State of the Huskers Survey – my responses

Since I asked all of you for your opinions on the State of the Huskers, and over 6,000 of you were kind enough to oblige, I figure the least I could do is share my responses and a brief justification*.

*Author’s note:  I composed this prior to Pelini being fired by Shawn Eichorst (that dude is really screwing with my writing schedule), so the responses refer to Bo in the present tense as Nebraska’s coach)

Here are the answers I provided when I took the survey last week.  Just promise you won’t hold any of these answers against me…

State of the Huskers header

1. What is the biggest issue facing the Nebraska football program?

Schematic deficiencies
Reason:  I feel Nebraska has the talent to win the West, but I question the approaches taken on offense and defense.  Yeah, you probably could say this is on the coordinators, but I look at it like this:  bring in the coordinator of your choosing.  If he runs the exact same scheme as what’s being done now, would he be successful?  On the flip side, would Beck or Papuchis look better with a different scheme?
2. What is the primary issue holding back the offense?
Offensive Line
Reason:  It starts up front for this team.  When the line is playing like “hell in a helmet”, the offense moves very well.  When they play like “Grandma Helen in a helmet”, Armstrong and Abdullah have problems and Beck looks bad.
3. What is the primary issue holding back the defense?
Defensive coordinator / scheme
Reason:  The Big Ten is a run-first league, but NU’s defense is designed to stop the pass.  As a result, teams often run at will against NU even if they have a below average QB.  (see also: Wisconsin, 2014).  You can put that on Papuchis (the guy with the coordinator title) if you want.
4. Do the fans and local media have unrealistic expectations for the Nebraska program?
No, as Tim Miles says “You get what you tolerate”
Reason:  If I had it to do over, I’d preface this question with a question defining what you believe the expectations are for Nebraska.  Without that, it’s tough to say they are too high or out of touch.
5. What do you believe the national perception of Nebraska is?
Low.  Nebraska is known more for Pelini’s anger, cats, and ugly losses in big games.
Reason: I think Nebraska’s name is still one that perks up the ears of casual fan, but with NU falling on their face in nationally televised games against ranked teams, Nebraska’s notoriety seems to be coming more from the dedicated Pelini Sideline Rage Cam and viral videos (the cat, Jack Hoffman, Harlem Shake, pranks, etc.)
6. Are you happier with where the Nebraska program is today compared to when Bill Callahan was fired?
Yes.  Top to bottom, the program is better.
Reason:  There is not any one aspect of the program that was better in 2007 than it is today.  A year or two ago, you probably could have cited recruiting and overall talent, but I feel like that has improved.
And for those who said the 2007 team would probably beat the 2014 Huskers, I never gamble on the Huskers, but I’d make an exception for you.
7. What is Bo Pelini’s biggest weakness as a head coach?
Lack of composure in stressful situations
Reason: If you think back through all of the bad losses (I’ll wait if you want to take a shot first), there almost always is a turning point when the flakes become a snowball, which becomes an avalanche.  When that point happens, I rarely see anything to give me confidence that the moment is being recognized and addressed on the sideline.  If anything, I feel like the pressure ratchets up.
8. What is Bo Pelini’s best quality as a coach?
Able to identify aresa of deficiency (recruiting, media perception, punt returns, etc.) and make improvements
Reason:  Despite his exterior, and “what do you think?” responses, I think Bo is very introspective and able to identify and acknowledge his shortcomings.  Even the staunchest Pelini detractor should be able to acknowledge the growth he has shown in how he recruits and gets talent, how he has let his guard down more often with the media, and has made drastic changes to the punt return game.  Critics will point out that it has taken a while for this side to come out – and that there is plenty more work to  do.  I agree, but I do see this as a big strength.
9. What upsets you the most about Bo Pelini?
Blowout losses
Reason:  Let me start by acknowledging that some blowout losses are due more to the players than the head coach.  But since Pelini strives for a “point the thumb, not the finger” culture, those ugly losses end up on his bill.
10. What is Bo Pelini’s best win at Nebraska?
vs. #9 Michigan State, 2011 (24-3)
Reason: I really wanted to answer the 2009 Holiday Bowl over Arizona, as that was one of the more dominating performances of the Pelini Era, but Michigan State, 2011 gets the nod for being a division game against a higher ranked opponent (even if I was not particularly impressed by Sparty on that day.
11. What is Bo Pelini’s worst loss at Nebraska?
at Texas A&M, 2010
Reason:  The A&M loss has almost everything a Bo-leaver could want: multiple sideline eruptions, costly penalties, inept offense, a nationally televised embarrassment, fall out from the Martinez confrontation as well as Carl Pelini allegedly breaking a camera.  The only thing this game does not have is a larger margin of defeat.
12. Is Bo Pelini a better coach today than he was in 2012?
Reason:  He has learned a lot of lessons (call it on the job training, if you like) and has improved his recruiting, his game planning, and when he pours his focus on something (i.e. punt returns) they do get much better.
13. Do you believe Bo Pelini can win a Big Ten Championship at Nebraska?
Reason:  He was close in the XII, twice.  If we buy the popular notion that the Big Ten is a lesser conference than the XII, then he should be able to get it done.
14. Should Bo Pelini be fired before the end of the 2014 season?
Reason:  I hear the reasons of the Bo-leavers (blowout losses, the Groundhog’s Day style of his core issues, the fact that he hired the two coordinators who may be hurting him, etc.).  I also hear the reasons of the Bo-lievers (growth, improving talent, etc.)  I’m leaning towards some big changes (possibly including Bo), but won’t commit to it.
15. Will Bo Pelini be fired before the end of the 2014 season?
Too soon to tell
Reason:  Eichorst is an enigma that few people even claim to know, so any speculation is pure guesswork.  I think to have a chance at saving his job, he needs to coach two very clean, dominating performances against Iowa and the bowl opponent – i.e. get his team to play to their full potential instead of to the level of their competition.
16. Who is Nebraska’s best coach?
Rick Kaczenski (defensive line)
Reason:  The D Line is the strength of the defense, and one of the brightest spots on the team.  Even better, they are young, young, young.  Certainly, you can give credit for recruiting to the staff, but their development and growth goes to Coach Kaz.
17. Who is Nebraska’s worst coach?
Tim Beck (offensive coordinator / quarterbacks)
Reason:  When he’s “on” as a coordinator, he can call a beautiful drive that leaves defenses grasping at straws.  When he’s “off”, he rides the same play too much, goes away from his strength, and tries to score  17 points on every drive.  And for being the guy (officially) in charge of developing quarterbacks, the career of Taylor Martinez (as well as the inconsistency of Tommy Armstrong, Jr.) is a poor reflection on their coach.
18. If changes are made to the NU coaching staff, who should be let go?
Both coordinators
Reason: Regardless of if Bo stays or goes, changes are needed on both sides of the ball.  By and large, the assistants do a good job, but the schemes are questionable.
19. Can you fire a coach who consistently wins 9-10 games?
Yes – We’ve done it before.
Reason:  If Bo gets fired, it will be more about the 3-4 losses than it will be about the 9-10 wins.  Period.
20. What does the Nebraska Football team need most?
A full-time, dedicated special teams coordinator
Reason:  If we believe the old coaching mantra that special teams are a third of the game, shouldn’t we have a full-time guy in charge of them instead of a bunch of guys pulling double duty?  That’s how special teams becomes an after thought, which is how the 2012 and 2013 punt return teams are formed.
21. How many more seasons should Bo Pelini get to take Nebraska to the “next level” before he is replaced?
One more year
Reason:  Let him make whatever changes he feels is necessary.  But lay it on the line:  Indy or bust.
22. On a scale of 1-10, how would you describe your level of passion for the Nebraska Football program?
Reason:  If you’ve ever sat within five rows of me at a game, you would probably concur (if not put me a little higher).  I did not go to 9 or 10, solely because I have a very passing interest in recruiting and I don’t read every single word that is written.
23. Has your level of passion for the Nebraska Football program changed in the last year?
My level of fanaticism has not changed.
Reason:  Things may not be all peaches and cream, but I’m still passionate about the team.
24. What are your feelings on 9 win seasons?
A nine win season is a successful season.
Reason:  I am on record saying that 9 wins matters.  That piece lays out my case.
25. Are you a season ticket holder?
26. If Pelini and his entire staff are retained for 2015, would you purchase/renew season tickets?
My decision to purchase season tickets is not dependent on the head coach.
Reason:  Even during the Callahan years, I never considered dropping my ticket.  I hope to hold a season ticket until I die.
27. Where do you go for Husker news and opinions? (Select all that apply)
Message board(s)
Blogs or websites not affiliated with NU
Sports radio
Print media (newspapers and magazines)
28. If additional losses would help spur changes to the coaching staff, would you root for the Huskers to lose one of their final two games?
I would never root against Nebraska
Reason:  I know the term “true fan” gets thrown about way too much.  But I’d love to hear somebody justify how can call them self a “true fan” while rooting for Nebraska to lose.
29. Would you be willing to sacrifice Nebraska’s NCAA record sellout streak if it resulted in a coaching change?
No, the streak is a sacred record.
Reason:  Regardless of who the coach is, I’m not sure the streak makes it another five years.
30. If Nebraska (regardless of the coach) was guaranteed to win a conference championship and make the Playoff in 2017, how many losses would you tolerate in the next two seasons in order to get a conference championship?
7 or less (NU goes 9-4 and 10-3 before the championship season)
Reason:  I believe in 9 win seasons.  I do not want anything less than 9 win seasons.  For all the big talk from some fans and media members, they would never endure back to back losing seasons even if Jim Delany hand delivered the championship trophy to their door.
31. Would you be okay with Nebraska coaches and staff knowingly breaking NCAA rules if it resulted in a competitive advantage?
Never. Nebraska does not cheat.
Reason:  If we learned anything this off-season (with two players being accused of stealing bikes), Nebraska is not paying players – or at least not enough to afford decent transportation.  Now, I’m not saying that it doesn’t happen at Nebraska, but I don’t want coaches intentionally breaking laws.
32. Is there an “SEC bias” in college football?
Only because they have had success in the last 5-10 years
Reason:  My reasoning can be found here
33. Are you excited for the College Football Playoff?
No, I do not think a playoff is good for college football.
Reason:  Prepare your torches and pitch forks – I’m not a playoff guy.  With some refinement, the BCS could succeed in it’s original mission of matching #1 vs. #2 in a winner take all game.  All a playoff does is invite more controversy.
34. What do you like best about college football?
Rooting for my team
Reason:  I watch very, very little of the NFL.  Why?  Mainly, it’s because I don’t have a team that I care about.
35. Should college football players be paid?
Yes.  Allow players to earn money for their likeness, jersey sales, autographs, etc.
Reason:  My thoughts are outline here.
36. Which announcer team do you like the most?
Kevin Kugler & Glen Mason
Reason:  I believe a good announcer is like a good umpire – he’s so good at his job that you don’t really notice he’s there.  And when you do notice him, it’s for good reasons (a strong call or excellent point) as opposed to bad ones (a blunder, bias, or other error).  To that end, Kugler is one of the finest play-by-play guys in the business.  Glen Mason is the former coach who provides good information and insight without kowtowing to the Coaches’ Fraternity Honor Code.
37. What is the best conference in college football?
Reason:  The SEC has a depth of top teams.  By the way – I continue to be amused that so many of you say there is an SEC bias, yet you also feel the SEC is the best conference.
38. Is the sustained success of the 1993 – 1997 Husker teams possible today?
No, the success of Osborne’s final five teams cannot be replicated today.
Reason:  Those years – especially the three championship years – were lightning in a bottle.  Teams may come close, but there are too many demons waiting to tear down success in today’s world.
39. What is your opinion of the Blackshirts tradition?
I would like to see it handled differently from how Pelini does it.
Reason:  Hand them out at the end of fall camp to the 11 starters (and maybe a nickel/dime guy).  Trade out if guys lose a starting job.  Repossess if you give up 400  yards to Melvin Gordon.
40. Can a “true fan” be critical of coaches and players?
Yes, but only to a point
Reason:  Never, ever go personal to a player or coach’s family or loved ones.  Do not drink and tweet.
41. Who is Nebraska’s defensive coordinator?
Bo Pelini
Reason:  I couldn’t resist adding this question.
42. Do you care if players speak to the media after losses?
This does not matter to me
Reason:  If I were a credentialed media member looking for quotes for the piece I need to have done by deadline I’d feel differently.  But as a fan?  I’m not going to lose sleep if Taylor Martinez doesn’t want to talk.
43. What is your opinion on the firing of Frank Solich?
It was the right call.
Reason:  Take Pedersen and Callahan out of the conversation.  Solich had the first four loss season in 30+ years, and started the dominoes of Devaney/Osborne streaks falling by going 7-7.  
44. Have you forgiven Bo Pelini for his profanity-laced comments following the 2011 Ohio State game?
Yes, I accepted his apology
Reason:  It was a heat of the moment thing when adrenaline was pumping.  If we forgive Richard Sherman for what he did on national TV, surely we can forgive Pelini for saying things that he thought were off the record.
45. Was the decision to join the Big Ten Conference a mistake?
Reason:  Aside from the academic boost, as long as Texas still sits unchecked in the XII, Nebraska was wise to get out.  That fact remains unchanged no matter how many crappy Big East/ACC rejects Delany adds.
46. In what state do you live?
Reason:  I was born and raised in The Good Life.  I do not have any desire to live anywhere else.
47. Are you male or female?
48. What is your age?
49. What is the highest level of school you have completed or the highest degree you have received?
Bachelor degree
50. Are you an alumnus of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Class of 1997 (Advertising)

One Comment

Unfortunately, Bo proved once again that, in my opinion, he has a gross personality disorder. Did you ever see Bob Stoops, Les Miles, Frank Solich or Tom Osborne behave like that. Even that terrible coach, Bill Callahan, left with more grace.

Bo will never get a head coaching job after Youngstown State. He better win consistently as no one by someone as offbase as he will ever hire him after this tirade. I take that back, he’s a perfect fit for Rex Ryan!

Only a complete meglomaniac, egomaniac, insecure little boy would ever think he could behave the way he did at any school, other than possibly Miami, and live to see a better day.

I do hope that Riley considers Ron Brown. What a great match up to continue a class act.

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