The "Real" fans awaiting their reward

Who would have thought that Pittsburgh would be a must-win? After last week, that's just what it became. No, not for the players, even though you know they never want to lose. Not for Callahan either, because if Pitt was the only loss he had this year, it would be considered a comeback of monolithic proportions. You know what I am talking about and for that very reason, if Nebraska loses to Pitt, there's a lot of people that will just be hiding their heads and ears until the rampage is over.

When Frank Solich's Ohio Bobcats upset the Pittsburgh Panthers, err, I mean Pitt Panthers, it set in motion a problematic situation for Nebraska. Well, for one person at Nebraska specifically.

It's bad enough that Nebraska Athletic Director Steve Pederson would have the indignity of losing to a program he left just a few years ago, but after Ohio's win over Pitt, indignation turns into outright humility.

Believe it or not, there are still plenty of Solich apologists out there that actually think if Frank Solich was still at the helm, Nebraska would be contending for a national title right now.

With Barney Cotton's offense that had Iowa State upsetting Iowa and Pelini's defense that led the country the lone year he was the D.C. with the Huskers, there was no stopping the big red.

Evidently the vision blurs with time

Some forget that it was Pelini's defense that couldn't stop a mobile QB, both Kansas State and Texas humiliating the Huskers that utilized Bo's defense. Also, LSU, Bo Pelini's current stomping grounds just gave up almost 450 yards in the air in a single game.

As for Cotton's vaunted offense, out of the 22 points that Iowa State scored, one touchdown was on an interception taken back for the score. Another was off an Iowa Hawkeye fumble deep in their own territory, the Cyclones taking it 12 yards in two plays for the TD. And, the last touchdown scored was indeed a legit-sustained drive against the top ten Iowa team, Iowa State capitalizing on an Iowa turnovers, one of 5 they had in the game.

Let's not sell the Iowa State victory short, because it was a huge one at that and you can find few coaches in the country that anyone wants to win more than Iowa State's Dan McCarney.

But let's not make it look like they took the ball from the outset, rammed it down Iowa's throat for four quarters and came away with a 50-point win.

Back to the original subject, Solich's departure was painful in many ways, but believe it or not, it could be perceived to be more painful for Nebraska right now than it was to Solich himself.

After all, Solich is the toast of the town at Ohio, giving them their first major victory in who knows how many years, people talking about the post-season, something they have made only twice in their 109 year history. Solich is literally and figuratively king.

In Nebraska, thanks to the lingering thoughts of a few, some with more money than Exxon, feelings die hard, memories die harder and long after Solich has left, there are still those that feel bitterness and vocal bitterness at that, is the way they like to spend their days.

You have to blame Solich himself a bit for this as he did the one thing that has made this an issue even today. The former Husker head coach did the one thing that if he didn't do it, nobody would be talking about any of this right now. Solich did something that people wished he would have done in 2001, but his timing was even better as beating Colorado in 2001 still wouldn't have saved him against Miami, but beating Colorado in 2003 made him a martyr.

Solich became more powerful after he was the head coach than at any time during his actual tenure.

Tom Osborne himself came to Solich's defense and that was pretty bad for the program. Billionaire blabbermouths came to Solich's defense and considering the plans for the future in regards to facilities, that could have been seen as even worse.

Combine all that with a coaching search that was more comical than calculated, all of the streaks that were lost under Solich's tenure that fans so embraced, suddenly became meaningless as Solich was now perceived as the good guy done wrong.

That's actually pretty humorous when you think about it.

I was here when Nebraska was humiliated by Penn State, the message boards ablaze with "Fire Solich", "Get rid of Solich" and "Tom Osborne's biggest mistake wasn't leaving, but who he left in his place". After the Iowa State debacle it was even worse.

The team was heading nowhere but down and right up until Solich was actually fired, there were still fans that saw the 9-3 season an illusion, more a by-product of a soft schedule and an opportunistic defense, but they still got trounced by the Longhorns and Wildcats and lost in embarrassing fashion to Missouri.

It didn't matter, though. After Solich was fired, those humiliating losses became just part and parcel of an offense and defense that was growing, still needing to fit everything this new staff was doing. The loss of all the streaks, they were basically swept under the carpet, Husker fans seemingly saying to themselves ‘what streaks? Anyone see any streaks around here?'

I would have thought that Husker fans, the ones reputed to have some of the best memories of college football, because there's nothing else to remember in the state, would know better than that.

A petition was circulated to get rid of Bob Devaney and there were plenty that wanted Osborne gone, because he couldn't win the big one. Now, it's possibly some of those same fans that are now saying that they learned from their mistakes and it's better to give a coach a chance then to fire him after such a promising year.

Can I call B.S. yet?

Hindsight is wonderful for those that choose to use only that as their argument and want to pretend they have gained some unnatural insight as to what could have happened had Solich remained. I love all the would-be psychics that seem to permeate the landscape that are just positive Nebraska would still be amongst the elite if the old Husker was still around.

Well, to those hangers-on to the old ways, you could have your revenge, even if it's more superficial than anything. If Pitt comes into Lincoln and steals a victory, after losing to Solich's Bobcats, those that cried foul will be bawling once more, perhaps louder than ever.

That's what they say they really want.

They don't care if it means this group of Huskers lose, because it isn't about them in the end. They don't care that this coaching staff would have yet another setback, even though some of these fans have said that it's not about Callahan and company either.

Nope, it's about one person, but they know that in order for that person to go down, every one else has to go down before them. And they are right there, wanting to throw another brick on the pile for good measure.

Then, everything will be fine again. Then, it will all be back to the way it was and they will sit high and mighty on their pulpit, because, sure the program had to go down to make it happen, but it happened, darnit and that's what really matters.

Of course, Solich will still be gone. Osborne certainly isn't coming back to coach again and the staff, should this one not survive, will be replaced with either a new and even more unfamiliar group or even worse, a group that tries to take Nebraska back to doing what it once did.

Maybe that's what some really want.

They want everything to get so bad, because things didn't go the way they wanted them to, so that when the program is spiraling towards the bottom, they and their trusty sidekicks can come to the rescue, shouting "Go Big Red", proud that Nebraska was doing it the "right" way, even if "it" ended in a losing season every year.

Who knows, but I can see them right now, anticipating this game, rooting for the Panthers, even while they are clad in Scarlet and Cream. And they are claiming to be the last of the real Husker fans in the world.

If that's the case, a Pitt victory will indeed be just what they wanted and needed to make themselves happy. I wonder, though, of those almost 80,000 people that will be filling the stadium today, if they are all cheering when Nebraska scores and if they do indeed win, what kind of fan does that make them?

Delusional? Naïve? Stupid?

Yeah, you are probably right. I mean, to support the program through thick and through thin, what kind of fan is that?


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