JAYHAWKS ROCK, SHOCK HUSKERS, 40-15
BIG WED WAP-UP
ME AND SNAGS
We hadn't seen each other in quite awhile, but we did connect Monday morning about 9:00 at the Dunk Inn, a smoky little donut joint on Maple street in Omaha. The place is a gathering spot for geezers who come every morning to slurp black coffee from mugs they keep on the shop's fake wooden shelves. They come mostly to BS and to escape their wives who are all too glad to get the old galoots out of the house.
The coffee cups bear such names as "Big John's", "Scooter", "Stinky Joe's", "Li'l Jake", "Bean Butt" and "Weird Wally". I noticed that Snag's cup was missing.
"I'm over here, you big dummy," Snags yells to me.
I made my way to a table along the back wall where Snags was sitting, with a Lucky Strike hanging out of the corner of his mouth and sipping coffee so thick it looked like it came out of the crankcase of a tractor.
"How the hell are you? Not that I really give a fat rat's patootie," he said, laughing as we shook hands.
He was dressed in a plaid hunter's shirt with the sleeves cut off, jeans with a hole in the knees, a ratty baseball cap that looked old enough to be carbon dated. On his right bicep, he sported a three inch "Big Red Forever" tattoo that he got in Subic Bay while he was on leave in the Navy.
He put out his smoke as we sat down.
"I know you can't stand these things. I'm gonna quit one of these days, you'll see. No kidding, I really mean it," he pleaded.
Snags Tweedy (his real name is Clarence) and I go way back to our high school days. He still likes to tell everybody he got his nickname when he tried out for Devaney's '63 team at wide receiver.
"I could snag everything that was trowun to me, that's why they call me Snags," he would boast.
But Snags' career was cut short at UNL, mostly because his blood alcohol content was higher than his GPA. He never made the team; dropped out of school; joined the Navy in '64; served in 'Nam; was discharged; came back to Nebraska and drove an 18 wheeler for a few years. When he got tired of that, he became a bartender, then a welder-even owned his own bar at one time, which he sold for a huge profit because the land on which his dive sat became worth a couple mill when a mega shopping center was built across the street. (You'd never know it by the way he dresses.)
"Sit down, Danny Boy," he ordered. "You don't look so good, pal. I guess the loss to the Jaywalkers has been a little too much for you. Am I right, or am I right? By the way, are you still writing that dippy little newsletter on HuskerMedia?"
"Dippy? And by the way, it's not media, it's PED-ia, as in HuskerPED-ia."
"Whatever. I'll bet some of your readers let you have it after the Huskers got stomped by Mangino's boys Saturday."
"You got that right. I was gone over the weekend and didn't have a chance to open my email until last night. You wouldn't believe the letters I got".
Snags lights up another cigarette. He continues as he puffs away.
"Oh, let me take a wild guess. 'The Huskers are the laughing stock of college football'. 'Callahan couldn't coach a 5th grade team', 'Coz should be fired', 'Callahan should be fired and boiled in oil.' 'Fire all the assistants'. 'Peedy should be blindfolded at shot at sunrise'. 'Scrap the West Coast Offense'. 'We need to restore the 'family' type climate we had when Frankie and TO wuz coaching'. 'Hire little Frankie Solich and bring back the option game'.
"Am I right, or am I right?"
"That's pretty much it."
"Excuse me whilst I puke. These people can smooch my big white, pimply, hairy boo-tocks. These are the same degenerates who say they can't wait for the program to fall even further, just so they can say 'I told ya so'. I mean, how sick do you hafta be to root against a bunch of kids who are spillin' their guts out each Saturday? I mean, what kind of wackos are these people, anyways?
"Look, I know you didn't ask me, but I'm gonna tell ya what I think of all this BS. Youse can use this in your stupid column, for all I care."
"First off, what a great message we'd send the football world to fire a coach who's been left with talent the equivalent of an Yugo. This guy Callahan is tryin' to do a complete overhaul of the program and people are sayin' that he needs to take a hike after he's had one recruitin' year? You gotta be outta your freakin' mind!"
Snags puts out his smoke.
"So go ahead and fire all the coaches and Pederson, but ask yourself, what kind of a coach or AD would be attracted to a school that says, 'Our program needs major changes in recruiting, weight training, offense, defense and kicking and, oh by the way, we're gonna give you just one recruiting year to do it."
"That's what the Solich supporters will say. Frank was fired after a 9-3 record and the Peterson haters will say that Callahan has had more time than Solich did."
Snags lights up another Lucky Strike.
"Good point. Look, I like little Frankie Solich. I hope his Bobcats win 'em all. Do I think he got hosed on the deal? Probably. Do I think that he was given enough time? Maybe not, but he had 6 years to develop his own program and he didn't do it. Yup, I know TO handed him the keys to a Buick with bald tires and told him not to make any changes. So he was doomed from the git-go. The Huskers haven't won, let alone even played in a Big 12 championship game since '99. When TO's recruits dried up, the program fell faster than Dubya's approval ratings. Do you think that maybe, just maybe Stevie saw how crummy the talent level was at Nebraska?"
"Okay, and what they'll say is, if Frank was such a bad recruiter, how come Demorrio Williams, Fabian Washington, Josh Bullocks and Barrett Ruud-all Solich recruits-were drafted last spring and all of them are playing in the NFL?"
"Okay you wanna talk about doze guys? How 'bout deez Husker greats-Jammal Lord,
Curt Dukes, Joe Dailey, Richie Incognito? And what about the Mania Brown fiasco? I don't even wanna go there with that one. Whew! How about offensive linemen Frankie recruited? Do you remember how bad they were? The only running game we had was Lord runnin' for his life. We haven't had a decent O-line since '01. And as far as Barrett Ruud goes, he would have come to Nebraska if Adolf Hitler was the coach, for cripe's sake. Sure, Frankie could recruit players, just not enough good ones."
Snags puts out his smoke and lights up another Lucky Strike.
"Look, I know Stevie Blunder ain't gonna win no popularity contests-shoot, Will Rogers may have body slammed him, who knows? Pederson is a lot of things, but stupid ain't one of 'em. Do you think he doesn't know about recruiting? He was the recruitin' coordinator at Nebraska and Tennessee and worked at Ohio State and was the AD at Pittsboig. Do you suppose he sat down wit Callahan and they discussed how bad the talent level was here? Do you think Callahan knows enough to evaluate talent? Give me a freakin' break. Sure Callahan was fired by Al Davis-that's almost a compliment, but he took the Raiders to a Super Bowl-something that hadn't been to since the 80s. He lost so many starters off the '02 Super Bowl team, including the key to his offense, QB Rich Gannon, that his team fell apart in '04.
"And as far as this family thing goes with Solich, that's another thing that chaps my butt. Ask Milt Tenopir, Dan Young, Craig Bohl and George Darlington what they think of Frankie's Husker 'family' treatment. He canned all of them. They were good, loyal, dedicated, quality assistants coaches. Darling had been there since '73, Ozzie's first year. 'Family tradition'?-give me a freakin' break."
"People also want to know why the recruits aren't getting more playing time. They want to know why Harrison Beck's isn't playing."
"Right, putting Beck behind this year's line would be like givin' the kid a death warrant. Taylor doesn't even have time to do a 3-step drop, for cripe's sake. The O-line is the key to everything. If the line is crummy, the QB can't trow, if you can't trow, you can't run; if you can't run and trow, you get a lot of tree and outs. So the defense is on the field forever and gets tired and gives up big plays. Kansas had a great defense-one of the best in the entire country, we made some mistakes-had a punt blocked for a TD, had a pass interception that was returned for a score. We had a 100 yard kickoff return called back due to a penalty. Our kids were in the game midway trew the 3rd quarter. The Jaybirds got a couple-a quick scores and, bingo, we wuz history. And speakin' of history. Do we really think that teams are gonna dominate a series the way the Huskers have for the past 36 years with Kansas? Give me a break. It ain't gonna happen. Even TO had a couple of close calls with KU-games he should have lost, so the fact that this year's team-the one that's been livin' on the edge all year long, drops one on the road at Kansas is a surprise? Come on!"
He crushes out another smoke and lights up another coffin nail.
"Look, I don't know if Callahan is the guy to turn this program around. I don't know if Coz is the best defensive coordinator on the planet, but these guys need to have time to get their own players who are the right fit for Callahan's program. I know dis, if Callahan and his staff are fired after this year, I'm gettin' rid of all my Husker stuff, will never attend another Husker football game and I'm gonna get my "Big Red Forever" tatoo removed."
"Really? You'd get your Husker tattoo removed? When?"
"Right after I give up smokin'."
If you'd like to give Husker Dan a piece of your mind or if you would like him speak at your next Husker event (Husker Dan lives in the Omaha area), you may email him here. For past Husker Dan columns click here.