You just graduated from some school of business and have been offered a very lucrative position. You go into it excited and feeling a little pressure, because you know what this job entails and what is expected of you.
That's one end of the spectrum. How about the other end?
You are Joe Dailey, the only QB commit for Nebraska this year and you come into a program with tradition, luster and more attention every single day similar to that of some celebrities. In addition, you are going into a situation where the incumbent (Jammal Lord) has been vilified more than deified, criticized more than exalted and guess what, you are the one that is supposed to take his place.
Jammal Lord, coming off a less than 50% season in regards to pass completion percentage and his team, coming off the worst season for Nebraska football in over 40 years, this is the situation you find yourself coming into and, oh yeah, you can't fail. So, what do you think about that? "I don't look at anything like, ‘Oh, Joe you failed'". Future freshman, Joe Dailey said. "I don't look at what could happen if I don't do it, because that means I am not looking at being successful hard enough."
"You can't see failure or you might make it happen, so I don't look at this any different."
As the weeks before Dailey's arrival have drawn closer, so to has the frequency of stories centered on him increased. Dailey's own excitement at the thought of finally being on campus has had it's own exponential rise as well. "I'm just going kind of crazy." he said. "I just want to get out there, get to know the guys and just get into being part of the community."
The part Joe plays in the community is ironically not even a consideration by the very community he will be amongst in the up-coming weeks. You know what they are thinking of and what their hopes are on the potential of NU's latest prep QB.
The questions have arisen not as to what Jammal Lord can do to keep his job, but what anyone else has to do to take it. With Curt Dukes' situation being uncertain both with his health and his status as a Husker up in the air and Mike Stuntz finding himself in an up and down mode as to just how realistic people think his chances are, again, the fingers point to Joe. That's something he doesn't entirely understand.
"People should be talking about Jammal." Joe said. "He's the one that put the hat on for a year and took the lumps. He's been out there and those things that happened, they didn't happen all because of him, so I don't see why he has to take all the blame."
Another irony that exists is that if Joe does succeed in dethroning the foreseen starter, it will be him that's in the crosshairs, subjugated to the kind of relentless scrutiny Lord both enjoyed and endured for an entire year. That isn't of a particular concern to Joe so much as he is concerned with how people seem to want to flip-flop in their adoration and criticism of players. "You can't be two-faced." Dailey stated. "You see Jammal break all those records and you are like ‘Oh, that's great, Jammal, you're the best', and then he has a bad game and it's ‘Oh, Jammal sucks.'".
"You can't be like that. You have to be a fan and that doesn't mean just when everything is going ok. It's all the way, good or bad."
The good or bad of Joe's situation coming in is bound directly to perspective. If it's you looking in from the outside, it's a situation that has it's pressure, but it's nothing than any other player feels as they either try for a spot or are attempting to keep that spot attained.
If it's you that is in that position, the demands are greater, the expectations, usually unrealistic and the idea of what success looks like, well, that depends on just what you are made up of inside. Joe's belief could be confused with arrogance, but it's welcome to a position where any tentativeness can lead to disaster. "I think of myself as the starter." Joe said. "I have to. I can't go into this thinking that I am trying for second place, because that's not what I expect of myself and that's not what the coaches expect."
"I am going there to be Joe Dailey the starter, not Joe Dailey the back-up, so when I hit that campus, that's where I have to think I will be."
The competition to be THE QB is extreme and at Nebraska, it receives more than it's fair share of press. It takes little to recall the hype and in some cases, controversy around the battles for the top-spot between Crouch and Newcombe or even for a time, Frazier vs. Berringer. It waxes a little of a prizefight, one in a corner, his opponent in another, squaring off until someone hits the canvas.
That battle looms as inevitable for both Lord and Dailey, but for Dailey, it's a battle that though it would appear personal, based on recent NU history, for Joe, it's anything but. "The position is Jammal's and everyone should think that, because he did the most to earn it." Joe said. "I have to show that I am worth taking that spot and if I am, then ok, but it's not about Jammal, because he has given everything to this team and I am not even there."
"People can't look at it like it's either me or him, because I'm not like that and I am sure Jammal isn't like that. It's about the team and what makes them better, so if I have to sit and wait my turn, ok, but I'm taking advantage of my turn when it comes."
That turn, that opportunity to achieve, as Jammal Lord could certainly tell you, it's brief, all but gone in a whisper as you have seemingly just stepped onto the field. It's a turn that regardless of when Joe does find himself on the field, it will also seem equally brief, because no matter how good he is, there's always going to be more behind him, just as he is behind the present starter for NU.
One would find that an interesting mindset as in perhaps just a year, you have literally turned from being the predator squarely into the prey. "That's the way it is." Joe stated of the endless competition. "That's why I'm going to take advantage of my turn when it comes. Coach Gill and the other coaches are out there right now trying to find that next great QB and I haven't even gotten on campus, so I have to get in there and get to where I want to be."
"No matter when I get on the field, when I do, that's Joe Dailey's team out there. That's an offense that is suited for Joe Dailey. That time isn't going to last forever, so I have to get in there and take advantage of the time I have."
So, looking in front of him or behind him, Joe seems fairly steadfast in just what his goals are as he assumes the identity of future Husker star. No, he's not one to take that "star" logo and put it upon his lapel, but he's not going to shy away from it either. It's that pressure to be one that brought him to Nebraska, that pressure to be what he knows he can be that makes him come into a situation like this with a full head of steam. It's what makes players like him, the way they are.
" I want to win and I want the whole team to succeed. I don't look at anything like it's pass or fail, because I just look at what it takes to do the job. It's something that gets me up everyday."
"And, I am going crazy to get out there. I can't wait."
Steve Ryan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-730-5619