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NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: The Scarlet and Cream Isn't So Black and White

By Huskerlocker @huskerlocker

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By Brian Towle
Every season starts with a clean slate. Nothing’s in stone except schedules and fans’ hopes of what might be. No stats have been created and no tendencies have been shown. This blank canvas can be used to create a masterpiece that’s worthy of the Smithsonian. It can also become a finger painting that adorns your fridge for two weeks before it falls off, gets stepped on and be thrown out with yesterday’s news.
It’s agreed on by several that Bo Pelini is Nebraska’s coach through thick and thin. Many believe that he’ll be in Lincoln until he decides to head elsewhere or retire whether everyone agrees how the program should be ran or not. The term “blind faith” has been used lately specifically in reference Pelini’s actions within the past eight months or so.
This faith is given to the athletic director, head coach, assistants, players, the media and everyone associated with the Nebraska football machine. Even In the most extreme cases, absolute confidence shouldn't be given to everyone running the ship including the captain.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the talk of Husker Nation was about how Tom Osborne was good, but wasn’t great. Then he won a national title. In fact, around 1976, regents were considering replacing Osborne if the Cornhuskers didn't win their bowl game. During the 1991 season, there were many that wanted Tom gone yet again which lead to a memorable scene in the locker room during halftime of the Citrus Bowl versus Georgia Tech.

NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: The Scarlet and Cream Isn't So Black and White

Fortunately, after that year, Osborne started changing certain areas of his program and the national titles came to Lincoln repeatedly. These days, one would think that T.O. invented the triple option. Simply put: the “blind faith” that should allegedly be given to Nebraska’s football program in 2011 hasn't been around before and certainly wasn’t a part of fans' attitudes in 2007.
Blind faith didn’t exist during the Callahan era's slaughtering of Nebraska home by Oklahoma State and Texas A&M, the skull-kicking that Kansas dealt the Cornhuskers and the final embarrassment in Boulder. Such unwavering loyalty should be a permanent part of the program if taken to such extremes not just one or two select people. It takes an entire program working from Labor Day to New Year’s Day and beyond to produce a national championship, after all.
There are some glaring similarities between what’s happened over the last few years and the history of Nebraska football circa 1961. Bill Jennings had led the Cornhuskers to a 15-34-1 record during his tenure. It wasn’t long before Bob Devaney came from Wyoming and sparked one of the best runs in college football history.
Many will rush to say, “Bill Callahan was an outsider. He didn’t understand the ‘Nebraska Way’.” While that’s true, don’t forget that Devaney was also an outsider and didn’t know what the ‘Nebraska Way’ was when he showed up either. When the Bobfather took over, he had no idea what someone like Dana Bible did before him 25 years prior, either.
Don’t believe for one moment that these words are meant to defend Bill Callahan and defame Pelini, because that’s simply not true. Pelini should have landed the job in 2004, but our athletic director didn’t agree with that assessment. However, the idea of blind faith still seems silly because five years ago, Husker fans that stood by Bill were ridiculed and laughed at.
NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: The Scarlet and Cream Isn't So Black and White

There were the altered of Callahan and Steve Pederson, the morning radio show jokes that were recycled more often than a Starbucks napkin and the outright cheering of Nebraska's losses. There were so-called “diehard Cornhusker fans” that cheered when Nebraska lost. Think about that concept for a moment. Five years later, these actions would get you ran out of sports bars and some homes while being angrily reminded that true fans are behind the Big Red regardless of wins and losses.
Interestingly, the end of last season mirrors the end of the 2006 season in a few aspects. Nebraska should have another Big 12 championship trophy to its name, but couldn’t shut the door on Oklahoma. The Cornhuskers stunk up their bowl game against a team they should've massacred. Callahan’s fourth year sealed his fate, but apparently Bo cannot have the same thing even suggested after events like this.
If Pelini is let go, will fans still say, “Support the coach no matter what?” They didn’t after the loss in Columbia, the Oklahoma State debacle that cleared out Memorial Stadium by halftime, the gut punch in Lawrence and Colorado affair that was far too similar to the 2001 ambush that college football fans remember to this day. A little fairness doesn’t seem like too much to ask nor does the idea that you can be a fan but offer helpful, yet critical criticism and not be labeled a traitor.

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