Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Well, I once again managed to completely suck at predicting the outcome of Husker games this fall. I predicted NU would beat OSU, but instead they suffered another embarrassing loss that I'd rather not talk about (and one you'd probably prefer not hearing about again). So instead, through a Big Red Roundtable of Husker Bloggers, we're going to look at the tumultuous week thus far in Husker Nation, commenting on everything from Pud's firing to the hiring of T.O. As always, I encourage you to check out the other Husker bloggers' responses.
1. Steve Pederson is out as athletic director. Did you see it coming? Good move or bad move?
While I've never been a Pederson fan, I wasn't one of his biggest detractors either, at least not until very recently. It is amazing just how much the vilification increased once the Huskers started getting embarrassed the past couple of weeks. After the Mizzou game, I had an inkling that Pederson would be gone at the end of the year, but I never saw it coming mid-season like it did. What's more is that the decision was made before the OSU debacle, so obviously Pearlman felt he had no choice. I think the most telling (and damning) revelations about Pederson pertain to his apparently off-putting demeanor that has caused several high-level staffers (like chief fundraiser Paul Meyers) to leave. Pud never had that many fans to begin with after his mishandled firing of Solich and the protracted search for a replacement, and once it became apparent that Callahan would not succeed, it pretty much sealed Pederson's fate. I think this is a good move for NU, and now hopefully we can wash our hands of the mess and move forward.
2. Tom Osborne has returned as Pederson's interim replacement. Good move/bad move? What should T.O.'s priorities be, and what does he need to do?
In my opinion, Osborne isn't only the right hire, he was really the only option. Think about it, what other person could step in with not only the experience to do the job, but the ability to reunite Husker Nation and bring some sense of calm to the histrionics that have surrounded this program the past couple of weeks? I can't remember where I read it, but someone likened Osborne to a grandpa that a family leans on in tough times. And when you think about it, I believe T.O. brings that kind of stability to the Husker family and all of the fans. Combine that with his familiarity with Husker traditions, his experience with college athletics (from both NU and his role with Creighton), and his serving in Congress, you have a candidate that not only assuages a beleaguered and worried fan base, but also is qualified to fill such a position.
His priorities should be first and foremost helping the current coaching staff right the ship. Yes, they are probably on their way out and would probably prefer Osborne just stay out of their way. And that may be the case. But Osborne has to let them know that if they need anything to help RIGHT NOW, to help win games this season, that he's there. His second priority (although in terms of future importance, this should probably be first) is to start searching for a qualified coach that can take control at the end of the season (because we all expect Callahan to be gone at some point). He doesn't have to have head coaching experience in my opinion, as long as he is aware of the traditions and "Husker way" that we hold so dear, and is knowledgeable and a proven X's and O's guy. Oh, and it'd be nice if he could recruit. Anything else?
Another priority is to get all the boosters and administration guys on the same page. The Pederson firing went over well with many, but upset others (like the Cook family, who were big Pedey backers). It is important that we win back some of the people we lost during Pedey's tenure and the mess we have right now. While T.O. doesn't have an easy task ahead of him the next couple of months, he is well aware of what he has taken on and is well-prepared to handle the job.
3. The Huskers have been blown out two straight weeks. What is happening with the football team, and what does the rest of the season look like?
What makes this whole clusterfuck even more maddening is the fact we can't get a straight answer about anything from anyone. All we hear is the same damn coach-speak from Cally, and all we hear from the players is that the coaching schemes are good and that they aren't quitting. Well I don't give a rat's ass what everybody is saying, because what we have seen on the field is a football team devoid of leadership that is giving less effort with each passing week. The players have the look of a refugee fleeing a war-torn country. They stare off into the distance, apparently wanting to be anywhere else than playing football for Nebraska. While I have no doubt that many of the players are aching with every inch of their being to right the ship, I have a sneaking suspicion that more and more of them are seeing the writing on the wall and realizing that they will have new coaches soon, so what's the point? Most of them are probably looking forward to the nightlife on Saturdays instead of the game, if only because they know that the coaching staff is completely inept and on it's way out (I'm mainly talking about the defense).
As a unit, good performances breed pride and aggressiveness, a pack mentality that leads to even better play. However, when a unit completely blows, and blows so badly that they lose their sweet black practice jersey, then it becomes a self-defeating prophecy. None of these guys expect to play well on Saturdays, which is why they go out and play the way they have been. I hurt for these players, especially guys like Bo Ruud. But unfortunately, there is no magic switch that will fix this. These guys are going to have to go out and perform a minor miracle if they are going to turn this season into something even relatively successful.
Looking ahead to the schedule, we have a rough go to finish this season. We are going to lose at Texas and K-State, barring miracles. Our other road game, at Colorado, is going to be a dogfight, one I unfortunately expect us to lose (their defense is damn good) . Which leaves us with Texas A&M. Their vanilla offense and inability to throw the ball gives me hope that we can christen the new Osborne-as-AD era with a win. And while I used to think that home field advantage meant something, OSU showed that Memorial Stadium doesn't really intimidate anyone when you put a crappy product on the field. So let's hope we win the Buyout Bowl this weekend. We do that, and I think we finish with a 5-7 record. Hopefully we at least make things interesting and knock someone out on the road to make it to .500.
4. firecoz.com and billmustgo.com are getting lots of traffic. Steve Pederson is already gone. Tom Osborne says nobody will be fired during the season. What happens with this coaching staff?
Callahan and Cosgrove are most definitely gone. I don't see any other way around it. In what was supposed to be a leap year, we have regressed horribly, and it certainly isn't because of a lack of talent. I think that in addition to the top two, there will be several coaches asked to leave (defensive assistants especially). A lot of it will depend on who the players want to be brought back, as well as what the new head coach (whoever he is) wants. He may bring in all his own guys, or he may choose to retain some of the staff for continuity. I'm hoping that Watson is retained to keep the offense going, as well as Dave Kennedy for strength and conditioning (he is one of the nation's best). Like I said, it all depends on what the players tell Osborne and what the new HC decides to do.
Other Roundtable contributors:
Big Red Analysis
Big Red Network
Midwest Coast Bias