Shooting Point Blank
A series of articles by Brandon "Blankman" Cavanaugh.
It’s been interesting to see things take place over the span of when I last submitted a column for your approval. To say things have been rather spirited is like saying the ocean is wet. I’ve received several e-mails over the past week or so from folks wondering just what my take is on the whole firing bidness that we’ve been exposed to and I’m here today to share with you my experience, on that end of things, no less.
I remember the evening quite well. I was done playing a few games on the PS2, NCAA Football 2004 to be precise, and turned on a matchup between the Hawaii Warriors and the Alabama Crimson Tide. As I returned my office chair to its original and intended position at my desk and listened to the pops of shoulder pads from around Oahu way, I was on my way to pick things up around the BlankCave a bit. Then, for an instant, my ears became as finely honed as that of a wolf. Everything became complete silence except for the voice of an ESPN analyst who had broken into the game I was watching. I knew what was coming, but it still took me back. Frank Solich had been fired as head football coach of the University of Nebraska.
I was stunned despite hearing rumors and having very knowledgeable folks tell me it was a strong possibility, but much like my father, I’d believe it once I saw it. The Lincoln Journal Star was reporting it and now it went global. The next several hours were interesting. There was an uproar here on the home front and around the country. I even had a few unflattering e-mails in my inbox awaiting my perusal. The thing was, I understood how these people felt and why they felt the way they did. Tempers settled over the next 24 hours as Steve Pederson came out and addressed we, the Corngrigation, to let us know that everything was, indeed, alright and we’d be moving in a brilliant new direction. The coaching search was on and that brings us to this point.
Now that I’ve shared how the experience seemed on my end, allow me to regale you with my take on things. I am not thrilled with the fact it had to come down to a firing, but I understand that, from my perspective anyway, it needed to be done. Other opportunities were there and Frank, bless his heart, didn’t want to go out that way. Perhaps he felt that it would cheapen him and I am not about to ask a man who has donated so much of his time and effort in life to start changing now if he doesn’t want to. Unfortunately, that attitude severely limits the options presented as far as leaving the program was concerned. As far as the folks saying Steve had this in mind from the moment he stepped foot in Lincoln, I sincerely don’t think that’s the case. He may have very well played the scenario out in his head because he, like me, is a big picture guy. He can see the trees in the forest but he also has the ability to step back and see the sloping hills at the same time. You have to be able to do that in the profession he chose.
I also take issue with the folks who now say they will not support the University of Nebraska because of the way the situation was handled. Some have gone as far as saying as long as Steve Pederson is around, they will not donate. Who is this helping? That sort of thinking sounds a lot like a second grader who is upset he’s getting whooped in pee wee football, grabs the pigskin and trots home pouting like Bill Snyder at an awards ceremony. If one truly loves UNL then, it is this man’s humble opinion, that you make your voice heard but at the same time do what’s best for the program. There’s a 50 million dollar facilities upgrade that is happening to better prepare athletes for the rigors that await them on the FieldTurf of Memorial Stadium. There is a renewed dedication to conditioning, nutrition and all of the facets that make the machine run as it should. If you’re truly jaded enough where you don’t want to support this university after calling yourself a fan for however long, the bandwagon has officially stopped for a moment and we encourage you to locate the emergency exits.
I would like to take this time to thank Coach Solich for all he has done for Nebraska. He has been fortunate enough to work with some of the finest collegiate runningbacks around and they with one of the finest individuals around. Sure, Frank had his faults just as we all do, but he was liked. When the team stormed the field in Boulder and played absolutely balls to the wall, you knew it was for one man and that was Frank. Many of the players were taken aback by the firing and were hurt because the man they admired and genuinely liked as a human being was leaving. To be able to motivate a group of young men to go out and play like they did is not a sure thing. While Frank may not necessarily be this or that as far as a coach goes, he is much like Tom Osborne and Charlie McBride in that regard. I think that says a lot about his character and the type of individual he is. So, yeah, if I haven’t made it as clear as a cheap Hanes T-shirt under a water hose, I like Frank. He’s a cool guy, I think I’d play for him and it sucks things had to go the way they did, but, that is the business he is in.
So, what now? Well, the new coach should be named rather soon, methinks as Steve Pederson acknowledges just how important recruiting is and, let’s face it, we’ve got some important classes coming up (aren’t they all, right?). Fear not, Blankmaniac, because I have no doubt Steve will get the situation set up properly and to the best of his ability (or I’d like to think so after several shots of 1800 and a Sangria chaser). Be excited for the future, folks, because I think it looks pretty bright and, by the by, I don’t see that sellout streak ending any time in the near future myself.
So, in summary, Frank, we appreciate it all, we really do. It’s been difficult at times to get through the week and understand just why and how, but things are falling into place and folks are embracing the change, anxious to see what this new chapter in the annals of Nebraska football history will look like. Shortly, I’m sure, a renewed sense of optimism will wash over the landscape and many a red clad loon will be jittery with the upcoming recruiting season, spring ball and the ever returning regular season. Sunrise to sunset and all that jazz, you know? In the meantime, allow me to pose this question to you: What can you, as a fan of the University of Nebraska, do to help the cause? What can you do that would benefit the program? Think about that, come up with an answer and put the idea into motion. It’s going to take some hard work, folks, but in the end, through the mud and the dirt, we shall return to prominence.
Questions, commentary and other items not fit for human consumption can be sent to Blankman71@cox.net
Return to articles.