OF THE NATIVES
This week's firing of Steve Pederson is a triumph for the decency and honesty that for decades have made up the cornerstone of Husker football. When he returned to Nebraska in 2003 to take over for Bill Byrne, Steve Pederson had everything going for him. He was a native Nebraskan who grew up with Husker football. He once was a part of Osborne's staff. He left Nebraska to gain the experience he would need to lead an athletic program like Nebraska's. After stints at Tennessee, Ohio State and Pittsburgh, it was time for the Native Son to return to his dream job-to be the Athletic Director at his beloved alma mater. At the time of his hiring, Steve Pederson was the right man for the job. He was a perfect fit. He knew the history and tradition of Husker football and could help lead the Husker football program back to dominance.
I have applauded many of his decisions, but not necessarily the way he did them. He made tough decisions regarding the firing of Frank Solich. Pederson could have chosen the easy way. Keep the status quo, don't rock the boat, don't create enemies. He hired Bill Callahan who brought with him an entirely different style of football. With Callahan, Steve Pederson was going to restore the Husker football program to its glory days.
But something happened along the way. Steve's management style changed. I don't know how it happened or why it happened. But Pederson became a tyrant, creating a managing style rooted in fear and intimidation. I wish Steve Pederson no ill will. I wish him the best. He did some great things for the athletic program during his four plus years at Nebraska. It's a shame that it all had to end this way. But like most people, Nebraska fans don't tolerate bullies and never will.
With Monday's news of Pederson's dismissal , a local radio station in Omaha played "Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead". To be sure, there is joy in Mudville. Capt. Queeg is no more. And to top it off, the venerable Tom Osborne is back, to help right the ship.
I'll admit, when I saw Coach Tom addressing the crowd that had gathered Tuesday to witness this historic moment in Husker football, I got a little verklempt. To be sure, Chancellor Perlman's decision to bring Osborne into the athletic department during this time of turmoil is a good one. Understandably, Tom could have chosen not to get involved. Tom could let others figure out how to solve this mess. These are tough times. Osborne brings to the department what has been lacking the past four years-honesty, decency, integrity, class and yes, confidence-confidence that Tom Osborne will be the savior of the Husker football program.
Husker fans who think miracles are going to happen by this weekend are apt to be disappointed. Please give Coach time to work through things. Give the guy a break. Stay with the program. Don't boo the players or coaches. Be classy. Be supportive and most of all, be patient.
Husker fans, while elated that Osborne is back in command, are still faced with a football program that is in total disarray. It pains me to write this. It pains me to see our once proud football team struggle against weaker opponents. I've met most of the Husker coaches and find them to be the classiest and sharpest bunch I've ever seen. I hope and pray things will turn around and they will continue to coach at Nebraska. But in a "just win, baby" atmosphere in which we live, being classy might not be good enough.
How this program, led by most of the same coaches and most of the same players can be transformed from contenders last year, to pretenders this year is baffling. It is stunning to see this program fall so fast and so hard.
THE SOUNDS OF SILENCE
I sat at the game Saturday and witness something I'd never seen before at Memorial Stadium. At the half, there was stunned silence-a silence that was deafening. Is this the nadir of Husker football? Have we hit rock bottom, or will things get even worse?
People are calling for the head of Kevin Cosgrove this year while last year his defense, although burned at home against Kansas (Huskers won in OT), had good schemes against Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri (win) and Auburn. Nebraska didn't lose those games because of poor defense or poor tackling. During the latter part of 2006, teams had a tough time scoring on Coz's defenses.
NO OFFENSE, PLEASE
So is Cosgrove dumber this year than last? I mean, what in the name of Dana X. Bible is going on? How did the Husker defense collapse this year? And what about the much heralded offense? Keller and Company have put up a total of 20 points in the last two games against defenses ranked in the 90s. It's mind-boggling.
Be careful if you think the coaching staff should be fired. We'll go through another 4-6 years of rebuilding in the process. That's about a decade of turmoil. I don't think Husker Pride Worldwide wants to endure that.
What to do? We can all look to Tom Osborne. He may need another "Miracle In Missouri" to pull this one out. Stay tuned, Husker fans. And be patient. This may be a very, very bumpy ride.
OF THE NATIVES