Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Cult of Steve Pederson?

I've frequently referred to Steve Pederson suppporters as "kool-aid drinkers" as a light-hearted slam. However, several stories have come out in recent weeks that start making the satire very much real. First, there was the Doak Ostergard departure. Many people have chosen to "blame the victim" here and delve into innuendo (not to mention minimizing Ostergard's contributions to the program) when they admit they have no familiarity with the situation to defend the actions. While Bill Callahan does have the right to decide who is involved with the Husker football program (and I'm not going to criticize him for making the decision), a 20+ year dedicated employee of the program deserves better treatment. I think the responses from Ben Kingston (fullback, 1995-99) and Jeremy Slechta (defensive lineman, 1998-2001) speak to that.

Then, there is today's column from the Omaha World-Herald's Tom Shatel. The World-Herald does not publish this column online, so I'll summarize. Shatel went to Lincoln to the Husker Media Relations department, and found the doors to the Osborne complex locked with nobody at the guard desk. When the guard finally returned, he interrogated Shatel to determine his business and then escorted the columnist to the Media Relations department where the sports information director is then asked to vouch for Shatel's identity. Shatel is amazed that it's so difficult to get access to the program, calling it the "Secret Society of Steve Pederson". So Shatel does a little comparative research, and successfully makes it to the offices of UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman's and Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman.

So Husker athletics now needs more security than the Governor? Well, the official response is that it's because there are "female athletes in the building", despite the fact that females are well represented across the entire campus, not to mention the State Capitol building. Shatel checked with other athletic departments, and he couldn't find another program with similar restrictions.

Some fans will ask... what's the big deal? In the grand scheme of things, it's not a big deal by itself. But look at the trend: Shatel today, cheerleaders on Sunday, Ostergard last week. And that's just this month. When you look at the big picture, the explanations start becoming excuses. And the long running chain of excuses start to wear thin after a while. One of these days, a kool-aid drinker is going to try to change the subject by saying "What a lovely dress you have on, Mrs. Cleaver!"

On KOZN radio today, Kevin Kugler and Mike'l Severe asked Shatel if these continued PR debacles will eventually be Pederson's downfall. Shatel responded that while it is likely to be tied to Bill Callahan's eventually result, at some point, the status of fund-raising will need to be approached. A later caller pointed out a promotional magazine mailing to boosters from last December from Nebraska's "Touchdown Club" which opened with an article titled "Keeping the Faith" calling for all critics to admit they, not Pederson, were wrong:
"So if you haven't done so already, it's time to send Steve Pederson a thank you note and let him know that you can see now that he was right all along. Thank him for keeping the faith."
Uh, no. But thanks for more evidence that the #1 problem facing Husker athletics is one man's ego. Why on earth is a call to stroke Pederson's ego the first thing you see when you open this magazine? And why is the Touchdown Club spending money (presumably donated funds at that) to publish and distribute this call?

At first, "kool-aid drinkers" was satire. But as this goes on, it's starting to actually resemble a cult. And you know how cults sometimes go out...

Update 10/7/2007: Time to Pull the Plug on Steve Pederson


AJ said...

This is WAY better than Britney or Anna Nicole.

PS - That Husker Club letter is priceless.

Jed Burks said...

"Kool-Aid drinkers" is too easy of a description. I prefer to use the word "nut-huggers" when talking about the lemmings that bow at the feet of the lying used car salesman that we have for an AD in Lincoln.

james said...

Steves gone!