State of the Huskers Survey – Results and Responses

Dadgummit, Shawn Eichorst.

I worked hard to put together a comprehensive survey intended to get a true pulse of the Husker fan base on a number of hot-button topics.  I put it out there, promoted it (thanks again to 93.7 The Ticket’s Gaskins & Stephens Show for having me on last week), and many, many of you took the time to take the survey over the last week.

I spent a good chunk of time Friday and Saturday night going through the 6,000+ responses, analyzing the data, and working towards putting out the results that so many of you were excited to see.  When I went to bed early Sunday morning, I was about halfway through this post and felt confident that I would have it ready for Monday morning.

And then Eichorst goes and fires Bo Pelini.

The key question in this survey (Should Bo Pelini be fired before the end of the 2014 season?) was answered for me by the one person whose response carries all the weight.

Mr. Eichorst, I understand that you felt you had to make a change – and I’m not going to argue that you probably made the right call.  But couldn’t you have waited until Monday? State of the Huskers header

*   *   *

Even with Pelini’s firing stealing some of the thunder from this, there is still a lot of good data in here.  Therefore, on with the show!

Before we dive into the questions and your responses, I would be remiss if I did not give proper thanks to everybody who completed the survey, who shared it with others via social media, and who provided constructive criticism for me.*

*The biggest thing I learned is that the Gallup folks make things look easier than they really are.  My site will not be changing from FeitCanWrite to FeitCanSurvey any time soon.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Thanks to your time and efforts, I am thrilled about the sample size of this survey.  You can skip down to the demographics questions (46 – 50) to get more details, but here are the highlights showing how diverse the respondents were:

  • Over 6,000 respondents in under a week.
  • Survey results from 49 states*, the District of Columbia, and 42 locations outside the U.S.
  • Respondents very evenly distributed across age groups 30-39 all the way to 60+.
  • A good mix of UNL alumni, former students, and off campus fans.

*Come on Huskers in New Hampshire – let’s step up our game a little bit.  That said, I’m inclined to say we had representation from all 50 states:  my first non-dorm residence in Lincoln was on New Hampshire Street.  I lived there throughout college and another four years after graduation, so I’m practically a resident of the Granite State (even if I had to use Google to learn that New Hamp is the Granite State).

I think this helps give a great cross-section of all Husker fans, which is exactly what I wanted.

*   *   *

For each question, I’m going to share the following data:

  • The question that was asked
  • Each of the answer options
  • The percentage of responses each answer option received
  • The total number of responses each answer option received
  • If the question contained an “Other (please specify)” option, I’ll share some of the common responses, as well as others that stand out to me.  I will directly quote these responses.
  • Finally, I’ll provide my interpretation, comments, and other feedback.  Some of these were written before Pelini was fired, but I’ll edit as many as I can.

Also, a full PDF version of the results (including pie charts!) can be found here:  State_of_the_Husker_Results

Finally, if you want to see my responses and a brief justification for each one, you can see my completed survey here.

Let’s get started:

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


Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Head coach 36.2% 2263
One (or both) of the coordinators 31.0% 1935
Talent not being developed or properly utilized 16.7% 1044
Schematic deficiencies 6.7% 420
Unrealistic expectations (too high or too low) 3.0% 187
Not enough talent (recruiting) 2.6% 165
Other (please specify) 3.7% 230
Common or notable responses to Other (please specify) included:
  • “all of the above” (several similar responses)
  • Changes in college football from the 1990s
    • “Nebraska isn’t a power anymore and won’t be again.”
    • “Scholarship limits and recruiting rules that favor populated football-crazed areas of the country (read: The South)”
    • “parity”
  • Scheme, game planning, and adjustments
    • “failure to teach proper D and failure in developing a QB properly”
    • “Depth.  Decommits and transfers have set us back in depth which eventually will catch up with you”
    • “too complicated of defensive scheme and no identity on offense”
    • “Lack of doing and teaching fundamentals” (other similar responses)
    • “Inability of the coaches to adjust schemes to talent.”
    • “wrong offense and defense systems for big ten”
  • Other coaching issues
    • “Error prone play. Ultimately that’s on coaching.”
    • “mental toughness of players no staff to challenge Bo pelini”
    • “Lack of proven credentials on coaching staff. Too many coaches “Cutting their teeth” in this program that deserves so much more.””Chris Spielman said it during the Wisc blowout, lack of accountability.  When a player jumps off sides, they’re still in the game.  When a player misses a key block, they’re still in the game.  There’s NO accountability, nor does the coaching staff seem to realize it?!!”
    • “Leadership, ‘well coached and disciplined’ will never be used in the same sentence with Husker Football.”
  • Recruiting & developing players
    • “Nebraska is soft and doesn’t recruit instate”
    • “Not recruiting 3-Star Defensive players from Nebraska, like Drew Ott and Others because they are white”
  • Fans and media
    • “Impatient fans with unrealistic expectations in this age of college football when competition has evened out.”
    • “the media”
    • “Fans stuck in the 1990s, unrealistically thinking we are still a powerhouse”
    • “finicky fans”
    • “Mouthy people who think they know more than they do and who are empowered by the Internet”
  • Other interesting responses:
    • “Lots of internal issues with all aspects of the direction of the program”
    • “The teams we play are also trying to win.”
    • “It is hard to sum up in a couple of words: team spirit, unity. working together.  Is it because the scheme is too difficult or the players are psychologically unable “
    • “a simple vision for the program.  A vision that players, fans and coaches can articulate and buy in to.”
    • “The university is not being represented in a “Nebraska” way, with Coach Pelini’s  ranting and raving and  taking very little (if any) any responsibility for the play.”
    • “I can remember when coach Osborne could not beat Oklahoma. feels the same”
Comments:  I think it is very telling that over two-thirds of the respondents feel the biggest issue facing the program is Bo Pelini, Tim Beck, or John Papuchis.
There are a lot of excellent points made in the “Other (please specify)” section – as well as some um…interesting…takes.  As an aside, the volume of Other responses that I waded through made me very, very happy that I did not include “Other (please specify)” as an option on more questions.  You all have some strong ideas and opinions – but it would have been a real pain in the ass to help draw conclusions, which was my intention.

2. What is the primary issue holding back the offense?

Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Offensive coordinator / play calling 45.7% 2853
Offensive Line 28.9% 1804
Quarterback 13.7% 853
Execution of the play call 10.1% 631
Penalties 0.7% 43
Injuries 0.6% 36
Wide receivers and tight ends 0.2% 15
Running backs 0.0% 3
Comments:  It’s not exactly a big surprise to see Beck and his play calling at the top of the list.  The second, third, and fourth items lined up pretty much how I expected.  I’m curious about the three folks who thought the running backs are holding the offense back.  Maybe they were just thinking of the backups, or Ameer Abdullah playing through his injuries.

3. What is the primary issue holding back the defense?

Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Defensive coordinator / scheme 64.7% 4033
Execution of the play call 18.5% 1150
Linebackers 11.3% 705
Defensive line 3.7% 231
Injuries 0.7% 43
Cornerbacks 0.5% 30
Safeties 0.4% 24
Penalties 0.2% 15

Comments:  I really considered following this question with the “who is the defensive coordinator:  Pelini, Papuchis, or both?” question, but I felt that it might make people rethink their answer on this one.  I am surprised that Injuries was only picked 43 times.  Between the two defensive starters (Michael Rose and Charles Jackson) lost during fall camp, and the nagging injuries that have slowed Randy Gregory, there is some serious talent missing time this year.

4. Do the fans and local media have unrealistic expectations for the Nebraska program?

Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
No, as Tim Miles says “You get what you tolerate” 80.7% 5020
Yes, expectations are not in sync with the current realities of college football 14.4% 895
Fan expectations are too high. 3.6% 222
Media expectations are too high. 1.4% 86
Comments:  One of my biggest regrets with this survey is the lack of question(s) to better define what the fan base’s expectations are.  Without having that reference point of what the expectations are, its admittedly tough to say if those expectations are unrealistic.  Also, I’ve second guessed myself on using the Tim Miles quote as a response instead of a simple Yes or No.  Sorry!
With all of that said, the almost 81% response percentage is the highest for any question other than “Are you male or female?”.   (Spoiler alert:  there were not a lot of women who took this survey).  I think that sends a very clear message – faulty survey or not – that the fans do not feel their expectations are unrealistic.

5. What do you believe the national perception of Nebraska is?

Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Low. Nebraska is known for Pelini’s anger, cats, and ugly losses in big games. 44.9% 2799
What perception? Nebraska is an after thought on the national stage. 43.8% 2727
Still high. Nebraska’s name has meaning. 11.3% 707
Comments:  The glass-half-full optimist would point out that there is apparently confusion on if Nebraska is being ignored on a national level.  But the reality is that almost nine out of every ten respondents feel Nebraska has a low perception, if they’re even mentioned at all.
This is something that needs improvement.  Obviously, the biggest way to do that is winning.  Winning big games, road games, nationally televised games against road teams.  Things like a clean program, Jack Hoffman’s run, and Pelini’s fun viral videos are helpful and nice, but at the end of the day winning (or at least not getting blown out) is the best way to raise Nebraska’s perception.

6. Are you happier with where the Nebraska program is today compared to when Bill Callahan was fired?

Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Maybe. Initially, there was improvement, but I feel like we’re regressing. 60.9% 3806
Yes. Top to bottom, the program is better. 29.7% 1857
No. The 2007 team would probably beat the 2014 Huskers. 9.3% 583
Comments:  This is one of the questions that was a surprise for me.  Obviously, Nebraska’s stock isn’t as high as it was after the “Nebraska’s back, and we’re here to stay” Holiday Bowl win, but I’m surprised that more people did not go with a definitive yes.  I wonder if they’ve repressed the memory of just how bad things were in 2007, or if they see signs of a backslide into some of the areas that got Callahan fired.

7. What is Bo Pelini’s biggest weakness as a head coach?

Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
His coordinators and/or assistant coaches 39.3% 2388
In-game adjustments 23.8% 1443
Lack of composure in stressful situations 15.0% 911
Scheme / game planning 12.6% 763
His temper / sideline demeanor 6.9% 422
Recruiting 2.4% 147
Comments:  Another question where the responses point out frustration and disappointment with Beck and Papuchis.  Set that aside, and I find it interesting how fans view some of the characteristics more directly related to Bo.   Game planning, adjustments and composure were fairly evenly distributed, which to me indicates that the fans think Pelini is a coach with multiple weaknesses.
Interestingly enough, the one thing that Pelini is probably most known for (his temper and sideline behavior) was way, way down on the list.  Although, I wonder where it would have ranked if this was a question where you had to rank the responses.

8. What is Bo Pelini’s best quality as a coach?

Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Players graduate and avoid legal issues 55.8% 3373
His passion 22.4% 1354
Consistently wins 9 or 10 games 16.8% 1016
Respected defensive mind 2.6% 158
Able to identify areas of deficiency & make improvements 2.4% 146
Comments:  Looking back, I’m not all that thrilled with the options I provided.  I should have phrased some of these differently or provided one or two options relating to what Pelini does during games, or on the practice field.  That said, I would hope that even those who would like to see Pelini fired can appreciate the fact that his players (mostly) stay about of trouble, which helps maintain a national perception that is already on the low side.
I did not expect “His passion” to get almost a quarter of the responses.  I find that interesting.  I also wonder where “Respected defensive mind’ would have scored in, say, 2009?

9. What upsets you the most about Bo Pelini?

Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Blowout losses 73.0% 4439
Temper / sideline demeanor 16.9% 1026
Lack of championships 7.4% 449
Nothing 2.7% 163
Comments:  No real surprises here.  The blowout losses are ultimately what got Pelini fired, so I’m not shocked to see that as the runaway option.  The relatively high count for “Temper / sideline demeanor” reinforces my opinion from Question 7:  Bo’s temper/sideline antics are definitely a weakness, just one that may not rank as highly as some of his other flaws.
Although I will always wonder if Nebraskans would be more willing to love and/or support Bo’s temper if he brought home championships…

10. What is Bo Pelini’s best win at Nebraska?

Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
vs. #9 Michigan State, 2011 (24-3) 42.4% 2566
#22 Arizona in 2009 Holiday Bowl (33-0) 19.8% 1198
#23 Georgia in 2014 Gator Bowl (24-19) 16.3% 989
vs. Ohio State, 2011 (34-27) 12.8% 774
at #17 Oklahoma State, 2010 (51-41) 4.9% 297
Other (please specify) 3.8% 228

Common or notable responses to Other (please specify) included:

  • There were 40-50 variations of “none” or “he doesn’t have a best win”
    • “haha list of ‘best wins’ is laughable”
    • “there isnt one,. i would rather lose with Turner Gill than win with Bo Pelini”
    • “there hasn’t been a win that really impressed me.”
    • “None of the above.  Those are all game a good team with good coaches and athletes that should have been won”
    • “above choices indicate the problem”
  • Several mentions of the 2009 Big XII Championship against Texas (a close, controversial loss)
    • “loss to Texas in Big 12 title game is better than any of those”
    • “60:01 of Texas quality football”
  • A dozen or so felt that the blowout losses overshadowed the wins
    • “Does not matter as his blowout losses overshadow this.”
    • “Bad losses take the luster off of any husker victories”
  • Some folks went snarky  in their responses:
    • “Not getting fired last year.”
    • “Melvin Gordon’s Heisman”
    • “Convincing Tom Osborne he was the right guy for the job. PUKE”
    • “the one that will repesent his last game as coach at Nebraska”
    • “Not getting fired last year”
    • “finding jay norvell a job at another program”  (I assume this person meant Shawn Watson)
  • Other games mentioned included
    • “McNeese State 2014”
    • “all the comebacks in 2012”
    • Multiple mentions of the 2009 home game against #20 Oklahoma (a 10-3 victory)
    • Several folks brought up the 31-17 win over #7 Missouri in 2010 where Roy Helu, Jr. set a school record for rushing yards
    • “Washington 2010 (obliviously the first game not the bowl game)”
    • “His best win was the Bowl Game against MSU in 2003 – he seemed like a great leader back then”
  • “any game we win”
  • “team jack”
Comments:  In retrospect, I probably should have put the 2010 Mizzou game as one of the options as that is (I believe) the highest ranked team Pelini defeated (they were #7).  I’m curious how many people picked the Michigan State game because it was truly a big win or because it was the highest ranked team in the choices presented.
I understand the folks who say that Pelini does not have a best win.  Without conference championships, most of the best win contenders didn’t really have a lot of impact.
But the response that really stuck out to me was “2003 Alamo he’s not hc with a loss”.  I had never looked at it like that before, but I think that idea is absolutely correct.

11. What is Bo Pelini’s worst loss at Nebraska?

Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Wisconsin in the 2012 Big Ten Championship (70-31) 63.7% 3868
at Wisconsin, 2014 (59-24) 30.5% 1851
vs. Iowa, 2013 (38-17) 1.6% 99
vs. UCLA, 2013 (41-21) 1.4% 86
at Texas A&M, 2010 (9-6) 0.6% 36
Other (please specify) 2.1% 130
Common or notable responses to Other (please specify) included:
  • Several responses for “all of the above”
    • “all of the blowouts where we never had an answer for opposing teams offense”
    • “All games vs top 15 ranked opponents”
    • “All of the above, EXCEPT A&M….Refs screwed us there”
    • “They’re all bad!  A&M wasn’t his fault.   We were robbed! Same with Big XII against Texas!”
    • “All the embarassing national tv losses”
  • “Nobody likes losses but they come with all sports”
  • Other games mentioned:
    • “UCLA 2012  (veteran coach and defense vs. rookie coach and QB)”
    • “2013 vs Minnesota”
    • “Northwestern, 2011 (28-25)”
    • “9-7 to Iowa State at home”
    • “BIGXII Champ game where an offense with a pulse could have won it yet Zac Lee was left out to dry.”
    • “Mizzery 52-17 @ home”
    • “Washington 2010”
    • “2014 Michigan State”
    • “Oklahoma 2008”
    • “2010 loss to Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship”
    • “Minnesota 28-24 in Lincoln, it ripped my heart down the middle”
Comments:  Over 94% picked one of the two Wisconsin options – and that does not include the 20 or so who wrote in some variation of “both Wisconsin games”.  I’m guessing many fans have October 10, 2015 circled on their calendar in hopes of exacting a little Badger payback.
Another telling moment from when I was putting this survey together:  I wanted to have the same number of options for the best win and worst loss questions.  As a result, I had to do some digging to round out of the best win list, and I had to make some cuts off of the worst list.

12. Is Bo Pelini a better coach today than he was in 2012?

Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Yes 27.7% 1677
No 72.3% 4385
Comments:  This one really surprised me, as I feel I could make a pretty solid case that Pelini has grown as a coach (on and off the field) since 2012.  Obviously, not necessarily in terms of wins and losses or championships, but in several other aspects of being a coach.
But I intentionally chose 2012 as the comparison year since that was the last time Nebraska made a conference championship game.

13. Do you believe Bo Pelini can win a Big Ten Championship at Nebraska?

Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Yes 31.2% 1892
No 68.8% 4178
Comments:  In light of the numbers on the last question (is Bo a better coach today than 2012?) these results are a little odd.  Only 27.7% think Bo is a better coach than he was two seasons ago, let 31.2% feel he can win a Big Ten title here?  Purely speculation on my part, but I wonder if the higher numbers here have more to do with the perceived weakness of the Big Ten West along with Nebraska’s advantages over their West peers in recruiting, facilities, and other resources.  In short, do our fans believe that Bo can win the B1G because of his coaching abilities or because of the easy path to a title NU gets most years?

14. Should Bo Pelini be fired before the end of the 2014 season?

Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Yes 36.0% 2160
No 41.5% 2487
Undecided 22.5% 1350
Comments: Here it is friends, the headliner of the survey.  Did you see that coming?
Frankly, this question is the reason I created this survey.  Based off the message boards, Twitter, or many call in radio shows, I would have guessed Yes would have 50-60%.  But I wondered if the Bo-leaver voices were the majority or just the loudest.
The other comments I originally had in this space are irrelevant now, but I still think this is an interesting finding.  Bo-lievers, feel free to cite this every time the new coach loses a game.

15. Will Bo Pelini be fired before the end of the 2014 season?

Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Yes 10.6% 638
No 58.4% 3498
Too soon to tell 31.0% 1857

Comments:  In the HuskerMax comments I saw there was a little confusion on this one.  I intended the previous question to be if you think Bo should be fired (i.e. if you would do it).  This question is more about if you think Shawn Eichorst will fire him.

With that in mind, the conclusion here seems to be that most of you doubted Eichorst would pull the trigger, while 31% think it was going to come down to what happened against Iowa and (possibly) in the bowl game.

 If you are inclined to draw conclusions from these last two questions, one of them might be that Nebraska fans do not always have the correct pulse on the program…

16. Who is Nebraska’s best coach?

Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Ron Brown (running backs) 59.7% 3540
Bo Pelini (head coach) 11.4% 676
Charlton Warren (secondary) 10.2% 605
Rich Fisher (wide receivers) 8.3% 495
Rick Kaczenski (defensive line) 5.3% 312
James Dobson (strength) 2.6% 156
John Garrison (offensive line) 1.2% 72
Tim Beck (off. coord / QBs) 0.7% 39
Barney Cotton (o line / TEs) 0.3% 20
Ross Els (linebackers) 0.3% 15
John Papuchis (defensive coord) 0.1% 4
Comments:  I’m not surprised that Ron Brown ran away with this one.  But I’d love to know if there was a specific thing that elevated him above the pack:  he is a good coach, respected recruiter, and his faith and values are in line with many Nebraskans.  A cynic would also note that he is the lone coach with ties to Osborne and Solich and his position group is headlined by arguably the best player on the team.  Certainly that didn’t hurt Brown’s cause.
Conversely, I think we can also draw some conclusions from the bottom end of the responses.  Out of 6,000 responses, only four people feel John Papuchis is the best coach on the staff (we’ll pause here in case you’d like to insert your own punchline).  A couple of other fan targets (Els, Cotton, Beck, and Dobson) are also in the back of the line.
This is another question that I’d like to see tracked year to year.  A year ago, I would have picked John Garrison as the best coach on staff.  When I completed this survey, I picked somebody else.

17. Who is Nebraska’s worst coach?

Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
John Papuchis (defensive coord) 29.0% 1723
Barney Cotton (o line / TEs) 26.7% 1588
Tim Beck (off. coord / QBs) 18.9% 1124
Bo Pelini (head coach) 12.1% 721
Ross Els (linebackers) 10.3% 615
James Dobson (strength) 1.2% 73
John Garrison (offensive line) 0.8% 45
Charlton Warren (secondary) 0.4% 21
Rick Kaczenski (defensive line) 0.3% 20
Ron Brown (running backs) 0.2% 13
Rich Fisher (wide receivers) 0.1% 8
Comments:  Did you notice that Bo received 721 votes for worst coach and 676 for best.  Boy, there are some mixed opinions on the head coach within the fan base.
Again, I think there are conclusions that can be drawn by looking at the bottom of this list.  The five guys at the bottom either have a healthy reputation and respect from the fans – or they (or their players) haven’t done anything to get the ire for Husker fans.
You’ll also notice where Nebraska’s interim head coach for the bowl game ended up…

18. If changes are made to the NU coaching staff, who should be let go?

Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Both coordinators 41.5% 2473
Everyone 34.1% 2033
One or more of the other assistant coaches 11.4% 678
John Papuchis only 5.1% 306
Bo Pelini only 3.6% 215
Tim Beck only 2.5% 150
Do not fire anybody 1.8% 110
Comments:  The fans have spoken:  they appear to view Bo’s offensive and defensive coordinators as a big part of the problem and feel removing them would help take NU to the next level.
Shawn Eichorst apparently agrees, but also feels that Pelini is the main cause of these problems.
19. Can you fire a coach who consistently wins 9-10 games?
Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Yes – We’ve done it before.. 71.8% 4294
No – Good luck finding a coach if 9-3 gets them on the hot seat. 28.2% 1684
Comments:  I originally had a version of “Maybe” on there, saying something to the effect of it depends on the losses, but I was afraid that would detract from the Yes or No options.

20. What does the Nebraska Football team need most?

Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
A full time, dedicated quarterback coach 68.3% 4037
A full time, dedicated recruiting coordinator 23.2% 1373
The current coaching assignments and responsibilities are fine. 7.4% 435
A full time, dedicated special teams coordinator 1.1% 66
Comments:  I’m not at all surprised that the QB coach ran away with this one.  Development and growth of quarterbacks (especially the highly touted ones) has a hotly debated topic throughout Pelini’s tenure.
I am a little surprised by how the other responses played out.  I would have guessed the special teams coordinator would not have finished last.  Maybe if I would have left this survey open through NU’s two missed field goals and -31 yard “butt punt” in the Iowa game…

21. How many more seasons should Bo Pelini get to take Nebraska to the “next level” before he is replaced?

Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
He has had enough time already 60.3% 3611
Two additiional years 13.9% 834
One more year 13.7% 820
Three additional years 6.3% 377
Four or more years 5.8% 350
Comments:  In light of the firing, it looks like the fans were dead on.  Pelini had plenty of time, and may not have taken great strides going forward.
I do find it interesting that one and two more years were a statistical dead heat.  I wonder if those responses were influenced by the memory of Frank Solich’s new staff only getting one season.

22. On a scale of 1-10, how would you describe your level of passion for the Nebraska Football program?

Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
1 – Zero interest in Nebraska Football 0.4% 22
2 1.4% 82
3 2.6% 150
4 1.8% 104
5 – Average 5.6% 317
6 2.4% 138
7 8.8% 498
8 19.1% 1087
9 19.4% 1101
10 – Rabid Husker fan 38.4% 2178
Comments:  I love that over 38% of the respondents view themselves as a Husker fan of the highest level.  That passion is one of the things that makes this program (and state) special.

23. Has your level of passion for the Nebraska Football program changed in the last year?

Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
My level of fanaticism has not changed. 49.5% 2927
I am not as big of a fan as I was last year. 48.4% 2863
I am more passionate than I was a year ago. 2.1% 127

Comments:  This is another eye-opener.  If you combine those first two results, you’re talking about 97.9% of one of the most passionate and loyal fan bases in sports saying that their level of fanaticism is the same or less than it was a year ago.

Regardless of your feeling on Pelini, this result totally supports his dismissal.  Without a passionate fan base filling seats, buying merchandise, and providing a boost to recruiting and other endeavors, NU loses a lot of what they have going for them.

24. What are your feelings on 9 win seasons?
Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
I care more about the four losses than the nine wins. 55.2% 3283
Nine wins in the 2010s is not the same as nine wins in Osborne’s day. 21.7% 1292
Nine wins is a bare minimum for Nebraska. 15.8% 939
A nine win season is a successful season. 7.3% 433

Comments:  I think we all know how Eichorst would have answered.

This is another question where I would like to see the trend data from 2011, 2012, and 2013 leading into these results.  I’m not at all surprised to see these numbers following two ugly losses.

25. Are you a season ticket holder?

Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Yes 20.4% 1209
No 79.6% 4717
Comments:  Fun fact:  I filtered the results to show just the 1,209 who identified themselves as season ticket holders.  I then filtered by the state they live in (question 46).  457 respondents live outside of Nebraska, and are located in 39 different non-Nebraska states, including Hawaii and states on both coasts, as well as “Outside the United States”.

26. If Pelini and his entire staff are retained for 2015, would you purchase/renew season tickets?

Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
My decision to get tickets is not dependent on the head coach. 45.5% 2620
No, I would not look to become a season ticket holder 31.5% 1813
Yes, I would renew my tickets 10.9% 625
No, I would not renew my tickets 8.6% 494
Yes, I would look to become a season ticket holder 3.6% 207
Comments:  This question is somewhat of a moot point, but I think we can agree that the sellout streak is safe for another year or two.

27. Where do you go for Husker news and opinions? (Select all that apply)

Answer Options Response Percent Response Count 46.4% 2746
Print media 41.3% 2440
non-NU blogs or websites 39.5% 2338
Message board(s) 39.0% 2306
Sports radio 33.2% 1961
Family / Friends / Co-Workers 24.4% 1445
Facebook 12.9% 761
Twitter 12.8% 755
Other (please specify) 14.9% 882
Common or notable responses to Other (please specify) included:
  • Local print and broadcast media:
    • “Omaha World Herald”
    • “Lincoln Journal-Star”
    • “Hail Varsity”
    • “Sharp and Benning”
    • “Big red wrap-up”
  • Husker specific sites:
    • (numerous, numerous mentions)
    • “NCIU”
    • “Red Sea Scrolls”
    • “Husker Online (Rivals)”
    • “HuskerPedia”
    • “Corn Nation”
    • “Huskers”
    • “”
    • “”
    • “Huskerextra (when they don’t try and charge me)”
    • “1620 The Zone”
  • National sites:
  • Insider info:
    • “Folks in the football program”
    • “I work for the NU athletic department”
    • “Other boosters”
    • “People in the program”
  • Other responses of interest:
    • “SEC network…I mean ESPN”
    • “Reddit”
    • “E-mail alerts”
    • “I don’t read many opinion pieces and those I do read I usually consider to be a brew of drivel and hyperbole”
    • “Tommy Frasier”   (author’s note:  this would be a good time to remind you that responses in quotation marks are copied as-is from the survey results).
    • “Dave Feit”   (author’s note II:  Thanks, Mom!)
    • “everone but Feit”
    • “mother of current player”
Comments:  Husker fans, when it comes to coverage and analysis of the Big Red, we have it pretty damn good.  As the other responses above show, there are dozens of excellent choices, across multiple mediums.  I know there are certain members of the local media (print and broadcast) that many people love to hate, but the truth is those individuals are very talented journalists and writers.  Without them, the coverage of this program would be much, much worse.

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?

Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
I would never root against Nebraska 70.6% 4165
I don’t want to, but if that is what it takes… 21.7% 1278
Absolutely 7.7% 453
Comments:  There are folks within the fan base that like to define what a “true fan” is and is not.  I’ll let them run with these results.

29. Would you be willing to sacrifice Nebraska’s NCAA record sellout streak if it resulted in a coaching change?

Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Yes, the streak is a sham anyways. 30.8% 1803
No, the streak is a sacred record. 69.2% 4047
Comments:  As somebody who values and respects the streak (even if there has likely been some creative accounting during one of the last 340 home games), I am glad this is a moot point.
Regardless of who the next coach is, I think the sellout streak is on life support.  But I’ll be happy to see it go as long as possible.

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?

Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
7 or less (NU goes 9-4 and 10-3 before the championship season) 63.6% 3690
8 – 11 (NU goes 7-6 and 9-4 the next two seasons) 26.8% 1555
16 or more (NU goes 2-10 and 4-8 before that championship) 5.1% 297
12 – 15 (NU goes 5-7 and 6-7 the next two seasons) 4.5% 264
Comments:  The results of this question prove out a pet theory of mine:  Many Husker fans say that nine win seasons do not matter – championships do.  Heck, that is practically a quote from Eichorst’s press conference.  But when it comes right down to it, nine of out ten fans are unwilling to accept anything less than nine wins – even it would mean a championship down the road.
In other words, Mr. New Nebraska Coach, you’d better forget any ideas you may have about a “rebuilding year” to implement your system.

31. Would you be okay with Nebraska coaches and staff knowingly breaking NCAA rules if it resulted in a competitive advantage?

Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Never. Nebraska does not cheat. 79.2% 4654
How do you know they’re not already cheating? 16.8% 989
Yes, let’s keep up with the SEC. 3.9% 231
Comments:  Since I have no desire to a) call somebody naive, b) make accusations that I cannot back up, or c) attack somebody’s moral character, I’ll just present these results with no additional comment.

32. Is there an “SEC bias” in college football?

Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Absolutely 53.2% 3121
Only because they have had success in the last 5-10 years 33.8% 1986
Only from ESPN 9.5% 556
No 3.5% 205
Comments:  Two things here:  1) I respectfully disagree with the notion of ESPN intentionally propping up the SEC for ratings (or their stake in the SEC Network) as outlined here.  2) Stay tuned for the results of question 37…

33. Are you excited for the College Football Playoff?

Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
They should expand the playoff to 8 teams 51.0% 2982
Yes! They should have done this years ago. 29.1% 1703
No, I do not think a playoff is good for college football. 10.4% 605
They should expand the playoff to 16 teams 9.5% 555
Comments:  I was surprised that an anti-playoff opinion received 10% of the responses.  I thought for sure that my January 1 bowl-lovin’, Team Chaos-rootin’, regular season-believin’ fans of 1 vs 2 title games had been shouted down by those who will profit most from a playoff.

34. What do you like best about college football?

Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Rooting for my team 45.9% 2694
The style of play is more enjoyable than the NFL 25.1% 1475
The games are fun to watch/attend 24.6% 1446
Tailgating 0.9% 52
Gambling on games 0.3% 20
Other (please specify) 3.1% 184
Common or notable responses to Other (please specify) included:
  • The passion and dedication of amateur players
    • “The passion of the college game compared to NFL”
    • “Real Emotion in college, unlike pro.”
    • “Players play for love of the game and not $$”
    • “I believe there still is passion in playing at the college level.”
    • “Tradition and honor that goes on to playing alongside your brother, not how much they make.”
    • “The idea of great kids representing my alma mater playing a sport that demands more out of them than most others.”
  • The college game day experience
    • “Passion and pageantry”
    • “loyal fans”
    • “The passion of college spirit; alumni, fans, big bands, etc.”
    • “Crowd Electricity & Excitement, Support for program”
    • “I like the college atmosphere better, meaning athlete students, more family oriented with no beer sold at games.”
  • Traditions, rivalries
    • “the band, the school, the atmosphere, graduation.”
    • “The rivalries and traditions”
    • “The regional based following and passion”
    • “connection to roots”
    • “Rooting for my team and seeing teams I dont like lose.”
    • “History”
    • “something my Father and I did together and still do 40 years later”
  • The uniqueness of the college football regular season
    • “every game is a MUST win with major implications”
    • “Team Chaos”
    • “debate”
    • “every single game matters, a playoff system diminishes that.”
  • Other responses of interest
    • “All of the above”  (several similar responses)
    • “All above with exception of gambling” (multiple similar responses)
    • “Talking smack to each other about our teams”
    • “Not sure any more…. getting too old to handle the stress of Husker Football.”
    • “Pelini’s lousy player can only stay around for 4 years – if I had to watch Taylor Martinez stand there like a fool and take another sack, I would become a wrestling “
    • “It’s family.  Literally and figuratively”
    • “Variety and difference of play from to team to team.”
    • “its all we have here”
    • “I live out of state; keeps me in touch with all things Nebraska”
    • “Not as much blatant discrimination against white players, although that’s changing in college football now too”
    • “The sense of pride in my alma mater”
    • “NU Football is my life, like asking what is best about lungs or heart or brain….”
Comments:  I really like the distribution of the top three options.  Clearly, rooting for your alma mater, home state, or the team playing your hated rival is what makes college football great for most of us.  But the next two reasons (style of play and game experience) are pivotal and something that the NFL can’t or won’t ever replicate.

35. Should college football players be paid?

Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
No. College athletes already get a free education & other perks 43.5% 2547
Yes. Pay the “full cost of attendance” at their school 24.3% 1425
Yes. Pay every player at every school the same fixed amount 20.9% 1222
Yes. Players can earn money for their likeness, jersey sales, autographs, etc. 11.0% 646
Yes. Let recruits go to the highest bidder 0.3% 16
Comments:  At first glance, it appears as if Husker fans are against players being paid.  But when you combine the options, you can see that 56% of fans support compensating players in some manner – but there is still discrepancy on how and how much.  This is another one that I’d like to track over a multiple year stretch.

36. Which announcer team do you like the most?

Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Chris Fowler & Kirk Herbstreit 28.2% 1580
Sean McDonough & Chris Spielman 15.0% 843
Kevin Kugler & Glen Mason 13.7% 768
Brad Nessler & Todd Blackledge 8.8% 492
Verne Lundquist & Gary Danielson 7.1% 397
Rece Davis, David Pollack, & Jesse Palmer 6.9% 386
Brent Musburger & Jesse Palmer 4.9% 275
Gus Johnson & Charles Davis 3.3% 184
Dave Pasch & Brian Griese 2.8% 157
Joe Tessitore & Brock Huard 2.4% 132
Mike Patrick & Ed Cunningham 1.7% 98
Beth Mowins & Joey Galloway 0.8% 46
Mark Jones & Rod Gilmore 0.3% 18
Other (please specify) 4.2% 236
Common or notable responses to Other (please specify) included:
  • Many, many responses for the Husker Sports Network team of Greg Sharpe and Matt Davison
    • “I listen to the radio and watch on tv.”
  • About half of the Other results were in the none/no opinion/don’t care realm
    • “i usually mute the sound”
  • Several responses were nostalgic
    • “Keith Jackson” (multiple responses)
    • “Lyle Bremser”
    • “Lyle Bremser and Dave Blackwell”
    • “Kent Pavelka”
    • “Pavelka/Sadlemeyer”
  • And then there were those who do not care for any announcer group
    • “They all suck and are biased”
    • “The ones that don’t say stupid stuff.”
    • “All announcers are terrible.”
    • “Don’t know most of these. Would be easier to say who I hate to see”
    • “None- they all make me reach for the mute button.”
    • “They are all biased for the SEC”
    • “i dislike all of them, they all hate nebraska”
    • “Their all a joke”
  • Other responses of interest
    • “I don’t listen to the announcers I go to the games”
    • “Mike Patrick–No Ed Cunningham”
    • “Doesnt matter the announcers if they are not biased”
    • “Kugler & whoever he’s with”
    • “Tim Brando and Joel Klatt”
    • “The fruit and the dyke”
    • “I don’t have a preference on announcers, but would like to be part of big games with the top crews.”
Comments:  I intentionally set this up as teams, as we often have to take the good (Mike Patrick) with the bad (Ed Cunningham).  I think there is no coincidence that the teams working the bigger, national games are at the top of the results while the teams working the 11 am regional games (hi Beth!) are near the bottom.

37. What is the best conference in college football?

Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
SEC 77.8% 4508
Big Ten 9.6% 558
Pac 12 7.2% 419
Big XII 5.0% 291
ACC 0.4% 22
Comments:  Just so we’re clear on this:  These are results from 6,000 fans – 68% of whom rate their “passion for Nebraska Football” at an 8 or above.  Over 50% of the those same respondents said there is “absolutely” a SEC bias.  And here, they said the SEC is far and away the best conference in college football.
Put it another way:  of the 3,121 people who said there is “absolutely” a SEC bias in college football, 2,167 selected the SEC as the best conference.
Look: maybe I’m trying to make 2 + 2 = 5 with these results, or maybe the survey has a bias too, but I found these humorous.  Moving on…

38. Is the sustained success of the 1993 – 1997 Husker teams possible today?

Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Yes, but it takes a special combination of coaches and players 72.8% 4275
No, the success of Osborne’s final five teams cannot be replicated today 20.2% 1188
Yes, but not at a school like Nebraska. Maybe at Alabama or Florida State 7.0% 409
Comments:  Nebraska fans get criticized (too often, in my opinion) for living in the past and thinking that the success of the 90’s can be recreated.  Maybe it can, maybe it can’t, but nearly three out of four of you believe it’s possible.  Hopefully, Nebraska’s new coach agrees.

39. What is your opinion of the Blackshirts tradition?

Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
With a few exceptions, the Blackshirts have not existed for over 10 years 40.1% 2342
The tradition has lost all meaning. 27.2% 1590
I would like to see it handled differently from how Pelini does it. 24.8% 1447
I like how the Blackshirts are handled under Pelini 7.8% 458
Comments:  This is another question where I could have done a better job phrasing the options.  Looking past that, it is very telling that over 90% of you feel the Blackshirt tradition has slipped, fallen, or is in need of better care.  The new defensive coordinator can make a lot of fans by laying out a clear plan and vision for restoring the honor and mystique of the Blackshirts.

40. Can a “true fan” be critical of coaches and players?

Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Absolutely 58.3% 3416
Yes, but only to a point 24.7% 1447
Coaches yes, but players are off limits 16.4% 961
No. 0.6% 33
Comments:  Message board aficionados, here you go.  Real, valid data that you can use to support yourself the next time “SKERSfan9495” tells you that you are not a “real fan” because you think a certain player needs to be benched.
Obviously, the “only to a point” is key distinction.  Don’t let it get personal, don’t tweet it at them, and try to keep it honest and constructive.  Otherwise, you’re just being a troll.  And nobody likes a troll.

41. Who is Nebraska’s defensive coordinator?

Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
John Papuchis 37.7% 2204
Both Papuchis and Pelini 36.6% 2140
Bo Pelini 25.7% 1506
Comments:  I threw this question in to see if fans felt that Papuchis was really in charge or if Bo was the one actually guiding and calling the defense.  Frankly, I’m surprise Papuchis got as many responses as he did.

42. Do you care if players speak to the media after losses?

Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Yes, speaking shows accountability and leadership 39.2% 2296
This does not matter to me 39.1% 2289
No, their play on the field told me everything I need to know 10.5% 616
No, they only talk in meaningless cliches 6.6% 388
Yes, I want players to answer for things that went wrong. 4.5% 264
Comments:  Full disclosure:  the motivation for this question came following the Wisconsin game when a couple of Husker media types raised what I felt was a stink because Armstrong and other players declined to speak.  I understand the frustration from a media perspective – they want and need those quotes and insights for their work – but I was curious about if fans care about it or not.
In that light, I find the nearly dead even split between “Yes” and “This does not matter to me” to be very interesting.  I’m guessing if this survey was taken solely by media members, the two “Yes” options would have been much higher.

43. What is your opinion on the firing of Frank Solich?

Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
He deserved one more year with the new staff. 42.1% 2461
It was 11 years ago. Time to move on. 37.1% 2168
It was the right call. 15.7% 918
You cannot fire a coach who wins nine games a year. 5.2% 303
Comments:  With Pelini now fired, there are a lot of ways to interpret these results.  For now, let’s keep it on Solich.  There is a big gap between “He deserved one more year” and “It was the right call”.  I still wonder if that gap would have smaller if a) Pedersen had not bungled the coaching search and/or b) Callahan had been more successful at NU.
A part of me wishes I would have omitted the “it was 11 years ago” response.  While a valid answer, I would have liked to see a more complete yes or no verdict on Solich.  That said, I agree.  It is way past time to move on from Solich’s firing.

44. Have you forgiven Bo Pelini for his profanity-laced comments following the 2011 Ohio State game?

Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Yes, I accepted his apology 67.2% 3909
F___ no. 32.8% 1911
Comments:  The 2:1 margin was a surprising for me, but this is another moot point.  Fans, whether you chose to, as Pelini so eloquently put it “kiss (his) a__  out the f____ door” is up to you.

45. Was the decision to join the Big Ten Conference a mistake?

Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Yes 18.5% 1085
No 58.3% 3416
It is too soon to tell 23.2% 1360
Comments:  One final question where I’d like to see the year to year trend.  My guess is the amount of “Yes” and “too soon to tell” responses have climbed in the last two years as the Big Ten’s national perception has slipped, Rutgers and Maryland have joined the league, and Texas has struggled.

46. In what state do you live?

Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Alabama 0.6% 32
Alaska 0.2% 11
Arizona 3.1% 174
Arkansas 0.6% 35
California 4.5% 254
Colorado 6.4% 357
Connecticut 0.2% 11
Delaware 0.1% 4
District of Columbia (DC) 0.1% 3
Florida 2.4% 132
Georgia 1.5% 83
Hawaii 0.1% 8
Idaho 0.4% 24
Illinois 1.7% 95
Indiana 0.6% 33
Iowa 4.7% 265
Kansas 5.2% 289
Kentucky 0.3% 14
Louisiana 0.3% 16
Maine 0.0% 2
Maryland 0.5% 29
Massachusetts 0.3% 16
Michigan 0.6% 35
Minnesota 1.8% 99
Mississippi 0.2% 10
Missouri 3.2% 178
Montana 0.7% 37
Nebraska 38.0% 2128
Nevada 0.6% 36
New Hampshire 0.0% 0
New Jersey 0.3% 19
New Mexico 0.4% 22
New York 0.6% 34
North Carolina 1.1% 59
North Dakota 0.2% 13
Ohio 0.8% 47
Oklahoma 1.4% 78
Oregon 1.0% 56
Pennsylvania 0.6% 32
Rhode Island 0.0% 2
South Carolina 0.4% 22
South Dakota 2.2% 121
Tennessee 0.8% 43
Texas 5.6% 315
Utah 0.5% 29
Vermont 0.1% 3
Virginia 1.5% 85
Washington 1.3% 74
West Virginia 0.0% 2
Wisconsin 0.8% 42
Wyoming 0.8% 47
I live outside the United States 0.8% 42
Comments:  There were respondents from 49 of the 50 states, as well as D.C. and folks outside the U.S.  If you know a Husker fan in New Hampshire feel free to ask them why they didn’t take this.
Again, my sincere thanks to all who took this survey and shared it with your social networks.  Such a wide response really helps give validity to the results.

47. Are you male or female?

Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Male 96.3% 5563
Female 3.7% 214
Comments:  At the risk of being sexist, I was not surprised by this.

48. What is your age?

Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
17 or younger 0.3% 19
18-20 0.7% 39
21-29 6.5% 378
30-39 20.9% 1216
40-49 26.8% 1560
50-59 26.0% 1515
60 or older 18.8% 1094
Comments:  I was amazed by the very even distribution across the four age groups from 30 to 60+.  The under 30 crowd must have been too busy listening to their Hip Hop Hogwash to participate.

49. What is the highest level of school you have completed or the highest degree you have received?

Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Less than high school degree 0.3% 20
High school degree or equivalent (e.g., GED) 5.0% 290
Some college but no degree 16.3% 949
Associate degree 9.7% 564
Bachelor degree 39.6% 2305
Graduate degree 29.1% 1694
Comments:  Presented for information and context in reviewing the data we’ve seen today.

50. Are you an alumnus of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Yes, I graduated from UNL 26.9% 1562
I attended UNL, but did not graduate 10.0% 579
No, I have never attended UNL 63.2% 3675

Comments:  I always knew the Huskers belonged to all Nebraska residents – not just UNL students and alumni.  That said, the number of fans who never attended UNL is higher than I would have expected.

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[…] 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 […]

[…] it’s worth remembering that in my “State of the Husker Nation” poll last November, 58% of the nearly 6,000 respondents said the decision to join the Big […]

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