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FROM THE EMAIL BAG
OPERATION BIG RED SOLDIER IN IRAQ
Dear Husker Dan:
Hello again, I greatly appreciate all of your help. I have not received any correspondence from anyone. I am aware that unfortunately our season has come to an end earlier than many of us have ever remembered before. I still have not been able to see any of the games and would love to see them if it is at all possible. I also have not received any goods from anyone.

I had my wife send me my husker jacket and I gave it along with two of my hats to the local nationals here in Iraq. I know that there are two more husker fans here. They were very grateful for what I contributed to them. I gave some stickers and magnets to some of the kids here....they all thought that it was the neatest thing. It is so wonderful to be able to bring a smile to the faces of these people here. Not all of them are bad and hateful towards us. I was wondering if there was a way you could find out how we could get the
games on tape so that the couple of husker fans here could see the good and the bad of this year. We all know that it has been a rough year but it is kind of fitting considering what we are going through over here. Again I greatly appreciate any help that you could offer.
SSG Myles A. Frohling Sr.
410th Military Police Company
APO, AE 09310


DEAR HUSKER DAN:
Thanks for posting the address of the U.S. soldier in Iraq who was requesting Husker items. We collected Husker Sweatshirts and t-shirts and sent them to Iraq. We have not heard back from the sergeant. We sent the box in late October.
Gary McGirr
NE Kansas for Nebraska Alumni Chapter

Dear Gary: Thanks for your help!! I'm not sure how long it takes packages to reach soldiers stationed in Iraq. Hopefully, your package will arrive shortly.

Readers: This is a chance for all the rest of you Husker fans to show your true colors by sending Husker Care Packages to this young soldier who wants to spread Big Red Fever in Iraq. Only YOU can make it happen. Remember, we are all part of Husker Pride Worldwide.

HUSKER EDITORIAL

Readers: This was a letter forwarded to me by Allan H., who lives in Omaha. The author is unknown, but the writer makes some very valid points.

The following was written by a 70 year old Husker fan, it is long but a very good read.

I found an interesting article last night about USC and recruiting. Did you know that USC went 5-6 in 2000... that's the year Pete Carroll recruited QB Matt Leinert and DT Shaun Cody. Since then, USC put together the year's top recruiting class in both 2002 and 2003 (depending on who you ask). By 2002, USC was going 11-1. By 2003, they were the national champs. Today, USC is again the class of college football. Hmmmm....

This isn't your father's college football. The rules are different. If you want to win, you must get difference-makers to win one-on-one matchups and score. Only a few teams have a clear, top-to-bottom talent edge and even those teams don't have that much of an edge over everyone. Thank Title IX, rising higher education costs, television money/big conferences, and scholarship limits. That said, some teams continue to win, but interestingly, those teams also seem to put together the top 4-5 recruiting classes each year.

Oh, and my response to the Nebraska fans now calling for coaches' heads...

In both 1967 and 1968, Bob Devaney went 6-4 and posted losing conference records. As I recall, a petition was started to oust Devaney. Fortunately he stayed, but more than a few fans wanted him gone.

Flash ahead to 1981 {actually, it was 1978}. That year, Tom Osborne went to Boulder to interview for the CU job b/c he didn't think NU fans would ever accept him. After all, he couldn't beat OU and was soft-spoken whereas the popular Devaney, a blue-collar, Irish coach, was boisterous and demonstrative (it's funny that more than 2 decades later fans criticize Callahan, another blue-collar, Irish coach, for yelling at OU fans and defending his players when they used to criticize Osborne for being too boring in contrast to Devaney). Then, Osborne seemed to become a genius when Irving Fryar, Mike Rozier, Roger Craig, Turner Gill, Dave Rimington, Dean Steinkuhler, etc. showed up.

Then, about ten years later, after the 1990 and 1991 seasons, NU fans seemed eager to get rid of Tom again after a string of bowl losses and blowouts to faster teams like Washington, Colorado, Miami, FSU, GTech, etc. This was about the time that fans were sending hateful mail to Charlie McBride's home and heckling his family in the stadium (note: Shamefully, Kevin Cosgrove is now receiving hateful mail at his home). Then, Tommie Frazier, Grant Wistrom, Terrell Farley etc. showed up, and the coaches seemed brilliant again. And don't forget, at one point in the early 1990s, George Darlington was one step away from incompetent in most NU fans' minds. Huh, a Nebraska DB's coach being criticized? Sound familiar? But, Darlington too became a genius after Barron Miles, Tyrone Williams, Michael Booker, Mike Minter, Tony Veland, Ralph Brown, Mike Brown, etc. showed up. Another hmmmm....

In other words, Nebraska fans - the so-called best or most knowledgeable fans in the nation - nearly ran off Devaney in 1968 and then Tom Osborne not once, but TWICE! Yet, amidst the drastic and obvious decline in talent during the Solich regime, fans didn't want to fire him. The popular rationale among Solich supports was their unwillingness to upset Nebraska tradition. So, when Solich finally did get his pink slip, a number of fans dressed in sackcloth and ashes and bemoaned the equivalent of football Armageddon. However, what they failed to notice is that Nebraska under Solich looked very little like Nebraska under Devaney or Osborne, and Solich never did much of anything innovative in the way of recruiting, nutrition, strength and conditioning, sports psychology, or sports medicine to reverse the disturbing trend toward slower, weaker, and less dominant teams. Remember, Devaney and Osborne both implemented sweeping offensive, defensive, training, and recruiting changes during their tenures, all in the name of keeping up with the rest of college football. In seven years , Solich did very little along the same lines.

Case in point, under Devaney but more so under Osborne, Nebraska led the nation in strength and conditioning. Under Solich, the S&C program fell behind the rest of college football, a combination of staff hubris and player apathy. For example, in 2002, a heralded high school quarterback named Curt Dukes arrived from North Carolina. He was known as a workout warrior, and expected to find a challenging, innovative weight program at Nebraska, the home of "Husker Power" and the first school years ago to implement weight training for athletes. What he actually found was much different and emblematic of the Solich era.

Before the 2003 season, Dukes transferred to Duke University. On his way out, he offered a few parting shots in a about his initial collegiate suitor. He told North Carolina's Rocky Mount Telegram that what he saw at Nebraska was not dedication and hard work but rather "laziness and apathy among his teammates." According to Dukes, "People weren't working as hard as they could in the weight room. The team attitude, effort, it just wasn't there. I didn't understand how a team that's national championship caliber(could get away with) not doing as much as I did in high school." Dukes words stung fans at the time, but the 2002, 2003, and 2004 seasons reveal the truth in his criticism. Nebraska seemed to become a lazy program under Solich.

I recall too anecdotal evidence of the lack of institutional control under Solich. I've heard numerous reports (unsubstantiated personally so take these for what they're worth) from "insiders" that because the coaching and training staff rarely checked up on players' workouts, the players would come into the weight room, sign in, fabricate their workouts in the log without ever lifting a weight, sign out at a fake time, and go home. Yet another hmmmm.

The "Nebraska Way" used to be the phrase used to describe the overachieving culture that surrounded the Husker football program. Nebraska recognized their recruiting disadvantages and worked to make up the difference in training and development. Apparently, however, the "Nebraska Way" left the building long before Steve Pederson fired Solich after the 2003 season, the point at which many fans cried foul over what they described as a horrible transgression against the Nebraska football legacy. Truth be told, that transgression occurred slowly and insidiously from 1998 (Solich's first season) through 2003 as Osborne's players graduated and an aging Husker staff grew more and more complacent while young staffs at places like Oklahoma out-worked them on the recruiting and conditioning fronts. Nebraska fans, though, just refused to acknowledge the apathy and slippage until both got too obvious to ignore. Even now, however, some fans fail to see how far the program actually fell since Osborne's retirement after the 1997 national championship season.

Indeed, after a 5-6 2004 season with Solich recruits, many Nebraskans want to oust Bill Callahan, a former Super Bowl head coach who is widely regarded in pro circles as a brilliant offensive mind is known in college football as one of the best recruiters of all time. Yet, in the minds of some, he apparently has forgotten how to coach since he cannot coach Lornell McPherson, Chad Sievers, Benard Thomas, Ira Cooper, Mike Erickson, Jake Anderson, and others to the top of the Big 12, all while completely revamping an offensive system and coaching around a lack of depth so severe that a backup defensive tackle switches to offense in the spring and becomes the best offensive tackle in as little as a week. I met Bill Callahan in June of this year, and as we chatted about football and Nebraska, one of his first statements to me was, "we need players." He wasn't kidding.

As of today, November 30, 2004, Bill Callahan has assembled the finest recruiting class in the nation with two months remaining until national letter-of-intent signing day. Whether NU can hold that spot down through signing day in February remains to be seen. However, the fact that Nebraska, a program known to struggle with mythical recruiting disadvantages like location, weather, and population, is among the top 5 recruiting schools in 2004/05 is nothing short of astounding and a testament to a coaching staff resolved to ignore the recruiting inferiority complex created by the ineptness of the previous coaching staff.

Yes, Tom Osborne always bemoaned Nebraska's recruiting disadvantages, but when he saw his program slipping from 1988 through 1991, he recommitted himself to recruiting. Along came Tommie Frazier and a truckload of speed from Florida, New Jersey, Texas, and California. Again, this infusion of talent seemed to coincide with Tom Osborne's genius status.

So, forgive me if I don't think Tom Osborne knows the power of recruiting. Make no mistake; his success was tied to his ability to recruit speed and playmakers. Remember, he couldn't beat OU until he beat out Barry Switzer for Turner Gill's services. Frank Solich's failure was tied to his refusal to work harder and mine new talent outside Nebraska. That and his blanket distribution of scholarships to Nebraska high schoolers that should have been walkons and his exasperating refusal to give scholarships to kids
that went on to torch Nebraska, kids like Steve Hicks and Nick Leaders at ISU.

In other words, I think I'll wait awhile before I join the vocal Good Life masses calling for coaches' heads. In the long and tumultuous march of human history, more stupidity and bad decisions have been called forth as the result of the mob mentality... see the French Revolution and the pre-1964 American South judicial system among countless others. In fact, don't we have checks and balances and an electoral college because the founders worried about tyranny of the majority? Yes, I'm sure I read that somewhere before.

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