This week is supposed to be one of those every-other-weeks-off from column-writing, but again I hope to hold your interest with comments on at least one spotlighted news topic, with a couple of laugh-provoking journalistic bloopers thrown in.
I start with a topic very much in the news here in the homeland of the Nebraska Cornhuskers:
As I see it, the bottom line in the Bo Pelini story should be based on what the emotionally-charged Nebraska Cornhusker coach does from this point forward, not on his performance in the past—especially not on his comments recorded surreptitiously—by a still unnamed source and appearing now two years later in support of a “Bo Must Go” movement of still undetermined size.
Bo has profusely apologized for those secretly-recorded obscenity-laced comments aimed at fans who left the game early as the Huskers appeared to be losing in what turned out to be an upset victory over Ohio State two seasons ago. (There were some very cutting comments about World-Herald’s sports columnist Tom Shatel, too.)
It seems to me that University of Nebraska Regent Hal Daub had one of the more sensible reactions to the emotionally-charged situation. Daub said:
“I don’t justify the conduct or the language, but there but for the grace of God we may all have traveled. So let’s be cautious about throwing stones into a glass house two years after the incident. I’d really like to know the name of the person who released this recording and what his or her motive is. Maybe the media will find that out, too.”
Devaney Lost 0-47 To Sooners
My memory goes back to the time when Bob Devaney, who grew into a legendary coaching success at Nebraska, was under fire for back-to-back mediocre 6-4 seasons. (In 1968, the second 6-4 season, Devaney’s Huskers lost 0-47 to the Oklahoma Sooners.
If the “Devaney should go” critics had prevailed, Husker fans would have missed the 44-14 Husker victory over Oklahoma the next year and the subsequent march to two national championships by Devaney-coached Huskers.
A bronze life-sized statue of Devaney was unveiled earlier this season at a prominent site outside the expanded east side of Memorial Stadium.
I have heard more than a few longtime Husker followers recall in recent days that Devaney was capable of some very off-the-record heated comments about fans and various other topics. As far as the record shows, none of those comments were dishonestly recorded and later broadcast.
Why Listen to Ex-Coach Frazier?
Pelini has fielded mild criticism for saying, in effect, that he wouldn’t pay any attention to criticism from Husker Hall of Fame quarterback Tommie Frazier, who for some reason or other has decided to go public with his criticism of the Nebraska coaching staff.
Frazier’s comments on coaching quality are—to put it mildly—ironic. He was head football coach at Doane College for two years in 2005-06. His record: 3-17.
Perhaps predictably, World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel’s evaluation of the current situation was extremely critical in his first appraisal of the situation after the embarrassing upset loss to UCLA but substantially softened in his second-day appraisal which appeared in the Tuesday World-Herald.
This is almost predictable Shatel behavior, except that he more frequently reverses his position—or at least softens it—within a single column, rather than on two consecutive days.
Shatel Predictably Hot, Then Cooler
In his Sunday-published reaction to the Cornhuskers’ 20 point loss to UCLA, Shatel wrote:
“But short of winning the Big Ten, what happened Saturday will be a stain that the sixth-year coach can’t wash off.”
In the column published Tuesday, Shatel concluded with considerably less emotional language in regard to the surreptitiously-recorded record of Pelini’s obscenity-laced tirade two years earlier (a tirade which included strong criticism of Shatel).
Shatel wrote that he and Pelini have had “a good working relationship, and I assume we still will.
“What I don’t get is all the unnecessary drama.”
My bottom line: The best place to evaluate the performance of the 2013 Cornhuskers and their coaching staff is on the football field and the sidelines each Saturday.
Will that include better defensive performance by the young Huskers? Better performance at quarterback? Better coaching calls in regard to blitzes? (More of them, is the way I would vote.) And most importantly of all, of course, better results showing up on the scoreboard at game’s end.
* * *
As Promised, A More Pleasant Column Ender
Now to a happier topic, a couple of those unintentionally humorous headlines:
# # #