Nebraska stares into the college football abyss. They see Bo Pelini staring back at them. That's when Nebraska finds their new head football coach, and that's what keeps them out of the abyss. That's the task at hand for Pelini. The once dominating Nebraska football program has gone missing and is no longer in the public eye. He has to return it to its past glory.
"You're Nebraska. You used to win national championships. You used to be big."
Oklahoma Nebraska plan is to take a hard-nosed defensive guy from the state of Ohio, let him coach a few years in the Big 12 before sending him to the SEC to win a national championship. Then bring him back to be your head coach.
He's not alone in this endeavor. Nebraska legend Tom Osborne returned as AD to help get the program turned around. The prodigal coach spent a few years in congress before coming back. You can admire his loyalty while at the same time questioning his sanity.
"It was I who asked to come back. I could have continued my career, but I found it unbearable."
Pelini has inherited a soft Cornhusker team. Calling this team soft is an insult to the Dallas Mavericks. They looked great walking off the team bus until you noticed that they were carrying a playbook the size of Anais Nin’s diaries and that their head coach was wearing ladies glasses. Former coach Bill Callahan brought 250 plays into each game, using around 60. That’s a lot of valuable practice time wasted on shit you’re not even going to use. It's like practicing foreplay.
"There once was a time in this business when I had the ground of the whole world! But that wasn't good enough for them, oh no! They had to have the air of the whole world too. So they opened their big mouths and out came throw. Throw! THROW!"
Returning offensive coordinator Shawn Watson’s first order of business is to simplify the offense. If he’s smart, he’ll use the offense he used under Gary Barnett at Colorado. Nebraska could run that. They could recruit for it too. But he’s probably going to be swayed by quarterback Joe Ganz who passed for like a jillion yards in Nebraska’s final three games. Stats are for losers. They went 1-2.
NFL prospect Marlon Lucky is back for his senior year at tailback. He might split carries with sophomore Roy Helu and the once plodding Quentin Castille. Castille has the other half of Henry Melton's amulet. The fullback will probably be about 6’1" 250 with the last name of Mackovica. Callahan had a single play designed for the fullback. Makes perfect sense. Except in Nebraska it's the equivalent of calling Tom Osborne a cross dressing Nazi.
The offensive line should be a lot better than it is. It might even be a strength. Seniors Lydon Murtha, Matt Slauson and Mike Huff are big and strong, but last year they looked like guys wearing sumo suits while trying to run block in Callahan’s offense. Lack of physical zone play usually means that the offensive linemen aren't sure of their assignments.
Nebraska's top two returning tight ends have combined to catch one collegiate pass, but play action is your friend. My memories of the Nebraska tight end usually involved screaming at the Texas safety as Tracey Wistrom-Herrian was wide open 40 yards downfield. Can they block? Who knows? It’s not like I research this shit. Nate Swift, appropriately named only when playing against Texas, is back at receiver along with Todd Peterson. Every time you start two caucasians at wide receiver, an SEC defensive back kills one of Jim Tressel’s kittens.
"They took the idols and smashed them, the Browns, the Peters, the Ruuds! And who've we got now? Some nobodies!"
The defense has a fragile psyche right now. Pelini walked into the first meeting with defensive players and proceeded to slap each and every one of them like Patton. We’ll see if it took. PTSD is notoriously difficult to cure. New defensive coordinator Carl Pelini has a degree in English Lit. Just thought I'd mention that.
They return all four starters on the defensive line, but these guys got pushed around like an usher at one of Magic Johnson's theatres. Defensive tackle Ty Steinkuhler is the son of former Husker great Dean Steinkuhler. He was born out of a kitchen mishap when his father accidentally dropped a syringe full of dianabol into an electric toaster. But he's everything you'd want in a defensive tackle. If this was 1983. The other tackle is Ndamukong Suh, whose name in the Ngema tribe in Cameroon means ‘I’ll move aside. Take the open grasslands.’ Senior ends Barry Turner and Zach Potter look great on paper. So did Heaven’s Gate.
The linebackers will be a challenge. Former walkon Tyler Wortman will bring his 3.9 GPA to the strongside. He’s like the computer guy in Jurassic Park. He might know math, but when the shit goes down Phil Loadholt is going to get loose from his pen and eat him. Middle linebacker Phillip Dillard lost over 20 pounds in the offseason when the yoke called Kevin Cosgrove was removed from around his neck. Starting on the weakside is former running back Cody Glenn. The coaches are hoping his propensity for getting tackled after 3 yards rubs off on opposing ballcarriers.
Pelini is at his best disguising coverages in the secondary. This season he’ll probably need to become adept at disguising players. He worked magic with the last Nebraska secondary he coached, but that unit included NFL draft picks Fabian Washington and the Bullocks brothers. Corner Armando Murillo is used to playing on an island, but he didn’t much like it. He defected from Cuba as a child. He is susceptible to double moves though, still not fully understanding that Yanquis have choices. The other cornerback will be Anthony West as in the entire west side of the field is open. The safeties are Larry Asante and Rickey Thenarse.
Nebraska fans are notorious for being nice. But they've grown impatient, and impatient people aren't nice forever. Just ask Frank Solich and Bill Callahan.
"Funny, how gentle people get with you once you're dead."
The college football landscape has changed since Nebraska was dominant. They had one coach embrace the past while another tried to take the program forward. Prop 48s? Gone. The option? Finished. Can Nebraska regain their past glory? Bo Pelini will now try to answer that question.
"I'm ready for my closeup, Mr. Pelini."