The decision to wait

The topic of when the Blackshirts should be handed out is always a big one. But why has the tradition been slightly changed from previous coaching staffs? Come inside as Nebraska defensive coordinator John Papuchis explains.

LINCOLN, Neb. - It's fueled message boards and talk radio for the past two seasons, but the topic of Blackshirts and when they should be handed out, according to Nebraska defensive coordinator John Papuchis, isn't as big of a deal as some make it out to be.

"The complaints are more from when I do speaking engagements," Papuchis said. "There's the one or two guys in the crowd who don't understand why we haven't handed them out yet. I don't think it's whole scale. It's like anything else. The vocal minority gets most of the run. But I don't think it's much of an issue."

Papuchis, Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini, and the rest of the Nebraska coaching staff handed out 11 Blackshirts on Monday, a number considerably less than last season.

"Every year is a little different, but this year we looked at the guys who have defined their roles on our defense," Papuchis said. "Those are the guys that got the shirts. Guys who are in a platoon role with someone else or are situational players haven't yet, but I hope to add a couple after this week.

"I had my input on who I thought deserved them. Each coach though I went to and asked who they thought should get them, and then it came back to Bo to make sure he was okay with it."

But back to the topic of handing out the Blackshirts when they did. Previous coaching staffs handed out the jerseys before the season started, giving them to the first group defense. Pelini and company have changed the tradition.

"Those defenses (of the past) were so good, we have to make sure we're holding ourselves to that kind of standard," Papuchis said Tuesday. "If we just handed them out because you happen to be No. 1 on the depth chart, we feel like we're actually disrespecting the people who came before us."

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Josh Harvey has covered college football and recruiting for Fox Sports & since 2008. He is now the Publisher of Big Red Report, covering Nebraska athletics.
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