
5. What do you believe the national perception of Nebraska is?
Low.  Nebraska is known more for Pelini’s anger, cats, and ugly losses in big games.
Reason: I think Nebraska’s name is still one that perks up the ears of casual fan, but with NU falling on their face in nationally televised games against ranked teams, Nebraska’s notoriety seems to be coming more from the dedicated Pelini Sideline Rage Cam and viral videos (the cat, Jack Hoffman, Harlem Shake, pranks, etc.)
6. Are you happier with where the Nebraska program is today compared to when Bill Callahan was fired?
Yes.  Top to bottom, the program is better.
Reason:  There is not any one aspect of the program that was better in 2007 than it is today.  A year or two ago, you probably could have cited recruiting and overall talent, but I feel like that has improved.
And for those who said the 2007 team would probably beat the 2014 Huskers, I never gamble on the Huskers, but I’d make an exception for you.
7. What is Bo Pelini’s biggest weakness as a head coach?
Lack of composure in stressful situations
Reason: If you think back through all of the bad losses (I’ll wait if you want to take a shot first), there almost always is a turning point when the flakes become a snowball, which becomes an avalanche.  When that point happens, I rarely see anything to give me confidence that the moment is being recognized and addressed on the sideline.  If anything, I feel like the pressure ratchets up.
8. What is Bo Pelini’s best quality as a coach?
Able to identify aresa of deficiency (recruiting, media perception, punt returns, etc.) and make improvements
Reason:  Despite his exterior, and “what do you think?” responses, I think Bo is very introspective and able to identify and acknowledge his shortcomings.  Even the staunchest Pelini detractor should be able to acknowledge the growth he has shown in how he recruits and gets talent, how he has let his guard down more often with the media, and has made drastic changes to the punt return game.  Critics will point out that it has taken a while for this side to come out – and that there is plenty more work to  do.  I agree, but I do see this as a big strength.
9. What upsets you the most about Bo Pelini?
Blowout losses
Reason:  Let me start by acknowledging that some blowout losses are due more to the players than the head coach.  But since Pelini strives for a “point the thumb, not the finger” culture, those ugly losses end up on his bill.
10. What is Bo Pelini’s best win at Nebraska?
vs. #9 Michigan State, 2011 (24-3)
Reason: I really wanted to answer the 2009 Holiday Bowl over Arizona, as that was one of the more dominating performances of the Pelini Era, but Michigan State, 2011 gets the nod for being a division game against a higher ranked opponent (even if I was not particularly impressed by Sparty on that day.
11. What is Bo Pelini’s worst loss at Nebraska?
at Texas A&M, 2010
Reason:  The A&M loss has almost everything a Bo-leaver could want: multiple sideline eruptions, costly penalties, inept offense, a nationally televised embarrassment, fall out from the Martinez confrontation as well as Carl Pelini allegedly breaking a camera.  The only thing this game does not have is a larger margin of defeat.
12. Is Bo Pelini a better coach today than he was in 2012?
Reason:  He has learned a lot of lessons (call it on the job training, if you like) and has improved his recruiting, his game planning, and when he pours his focus on something (i.e. punt returns) they do get much better.
13. Do you believe Bo Pelini can win a Big Ten Championship at Nebraska?
Reason:  He was close in the XII, twice.  If we buy the popular notion that the Big Ten is a lesser conference than the XII, then he should be able to get it done.
14. Should Bo Pelini be fired before the end of the 2014 season?
Reason:  I hear the reasons of the Bo-leavers (blowout losses, the Groundhog’s Day style of his core issues, the fact that he hired the two coordinators who may be hurting him, etc.).  I also hear the reasons of the Bo-lievers (growth, improving talent, etc.)  I’m leaning towards some big changes (possibly including Bo), but won’t commit to it.
15. Will Bo Pelini be fired before the end of the 2014 season?
Too soon to tell
Reason:  Eichorst is an enigma that few people even claim to know, so any speculation is pure guesswork.  I think to have a chance at saving his job, he needs to coach two very clean, dominating performances against Iowa and the bowl opponent – i.e. get his team to play to their full potential instead of to the level of their competition.
16. Who is Nebraska’s best coach?
Rick Kaczenski (defensive line)
Reason:  The D Line is the strength of the defense, and one of the brightest spots on the team.  Even better, they are young, young, young.  Certainly, you can give credit for recruiting to the staff, but their development and growth goes to Coach Kaz.
17. Who is Nebraska’s worst coach?
Tim Beck (offensive coordinator / quarterbacks)
Reason:  When he’s “on” as a coordinator, he can call a beautiful drive that leaves defenses grasping at straws.  When he’s “off”, he rides the same play too much, goes away from his strength, and tries to score  17 points on every drive.  And for being the guy (officially) in charge of developing quarterbacks, the career of Taylor Martinez (as well as the inconsistency of Tommy Armstrong, Jr.) is a poor reflection on their coach.
18. If changes are made to the NU coaching staff, who should be let go?
Both coordinators
Reason: Regardless of if Bo stays or goes, changes are needed on both sides of the ball.  By and large, the assistants do a good job, but the schemes are questionable.
19. Can you fire a coach who consistently wins 9-10 games?
Yes – We’ve done it before.
Reason:  If Bo gets fired, it will be more about the 3-4 losses than it will be about the 9-10 wins.  Period.
20. What does the Nebraska Football team need most?
A full-time, dedicated special teams coordinator
Reason:  If we believe the old coaching mantra that special teams are a third of the game, shouldn’t we have a full-time guy in charge of them instead of a bunch of guys pulling double duty?  That’s how special teams becomes an after thought, which is how the 2012 and 2013 punt return teams are formed.
21. How many more seasons should Bo Pelini get to take Nebraska to the “next level” before he is replaced?
One more year
Reason:  Let him make whatever changes he feels is necessary.  But lay it on the line:  Indy or bust.
22. On a scale of 1-10, how would you describe your level of passion for the Nebraska Football program?
Reason:  If you’ve ever sat within five rows of me at a game, you would probably concur (if not put me a little higher).  I did not go to 9 or 10, solely because I have a very passing interest in recruiting and I don’t read every single word that is written.
23. Has your level of passion for the Nebraska Football program changed in the last year?
My level of fanaticism has not changed.
Reason:  Things may not be all peaches and cream, but I’m still passionate about the team.
24. What are your feelings on 9 win seasons?
A nine win season is a successful season.
Reason:  I am on record saying that 9 wins matters.  That piece lays out my case.
25. Are you a season ticket holder?
26. If Pelini and his entire staff are retained for 2015, would you purchase/renew season tickets?
My decision to purchase season tickets is not dependent on the head coach.
Reason:  Even during the Callahan years, I never considered dropping my ticket.  I hope to hold a season ticket until I die.
27. Where do you go for Husker news and opinions? (Select all that apply)
Message board(s)
Blogs or websites not affiliated with NU
Sports radio
Print media (newspapers and magazines)
28. If additional losses would help spur changes to the coaching staff, would you root for the Huskers to lose one of their final two games?
I would never root against Nebraska
Reason:  I know the term “true fan” gets thrown about way too much.  But I’d love to hear somebody justify how can call them self a “true fan” while rooting for Nebraska to lose.
29. Would you be willing to sacrifice Nebraska’s NCAA record sellout streak if it resulted in a coaching change?
No, the streak is a sacred record.
Reason:  Regardless of who the coach is, I’m not sure the streak makes it another five years.
30. If Nebraska (regardless of the coach) was guaranteed to win a conference championship and make the Playoff in 2017, how many losses would you tolerate in the next two seasons in order to get a conference championship?
7 or less (NU goes 9-4 and 10-3 before the championship season)
Reason:  I believe in 9 win seasons.  I do not want anything less than 9 win seasons.  For all the big talk from some fans and media members, they would never endure back to back losing seasons even if Jim Delany hand delivered the championship trophy to their door.
31. Would you be okay with Nebraska coaches and staff knowingly breaking NCAA rules if it resulted in a competitive advantage?
Never. Nebraska does not cheat.
Reason:  If we learned anything this off-season (with two players being accused of stealing bikes), Nebraska is not paying players – or at least not enough to afford decent transportation.  Now, I’m not saying that it doesn’t happen at Nebraska, but I don’t want coaches intentionally breaking laws.
32. Is there an “SEC bias” in college football?
Only because they have had success in the last 5-10 years
Reason:  My reasoning can be found here
33. Are you excited for the College Football Playoff?
No, I do not think a playoff is good for college football.
Reason:  Prepare your torches and pitch forks – I’m not a playoff guy.  With some refinement, the BCS could succeed in it’s original mission of matching #1 vs. #2 in a winner take all game.  All a playoff does is invite more controversy.
34. What do you like best about college football?
Rooting for my team
Reason:  I watch very, very little of the NFL.  Why?  Mainly, it’s because I don’t have a team that I care about.
35. Should college football players be paid?
Yes.  Allow players to earn money for their likeness, jersey sales, autographs, etc.
Reason:  My thoughts are outline here.
36. Which announcer team do you like the most?
Kevin Kugler & Glen Mason
Reason:  I believe a good announcer is like a good umpire – he’s so good at his job that you don’t really notice he’s there.  And when you do notice him, it’s for good reasons (a strong call or excellent point) as opposed to bad ones (a blunder, bias, or other error).  To that end, Kugler is one of the finest play-by-play guys in the business.  Glen Mason is the former coach who provides good information and insight without kowtowing to the Coaches’ Fraternity Honor Code.
37. What is the best conference in college football?
Reason:  The SEC has a depth of top teams.  By the way – I continue to be amused that so many of you say there is an SEC bias, yet you also feel the SEC is the best conference.
38. Is the sustained success of the 1993 – 1997 Husker teams possible today?
No, the success of Osborne’s final five teams cannot be replicated today.
Reason:  Those years – especially the three championship years – were lightning in a bottle.  Teams may come close, but there are too many demons waiting to tear down success in today’s world.
39. What is your opinion of the Blackshirts tradition?
I would like to see it handled differently from how Pelini does it.
Reason:  Hand them out at the end of fall camp to the 11 starters (and maybe a nickel/dime guy).  Trade out if guys lose a starting job.  Repossess if you give up 400  yards to Melvin Gordon.
40. Can a “true fan” be critical of coaches and players?
Yes, but only to a point
Reason:  Never, ever go personal to a player or coach’s family or loved ones.  Do not drink and tweet.
41. Who is Nebraska’s defensive coordinator?
Bo Pelini
Reason:  I couldn’t resist adding this question.
42. Do you care if players speak to the media after losses?
This does not matter to me
Reason:  If I were a credentialed media member looking for quotes for the piece I need to have done by deadline I’d feel differently.  But as a fan?  I’m not going to lose sleep if Taylor Martinez doesn’t want to talk.
43. What is your opinion on the firing of Frank Solich?
It was the right call.
Reason:  Take Pedersen and Callahan out of the conversation.  Solich had the first four loss season in 30+ years, and started the dominoes of Devaney/Osborne streaks falling by going 7-7.  
44. Have you forgiven Bo Pelini for his profanity-laced comments following the 2011 Ohio State game?
Yes, I accepted his apology
Reason:  It was a heat of the moment thing when adrenaline was pumping.  If we forgive Richard Sherman for what he did on national TV, surely we can forgive Pelini for saying things that he thought were off the record.
45. Was the decision to join the Big Ten Conference a mistake?
Reason:  Aside from the academic boost, as long as Texas still sits unchecked in the XII, Nebraska was wise to get out.  That fact remains unchanged no matter how many crappy Big East/ACC rejects Delany adds.
46. In what state do you live?
Reason:  I was born and raised in The Good Life.  I do not have any desire to live anywhere else.
47. Are you male or female?
48. What is your age?
49. What is the highest level of school you have completed or the highest degree you have received?
Bachelor degree
50. Are you an alumnus of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Class of 1997 (Advertising)

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