It seems that the uproar always starts somewhere in the five, six or seven year point in the careers of the coaches. Everyone was elated with the success the Bobfather gave us in his first few years. Excitement over the football team had never been like this before. Then came the two back-to-back 6-4 records. You think Frank Solich is getting some heat now! If there were an Internet back then, Bob Devaney would have been gone. As it was, petitions were circulated around the state through local newspapers for his removal. The poor man would not have won a popularity contest in his own state if he were running against Lee Harvey Oswald.
The team was big and slow, especially on Offense. The Defense during those two miserable seasons was pretty decent, and even led the nation in some categories. But the O –– wow! With Frank Patrick at QB, plays were very predictable (sound familiar?) and not too many worked. What did Devaney do? Change the football philosophy in Lincoln. Tom Osborne was involved of course, as Bob looked to him for help. A new, more diversified Offense was born. Trouble was, where are the players to run it?
Recruiting needed to step it up to bring in better, faster and more athletic players (sound familiar?) Going into the '69 season, NU had their returning senior QB –– Patrick and some very good, youthful athletes. They also called upon the JUCOS ranks to fill some holes in a hurry (sound familiar?). Was Patrick the guy to run this new O? Nope, Bobfather moved him to TE and turned the keys to the Big Red Machine over to two, unproven sophomores, Jerry Tagge and Van Bronson. I guess the rest of the story has been written. Bob saw his job was about gone and made some good changes. The man who was almost ridden out of the state now has a few buildings named after him.
Devaney retired and handpicked Osborne to take the reins (sound familiar?). Tom kept the ship afloat throughout the rest of the ‘70's, having some success with the regular season games, that is until they met OU! The Sooners were like rabbits, while the Huskers were always too slow. The Offense once again was so vanilla that fans in the stands were actually betting on which play would be run next, and it would surprise you how many times they were right. The "Let's Dump T.O."campaign started around the end of the '77 season. It was very well organized and getting very close to meeting it's goal. I firmly believe to this day, that if T.O. had lost to OU in '78, he would have been gone. As it was, after beating OU for the first time in his career, the Huskers lost the next weekend to Missouri and had to play OU again in the Orange Bowl, and of course, lost. I won't go into all the Linda Lovelace jokes, some even printed in papers, about how T.O. always choked the big games. Not only was T.O. getting the heat, but also so was Devaney for handpicking him (sound familiar?).
The fans were not happy again and T.O. was looking for jobs instead of waiting for the axe. He actually interviewed for the Colorado opening and probably would have been the next Buff Head Coach. The stubborn man from Hastings decided to stay in Lincoln, disappointing many Red fans. Things needed to be fixed to compete with the OU's of the world. The Huskers had to recruit better to get faster athletes (sound familiar?). JUCO''s were recruited to fill a hole or two (Rozier in particular). Changes were made to the Offense (sound familiar?). There were some coaching changes (sound familiar?). T.O. had committed to build the NU Program back to the NC days, but the fans were not too sure he was the man to do it (again, sound familiar?). The '82 and '83 season changed many minds and T.O. got some extra, much needed time to complete his building job. Again, the rest is history, and I believe there are some buildings and facilities named after him today.
I know what you are thinking, Mo is BLAH, BLAH, BLAH (GET RID OF SOLICH) BLAH BLAH BLAH (SOLICH BLOWS) BLAH, BLAH, BLAH. Well I sure am not trying to change anyone's mind about what they think of the man as a Coach, that would be impossible, just saying that we have been through this all before and history proves that, with the proper adjustments, success is attainable. Has Frank learned from the past? This year, some of the moves that he has made indicate that he has. The common denominator that all 3 coaches discovered is recruiting better players is a must and that changes in philosophy needs to be made on both sides of the ball.
Frank Solich is no dummy and is one of the fiercest competitors around. He has now surrounded himself with the same type of people on his coaching staff.
The only thing with his name on it now is his mailbox, no buildings, stadiums or streets –– YET!