Saturday, November 17, 2007

Bay Area Husker ENews 11-16-07

Hey Bay Area Husker Fans!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I probably won't send anything next week due to the holiday, so here's an early Turkey Day greeting. Hope you all travel safe and have a great time with friends and family during the next week. And please remember to add a little 'Thanks to our Troops' in your prayers next Thursday as we gather around the table to enjoy the bounties of life in the best country in the world.

Of course the Thanksgiving weekend wouldn't be complete without a little Husker football. After the Huskers skinned the Wildcats last Saturday, there is hope that the team will once again be enjoying a little roast buffalo along with their Thanksgiving leftovers. With the shot of adrenalin they got from that win, I think they will "Bring It" to Colorado.

Except for Legends in Concord (which serves an early morning golf course crowd), our other watch sites will probably not be open on Friday morning following Turkey Day, and most of you would be hard pressed to venture out of the house anyway what with friends, family and a fridge full of leftovers waiting for you. The game is on early (9 a.m. Pacific) with a national TV feed on ABC. So stay in your PJs, put on your Big Red slippers and plant yourself in front of the Telly with a breakfast of turkey sandwiches and stuffing and cheer on the Huskers!


Got this from Huskerpedia to help you get in the mood for next Friday:
Own the shirt

If you venture out for some holiday shopping this Saturday (17th), check out the Barnes and Noble in San Jose (on Stevens Creek). Our very own Emily Ray's Mission Chamber Orchestra will be there to provide some soothing shopping music (see info at the end of the email).

Some great reading below, especially the piece by Mike Osborne (its long but worth the time). And don't forget to vote for Coach Tom as the best coach ever in college football (see article and website link below).

Go Big Red (White and Blue),


Follow the link and vote for Tom Osborne. He is ahead in the polls right now so make sure to get your vote in soon!!!!!
See the poll on the ESPN "U" website:

You can also get to this same link at



Joe Ganz threw for a school-record 510 yards, including a school-record seven touchdowns, in NU's 73-31 win over Kansas State.

Lincoln - Joe Ganz produced one of the best individual offensive performances in school history to lead a high-powered Nebraska offense to more than 700 total yards in a 73-31 victory over visiting Kansas State in the Big Red's regular-season home finale on Saturday afternoon.

Playing in front of a Senior Day crowd of 84,665 fans in the NCAA-record 289th consecutive sellout at Memorial Stadium, Ganz shattered both Nebraska's single-game total offense (528 yards) and single-game passing records (510 yards), while adding a school record for the most touchdown passes thrown in a game with seven. And Ganz did it little more than three quarters.

The junior quarterback from Palos Heights, Ill., completed 30-of-40 passes and did not throw an interception in his second career start. Along with his 510 yards passing and seven scores through the air, Ganz added 18 yards on six carries on the ground.

Ganz, who completed 11-of-14 passes for 227 yards and three touchdowns in the first half alone to shoot the Huskers to a 38-10 halftime lead, went 19-for-26 with 283 yards and four scores in the first 20 minutes of the second half, before giving way to reserve quarterback Beau Davis with 9:57 left in the game.

Nebraska amassed 702 yards of total offense on the day, the first time since 1995 (vs. Iowa State) that the Huskers crossed the 700-yard plateau. NU also produced its first 70-point scoring total since hanging 77 on Iowa State in 1997.

Although Ganz departed, Nebraska continued to roll scoring on its 11th consecutive possession on Marlon Lucky's second touchdown run of the day with just over four minutes left in the game. Lucky finished the day with 16 carries for 103 yards, while adding six receptions for 78 yards, including the 100th reception of his career.

Wide receiver Maurice Purify enjoyed the biggest day among the Husker seniors with six receptions for 108 yards, while a trio of fellow senior wide receivers also enjoyed big days.

Frantz Hardy tied a school record with three touchdown receptions for a total of 83 yards, while Terrence Nunn added five catches for 56 yards and a touchdown. Senior walk-on Dan Erickson added a career-high three catches for 25 yards.

Overall, nine different NU receivers hauled in receptions on the day, including junior Todd Peterson, a former walk-on from Grand Island, who pulled in four catches for 85 yards with two scores. Junior Nate Swift joined Lucky on a select Husker receiving list with his 100th career reception. In fact, Lucky and Swift each nabbed their 100th catches on back-to-back plays in the third quarter. Swift finished the day with two catches for 38 yards.

The Huskers, who snapped a five-game losing streak to improve to 5-6 overall and 2-5 in Big 12 play, fell behind 7-0 on KSU's second drive of the game, before senior cornerback Cortney Grixby ignited the Husker faithful with a scintillating 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to tie the score midway through the opening quarter.

Grixby's return was Nebraska's first for a touchdown in a decade, dating back to Joe Walker's return for a score in the 1998 season opener. It also appeared to inspire the Husker offense and defense on an emotional Senior Day in Lincoln.

After Brooks Rossman hit a 31-yard field with 4:34 left in the first quarter to give KSU a 10-7 lead, the NU Blackshirts slammed the door on the Wildcats for the rest of the half.

Ganz and the Nebraska offense took full advantage by ripping off 45 unanswered points to drop Kansas State to 5-5 on the season and 3-4 in the Big 12. NU's offensive eruption began with Lucky scoring on a 26-yard touchdown pass from Ganz with 32 seconds left in the first quarter to give NU its first lead of the day at 14-10.

Less than two minutes later, Ganz extended NU's lead to 21-10 by hooking up with Hardy on a 36-yard scoring strike with 13:09 left in the half.

Alex Henery pushed the Husker lead to two touchdowns with a 27-yard field goal with 6:39 left, before Lucky struck again with a five-yard scoring run to push NU's lead to 31-10 with 2:05 left in the half.

But the Huskers were just getting started. After the Blackshirts held the Wildcats on fourth down in NU territory, Ganz blistered the KSU secondary with back-to-back connections to Peterson, including a 23-yard touchdown with eight seconds left to put Nebraska up 38-10 at the half.

Nebraska kept rolling after receiving the opening kickoff of the second half, marching 80 yards capped by Ganz's eight-yard touchdown pass to Hardy just three minutes into the half. The duo hooked up for a third time on a 39-yard scoring strike with 6:16 left in the quarter to push NU's lead to 52-10.

At that point, Ganz tied Nebraska's single-game record with his fifth touchdown pass of the day, while Hardy tied a record of his own with his third touchdown catch of the afternoon.

Nebraska closes its 2007 regular season by traveling to Boulder, Colo., for its traditional day-after-Thanksgiving showdown with Colorado. Kickoff is set for 9 a.m. Pacific time on Friday, Nov. 23, with live national television coverage provided by ABC.


Nebraska quarterback Joe Ganz was named the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week on Monday.

Nebraska junior quarterback Joe Ganz has been named Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week for his record-setting performance in Nebraska’s 73-31 victory over Kansas State on Saturday.

The 6-1, 200-pound Ganz completed 30-of-40 passes for a Nebraska record 510 yards through the air. He also threw for seven touchdowns, shattering the previous NU record of five touchdown passes in a game. Ganz finished the day with 528 yards of total offense, breaking the previous school record in that category by 95 yards. Ganz had 12 completions of 20 yards or more in the game.

In two games as Nebraska’s starter Ganz has thrown for 915 yards and 11 touchdowns, while rushing for another score. He owns two of the four 400-yard passing days in Husker history.

Ganz’s selection as Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week marks the second time this year a Husker has won the award. Junior I-back Marlon Lucky captured the award after his 233-yard rushing effort in the season opener against Nevada.

Ganz was one of three players honored by the conference on Monday. Kansas cornerback Aqib Talib was the Defensive Player of the Week, while Oklahoma’s DeMarco Murray earned the Special Teams Player-of-the-Week award.



A Nebraskan, a Walk-On . . . a Soldier

Saturday’s Kansas State football game is not only a special day for 29 Nebraska seniors, but also an important opportunity for more than 400 Nebraska-based active troops who have recently returned from overseas duty and are special guests of the University of Nebraska.

Lt. Col. Jim Murphy, who oversees recruiting and retention for the Nebraska Army National Guard, is a double source of pride as the Huskers brace to salute all soldiers the day before Veterans Day.

First, in pregame ceremonies, Murphy will help present Major General Roger P. Lemke with a civilian Nebraska football jersey. Lemke commanded our state’s military forces and directed the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency until he retired just a week ago.

Secondly, even though the 48-year-old Murphy will watch the game in his military uniform, he can take particular pleasure in watching the pads pop on the field. Before he ever decided to become a career soldier, Murphy was one of the biggest long shots ever to start at Nebraska as a walk-on player.

“Mitch Krenk and I defied the odds together,” says Murphy, whose dad (Big Jim) captained Nebraska’s 1956 football team and whose uncle, Monte Kiffin, is the defensive coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. “Mitch ended up going all the way to making the Chicago Bears Super Bowl team (in 1984), but we were both on the seventh or eighth-team when we started out.”

Murphy and Krenk, the president of Nebraska’s Letterman’s Club, decided to take a winter conditioning class together as freshmen. “I think we were the only two non-football players in the class,” Murphy recalls. “We worked as hard, if not harder, than anyone in the class, and we were surprised when Coach (Tom) Osborne invited us to come out for spring football. Then, after that, he invited us to come out for fall camp.”

The two long shots made a pact with each other. “Mitch said we were the lowest of the walk-ons, so we couldn’t just be low maintenance; we had to be no maintenance. That meant we couldn’t get hurt, and if we did, we had to pretend like we weren’t hurt. We had to make grades, stay out of trouble, show up every day, never miss a practice, never be late to a meeting and never give any of the coaches any reason to think we didn’t belong there.”

Murphy laughs about having what he calls an electric shoulder. “I had a pinched nerve in my neck, and once in a while, it would incapacitate me,” Murphy said. “It’d take about 30 seconds before the pain would go away, then I’d jump right back up.”

He says attrition was the best way to jump through the depth chart. “When I was eighth team, two of the defensive backs ahead of me didn’t make their grades and two more quit the team. All of a sudden, I was fourth team, and I started to realize why the Nebraska players would say, You stay; you play.’ Jeff Krejci came over to me one day and said: Geez, Murph, you keep working hard, and you’ll be right there with the rest of us. You’re just as good as some of these other guys. Keep your nose to the grindstone, and you never know what might happen.’”

Lt. Col. Murphy never once let up for anything or anybody. In his first three years as a Husker (1978-79-80), Murphy flew under everyone’s radar. As a junior, he lettered. As a senior, in 1982, he found himself No. 1 on the depth chart at spring practice. He started a couple of games that fall before getting pneumonia after a big win at Auburn. Although he never worked his way back into the starting lineup, he never missed a kickoff on special teams.

“You hear about walk-ons being the heart and soul of Nebraska football,” Murphy said. “All of the superstars on that ’82 team know how true that is. They know how hard we worked just to get on the field, and it helped them work hard themselves. We pushed them to heights they never even imagined.”

Nebraska All-Americans Mike Rozier and Irving Fryer remember laughing at the skinny walk-ons they saw report as freshmen. By the time they were seniors and preparing for their last home game, they weren’t laughing anymore. “Irving and I watched how hard those guys worked,” the Heisman Trophy-winning Rozier said. “We figured if we worked as hard as they did, how much better would we be? Walk-ons set the tone for everyone, including me.”

Murphy smiles when he hears the story. “I remember a story about Irving,” he recalls. “One time in practice, Tim Holbrook, another walk-on from my hometown (Lexington), fought through a crack-back block and just decked Irving in practice. Irving looked at our receivers coach (Gene Huey) for sympathy, and Coach Huey looked back at him and said: Irving, welcome to the Big Eight!’”

For Jim Murphy, the journey from winter conditioning to the playing field was a long and winding road. But there are hundreds of other stories just like his. Tell us about your favorite walk-on players, and we may just post it for others to read.

(This one from Randy York came in too late for last week's email, but I wanted to include it because I think its another important article about Nebraska Tradition)...

For Ruuds, Family Pride Shines Through

A Hall of Fame football coach, now Nebraska’s interim athletic director, wrote a book called “More Than Winning.” He wrote about the process the preparation, the effort, the strategy, the players and the game being more important than the championships and the trophies.

In his book, Tom Osborne talked about his experiences, his values and his faith and how they mean more to him than winning.

For the Ruuds, described by some as the “First Family of Nebraska Football,” Saturday’s game against Kansas State is about more than winning.

Husker Family Tree: The Ruuds
Bo Ruud Biography
Barrett Ruud Biography
Tom Ruud Biography
Clarence SwansonBiography

It is about character and courage and sacrifice . . . and about family pride shining through the dark clouds on and off the football field.

Nebraska All-America linebacker Tom Ruud will watch son Bo Ruud play his last home game at Memorial Stadium on Saturday. Joining his dad in the stands, because the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a bye week, is brother Barrett Ruud, Nebraska’s all-time leading tackler.

Wednesday, in his 30th consecutive season of hunting pheasants in the Nebraska Sandhills with five ex-teammates, Tom Ruud hiked up to the top of a hill on a 120-year-old ranch between Bassett and Taylor to talk on his cell phone.

He was asked about the meaning of Bo’s last home game in this most challenging of seasons. The mediocre phone connection was apparent, but so were the words that came out of a proud father who was obviously choking up.

Despite the struggles of the season, including a leg injury that has sidelined Bo for all but one series of the last three games, Tom Ruud called Saturday’s game “an exciting time” for Bo, one of Nebraska’s three 2007 co-captains.

“He’s been around five years, and it’s been kind of an up-and-down ride,” Tom said. “But Bo has played awfully well, and he’s awfully proud of his teammates. He really wants to get a win Saturday. Every one of those kids is going out there to do the very best they can, and I believe that they can pull together and play well enough to win. Personally, this last game in Lincoln is a little emotional for all of us.”

Bo’s late, great-grandfather, Clarence Swanson, is in the College Football Hall of Fame. His uncle, John Ruud, is still on the Nebraska Tunnel Walk highlight reel for his vicious hit in the Huskers’ 1978 upset win over top-ranked Oklahoma and Billy Sims. Bob Martin, former Husker All-America defensive end, is another Bo Ruud uncle. That means Jay Martin, Bob’s son and a freshman walk-on linebacker from Waverly, will be cheering his cousin on at field level.

Someone else will be there, too . . . in spirit. Jaime Ruud, Tom’s wife and the mother of Barrett, Bo and sister Kim, died of a heart attack on June 30, 2006, at the age of 52.

For Tom, the patriarch of this proud and productive clan of Ruuds, it takes a few seconds of silence to gather his thoughts on a long-distance call.

“Jaime and I tried to raise our kids to be good people first,” he said. “I’m proud of their athletic accomplishments, but I’m even prouder of how they treat people just like they want to be treated themselves.”

A former first-round draft choice of the Buffalo Bills, Tom admits he never “pulled any punches.” He always insisted that when his kids did something, “they did it as well as they possibly can.” When you give it your all, Tom said, “you don’t have to worry about anything else.”

Barrett took that philosophy with him to the NFL, where he now ranks second among all NFL tackle leaders halfway through the season. Barrett and Bo, who played on the same state championship team at Lincoln Southeast, never got that kind of chance in college.

But they’ve stayed close, as friends as well as brothers. For the Ruuds, family pride shines through every day, every phone conversation and every game day opportunity.

Saturday, Bo Ruud will take one last pre-game walk through the tunnel. He will sprint through those familiar swinging doors one last time. He will look up and see the words “I Play for Nebraska” and then, a second or two later, he will hear another sellout crowd of 85,000 people give him the most thunderous roar he has ever heard.

A tear or two might well up in the eyes of his tight-knit family, and, I’m betting, in the eyes of countless others who wish Bo and 28 other Nebraska seniors nothing but the very best.

Editor’s Note: Let us know what you think about the rich family traditions in Husker football. Which families do you think could be considered the "First Family" in Nebraska football history. Your responses may be included among the "Voices of Husker Nation."


Jordan Larson had four aces in NU's win at Texas A&M.

College Station, Texas – Jordan Larson had four of the Huskers’ season-high nine service aces, leading second-ranked Nebraska to a 30-26, 30-23, 30-22 sweep at Texas A&M Wednesday evening at G. Rollie White Coliseum.

Larson matched her season best with four aces, as the Huskers improved to 24-1 on the season and 16-1 in the Big 12. Sarah Pavan and Christina Houghtelling also added two aces, as NU tied its season high in aces for the third time this year.

"Jordan set the tone for us with her serving," Nebraska Coach John Cook said. "She was serving rockets all night and they really struggled passing their serve."

Pavan led the Huskers with her third double-double in four matches, leading NU with 20 kills on .350 hitting, 10 digs and a pair of blocks. Jordan Larson totaled 11 kills and a pair of stuffs, as Nebraska held the Aggies (18-10, 7-10 Big 12) to .099 hitting and totaled 10.5 blocks, including for Tracy Stalls and three by both Houghtelling and Kori Cooper.

"It’s a great road win again against a team that has been playing well in recent weeks," Cook said. "To go on the road and win 3-0 against a team that is fighting for its NCAA life is a very good win for us. This is never an easy place to win, and Texas A&M is an NCAA caliber team, especially with the way that have played over the few matches."


Kayla Banwarth totaled 19 digs against Iowa State on Sunday.

Ames, Iowa – Kayla Banwarth enjoyed a successful homecoming, totaling a career-high 19 digs in her first career start to lead second-ranked Nebraska to a 30-20, 30-19, 30-16 victory over Iowa State Sunday afternoon.

Banwarth, playing in front of nearly 40 family and friends who made the drive from Dubuque, keyed the Huskers’ defensive efforts, as Nebraska (23-1, 15-1 Big 12) held Iowa State to. 135 hitting and out dug the Cycloens, 59-45. The all-around effort silenced the Hilton Coliseum crowd of 6,705 – the largest collegiate crowd to ever see a volleyball match in Iowa. Banworth also chipped in five assists and a service ace as Nebraska totaled five aces and held Iowa State (15-11, 9-7 Big 12) without an ace.

Nebraska Coach John Cook was a little worried about Banworth’s nerves before the match, but the freshman passed the test with flying colors.

“I thought she would be really nervous, but she did a great job tonight,” Cook said. “It was very impressive performance from her, as she was calm, cool and collected throughout the match. She has gained a lot of confidence in recent matches and has played well for us the last two matches. The other thing Kayla gives us is that she is a former setter and handles the ball very well. We think she can be a real important piece for us down the stretch.”

While Banwarth keyed NU’s defensive efforts, Rachel Holloway guided a potent Husker attack by totaling 39 assists and seven kills to help NU hit .388 against a team that was third in the conference in opponent hitting percentage. NU hit over .400 in each of the final two games, including .486 in the finale. Sarah Pavan paced the Huskers’ offensive efforts with a match-high 16 kills on .483 hitting and two aces, as six Huskers totaled at least seven kills in the sweep, the Huskers’ 20th in 25 matches.

“I thought we were very good today,” Cook said. “We were on our team for the last three days about coming in her and making a statement today. They followed our game plan very well and Holloway did a great job of mixing up our offense all day. It was a very consistent effort.”


Lincoln – Seven members of the Nebraska volleyball team were honored Tuesday afternoon, as they were selected to the 2007 Academic All-Big 12 Volleyball Team.

The Huskers’ seven selections tied Kansas State for the most of any Big 12 school, as all seven NU players were first-team honorees. The group is led by seniors Christina Houghtelling and Sarah Pavan, who had perfect 4.0 GPAs during the last academic year. It is both Pavan and Houghtelling’s third selection to the academic All-Big 12 team, as only six of the 44 members of the team posted 4.0 GPAs.

Other first-team academic All-Big 12 honorees included Kori Cooper, Maggie Griffin, Jordan Larson, Rachel Schwartz and Tracy Stalls. It marked Stalls’ third appearance on the team and the second for Griffin, Schwartz and Larson. Cooper makes her first appearance on the team this fall.

Nominated by each institution’s director of student-athlete support services and the media relations offices, the volleyball academic all-league team consisted of 44 first team members combined with nine on the second team. First-team members consist of those who have maintained a 3.20 or better GPA, and the second team are those who have a 3.00 to 3.19 GPA.

To qualify student-athletes must maintain a 3.00 GPA or higher either cumulative or the two previous semesters and must have participated in 60 percent of her team’s scheduled contests. Freshmen and transfers are not eligible in their first year of academic residence. Senior student-athletes who have participated for a minimum of two years and meet all the criteria except percent of participation are also eligible.


The Huskers celebrate a goal against Texas A&M.

Lincoln-Headed into the 2007 campaign, head coach John Walker knew the season would test his club. The Huskers would be looking to fill a hole left in the midfield by the graduated Brittany Timko, while 24 of the 31 members of the team were underclassmen, including 14 freshmen.

The season lived up to its billing as challenging as the Huskers finished with a 5-10-4 record, including 1-8-1 in the conference, but Walker and the team refused to let the final record define the season.

Closer examination reveals several bright spots for Nebraska. The youth, that was once considered a challenge, turned out to be one of the strengths of the Huskers as six freshmen earned starts during the season, including Jessica Mills and Brittany Goosen. The duo started all 19 games for the Huskers at key positions, with Mills in goal and Goosen on the defensive line.

Those young Huskers helped the team start the season on the right foot, including freshman Alexa Cardona, who scored the first goal of the season in a 2-0 NU win over Northwestern on Sept. 2. The Huskers boasted a 3-0-2 record in non-conference play at the Nebraska Soccer Field in 2007, including a 5-1 drumming of Saint Louis on Sept. 21.

Several players helped to replace the loss of Timko, including fellow Canadians Sari Raber and Selenia Iacchelli. Raber, a junior from Richmond, British Columbia, finished with three goals and three assists on the season as she placed herself as a leader and distributor in the midfield.

Iacchelli, a junior from Edmonton, Alberta, also finished with three goals and three assists as she established herself as a viable threat on set plays. Two of her three goals came on free kicks from more than 35 yards away. Iacchelli recorded 50 shots and 24 shots on goal in the season, both of which led the team.

Filling in for Timko’s goal scoring was sophomore Shay Powell, who led the Huskers with five goals on the season. Powell’s goals came on just 15 shots on goal as the Dallas, Texas, native overcame an early-season injury.

Offensively, Nebraska distributed the ball well, as 17 Huskers scored points during the season. Six freshmen recorded points, including two goals and three assists by Cardona. Sophomore Carly Peetz had only two goals on the season, but she made both count as each was a game-winner. Nebraska scored at least one goal in their last eight competitions, which included a 4-0 victory over Lamar on Oct. 12.

Nebraska’s 4-0 win over the Cardinals was the offensive high of the season as the Huskers racked up 44 shots, including 26 in the first half. The 44 shots were the most in a game since NU recorded 44 in an 11-0 win over Drury on Sept. 3, 2000. Nebraska put half their total shots on goal as 22 of their shots found their way towards the net. NU’s defense would not be outdone though, as the Huskers allowed Lamar just three shots.

The Husker defense had plenty to brag about throughout the season also. Mills completed her first season in net as she anchored the Husker defense. She recorded a shutout in her first career game and went on to be named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 25. Mills’ shutout performance against Saint Louis on Sept. 21 and one-goal allowed against No. 12 Florida on Sept. 23 earned her the award. She recorded 11 saves in the two games.

Mills ended the season with 79 saves and three shutouts, but not all the credit can be given to her. Mills had a solid defensive line in front of her, led by Peetz, Goosen, Lindsay Poehling and Anna Caniglia. The Huskers started their season 2-0-2 thanks in part to a defense that allowed just two goals in the first four games. Poehling and Caniglia, both sophomores, will return to a battle-tested defense in 2008.

The Huskers failed to qualify for the Big 12 Championships, but the knowledge and experience gained by the young squad in the 2007 season will prove to be invaluable in the upcoming season. Nebraska loses only three players to graduation, midfielder Jessie Bruch, defender Meghan Hungerford and defender Abby Penas, including only one starter of a 31-player team.

The 2007 season saw the Huskers:
-Earn one Big 12 Player-of-the-Week Award (Mills)
-Take 44 shots, including 26 on goal, in a 4-0 win over Lamar
-Place nine players on the academic All-Big 12 first and second teams
-Win 12th consecutive league opener in 12 tries with a 1-0 win over Oklahoma
-Improve the program’s all-time record to 166-2-2 when leading at the half, finishing 4-0-0 in 2007
-Improve to 21-9-7 at the Nebraska Soccer Field



Thoughts from Mike Osborne On the Current Situation

Current Affairs

If you hate editorials, or if you are a fan of basketball on grass - then you may want to skip reading this email. If not, read ahead with the warning I am not very smart, I just try to observe things:

Let me begin this opinion bit by stating that the following in no way reflects the opinions of anyone at the University. They are solely my views. The current AD, and part-time professor, has consistently warned me over the years people will think whatever I convey about the football program is coming from him. That is not the case. He is not a big talker - so what follows is all my own. I have no inside knowledge of what may or may not happen in the next couple weeks, but I have some thoughts about what has gone on the past few years.

Like most fans, I am overjoyed that situation has changed, and coach Osborne is now very much involved in the program. You can look at our football situation in baseball terms like we're down 3 runs in the bottom of the 9th. You want your best batter up to bat in that situation. That doesn't guarantee anything, but it gives you your best hope for a positive outcome. I am biased, but I think we have our best batter up to bat. And he appears comfortable in the batters box.

After the leadership change was made, people at the athletic department said they felt like they could breath again. The airwaves buzzed around the state and everywhere you went people were celebrating. One of the sports talk stations played the "Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead" song from The Wizard of Oz as they went into and out of breaks. Pretty harsh, but representative of the spirit of the day.

It was like the iron curtain had been lifted from Nebraska football and now employees, media, players, coaches, and fans could say what they really thought without fear of retribution from above. Have you ever been in an environment where people in authority fed everyone a lot of baloney and you were expected to smile and shake your head in agreement, and any questioning could lead to your excommunication? That is what the athletic department had become.

It may take awhile for employee's nerves to settle. Employees lower on the totem pole have described the situation as a dictatorship. They have said that years ago, no one ever spoke about accountability, integrity, teamwork, and tradition - but all those things were there. Nowadays, there are signs and plaques and speeches everywhere around the building referencing those attributes, but the qualities themselves were not to be found. I think one measure of a person is how they treat those "beneath" them. The key being, if you really think someone is "beneath" you, you already have a problem. Suffice it to say the people in support positions at the athletic department were feeling under foot.

Not more than a couple months after coach Solich was fired I was taken to lunch by a high ranking athletic administrator and told in no uncertain terms to "keep things positive" with regard to my remarks about the program.

Earlier in the season a radio commentator (and former player) was summoned to the north-end fortress and raked over the coals because he dared state (on air) that the team lacked chemistry. He was certain his job was in jeopardy and one more slip of the tongue would cost him his job. Kevin Raemakers was pulled aside after making a remark during his Nebraska Hall of Fame acceptance speech that was perceived as unsupportive of the regime. His arm was tightly squeezed by a man half his size and was told firmly it was no place for him to state his personal views.

The now notorious firing of head football trainer Doak Ostergard was in my view completely related to Doak's natural instinct against smiling and nodding when someone was telling him bold-faced lies. Doak was never one to get animated or belligerent, but he never hesitated to call a skunk a skunk. And he would not just shut up and go away when he thought he was being treated dishonestly.

To be fair, Steve Pederson did some great things that will serve Nebraska football well into the future. The facilities he helped create are truly world class. Recruits for years to come will be dazzled and persuaded by the impressive edifices of the Athletic Department. But they will come to be better people because of the heart of the department, and because of the innumerable good people who have dedicated themselves to making Nebraska the special place it truly is. A surprising thing about Pederson's tenure, a fellow Nebraskan, was he did a lot of things we feared an outsider might do.

The toughest part of the current situation is the sympathetic plight of the coaches children, especially the boys. I have a bit of a bleeding heart for them because I think I have experienced a taste of what they may be going through. Unlike the coaches and their wives or the players, the kids do not control the environment they enter into every day. The coaches get to work with each other, fellow commiserators and comrades-in-arms so to speak. The wives can choose where they go and who they see. They certainly must find comfort in each others company. Though the players may endure some discomfort amongst their peers around campus, they come to practice everyday with about 100 guys going through the same thing, and they are big intimidating guys who probably find it hard to be too worried about what the skinny kid in the business management class may be thinking.

The coaches kids however, must venture behind enemy lines on a daily basis. And make no mistake, they are enemy lines. Most of the kids in their schools are probably fairly well mannered. But that can't mask the sense of "outsider" you feel every where you go. Kids who are sympathetic don't know what to say and don't want to embarrass you. Most kids treat you like you have a contagious disease and keep their distance. You can see the conversations they are having while glancing your way. And then there are the few who think it is their duty to tell you what is too painfully obvious, that things aren't going well for the Huskers. It is difficult when you are at an age where you want to fit in and find your niche with your peers, and there is this palpable force-field around you that either repels people or twists their behavior toward you. I remember being treated with hushed tones, long faces, or being quietly ignored the day after a painful loss and maybe for a full week after a loss to Oklahoma. It confuses you because you can't really grasp why you are being treated like someone in your family died. When peers act so strangely after a loss, you begin to wonder why they are friendly when the team is winning - it can play with your mind if you think too much. Hopefully most of the coaches kids are like me and aren't terribly deep thinkers!

I have heard stories of some of the coaches kids going through some really tough times. Can you imagine what it is like to be the coaches kid sitting in the stands and a large portion of the student section is chanting "Fire (YOUR NAME)" clap clap clap, "Fire (YOUR NAME)." I can only imagine the comments that are being made at school. One of the coaches wives contacted me last year about speaking to some of the coaches kids and it didn't work out. I wish it had - I could have told them some of my stories and some of my solutions. I would have told them that it will all pass, and they'll learn who their real friends are and it can make them better people. One thing I've learned is to be thankful for the good and the bad, you learn from both.

I remember sitting in the stands and hearing the comments about my dad. The first time I was in 5th grade and I took a friend to a game. We were sitting by two older gentlemen who were long time fans. One turned to the other a said, "I just haven't had any confidence in the team since Osborne took over." It took the fun out of the day. As I grew older I became more than a little agitated with the fickleness of some fans. One of my favorite memories from the early 1990's was when a drunk fan called my mom and dad's home number (they had it listed in the phone book) after the home loss to Washington - eventual National Champs. I answered the phone, "Agghhh ish this Tom Oshborn?", "Yes it is" I said. "Well you don't know a ***** thing bout coachin football, what the h---l was that out there tonight..." etc. etc. After he finished saying his peace, he heard some things come out of "Tom Osborne's" mouth that left him in stunned silence. I also took the opportunity to point out some of his personal flaws in less than polite terms. My sister and her friend were standing nearby and fell over laughing.

I have always had a love-hate relationship with Husker hysteria. It is fun when things are going well and everybody's happy. But like Ernie Chambers points out, it has become like a religion to some. I used to jokingly refer to myself as the son of the high priest of Nebraska during my dad's final years, and not because my dad wanted to be considered as such. I thought some fans had lost perspective. But what made it a positive was the way coach Brown, my dad, and some others did an outstanding job of trying to redirect peoples admiration and adoration to the higher power they strove to serve. That is why, unlike some, I don't take offense when an athlete points to the heavens after scoring or doing something great. I like to think they are redirecting peoples affection to where it belongs. I don't necessarily think that athletes mean that God personally allowed them or helped them to score - it is more like they are giving back - pointing to Who really deserves the applause.

Personally, that is part of what has been missing for me from the program in recent years, that sense of deeper meaning, the bigger picture, the higher calling. It did not use to be so much about wins and losses or money or the NFL. It was about teaching young men how to be real men. Men of integrity, character, and humility. I think the current players are outstanding kids. And the coaches are doing their very best. I believe some of the decisions that were made to take the program away from what it was about were not made with ill intentions - just mistaken priorities. You can't build a young man's character when the sales pitch is based on "we're going to help you make it to the NFL." All the while knowing you are selling him fools gold. That mode of operation may work for a short time, but like all things built on shifting sand, it will fall under its own weight. If you want to see and hear from the heart of a Husker what I am talking about - listen to Jason Peter's speech to the 1997 Team reunion banquet from a few weeks ago.

The team used to be an extension of us - it was like they had come out of the stands and played from us and for us. The youthful excitement at a big play was cheered as much by teammates on the field and on the sideline as by the fans. Silly high fives, spontaneous joyous jumping and always arms around each other as they came off the field into the embraces and pats on the back spilling onto the field from the sideline. And there was no fear of failure, only all-out reckless effort. We were all in it together, from the clerk sitting in a gas station in Sidney listening to Lyell Bremser, to the guy holding the down-and-distance marker on the sideline to Tom Sorley standing at the line, looking across at Reggie Kinlaw. If we were gonna lose, we were gonna go down fighting, and everyone was going to do their part. Many of us could do little more than yell at the top of our lungs and make sure we had on our lucky underwear. Some of us could get close enough to yell encouragement to the players only a few feet away, and a few of us stepped onto the field wearing a red jersey and played for the rest. If some of you are too young or if it has been too long ago to recall the sense of unity we had, simply watch the 1978 Nebraska vs. Oklahoma game with Lyell Bremser's play-by-play and you'll be taken back. We can recapture that spirit and sense of family. We need leadership that is sincere and that can be trusted with our young men to hold true to the traditions of Nebraska football, and not just pay it lip service.

A notable irony, coach Osborne, considered NU's greatest leader, has never put Nebraska football first in his life. His faith and his heartfelt responsibility to others to lead by example, is what makes him who he is. In so doing, he has ensured the greatness of Nebraska football. That is the kind of leadership we will have again. It may not translate to instant National Championships or 10 win seasons, but I think it will translate to the rebirth of a sense of all-for-one and one-for-all, which will eventually culminate in another National Championship.

Terms & Conditions in the Current State of Affairs

The Good: Joe Ganz and the offense, and a chance at 2 wins to finish the season. Coaches and players caring about each other in spite of the stress and criticism. And a truly excellent recruiting job by coach Callahan and his staff over the past 4 years. The cupboard is not bare.

The Bad: Everyone straining to keep their dignity in a trying situation.

The Ugly: A potential for $10 million dollars in buyouts to start with a clean slate.

Basketball: You've heard the term "basketball on grass" when the 1990's blackshirts talked about passing teams, in particular Steve Spurrier's Fun and Gun offense. It was not said as praise. Jason Peter, CU coach Bill McCartney, and many other former coaches and players have concurred that as your offense schemes, so goes your defense. The theory being that if your offense is a cerebral finesse construct, then your whole team practices like that. If that is all your defense sees in practice, then your defense becomes soft and passive. An aggressive and physical offense breeds a like defense.

Karma: You eventually reap what you sow.

Hope: The return of an active fullback. The return of a Nebraska born and bred backbone to the team. The return of The Nebraska Way. An eagerness to see what all the quality athletes in the program will do when coached up in a more aggressive, smash-mouth style of football, Nebraska football. With the right coaching, some insiders believe there is enough talent on hand for NU to be a top 15 team next season. That may be a stretch, be we can Hope.

Cause for Concern: The dust is settling in North Stadium. Everything is smooth with coach Osborne in charge. But he won't want to stay forever, and what then? Several people in positions of authority at the University hope he will stay at least 5 years in some official capacity - he is like the wood in the bucket of water. On a farm, one way to keep water splashing out of a pale when you are moving it around in a pickup or trailer is to put a piece of wood in the pale. Coach Osborne has that calming influence.

Truth in Advertising: All the mandatory signs displayed around the athletic department that said "Everyone is Accountable" have been taken down, and accountability was sorely missing at the leadership level. No signs will be around next year, but instead administrators, coaches, athletes, and support staff will act accountably and do so cheerfully.

Truth in Advertising 2: It is doubtful future recruits will be lured by a sales pitch of a fast track to the NFL. Instead, it is likely they will come for an education and an opportunity to earn a place in the Husker tradition.

A confession: Although I had predicted a good season for the Huskers, I had done so to appease the thought police that were keeping an eye out, and that was wrong of me. Although I was hoping otherwise, privately I told several people I feared things were aligned for an unraveling this season. I told Doak Ostergard he had been granted a favor when he was fired last spring. I perceived the situation like a plane on a tarmac destined for a crash, and he had been allowed to deplane. My reasoning: This may sound harsh, but I looked at who was left down there in the leadership - it seemed ripe for collapse.

Welcome Home: Most former players didn't feel connected to the program in the last few years. I know of a former starting fullback and defensive end who said they would never let their sons come play at the modern NU, and both of whom who have sons who may very well be talented enough to do so. Phil Bates son plays for Iowa and others have gone elsewhere. One of coach Osborne's first acts as AD was to send out a letter to all former lettermen to inform them that they were officially welcomed back. They would have an opportunity for tickets, sideline passes, and press box passes. Pictures of former Husker greats were put up in the new north stadium complex within a few days. The security desk, which restricted access of everyone, including former All-Americans and former coaches from entering the north stadium complex was shut down. In it's place are cheerful greeters and the doors are unlocked.

No Spin Zone: The culture at the Athletic Department is being flipped back to one of honesty and trust, which has to come from the top for it to permeate an organization. Consequently, I think happy days are coming our way once again.


Dear Friend of Mission Chamber Orchestra,

The holiday season is approaching and MCO has a suggestion for getting started on your shopping while simultaneously helping the orchestra. All day on Saturday, November 17, at the Barnes and Noble at 3600 Stevens Creek Blvd, when you purchase books, CDs, and DVDs and present the attached coupon (editors note: available on request...didn't want to clog the email system with an attachment), MCO will receive a percentage of the sale. There will also be live chamber music from 2-5 pm for your enjoyment. If you are planning any shopping at Barnes and Noble, please consider coming to 3600 Stevens Creek Blvd. next Saturday.

Visit our Bay Area Huskers website for additional Husker information, Links, Upcoming Events, Past Events, Watch Sites, and the Schedule of Games. Also order Merchandise online, and get information on Husker Scholarships. Check out the History of the Huskers and meet our Directors.

Say hello today, email us, sign up for our newsletter, and become a member of the Bay Area Huskers Alumni Chapter.

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