Maybe one day, we will call this Date, Dec. 23, 2002 A.P. No, not A.D. meaning the usual, but A.P. to mean, After Pederson. A.P. to mean after Pelini. A.P. to mean, after a pledge here and there where recruits decided that NU wasn't in the dredges it was supposed to be in, rather it was still Nebraska and that's where they wanted to be.
Before this weekend, it was brutal. Fans dogging the class that NU had, because there weren't enough of those five stars. Before this weekend, everyone thinking that there's no way the defensive coordinator would have an effect on NU if he couldn't join the team early. And before this, nobody was really even thinking about Byrne gone and who was replacing him, as there were coaching vacancies to fill.
It's amazing what one new A.D. can do.
Steve Pederson returned, perhaps triumphantly to Nebraska. Building a stellar reputation at the University of Pittsburgh, expanding on experience and knowledge that stemmed from being an asst. mail man to Joe Selig at the University of Nebraska. He came home with his family and his other family welcomed him back. What happened immediately after still and will have it's effect.
Steve Pederson gave an emphatic and somewhat emotional speech at the podium after he was announced as NU's new athletic director. This was following an equally moving speech prior as he addressed the staffs that he would be leading into the future from the sports represented at UNL.
His speech in front of the media and fans was one that told of memories and then, goals. He spoke of tradition and then gushed at the potential for the school. He talked of dominance once had and that to be regained and ended with a "You better bring you're A-game" comment that sent chills down the spines of the Scarlet and Cream faithful.
Pederson then followed that speech with one even more emphatic, even more expressive at halftime of the Nebraska/Creighton men's basketball game. He was not trying to get the crowd pumped up, because he was already pumped up, perhaps more than anyone in the entire state.
He was glad to be back.
That collection of emotionally driving recitals, of sorts, set back in the minds of Husker fans much of what they thought they lost or to a degree, were struggling to find. A little confidence, a little hope and a little eye for the future with not a downward chin, but an up-turned eye, gleaming instead of glaring towards what was to come.
And what was to come was a weekend that just seemed to get better each day, if not each hour it went on.
The top candidate for the Husker defensive coordinator position came to town. Yes, Bo Pelini came for his official visit and it's one that everyone wanted to go well, but at least for the staff, nobody wanted to be public. Trying to shuttle him straight from the plane to his destination, Cook Pavilion, it wasn't a presidential motorcade, but discretion was the obvious goal. Alas, the media could not be undone, hence his visage on the Channel 7 News.
Just the sight of Pelini made people actually smile a little brighter and talk a little more not about the bleakness of next season, but what could be. It almost seemed like someone turned the clock back before the Colorado game of last year and once again, everything was right in the Husker nation.
His was not the only "official" visit, as nine others were taking their turn as well. And no, people might not have greeted them was the open expectations like coach Pelini, but expectations were there all the same.
Would they commit? To whom would they commit and what could they do for our team? From B(Brett Byford) to Z (Tommy Zbikowski), recruits came in this weekend to see what they wanted to see and in some cases, hear not what they wanted, but what they had hoped they would hear. They came to experience what it was like to be a Husker.
People sitting at a diner booth across town would say, "You know, Tommy's in town" or utter something to the effect of, "I wonder if any of them will commit".
Just a week or maybe even a few days ago, that would have been entirely different. It wouldn't have been, "What if", rather "Oh well." They wouldn't have hoped, but shuddered. Rather than think of the possibilities, most were simply thinking of how bad things would get before they ever got better.
The weekend all but over, it's a different state of mind. Word of Pelini's hire, word of a commit, not from this visit, but of a week ago, that along with the emotional and emphatic Pederson leading the way and just like that, things aren't so bad after all.
What people do now and say now is markedly different than perhaps just this last Thursday. What they think now and feel now is considerably contrary to those processes but the week prior to the one you now enjoy. It's anxiousness at success rather than another disappointment and it's pondering why recruits won't come here, rather than why would anyone want to.
In two days, Nebraska went from a program in disarray to now, a program on the mend and back on the right track. And it was all for the commit of an AD, the commit of a DC and a future Husker LB saying the words, "I commit.".
It's not your typical class of commits, but I bet you Corey McKeon isn't complaining. His future as a linebacker at NU just got a whole lot brighter. He's going to have a new AD, he's going to have a new DC and he's going to walk into a world that when he gets here, you couldn't make him believe that fans were thinking what they were just a small week ago.
It's really amazing what you can do over a weekend. You can travel from coast to coast and back and back again. You can attend a football game one day, a basketball game another and still catch another football game before your time has expired. And, you can even change the minds of about two million people to such a degree, failure turns to success. It wasn't a miracle by any stretch of the imagination. It wasn't even something that doesn't happen somewhere else, perhaps at the same time.
It was just a weekend, but oh what a weekend can do.
Steve Ryan can be reached at email@example.com or 402-730-5619