First of all, I'd like to thank you for your contributions to the Husker football program over the past few years. I listened to your comments during yesterday's press conference and one thing is abundantly clear: you aren't having much fun playing football this season. It shows on the field and it showed in your comments yesterday.
I noticed that you decided to take it out on the fans, which is rather unfortunate. I'm not condoning the boo-birds last Saturday, but even you realize the boos are merely an effect of the team's problems. They certainly aren't a factor. Perhaps you weren't trying to pass the blame to the fans, instead trying to defend your coach. That's admirable.
However, your actions speak louder than your words. Kevin Cosgrove doesn't need you defending him in front of reporters in Tuesday press conferences. Kevin Cosgrove needed you sending a message to Nate Davis and the rest of the Ball State team last Saturday. Kevin Cosgrove needed you tackling Trojan running backs. the week before.
"It really bothers me when people point the finger at Coach Coz," you said yesterday. "All this garbage on Facebook and on the Internet and all the blogs, it's garbage. There's no one else I'd rather have leading our defense."
Fair enough. Last time we heard this many boos at Memorial Stadium, Steve Pederson was making his last public appearance at a Husker game. At that time, he was introducing Hall-of-Famer Bob Brown, who had a few thoughts at that time that seem to apply:
"You believe in your teammates, your system," Brown said in 2004. "You have to walk fire for your coach. You can't think you're going to win. You can't hope you're going to win. You can't wish you're going to win. You've got to know you're going to win. It has to be a part of you.
"When these young men walk through that tunnel and touch that field, they have to know they have the finest coaches and go to the finest university. They have to support each other a thousand percent. There's no room for bickering or pointing fingers. You have to be prepared to lay down a withering barrage on the opposition. If you get 11 guys on the same team doing that, I promise you will win."
I remember watching you and your teammates walk out of the locker room last Saturday, and neither you nor your coaches looked like you wanted to be out there last Saturday. That showed in how you and your teammates played last Saturday. Your teammate, Steve Octavien, said yesterday that some of the players on the defense aren't buying in completely into the game plans.
You can say that you love playing for Coz, but your actions say something quite a bit different. You talk about not having the same fire you've had in previous years; your teammate Ndamakong Suh talked about a similar issue a week before. That's where the criticism of Coach Cosgrove comes from.
You may think that you don't have the support of the fans; well, I beg to differ with you. Nearly 85,000 of us were there, wearing red and cheering for you last Saturday. How many fans traveled to Winston-Salem two weeks ago? A whole bunch. Yes, us bloggers have been critical of your play, but even you admit that you are playing "like garbage". Do you really want us to give you a hug and a participation trophy? That's not Corey McKeon.
“It’s important for this state to win, but when you get to a point when you’re 3-1, you lose, (and) your one loss — granted, we played like garbage — was to the No. 1 team in the country? Then to come back the next week and pull out a win at the last second, but it’s still a win, and you’re being scrutinized for being 3-1? People aren’t looking at it like it’s just fun college football,” you said.
“They’re looking at it like, ‘They’re not getting the job done and we need to find people who are.’ That’s business, man. That’s NFL. This is college football. This isn’t supposed to be a giant organization that if things aren’t going right you take someone out and find someone new right away. This is team. This is school spirit.”
Don't look at the fans for an answer here. If you really think that way, I'd suggest you go up to the top floor of the Osborne Complex and ask Steve Pederson that same question. That's where fan expectations come from. He set them in 2003, and when your coaches aren't meeting those expectations in 2007, you have to expect this response from the fans.
I hope it felt better getting this off your chest. I hope you can put this behind you and begin playing like the old McKeon again. I and 80,000 other Husker fans will be in Lincoln this Saturday to cheer you on. Take out your frustrations on Bret Meyer for us, please? We'll all feel much better about it.
Thanks for listening. Go Big Red!