Monthly Archives: December 2013

Bo Pelini Can Join an Elite List with Bowl Win

Bo Pelini Can Join an Elite List with Bowl Win

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By Randy York

To coincide with the most wonderful time of the year, The N-Sider offers up some interesting little twists that make watching the Nebraska-Georgia Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl more historically relevant and, by its very nature, more fun. Let’s start with a bit of a stunner: In the history of college football, only seven BCS conference coaches have posted at least nine wins in each of their first six seasons as a head coach at that school. The last time something like that happened dates back four decades ago when Tom Osborne won at least nine games from 1973 to the 1978 season and, of course, went on to keep that streak for all 25 of his years as a head coach. Barry Switzer launched his head coaching career at Oklahoma the same year Osborne began at Nebraska. Switzer kept his minimum 9-win streak alive for his first eight years at OU before his Sooner teams finished 7-4-1 in 1981 and 8-4 in both ’82 and ’83. The list of coaches who have launched each of the first six years at a BCS school with at least nine wins includes:

Dr. Henry L. Williams (Minnesota) 1900-05, 65 wins

Dennis Erickson (Miami) 1989-93, 63 wins

Barry Switzer (Oklahoma) 1973-78, 62 wins

Steve Spurrier (Florida) 1990-95, 61 wins

Mack Brown (Texas) 1998-2003, 59 wins

Earl Bruce (Ohio State), 1979-84, 56 wins

Tom Osborne (Nebraska) 1973-78, 55 wins

That’s our trivial pursuit version of something that might expand from a Magnificent Seven to an Elite Eight list on New Year’s Day. If Bo Pelini can lead Nebraska to an upset win over Georgia in their Jacksonville rematch of last year’s Capital One Bowl, he can add his name to the “first six-seasons list” and increase his win total to 57, one more than Bruce and two more than Osborne, the man who hired him.

Osborne and Switzer Shared National Excellence

How rare is it for two coaches like Osborne and Switzer to rank so high on the same list? For three decades, they battled for seasonal supremacy in late November. Let the record show that Osborne lost to Switzer the first five of those six years (‘73-74-75-76-77) until the Huskers upset the top-ranked Sooners, 17-14 in 1978. Years later, Osborne made a substantive observation: “Our fans used to think Oklahoma was the enemy, but they actually made us better,” he said. Osborne and Switzer were longtime rivals who had great respect for each other. They are the only two coaches on the list who started their head coaching careers at that school during those designated years. With a win, Pelini, would be the third to achieve that milestone in his first head coaching stop. Erickson, Spurrier, Brown and Bruce had previously been head coaches at another BCS school.

Williams had previously been a head coach, but not at a BCS school. Big Ten history buffs know that Williams was Minnesota’s head football coach from 1900 to 1921. What some might not know is that Williams Arena, the home for Gopher basketball, is named after the legendary football coach.     

If Pelini joins Switzer and Osborne as history-makers in their respective first six seasons, he also would become the first BCS conference coach in college football history to take over a losing team and lead it to at least nine wins for each of his first six seasons. Pelini’s win total in comparative charts does not reflect his serving as Nebraska’s interim head coach when the Huskers beat Michigan State, 19-3, in the 2003 Alamo Bowl. The NCAA, however, recognizes Pelini’s Alamo Bowl win over the Spartans, giving the Youngstown, Ohio, native a 3-3 overall bowl game record as a head coach.

Bo Ranks 10th Among Active Division I Coaches

We finish this blog sharing the list of active college football Division I coaches who have the most wins since 2008, the year that Pelini first became an NCAA head coach. Here’s the elite company he’s in:

1) Nick Saban, Alabama, 72

2) Chris Peterson, Boise State, 68

3) Bob Stoops, Oklahoma, 62

4) Gary Patterson, TCU, 58

5) Les Miles, LSU, 60

6-7) Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State, 59

6-7) Brian Kelly, Cincinnati, Notre Dame, 59

8) Urban Meyer, Florida, Ohio State, 58

9) Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech, 57

10) Bo Pelini, Nebraska, 56

Numbers don’t lie. They frame historical perspective. Hope you enjoyed this little history lesson. It heightens my interest in the bowl rematch. How about yours?

Send a comment to ryork@huskers.com (Include city, state)

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Obama Repeals ObamaCare

Under pressure from Senate Democrats, the President partly suspends the individual mandate.

Dec. 20, 2013 6:41 p.m. ET

It seems Nancy Pelosi was wrong when she said “we have to pass” ObamaCare to “find out what’s in it.” No one may ever know because the White House keeps treating the Affordable Care Act’s text as a mere suggestion subject to day-to-day revision. Its latest political retrofit is the most brazen: President Obama is partly suspending the individual mandate.

The White House argued at the Supreme Court that the insurance-purchase mandate was not only constitutional but essential to the law’s success, while refusing Republican demands to delay or repeal it. But late on Thursday, with only four days to go before the December enrollment deadline, the Health and Human Services Department decreed that millions of Americans are suddenly exempt.

Individuals whose health plans were canceled will now automatically qualify for a “hardship exemption” from the mandate. If they can’t or don’t sign up for a new plan, they don’t have to pay the tax. They can also get a special category of ObamaCare insurance designed for people under age 30.

So Merry Christmas. If ObamaCare’s benefit and income redistribution requirements made your old, cheaper, better health plan illegal, you now have the option of going without coverage without the government taking your money as punishment. You can also claim the tautological consolation of an ObamaCare hardship exemption due to ObamaCare itself.

These exemptions were supposed to go only to the truly destitute such as the homeless, bankrupts or victims of domestic violence. But this week a group of six endangered Senate Democrats importuned HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to “clarify” that the victims of ObamaCare also qualify. An excerpt from their Wednesday letter, whose signatories include New Hampshire’s Jeanne Shaheen and Virginia’s Mark Warner, is nearby.

HHS and the Senators must have coordinated in advance because literally overnight HHS rushed out a bulletin noting that exemptions are available to those who “experienced financial or domestic circumstances, including an unexpected natural or human-caused event, such that he or she had a significant, unexpected increase in essential expenses that prevented him or her from obtaining coverage under a qualified health plan.” A tornado destroys the neighborhood or ObamaCare blows up the individual insurance market, what’s the difference?

The HHS ruling is that ObamaCare is precisely such a “significant, unexpected increase.” In other words, it is an admission that rate shock is real and the mandates drive up costs well into hardship territory. HHS is agreeing with the Senators that exemptions should cover “an individual whose 2013 plan was canceled and considers their new premium unaffordable.” In her reply letter, Mrs. Sebelius also observes that some people “are having difficulty finding an acceptable replacement.” She means the new plans are overpriced.

The under-30 ObamaCare category that is being opened to everyone is called “catastrophic” coverage. These plans are still more expensive than those sold on the former market but they’re about 20% cheaper on average than normal exchange plans because fewer mandates apply and they’re priced for a healthier, younger risk pool. Liberal Democrats hated making even this concession when they wrote the law, so people who pick catastrophic plans don’t get subsidies.

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What an incredible political turnabout. Mr. Obama and HHS used to insist that the new plans are better and less expensive after subsidies than the old “substandard” insurance. Now they’re conceding that at least some people should be free to choose less costly plans if they prefer—or no plan—and ObamaCare’s all-you-can-eat benefits rules aren’t necessary for quality health coverage after all.

But the White House is shredding ObamaCare’s economics on its own terms. Premiums for catastrophic products are based on the assumption that enrollees would be under 30. A 55-year-old will now get a steep discount on care courtesy of the insurer’s balance sheet, while other risk-tiers on the exchanges will have even fewer customers to make the actuarial math work.

Pulling the thread of the individual mandate also means that the whole scheme could unravel. Waiving ObamaCare rules for some citizens and continuing to squeeze the individual economic liberties of others by forcing them to buy what the White House now concedes is an unaffordable product is untenable. Mr. Obama is inviting a blanket hardship amnesty for everyone, which is what Republicans should demand.

The new political risk that the rules are liable to change at any moment will also be cycled into 2015 premiums. Expect another price spike late next summer. With ObamaCare looking like a loss-making book of business, a public declaration of penance by the insurance industry for helping to sell ObamaCare is long overdue.

The only political explanation for relaxing enforcement of the individual mandate—even at the risk of destabilizing ObamaCare in the long term—is that the White House is panicked that the whole entitlement is endangered. The insurance terminations and rollout fiasco could leave more people uninsured in 2014 than in 2013. ObamaCare’s unpopularity with the public could cost Democrats the Senate in 2014, and a GOP Congress in 2015 could compel the White House to reopen the law and make major changes.

Republicans ought to prepare for that eventuality with insurance reforms beyond the “repeal” slogan, but they can also take some vindication in Thursday’s reversal. Mr. Obama’s actions are as damning about ObamaCare as anything Senator Ted Cruz has said, and they implicitly confirm that the law is quarter-baked and harmful. Mr. Obama is doing through executive fiat what Republicans shut down the government to get him to do.

The President declared at his Friday press conference that the exemptions “don’t go to the core of the law,” but in fact they belong to his larger pattern of suspending the law on his own administrative whim. Earlier this month he ordered insurers to backdate policies to compensate for the federal exchange meltdown, and before that HHS declared that it would not enforce for a year the mandates responsible for policy cancellations. Mr. Obama’s team has also by fiat abandoned the small-business exchanges, delayed the employer mandate and scaled back income verification.

“The basic structure of that law is working, despite all the problems,” Mr. Obama added. His make-it-up-as-he-goes improvisation will continue, because the law is failing.

Source: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304367204579270252042143502 

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Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas

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December 16, 2013 · 7:29 PM

Men–Women Hardwired Differently

The hardwired difference between male and female brains could explain why men are ‘better at map reading.’ And why women are ‘better at remembering a conversation.’

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A pioneering study has shown for the first time that the brains of men and women are wired up differently which could explain some of the stereotypical differences in male and female behavior, scientists have said.

Researchers found that many of the connections in a typical male brain run between the front and the back of the same side of the brain, whereas in women the connections are more likely to run from side to side between the left and right hemispheres of the brain.

This difference in the way the nerve connections in the brain are “hardwired” occurs during adolescence when many of the secondary sexual characteristics such as facial hair in men and breasts in women develop under the influence of sex hormones, the study found.

The researchers believe the physical differences between the two sexes in the way the brain is hardwired could play an important role in understanding why men are in general better at spatial tasks involving muscle control while women are better at verbal tasks involving memory and intuition.

Psychological testing has consistently indicated a significant difference between the sexes in the ability to perform various mental tasks, with men outperforming women in some tests and women outperforming men in others. Now there seems to be a physical explanation, scientists said.

“These maps show us a stark difference – and complementarity – in the architecture of the human brain that helps to provide a potential neural basis as to why men excel at certain tasks, and women at others,” said Ragini Verma, professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

“What we’ve identified is that, when looked at in groups, there are connections in the brain that are hardwired differently in men and women. Functional tests have already shown than when they carry out certain tasks, men and women engage different parts of the brain,” Professor Verma said.

The research was carried out on 949 individuals – 521 females and 428 males – aged between 8 and 22. The brain differences between the sexes only became apparent after adolescence, the study found.

A special brain-scanning technique called diffusion tensor imaging, which can measure the flow of water along a nerve pathway, established the level of connectivity between nearly 100 regions of the brain, creating a neural map of the brain called the “connectome”, Professor Verma said.

“It tells you whether one region of the brain is physically connected to another part of the brain and you can get significant differences between two populations,” Professor Verma said.

“In women most of the connections go between left and right across the two hemispheres while in men most of the connections go between the front and the back of the brain,” she said.

Because the female connections link the left hemisphere, which is associated with logical thinking, with the right, which is linked with intuition, this could help to explain why women tend to do better than men at intuitive tasks, she added.

“Intuition is thinking without thinking. It’s what people call gut feelings. Women tend to be better than men at these kinds of skill which are linked with being good mothers,” Professor Verma said.

Many previous psychological studies have revealed significant differences between the sexes in the ability to perform various cognitive tests.

Men tend to outperform women involving spatial tasks and motor skills – such as map reading – while women tend to better in memory tests, such as remembering words and faces, and social cognition tests, which try to measure empathy and “emotional intelligence”.

A separate study published last month found that the genes expressed in the human brain did so differently in men and women. Post-mortem tests on the brain and spinal cord of 100 individuals showed significant genetic differences between the sexes, which could account for the observed gender differences in neurological disorders, such as autism, according to scientists from University College London.

For instance, one theory of autism, which is affects about five times as many boys as girls, is that it is a manifestation of the “extreme male brain”, which is denoted by a failure to be able to show empathy towards others.

The latest study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed that the differences in the male and female “connectomes” develop during at the same age of onset of the gender differences seen in psychological tests.

The only part of the brain where right-left connectivity was greater in men than in women was in the cerebellum, an evolutionary ancient part of the brain that is linked with motor control.

“It’s quite striking how complementary the brains of women and men really are,” said Rubin Gur of Pennsylvania University, a co-author of the study.

“Detailed connectome maps of the brain will not only help us better understand the differences between how men and women think, but it will also give us more insight into the roots of neurological disorders, which are often sex related,” Dr. Gur said.

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Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/the-hardwired-difference-between-male-and-female-brains-could-explain-why-men-are-better-at-map-reading-8978248.html

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Husker Football – FYI

Nebraska Football: Ultimate List of Bo Pelini’s Pros and Cons

BY PATRICK RUNGE  FEATURED COLUMNIST) ON NOVEMBER 30, 2013

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Eric Francis/Getty Images

After Nebraska’s loss to Iowa on Friday, Nebraska football fans were left to wonder whether the third Heroes Game was the last one with Bo Pelini in charge. Saturday morning, Nebraska athletic director Shawn Eichorst ended that speculation with a statement of support, saying Pelini would be leading the Nebraska football program into the future.

But that uncertainty, which started after the Deadspin rant, gained momentum after Nebraska’s loss to Minnesota, and built to a fever pitch after the Iowa loss, has made Nebraska fans take a hard and critical look at their head coach. The first thing to do when taking such a look is make a list of pros and cons, so let’s take a look at what that list would look like for Pelini.

The Pros

He Wins

In his six years in charge at Nebraska, Pelini has never won fewer than nine games (although that string is not yet confirmed for 2013). In a state where there is precious little native football talent, and through the upheaval of a conference change, Pelini has kept Nebraska winning games and going to bowls every year—something that couldn’t be said of his two predecessors.

He’s Loyal

Once someone has earned Pelini’s trust, and become part of his circle, Pelini repays that trust with immense loyalty. He has stuck with coaches and staff even when under pressure, and many times that loyalty has been repaid with great performances.

He’s Passionate

Eric Francis/Getty Images

No one will ever criticize Pelini of being indifferent. He cares intensely about winning, and he transmits that passion to his teams. While his players may suffer in other areas, there is never a danger of a Pelini-coached team quitting.

He Runs a Clean Program

You can look at places like Penn State, USC, Miami, and Ohio State to see the kind of devastation NCAA rules violations can bring to a program. During Pelini’s tenure, there hasn’t been even a sniff of a scandal. His players (for the most part) stay out of trouble, and Nebraska fans have not had to worry about the NCAA knocking on doors in Lincoln.

His Players Support Him

Not everyone who played for Pelini loves him, of course, but take a look at some of the Twitter reactions of former players defending him when it seemed his job was in jeopardy (as compiled by the Omaha World-Herald)

In order to have a chance to win, a coach needs to have his players buy in to what he is teaching. Clearly, that’s not a problem for Pelini.

The Cons

His Teams Have Fallen Short

Eric Francis/Getty Images

At Nebraska, the minimum standard for success is to win a conference championship, something NU has failed to do since 1999. In Pelini’s six years in charge, he has played for three conference titles—and lost all three. This season, in arguably his clearest path to a title game, Pelini’s squad finished the season 8-4 with three conference losses.

He’s Undisciplined

Pelini’s sideline rants are now things of legend. But what is also now legend is a history of Pelini’s teams making mistakes that cost them games. Turnovers and penalties have become hallmarks of a Pelini-coached team, and those mistakes have cost Nebraska dearly.

He’s Inexperienced

Prior to taking the job at Nebraska, Pelini’s head coaching experience consisted of one game—the bowl game he was put in charge of after Frank Solich was fired. As a result,Pelini has been learning on the job, and Nebraska has suffered all the bumps in the road as a result.

He’s Loyal

Yes, loyalty in general is a good thing. But when loyalty is put above performance, particularly in decisions regarding hiring or retaining assistant coaches, loyalty can blind. Instead of assembling a staff with experience to help Pelini make up for his own deficiencies, Pelini has hired from within his own coaching tree. While that does help in terms of continuity of vision, it also creates an echo chamber and prevents Pelini from benefiting from an outside and more experienced perception.

He Has Contempt for the Fans

So, did Shawn Eichorst make the right call by keeping Pelini?
  • Yes, he’s the right man for the job?

    71.0%

  • No, Nebraska needs a new head coach.

    29.0%

    Total votes: 1,031

  • Everyone has heard the Deadspin rant, of course, and knows what Pelini said about the fans after they left early from the 2011 Ohio State game. But it’s more than just the Deadspin rant. Think about what Pelini said after the Iowa loss on Friday. Amidst all the cursing and the excuse-making, at no point (at least that I heard) was there an acknowledgment that the fans had just seen Nebraska give two winnable games—and a chance to play in a conference title game—away on the back of a minus-eight turnover margin.

    Couple that with Pelini’s well-publicized dalliances with other schools, and it’s not unfair to conclude that Nebraska fans (at least Pelini’s supporters) are way more into Pelini than he is into them.

    If you’d like to contact Patrick, send an email to patrickrunge@gmail.com.

    Or, you could always use the Twitter machine to follow @patrickrunge.

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