Nebraska Football is Dead

Having our own issues following the laugher in Lawrence, I didn't get a chance to go through all the articles around Husker Nation, recounting the events of the weekend. And there were some articles following those events that I have found to be equally telling. It's all added up, at least in my mind, to one inevitable conclusion: Nebraska Football is Dead

You have to feel for head coach Bill Callahan.

After the disaster down in Lawrence, he comes out in front of the media, tries to explain why things went so bad, how they won't go bad like that again and try and convince media and fans that this is actually just part of the improvement process.

It's not like anyone will buy it, especially after an allegedly capable defense was just embarrassed by a statistically inept offense. But that's not the point. He's the head coach. He has to come out and say something.

It's like being on an island of sorts, but even the head coach shouldn't be on an island by himself. If anyone should be behind him, it should be the man that gave him the job in the first place.

Asked about his thoughts of this Saturday's game, Athletic Director Steve Pederson came out in resounding support of his guy, talking about the support he has for him and the coaches, how optimistic he is about the future and that he understands that it will take time and good recruiting to get where they belong.

Ok, he didn't actually say that. Point of fact, he didn't say anything at all. When asked about the game or Callahan's performance, he declined comment.

What? Declined comment? Are you kidding me?

Don't tell me this is an A.D. trying to distance himself away from a coach he's getting ready to fire. We know that's not the case. If there is one thing Steve Pederson can't do, no matter how bad it gets, it's fire Bill Callahan.

If that's the case he might as well fire himself in the process.

This was all his doing after all.

You remember the coaching search, right? Ok, it wasn't a coaching search so much as it was an illustration of how you don't hire a coach, how you don't treat a fan base and how you don't put all your eggs in one basket in regard to singling out a coach, because if that coach happens to get another year at Miami, where are you at then?

On the tarmac waiting for Houston Nutt?

Nobody is that desperate, right?

Yes, Steve Pederson was and because he had alienated an entire state in his one-man search for that one man, the panic button was hit and it appeared they were going to take the first "yes" that came through the door.

Enter Bill Callahan

A coach, just removed rather rudely from his term as the head coach for Al Davis' Oakland Raiders. It seems that coach Callahan had a mutiny on his hands, some players saying that his system was too complex and that he had effectively lost his team.

With that kind of label, one might think it difficult to think that you are going to get another head coaching job anytime soon. Sure, an assistant coaching position is probably a good bet, but with the way his Raiders finished and his now infamous quote, calling his own team the dumbest in America, patience would be key in trying to find another job.

Luckily for the fired coach there was an Athletic Director in Nebraska that had burned just about every bridge, turning his grand scheme into this grand fiasco.

Bill, say hi to the Huskers.

Coming from Oakland, I am sure that coaching in the Midwest probably seemed on the surface like it was going to be a walk in the park. Surely their expectations wouldn't be as lofty as those of his most recent boss.

And there is no way the scrutiny of fans of the big red could equal that of those in Philadelphia, where they need a judge in the stadium for games. Or those fans of Oakland, who have garnered such a nasty reputation, after losses, you'd assume they are all out there eating their young.

Not these good-hearted-down-home-country-folk in Nebraska. They would be happy with anything, especially someone that used a lot of big words, talked all emotional-like and kept referencing the NFL as if we've never heard of it in our lives.

This was easy street for someone that just came from the professional football equivalent of the school of hard knocks.

Ok, maybe not.

Turns out that Nebraska was in this thing called the Fiesta Bowl.

It was for the national title.

You might have heard of it.

It's kind of a big thing.

In fact, they were in the Orange Bowl for the same thing. Actually, Nebraska has been in numerous national title games, won five of them, posted four perfect seasons and they had this run of 60-3 in five years, where they won three national crowns.

Oh, and the kicker is, if the success didn't create a loyal fan base in the state, there's nothing else in the state of Nebraska to follow as it is.

If a coach wanted an escape from pressure, a chance to reinvigorate himself and maybe reinvent himself, so that he could make a quick in and back out to the league, Nebraska wasn't the right place to come.

This isn't Ohio, where the former Nebraska head coach is worshipped after winning four games. This isn't Colorado, where a win over a single team signifies a successful season. This is Nebraska and they have been amongst the elite at their level, more than the Oakland Raiders and the Philadelphia Eagles have been at theirs……….combined.

It would seem coach Callahan has learned this over the last year-plus, even if it has been under protest.

When he first arrived, it was "We take what we want". Now he'll take whatever he can get. As he came into Nebraska, it seemed like he was trying to bring everything about the NFL with him. He's since learned that he should have left it at the door on the way in.

He's learned a lot, albeit grudgingly and he stands today, one of his most recent quotes being "I don't know."

So, if for only that reason, you have to feel for him, because reality does indeed bite. But, the salt in the open wound is an athletic director that when the opportunity arises to come out in support of HIS guy, he said nothing at all.

He said nothing right before firing head coach Frank Solich. He said nothing all while going through this debacle of a coaching search. It would seem that the only time he's managed to say anything, it's when he's got his hand out, asking if you are "N".

But to not come out and say that you believed in coach Callahan, that you saw the improvement, though minor it might have been and you were optimistic about the future…..even if you are lying, you still have to say SOMETHING.

The offensive linemen, after quarterback Zac Taylor had taken yet another beating by the opposing defense didn't say anything either. A couple were requested for interviews following the Kansas game and while Taylor was up in front of the media, taking it on the chin for the team, blaming himself for everything, the offensive line that contributed greatly to his meager day, when asked for a comment, said "no".

Nice, huh?

There is a game coming up against Kansas State. Under any other circumstance, this would be a big game, because the Wildcats have beaten the Huskers three times in a row. They are a conference opponent, of course, a division opponent as well, so there's no reason to think that this game isn't important.

That doesn't even scratch the surface of just how important this game is.

Nebraska isn't winning in Boulder, so Kansas State is their one chance, their last chance to salvage some good out of a season that started strong, but what was considered success and improvement early on is now looking more like an illusion. It's the one opportunity to say that there are still opportunities after the regular season is done.

More than anything, though, it's for the players that don't have any answers as to why everything has gone downhill so fast. It's for the fans that don't really care what the reasons are, they just want to see some semblance of the pride of the team they remember, even if they can't have the record.

They want to see accountability, consistency and passion from the first quarter to the last. Maybe if that happens, you will get back some of what I think has been all but completely lost over the last year and a half.


For Husker fans that were born in the 60s such as myself, it's almost seemed a birthright to have the nine wins, the bowl game and the periodic shot at the national title. With that kind of consistency, it's easy for fans to believe.

They believe in success, because it's there every year. They believe in titles, because they know, whether it's conference or national, their team is good enough to believe themselves that it's a realistic goal most any season.

What you have now is a fan base reeling, wondering what to believe. They can't believe in success anymore, because it's gone. They can't believe in titles, because that is wishful thinking now, not realistic. And the idea of mediocrity has now not become what they are trying to avoid.

It's become the goal.

A victory against Kansas State this weekend won't totally rekindle that belief, nor should it. Kansas State is even worse than Kansas. But it can halt what I view as almost a landslide of true believers, de-evolving into Husker agnostics.

There doesn't seem to be anyone of any real stature in the program willing to come out and say something, even if it's not true, to try and halt the tsunami of negativity reigning down. Point of fact, it's their inactivity that could be making it worse.

I guess that's not a new story, but what is, is the fact that what was once blind faith a few years ago has since became widened eyes of disbelief.

You can lose games to an extent and the program will recover. You can lose some fans, but as long as you are humble and consistent with what you do and how you do it, people will forgive.

But, you can't lose the faith of an entire fan base. You can't let them believe that there's nothing to believe in after all. When all they think they are following anymore is what the program USED to represent, you've lost hope for the future.

And if that happens, Nebraska Football is dead

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