Stewart Mandel Lambastes Pelini (again)

Sports Illustrated’s Stewart Mandel once again went on his critique of Huskers coach Bo Pelini in today’s mailbag column on si.com (you might have to manually jump to the second page). One of his readers sent in a question about the statistical importance of Bo Pelini’s career, mainly the one about him being one of an elite handful of coaches who won nine games in his first five season.

“I’m baffled as to how Pelini remains in charge in Lincoln, mostly because I can’t believe how far Nebraska’s standards have fallen. This is a program that once considered national titles and top-10 rankings as its birthrights. Now, the Cornhuskers are just tickled to beat an 8-4 SEC foe in the Gator Bowl.”
Sports Illustrated’s Stewart Mandel.

It seems like much of the vocal heat from the public has died down, but I wonder if the continued criticism from the national press will fan the flames once again in this football blackhole of few headlines.


Fixing Nebrasketball

A few short nights ago Nebraska looked like they may be ready to turn the corner and realize some basketball success after knocking off #17 Ohio State. But then, the last decade of Husker woes reared its ugly head as they lose a 4-point lead in the final two minutes as Penn State goes on a 11-3 run to walk away with the win 58-54.

Coach Miles is in his second year of coaching the Huskers, obviously a young team, but sitting one loss worse than they at this point last year and 11th in the Big 12. They are playing in a glamorous new arena, and have the commitment from the administration to support the basketball team.

I freely admit, I sit on the basketball sidelines. When I was a student, I was in attendance for most home games. After graduation (and moving to Omaha), I still managed to get down at least a half a dozen times a year for games. But in the last five or six years, I’m lucky to get down more than once a year. It isn’t that I’m a fair weather fan, I’m simply not much of a basketball fan in general. I do have tickets to 4 upcoming home games. I have watched more games on TV this year, and I have tickets to 4 upcoming home games. I’ve also been playing in a fantasy basketball league on FanDuel. So I am making a better effort to get back in to the game.

So what does it take to win in Lincoln? I know this season had higher expectations, and every now and then, they seem to be on the verge of turning the corner. Only to implode, and typically in the second half of games. To my self-described amateur eye, this is what I see that is missing.

First off, a lack of fundamentals. I see a lot of raw talent and steps to harness that with the fundamentals, but as soon as they face a bit of adversity, they seem to lose their confidence and fall back to the raw talent and sloppy play. A lot of guys trying to be the play-maker.

A big guy. Nebraska crashes the boards as good as anyone in the league, but they don’t have dominant in-the-paint player. Sure they could do without – as they have been – but they to improve the shot-making from the outside.

They need some speed on offense. The Huskers are a strong defensive team that plays at a slow tempo. I think this breaks their rhythm on offense. The strong, slow defensive ball game works as long as the opponents are making mistakes. But as soon as they break through and hit a string of shots, the Huskers are trying to shift tempos and play catch-up. I think they put too much pressure on themselves.

Like I said, I’m a casual fan. What do you think it will take to win in Lincoln?



Shawn Eichorst & Bo Pelini’s Statements

In case you were hiding under a rock on Saturday, which I know a few of you were…here are the statements from Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst and Football Coach Bo Pelini.

Here is Shawn Eichorst’s statement released Saturday morning:

“My approach has always been to not comment publicly about our coaches until their full seasons are complete, as I strongly believe it is unfair and counter to best practices. However, given the volume of unfounded speculation and conjecture about our head football coach, I want to reaffirm what I have said many times since I have arrived at the University of Nebraska — that I positively respect, appreciate and support our football student-athletes, coaches and staff, as we do everyone in the Husker family. We very much look forward to our upcoming bowl game and Coach Pelini continuing to lead our program in the future.”

Here was Pelini’s statement released Saturday evening:

“I want to thank our administration and Shawn Eichorst in particular, for his continued and full support that he has given me and our football program since his arrival on campus. I am honored to represent this university and its great fans and I’m proud to lead this program into the future.

I apologize for reacting emotionally yesterday and for showing frustration both with the game officials and the media. I fully understand and respect their difficult jobs, and I regret any and all actions or words which may have shed a negative light on our program and university. Accountability is a core belief throughout our program, and as the head coach, I must set and maintain a high standard.

Our football staff is hitting recruiting full throttle and looking forward to the upcoming bowl game. We are committed to working with Shawn and our entire department staff to continue to build this program and bring championships back to Nebraska.”

What are your thoughts?

Husker Fans

Nebraska 17 – Iowa 38

Where to start? If you needed to pick one game to say it was most representative of a Bo Pelini train wreck, I think today’s game fits the bill about as perfectly as you could find. Even the setting of Black Friday played in to the doom and gloom.

Ron Kellogg tossed a pair of interceptions, Ameer Abdullah lost a fumble. Special teams was head-scratchingly abysmal – even after last week’s total disregard to blocking the opposition to set up a punt return. Jordan ‘Stache’ Westerkamp let a punt go that he should have caught, and then called for a fair catch on a punt he should have let go.

At the half, a visible disgruntled Bo Pelini choose to the question the questions being asked by an ABC Reporter.

And then things went downhill. Bo Pelini nearly accosted a human zebra and received a 15 yard sideline unsportsmanlike conduct flag after a questionable flag on the field.

Enough bodies littered the field that legendary wrestling announcer Jim Ross would have lost his voice with the number of times he would have needed to exclami “Good God almighty! That killed him! As God as my witness, he is broken in half!” Ron Kellog was on the receiving end of a blitz beat down numerous times. Ameer Abdullah left a couple times to injury. But all-in-all, they still managed to get back up and keep fighting.

But the Huskers simply couldn’t play a mistake-riddled came and hope to come out on a top against an Iowa team that may have played their best game of the season.

The Hawkeyes walk away with their first win in Lincoln since Germany occupied France way back WWII.

The frustrations continued on to the post game press conference, where Pelini dropped an expletive-based description of the penalties, dared “them” to fire him.

Nebraska 27 – Northwestern 24

Ron Kellogg III to Jordan Westerkamp on the Hail Mary.

The Catch
Animated GIF courtesy of SBNation

Nebraska 44 – Purdue 7

recap coming soon.

Nebraska 39 – Illinois 19

Nebraska rolls out of the bye week on homecoming weekend with a 39-19 win against Illinois.

Tommy Armstrong Jr. got his 2nd consecutive start and drove Nebraska down the field to a touchdown on their opening possession. He would finish 8-13 with 136 yards and two touchdown passes. Ameer Abdullah lit up the scoreboard with 20 rushes for 225 yards and two touchdowns.

Ronnie Kellogg also saw some action at quarterback and held his own with is limited playing time.

Imani Cross had an uncharacteristic game today, scoring at both endzones in the 2nd quarter. First with touchdown, then with a safety. A fumble in the second half likely won’t sit well in practice tomorrow.

On defense, the bend-but-don’t-break held up fairly well throughout the game. Big plays were limited and the defense reacted well to stymie big drives. In total, Nebraska held Illinois to only 367 yards of total offense, their second best performance of the year after Southern Miss.

In the post game press conference, Pelini stated that Taylor Martinez will remain the starter when he is ready to return. Given the QB performance the last two games, one has to wonder if a quarterback controversy is brewing. At the very least, Pelini has an option to go to if Martinez isn’t performing when he returns to play.

John Papuchis and Bo Pelini were jawing on the sidelines towards the end of the game after some late breakdowns on defense.

Onward to Purdue next week.

C.J. Zimmerer Named to the 2013 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team

Congratulations to C.J. Zimmer.

Here’s how he found out about the award.  On the day of the announcement, C.J. thought he was simply speaking at a student assembly at Eastridge Elementary school. What he didn’t know was that his family would be there to surprise him with his trophy and let him know that he had made the team. Everyone knew except C.J. and his reaction is fantastic.

Nebraska 59 – South Dakota State 20

Nebraska rebounds from last weeks loss with a 59-20 victory against South Dakota State.

recap coming soon.

Taylor Martinez in Doubt for Saturday

Taylor Martinez, nursing a turf toe injury, is in doubt for Saturday’s matchup with South Dakota State. If he is unable to go, starting QB duties would fall to 5th year senior, Ron Kellogg or redshirt freshman Tommy Armstrong; both of whom have split reps with the first team this week.