As I have watched Nebraska football (and actually aware of the game, not my actual age) for the last 52 years experiencing the highs and lows when my beloved Huskers won and lost. I even remember wondering if the hiring of Bob Devaney was the right coach for Nebraska and what did Wyoming do to lose him. Yes, I was most likely mirroring my father’s thoughts as I was not even old enough to do anything but listen on the radio and watch the annual NU/OU football game on Thanksgiving Day. Yes, that was a long time ago.
I distinctly remembering how my father used to get so upset when the Huskers were not winning that most of his children refused to listen or watch the game with him. It was the only time he was anything other than a positive influence on his children’s life. But he would be so pessimistic that we all left the room and found our own radio to listen.
Now I know your question is: What does this have to do with Husker fans? My father was a high school football and basketball coach in the State of Nebraska. In other words he has coaching credentials as a loyal Nebraska Husker fan. He even played football and basketball during his college career. What I am saying is that he played at a level that is advanced beyond most Husker fans and he was also a coach indicating that he has knowledge beyond the typical Husker fan. He was not able to think logically about his Huskers. His emotions got the better of him.
Recently I was reading in a book titled “Unbeatable” about Dr. Tom Osborne’s final years when the Huskers record stood at 60-3. A feat not accomplished very often in college football. One of the comments by a then Husker assistant football coach stated that the only place in the country where anyone spoke negatively of the Husker Football Program was in the State of Nebraska. This speaks volumes about how the rest of the country has admired the program and how temperamental the home crowd is. Husker fans were upset when Dr. Tom could not win a big game and wanted his job even when he was winning more games than Godfather Devaney won every season. Dr. Tom even mentioned in one of his books how he was told after a Bowl victory that if the team had not won he would have lost his job.
Another way of speaking of this enigma is to say that the fans lose one of their precious perceived status symbols they go postal on the coach and his staff. Those perceived status symbols are losing a game, letting a team score on long plays, not getting sacks, etc. They want the Husker football team to represent them as strong and omnipotent enabling them to gloat and boast they are Number 1 on each and every play, game and season. They also have the ability to boast that they all have a friend, family member or know someone on the staff very well. Yet, when I ask and seek further clarification I find out they only wish they did and won’t identify who they know. There is one exception and it is made clear that that source on the athletic department refuses to talk about anything even to his family. Yet the Husker fans are not able to think logically about the Huskers. Their emotions get the better of them.
What does this all say? Husker fans feel that they know everything about BCS level football and how to win each and every game the team plays. They know the game better than the professionals that are doing the coaching and teaching football to the Husker football team. Is the team as good as we want them to be? Does the team still have a shot at winning the Legends Division and the B1G Conference Championship game? The fans were so upset when the team lost to UCLA this year that a two year old audio clip of Bo Pelini talking negatively and using profanity regarding the fans. Even Tommie Frazier was so upset after the UCLA loss that he spoke poorly and without using diplomatic language regarding the defensive coaching staff. Yes, Tommie has great playing credentials, but not great coaching credentials. But the fans started the attack on the football coaching staff over just one game and a trend they perceive is steadfast characteristic of the current Blackshirts. The guy that released the audio clip has yet to identify himself to the public. It is believed that he has a bee under his bonnet and wanted to make life miserable for Bo. As he has not identified who he is makes me believe that to be true and does not want the attention that announcing himself to the Husker World would bring.
My own credentials regarding football are that I played in high school and college. Then I officiated football over 25 years up to and included the NCAA level. Officiating does not allow me to know and understand coaching the game as much as a coach could. Yet, I refrain from criticizing the coaches because I know and understand that they are doing a better than average job of coaching the Husker Football team. Bo Pelini has a very distinguished record in spite of the “Boo Birds” chants and rants. Bo has a team that will run through brick walls for him as he motivates them and teaches them how to be men that will contribute to society.
Years ago when I lived in Tucson I was elected to be the president of the Southern Arizonans for Nebraska Alumni club. At the founder’s banquet when I was elected Dr. Tom spoke to our group and explained to us three factors he searched for when recruiting players for Nebraska. Firstly and foremost the player had to have the intellect to be a college student. Secondly the player had to have the physical talent to play the game of football as the BCS level. Lastly and with the most difficulty he sought players that had the spiritual element to want to win and play as a team at that BCS level. The spiritual element was element that makes guys like Tommie Frazier go out and play his heart out to make the team the best it could be. The more players that had that spiritual element the better the team played.
Dr. Tom stated that he could always get the players to learn how to play the game with his system by teaching using a positive motivation method that worked for him. The last five years were when he was finally able to identify players with the spiritual element that would allow a team to work together and win National Championships that all Husker fans think they should win each and every year.
Husker fans need to recognize that they are living beyond their means with their expectations for the Huskers including the Blackshirts and accept the fact that the team is a top 25 team that with some breaks will become a top 10 team that is what they can use as a measurement that is based on historically Nebraska Football is. The team was so down when Bo Pelini arrived that he has rebuilt the talent level and is learning how to identify how to get the players to play at the Top 10 level he and they want to play. They have to go down a learning curve just as the great coaches and players in Husker History have. Devaney had two 6-4 seasons before his teams won the two National Championships they did. Dr. Tom coached for twenty years before he stared winning National Championships. It takes a special type of coach to do well at Nebraska. He has to get the players to play for him knowing that he is going to give them his best and support them and teaching them to play football and become men at the University of Nebraska. He is definitively one of the better coaches in the BCS level at this time. Are the Husker fans the best at the BCS level they believe they are. Yes, they treat the opponents with respect. It is what we do as Nebraskans. But do we treat each other as well?
In time, I feel that Bo Pelini will have a team win the National Championship. The Husker fans need to not let their emotions get the better or them.