What's bugging Joe Dailey?

Availed as the "second-coming". Lauded for his versatility and ability to improvise under any situation. Heck, he's probably even getting compliments for the tattoos on the back of his arms, the letter "J" on the back of his left arm, the letter "D" on the back of his right. I think you can figure out what they mean. Joe Dailey is already a star and he hasn't done a thing. You know what? I don't think he likes it one bit.

You all need to just shut the hell up!

I don't know Joe Dailey, have only talked to him briefly a handful of times, but I have to think that if he could say anything right now and know there were no repercussions, it would be something to the effect of letting everyone know that they can just stop all the madness right now.

The madness of course being the articles that say he's the next........whoever. The comments on the radio shows that say he should absolutely, positively be the starter, no question about it. And yes, the chants of "Dailey, Dailey, Dailey" as he came in against Utah State to take a few consolation snaps against the Aggies, just so he could get his feet wet.

Again, Joe has never said anything to that extent, at least not to me. This is complete conjecture on my part, so take it as that. With that being said, I think the Joe I have come to know however little it may be wants as much to be known as QB #2 hopefully one day to be QB#1, but let's leave it at that.

I remember covering the recruiting trail and talking to Joe as his name became a Nebraska household name after he committed. All the conversations we had despite the differences in what might have been talked about, they all were about the same.

Joe simply being Joe.

In that I mean, if there is one young man out there that sees life in it's simplest form, It's Dailey. No pomp, no circumstance, Joe is what he is, does what he does and takes life with a bit of a grain of salt.

He's also a football player.

Actually, he's a dyed in the wool football player, as passionate about the game as anyone you will see. You know that old saying a professional player utters when they state, "I would play the game for free."? I know. You chuckle to yourself as they say it, wondering if they could really give up the 32 room mansion, the 12 cars in the 20-car garage and the lifetime membership at basically anywhere in the city they play in.

I honestly believe Dailey would.

From my perspective, this is a young man that takes the field of play with a heart beating fast not because of the pressures of the game, but because he loves the game that much. At his most comfortable, you will probably find him on the field. At his happiest, his family and closest friends would probably take the honor there, but I can think that when he's playing, leading his team down the field for a score, that's a pretty close second.

All this passion for the game though, it hasn't diminished what Joe believes is most important about why he is at Nebraska.

It's not to be the second-coming, it's not to be a name on the back of a thousand Jerseys. It's to be Joe Dailey, the freshman QB, who's just trying to learn and get better.

That's the problem I think he has right now, simply because nobody else wants that.

The fans who cheer so loud, the media forced to follow the team so closely because of those fanatics in the stands, around the state and country and a society that loves a great story. And what's a better sports story in a town built around a football team than a QB controversy?

Oh, how the masses chimed in over Tommie and Brooke. And they just loved the drama between Bobby and Eric. Now, before anything has really even been done by both, Jammal vs Joe is ripe in the minds of anyone that thinks this team is just one good QB away from being the Nebraska of old.

That's another story, but this story is one that I think Joe is maybe even a little angry at, because that's not why he came to the Big Red.

Joe is simple, but very bright. He's passionate, but approaches his role on the team with a very "matter of fact" style. He's a freshman, Jammal is the starter and it's not the fans or media that determine who will start game to game, it's the coaches.

That's probably the way he wants it.

No way that's going to work though. Not in Lincoln, Nebraska. A place that lives and breathes this football team every day of every week of the year, any little happening that even hints at the thought of "drama", the call-in radio shows are on fire with opinions and the media is speculating about a variety of scenarios, ad nauseam.

With the recent performances of Jammal Lord that haven't been "perfect", the search by those ever-loving fans gains steam as to who can and will take his place.

Enter, Joe Dailey.

Scintillating moves, deceptive speed and a cannon for an arm. Plus, he's got this "ice in the veins" demeanor out there that says no matter what happens, you can't shake him or budge his confidence.

Curt Dukes who was equally praised, lauded and adored and he had never even stepped on the field. The events that transpired haven't taught NU fans a thing. They are going to determine who's the next best thing for the program, the program be damned.

You know what I think Joe wants right now? I think he wants everyone to just shut the hell up and for a whole lot of reasons. Let's just look at a few I think are the most relevant right now though.

First, because Joe looks at things the way he does, he doesn't want it to be Joe vs. Jammal. He's not like that. First, Jammal is his friend and chants of his name when he hits the field, well, it's probably a little embarrassing and just maybe, he finds it a little insulting to the guy he roomed with before his year officially began.

Second, it doesn't make any sense. He's a freshman, has only a smattering of snaps and hasn't really done a thing, but everyone wants to make him a starter and that's when the team is 2-0. Jammal Lord isn't to blame for all the penalties in the Red Zone. Lord isn't to blame for the lack of being able to communicate from the sideline, because if that's the case, Joe has that problem to. As you recall, the reason being for the play that ultimately resulted in the Dailey fumble at the goal-line was the fact that they didn't get the play in because someone was walking in front of the QB sending in the signals. Joe hasn't paid his dues, so why should he already be due to hit the field?

Third, it's because everyone wants to make this a personal thing, something Joe has never made it and I can actually attest to that from what conversations I had with him as he as a commit, was waiting to hit campus. Not once did Joe ever say he was going to take someone's spot or that he was out to get so and so. It was always about Joe the QB being the best QB he could be and planned on starting, but only because he believed in himself and the fact that he would eventually see that spot. But, he knew he would have to earn it.

And that brings us to the fourth point and the one I think he is probably bugged more about than anything. Joe Dailey knows this is Nebraska and he knows that the fan-following is unmatched anywhere in the country. He also knows that the media, because of the huge interest is obligated to cover the team to the point of insanity. Because of all that, that means there's a whole lot of opinions from the aforementioned fan-base and media about players, the season and yes, who should be starting where. The thing is, no matter how much they rant and rave and the articles implore for change should that be the case, there's only one person that has the final say in who starts where.

Frank Solich.

Dailey said in a recent post-game press conference and I'll paraphrase, "If the coach says I am number 2, I agree." That's what matters. In fact, that's all that matters. All the rest is stuff Dailey could do without.

All the polls, all the write-ups, editorials and message boards teaming with one "message" after another stating "Jammal can't do this, Jammal can't do that" and of course, "Joe should be starting right now", the origin of those opinions are from people that haven't been in the position the coaches have, even from before Joe stepped on campus.

They have seen Joe's tapes from high school. Chances are, most fans haven't. They have seen Joe's physical ability in testing. Fans and even the media probably hasn't. These coaches have seen Joe at his best and worst while he's been practicing amidst closed sessions.......day in and day out. I am sure that they are the only ones that can say that. Oh yeah and they get to go over every inch of film that has been documented of what Joe has done during practices, scrimmages and even his limited time in a real game. Nope, neither fans and media can say that.

With all that evidence in hand, Joe probably thinks that if anyone knows who should and shouldn't be the starter, it's the coaches. Of course, he's right.

While we as fans and media can sit here and play armchair QB and pat ourselves on the back for never being wrong or at least, never admitting to it and knowing that nobody can say otherwise, what we haven't seen of Dailey and his accomplishments or even struggles, well, you can figure that one out.

We aren't in a position to know, even if we've seen a very valuable quarter of play that we surmise is all that is needed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Joe is indeed the man. We can't even make an "educated guess".

We do though, but rather than make it a factual analysis, citing pros and cons based on the evidence at hand, detailed in a very formatted presentation that relies on totally verifiable info., instead we watch a couple minutes of film, listen to a couple of quotes and after that, someone yells out, "Jammal sucks and Joe Rules" and well, there ya go.

It all becomes personal and THAT'S the problem.

While I think Joe would be just as happy as all get out to be the number two guy right now and known as the number two guy, he's already got labels, he's a future award winner and he's not Joe Dailey, he's "Dailey, Dailey, Dailey" as chants from the crowd illustrated quite well.

He's a name, which means a friend of his isn't getting quite that favorable of treatment, because instead of stating in a factual matter why anyone might think Joe deserves the spot over Jammal, commentaries are usually laced with some adjectives if only to enunciate the point. Nobody can use the numbers though, because Joe is a freshman, a true one at that, so the arguments tend to get even more personal.

And how come is it, the people talking the most about who should or shouldn't be first string are those that don't have a say? That might be the confusing part. It could even be a little infuriating. So many with so little ultimate say that have so much to say in the end.

I think if Joe has a problem, it's the fact that people have minimized the effort both he and Lord have put in, while maximizing the drama that a QB controversy brings. Some might have even turned Jammal into the bad guy, for simply being in Joe's way. You think that can't bother him, a young man that I would guess values his friendships and as a true freshman, doesn't want to make any waves?

He's not the one making them though. He's been Joe the competitor, Joe the football player and he's been Joe, who's just a nice guy to know. It's the fans, the media and anyone else with a voice that have made him a lot more than that.

The coaches have said Jammal is still the guy. The fans have actually booed Lord at times. The coaches have stated that Joe still has a lot to learn. The fans have said that he's got the ability to trump his lack of playbook knowledge and he's cool as a cucumber as well. The speculation runs rampant, the controversy is in full affect.

I don't know Joe, have only talked to him a few times here and there. It makes me no closer qualified to know what he thinks than any of you have at this time. I'll take a stab at it though in that if I think Joe could say one thing and know there were no repercussions, it would be to anyone other than those that actually had something to do with who was and wasn't starting, You all need to just shut the hell up.

He's not THE Joe Dailey. He's just Joe Dailey and I think that's the way he wants it to stay.

Steve Ryan can be reached at huskerconnection@neb.rr.com or 402-730-5619

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