I knew you were thinking it.
“I wonder what that guy who used to write about NAIA football all the time and sells farm equipment now thinks about the current state of the Nebraska football program?”
Well you’re in luck! It’s cold in North Dakota today, the Bison are on the road and Nebraska doesn’t play until later. So that gives me plenty of time to throw out a bunch of polarizing ideas that will have half of my friends blocking me on Facebook and the other half rolling with laughter. Keep in mind, I’ve done zero research before writing this article.
Plus I took the under in this Mississippi State/Arkansas game and that doesn’t look promising right now. Kinda like the future of Nebraska football unless something changes, other than the coaching situation. So here you go folks!
1. Nebraska has no rival. This program died when the Big 12 split and Nebraska stopped playing Oklahoma every year and they’ve had no success in the Big 10 to really create a rival. I find it hard to believe that a conference that bent over backwards to appease Texas at every stop couldn’t find a way to keep one of the top three rivalries alive in college football. Sorry friends, it wasn’t the best ever. Look at Michigan/Ohio State, Bedlam or even Army/Navy. In it’s prime, Nebraska/Oklahoma was one of the best. But the excuse that these two programs just can’t work it out is silly to me. Iowa/Iowa State have found a way to play every year since 1977 and they’ve never been in the same conference.
It just proves that Nebraska is more about optics these days than being a true college football powerhouse. The new facilities, the expanded stadium and all the new video improvements are nothing different than any other good program in the country does. If Bill Moos wants to prove he’s different then he should publicly demand that OU and NU put each other on the schedule in a non conference game from now until infinity. Otherwise, it’s just about trying to look good which brings me to my next point.
2. The sell out streak isn’t that impressive. Yes, on its surface it looks like Nebraska has “the greatest fans in college football” but in reality it’s just window dressing. The engraving on the stadium should read “home to the greatest ticket sales department and donors willing to waste money in the entire country.”
When the sellout streak is in doubt the University sends out an APB that the streak is in jeopardy. Then magically. . .it’s another sellout. Who is buying these tickets? It’s not Johnny Paycheck who just finished up the north 80 and decided to drive 192 miles in his ’86 Silverado to cheer on the ‘Skers. It’s not some family in Omaha scooping up 4 tickets to take the family to the game.
Instead, it’s a donor that coughs up X amount of dollars to buy the remaining tickets. If the game was truly a sellout I shouldn’t be able to go on Stubhub and find thousands of tickets available for the Nebraska/Iowa game or any game this season. Yes, I understand these tickets have been “sold” once. But in my opinion, if you can still buy thousands online. . . it’s not a sellout.
3. Nebraska fans refuse to change. Want proof? Look at every attempt someone has tried to promote a “blackout” game and get everyone to wear non-red apparel to the game. It’s as simple as wearing a different t-shirt to a game. Nebraska fans are the only ones in the history of good college football programs unwilling to do it. There’s no excuse for it especially when you consider how beloved the “Blackshirt” defense has been since the 70’s. There are good programs out there that have season ticket sales showing the different colors their fans should wear to a game by section of the stadium.
And don’t give me that “it’s the blue hairs that won’t do it.” excuse. I know a lot of numskulls my age that scoff at the fact they be asked to change tradition. Wear a different shirt dude, it’s obviously not lucky.
If you can’t do something as simple as wearing a different color shirt then I have no faith that you will be able to accept a coach who doesn’t run the option, run a 4X3 defense or have a walk-on program with 140 players in development.
4. The walk on program. Everyone seems to think the lack of instate players not walking on to play football at Nebraska has something to do with coaches not asking them to walk on or kids deciding they would go to Nebraska just for a shot to play college football.
Newsflash: College is expensive and there are a ton of schools that play football. In Nebraska’s prime years the average small college program in the state of Nebraska had between 60-80 players. Look at the rosters of the NAIA schools in Nebraska. They’ve blown up to 90-115 players. These small schools are giving more opportunities to get an education and get more of it paid for than ever before. So a partial scholarship to play at Doane, plus financial aid is equal to if not cheaper than going to UNL and walking on. Plus, they get a chance to play for all four years and walk away with just as good of an education. Some of the best HS coaches in the state of Nebraska cut their teeth playing college football in a place other than Lincoln so it shouldn’t be a mystery that more of the players that Nebraska used to develop are now playing every Saturday in Hastings, Crete or Kearney.
Also, given the stalker-like, why won’t you love me approach of Nebraska fans on social media I’m not sure I’d want to stick around to play when I get an opportunity to go to a program that does play in the postseason every year.
5. Nine wins is no longer good enough for the fans. Sure, people will say now all they want is for Nebraska to be respected again. Nine wins is respectable. When the next coach comes aboard he will no doubt have a turnaround and Nebraska will win nine games, much like Bo Pelini. Then two years after that Nebraska will win nine games and get murdered in a conference title game or by a Wisconsin or Ohio State. The process will repeat until Nebraska fans start remembering that you can’t win a national title every year. You have to have patience. If you don’t have patience it will breed negativity. That spills over into social media and ultimately hurts recruiting. You can argue that the program shouldn’t worry about stuff like that but then you are just denying the world we live in where social media and your online brand reflects how the world sees you.
I’m not some bitter Nebraska fan who just wants to whine and complain about everything. I’m just a guy who has seen a lot of college football all over the country. There are a lot of programs with just as much if not more traditional than Nebraska. There are a lot of programs that have great fans who are passionate about their team. The difference is when things happen in those programs, their fans and their programs change and adapt. Nebraska fans need to look at this program like the pre-Devaney era and start over. Stop trying to patch a crumbling building. Press the reset button, blow on the cartridge and strip this thing down to the footings. If you don’t then we will be having this exact same conversation three years from now, just like the three years before today. In a state that recognizes grit and hard work and scoffs at the idea of being soft, Husker fans need to stop holding onto soft traditions and get with the times of college football.