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Winging It, Vol. 9:
THE LOON TALKS BACK
10.10.02

Time again to crack open the old mailbag, so's we can peek at what our vast legions of loyal readers are saying. I have to admit, this is one of the most gratifying -- not to mention educational -- parts of being a Universally Revered and Respected Online Columnist. Through the staggering amount of correspondence received here in The Pond, I have discovered the answers to many of life's curiosities. Such as: No one in the town of Climax, Ga., actually knows anyone in the community of Intercourse, Pa. And: The Manson Family, while apparently a very close-knit group, was not a family in the technical sense of the word. And: Outside of Chimney Rock, Nebraska's best geographical feature is that chick on "CSI: Crime Scene Investigators."

And sometimes,we actually receive some inquiries about our favorite subject, the Almighty Nebraska Cornhuskers, who this season apparently have had a police escort of presidential proportions on their road to perdition. This, of course, has spawned some interesting letters. We try to help out as best we can when asked, providing perspective and producing positivery in as pompous a path as possible.

So, let's get to the masses' missives:

DEAR LOON,
I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU'VE RESISTED THE URGE TO RIP THIS TEAM A NEW ONE IN YOUR COLUMN. I GET THE IDEA THAT YOU ACTUALLY THINK THIS TEAM HAS LOOKED BETTER THAN THEY REALLY ARE. GOOD GRIEF, HOW CAN YOU POSSIBLY THINK THAT?
-- BRENDAN IN MILLARD

Brendan,
You know about Beer Goggles, right? About how members of the opposite sex appear more and more attractive after each beer you drink? Well, the same thing is true about a guy's favorite football team. And let's just say that on game day, I'm not exactly dousing my Wheaties with milk, wink wink nudge nudge. So by the fourth quarter of each game, I'm pretty much thinking that the Huskers could probably whup up on decent NFL teams, like the Minnesota Vikings. OK, bad example. The Green Bay Packers. Regardless, I'll try to pace myself from now on.

DEAR LOON,
EVER SINCE I SAW BRAD SMITH PLAY FOR THE FIRST TIME, I'VE HAD THIS REALLY BAD FEELING ABOUT THE MISSOURI GAME. THEIR OFFENSE IS THE REAL DEAL, MAN. HOW ON EARTH CAN THE HUSKERS SLOW MIZZOU DOWN?
-- JIMBO IN LINCOLN

Jimbo,
This seems to be the big, fat question that is on everybody's mind, so I pounded some shoe leather to see what I could find out on the subject. My search led me to the offices of a certain defensive coach who shall remain anonymous, but whose name incidentally rhymes with "Egg Roll." When I approached him Wednesday afternoon, "Egg" was diligently preparing for MU by picking his teeth with a business card and staring at the ceiling. Still, I learned from this unnamed, anonymous defensive coach that Nebraska is craftily borrowing from Missouri's old bag of tricks by constantly watering Tom Osborne Field this week in hopes that it will grow really long by game time. This, the coaching staff believes, will help slow the Tigers down and thereby even the playing field. Isn't that an incredibly juicy pregame tidbit? Hey, that's just between you and me, now. Don't go running to any message boards with that one, particularly any of the ones that are free.

DEAR LOON,
NOW THAT'S THE KIND OF INSIDER INFORMATION YOU JUST CAN'T GET ANYWHERE ELSE ON THE WEB. STILL, NO MATTER WHAT SURFACE THEY PLAY ON, THAT MISSOURI OFFENSE REALLY FRIGHTENS ME. GOOD GRIEF, THEY HAD 24 POINTS AND MORE THAN 400 YARDS AGAINST OKLAHOMA LAST WEEK. FOUR-OH-OH! AGAINST OKLAHOMA!
-- BOB IN VALLEY

Bob,
Yeah, I caught some of that ballgame, and there's no denying it, Mizzou was having lots of offensive success against the Sooners. It was kind of like how Kansas State did offensively a year ago in Norman the week before the Sooners played Texas. I also believe that ballgame was the last time KSU's sad-sack offense got a first down in 2001. Moral of the story: If you want to put a hefty door-ding in the Porsche 911 that is Oklahoma's defense, be sure to schedule them the week before they head to the Cotton Bowl to punk-slap the Longhorns. You're pretty much the last thing on their minds at the time.

DEAR LOON,
IN READING THE PREGAME PRESS THIS WEEK, I'M GETTING MIXED SIGNALS ON WHAT TO EXPECT. WHAT'S THE MAIN STORYLINE WE FANS SHOULD BE WATCHING FOR?
-- RODNEY IN SUTTON

Rodney,
According to the mainstream sports media, there are only three main storylines that can ever emerge from any given sporting event. They are (1) Overcoming Adversity; (2) Earning Respect and (3) Gaining Redemption. So, if NU wins this week, you will undoubtedly see a story about Jammal Lord overcoming adversity (fumbles, interceptions, reading the defense), Nebraska earning national respect (a win over a conference foe), and the Blackshirts gaining redemption (for past stinky performances). If Missouri wins, you'll see stories about Missouri overcoming adversity (hostile red crowd, 24-game losing streak), Brad Smith earning national respect (a win over a "name" opponent) and Missouri's defense gaining redemption (for their past stinky performances). Diverging from any of those three canned storylines would undoubtedly cause the average sportswriter's head to explode, and we can't have that kind of mess in Bill Byrne's new $36.1 million press box, now can we.

DEAR LOON,
I THINK IF WE JUST PUT CURT DUKES UNDER CENTER AND THEN MOVE LORD TO WINGBACK WE WOULD BE GETTING THE BEST TALENT ON THE FIELD. WHAT DO YOU THINK?
-- TOM IN HASTINGS

Tom,
Oh, I agree. This is why Frank Solich needs me as an offensive coordinator. Not only would I move Lord to wingback and put Dukes under center, but I would install a slick new five-back set with Horne, Diedrick, Thunder, Davis and Ross lined up in a straight line behind the quarterback. That would keep all those whiny crackbaby I-Backs quiet about lack of playing time. Then I'd split Wilson Thomas and Mark LeFlore out wide on each play. I realize that alignment would mean only three offensive linemen would be left to do any significant blocking, but that's really not a big difference from the way things are now, so what the hell. I say let's get the best athletes on the field!

DEAR LOON,
LOOKING UP AND DOWN THE REMAINING SCHEDULE, IT LOOKS LIKE THERE'S NOT ONE GAME LEFT THAT WE CAN COUNT ON AS A WIN. OK, MAYBE KANSAS. DOESN'T THIS CONCERN YOU?
-- LAMAR IN COZAD

Lamar,
Yes. If they go .500 the rest of the way, that would put them at either 8-5 or 7-6, depending on how you do the math. And that would, for all intents and purposes, signal the death of our little dynasty here. But the slick thing about football is that, like comic book heroes and Hindus, death is only temporary. Look at Miami or Texas today. Now look at how flatlined those two schools were in 1997. Man, those football doctors are the best.

DEAR LOON,
DON'T YOU THINK IT'S HARD TO CHEER FOR THE HUSKERS NOW? AFTER ALL, THEY NO LONGER OCCUPY THE MORAL HIGH GROUND LIKE THEY DID WHEN TOM OSBORNE COACHED. BACK THEN, OUR TEAM FOUGHT FOR ALL THAT WAS RIGHT IN THE WORLD. IT WAS ALWAYS A STRUGGLE BETWEEN GOOD AND EVIL. BUT TODAY, I SIMPLY SEE AN ORDINARY FOOTBALL TEAM WITH NO MORAL OR SPIRITUAL CHARACTER THAT I CAN IDENTIFY WITH. IS FRANK SOLICH TO BLAME FOR THIS?
-- MERLYN IN PLEASANT DALE

Merlyn,
One of the most inane things about the Husker Nation is this notion of the Sacred Scarlet Epiphany, this Cosmic Cornhusker Connection, this Righteous Red Relationship with a group of student-athletes. Way back in the old days -- you know, like 1961 -- the average Nebraskan viewed events like, say, baptisms, weddings and funerals as vastly important happenings that were laden with human significance and insight. If you went to see a Nebraska football game, you understood that you were only going to a Nebraska football game. And if you took your kid along, you were not doing it because you felt that it was some required rite of passage, or a sacred bonding experience with the hallowed Ghosts of Football Past at the Great Stone Cathedral on Vine Street. You were just taking your kid to a freaking ballgame, is all. And that's all it probably ever should have been. But somewhere amid the rings and trophies and championships, it ascended into something it, in the end, probably never really was. So, to answer your question, I'd say that no, Frank Solich is not to blame. Most likely, you are. Oh, and Cross Training Publishing, too.

DEAR LOON,
CRIPES. GET OFF YOUR SOAPBOX AND WRAP IT UP.
-- BARRY IN LINCOLN

Dude,
Halle Berry. I mean, Hallelujah, Barry. You're right, time's a-wasting. We need to get our prayer circles organized so that we can assure that Jammal takes care of the ball on Saturday. In the meantime, Loons, keep that correspondence coming. And remember, eat something before you drink on Saturday -- we don't want you feeling too good about this team too early in the game.

==STEVE==
Red. White. Loon.
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