Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Steve Pederson Error

I had been standing outside of Memorial Stadium for several minutes waiting to get in as the memories of the 2002 Rose Bowl came flooding in. That night, it took nearly an hour and a half just to get through the gate due to incompetent security ill-prepared for 90,000 fans. In the end, it took nearly a half hour to pass through the lines to get into Memorial Stadium, allowing me to get to my seat just a minute before kickoff, much like that night in Pasadena six years ago. That feeling of deja vu got even stronger as the talented Trojans went on to dominate the Huskers most of the game before allowing the Huskers to score late against their reserves.

That Rose Bowl experience is one of the reasons cited by many fans as the reason why a coaching change was required after the 2003 season. Last December, I stated it was time to move on from that decision, and while that is still a noble idea, I'm swimming against the current on it, especially on night's like last night when we were reminded that the more things change, the more things stay the same.

All throughout the offseason, we were told how winning the Big XII North championship represented real progress for Nebraska, which is true... but only if you are looking back to November 2005. Comparing the Sagarin ratings for 2003 and 2006, the 2003 Huskers still were better. So then the argument arose that the 2006 Huskers didn't suffer any ugly home blowouts... until last night.

Everybody has opinions on this situation, and they aren't afraid to express them as proven facts. What I'm calling for is for everybody to be consistent in their actions.

In other words, if you were one of those people who felt there needed to be a change in 2003, you must begin screaming and yelling for change now. You argued that Nebraska got embarrased in blowouts... well, that happened last night. You argued in 2003 that Nebraska didn't have any difference makers on offense. We still don't have any in 2007. In fact, now we don't have any difference makers on defense now as well.

On the other hand, people who stood for patience in 2003 should continue to call for patience in 2007. Firing coaches might be cathartic, but there is one huge problem.

Steve Pederson.

The man who created this whole snafu in the first place recently received a contract extension and a raise from his boss. He then turned around and gave Bill Callahan a contract extension as well. So not only did the price to make a change go up significantly, but the powers that be have already endorsed the current direction.

The FireBillCallahan blog and web sites are already full of reasons to make a change, most of them hard to dispute. Except for one... who would select the replacement? The athletic department would spend millions of dollars to buy out Callahan's contract, then spend millions of dollars more to repeat the circus-like coaching search that Husker fans endured four years ago.

This isn't a problem that has a simple solution. Firing everybody is a simple knee-jerk reaction, and with both sides as entrenched as ever, it just ain't happening immediately. Harvey Perlman, who has Pederson's back, already has found himself in the crosshairs of criticism for his plans to expand the UNL campus onto the State Fairgrounds. And LA Times columnist T.J. Simers was surprised to find that every Nebraskan seems to hate Steve Pederson.

Let's remember the words of Steve Pederson of December 1st, 2003:
"No one should apply for this job who doesn't plan to win national championships."

"Nebraskans want, and expect to be, the very best."

"I believe we should be playing for or gaining on the (national) championship on a consistent basis. I don't feel currently we are playing for or gaining on championships."
In September 2007, it seems to me that we are even farther away from that goal than ever. Meanwhile, the Steve Pederson Error continues.


Omababe said...

Let's see, how do I put this ... not to be a total b*tch about it, but ...

On one hand, I don't feel like I've lost my identity if Nebraska loses one, and I'm not (jokingly) threatening to turn in my diploma for one from Beloit Community College or anything like that.

However, back when Frankie was rudely and summarily dismissed, the Powers That Be were saying it was because he was not winning, but I kept hearing all kinds of undercurrent and innuendo and such about some non-athletic factors being the major nail in the pink-slip so to speak.

Even though I'm still a Nebraska fan, there's still a bad taste in my mouth over the way Solich was fired, and the way Callahan was hired. I really don't think the air has been cleared over that. :(

I'm willing to give the Pederson/Callahan regime a chance, but I'm not seeing any progress, sorry. :(

Oh well, at least it wasn't like Notre Dame.

Big Head said...

How much would it cost for the new AD to buy out Frank's contract? HAHAHAHA

Larry Coker is sitting patiently by the phone.

Shame if they fired Callahan you'd have to compete with Michigan, Notre Dame, and North Dakota State for a new head coach.

Husker Mike said...

Steve Pederson, and thus Bill Callahan, as well are not going to be fired anytime soon. That being said, at some point in the not-too-distant future, they are going to be held up to the standard they set themselves.

Christopher said...

RE: omababe

I often wonder if some of Frank's non-football issues had been given as a reason for his firing (I have no idea if they were or not) whether Nebraska fans would be more patient with the new regime. It seems to me Steve P's big mistake wasn't in firing Frank but while doing so saying our standards weren't being met. I had no problem with Frank Solich winning 9 games. I'll have no problem with BC winning 9 games this year, should that happen. The big error Steve made was reinforcing the view shared by some fans that 9 wins and conference championships aren't enough. Some fans want it to be 1995 every year. Steve made the error of telling them that this was possible if they would just give the new coach time.

It's not gonna happen. Not this year. Not next year. Not with Bill Callahan as coach. Not with his successor. Probably never in my lifetime nor in my children's lifetimes will that level of football be played at Nebraska (or possibly anywhere). Osborne's last four teams (1994-97) were the most successful in the history of college football. As great as the current USC dynasty is, they are still, according to the numbers, inferior to Dr. Tom's last class. Setting that level of performance as the standard by which to judge is to guarantee failure. No one is now and no one may ever again achieve that level of greatness. Failing to realize this is the fundamental flaw in how Steve and many Nebraska fans think.

Tom Osborne was one of the greatest coaches in college football history long before the 1994 season. He built his resume by never winning fewer than nine games and always having his teams in the conference title hunt. As long as BC continues on that trajectory, he should be allowed to continue as Nebraska's coach, no matter what standard his boss claims to have established.

SoCalHusker said...

USC was truly concerned about this game because their wide receivers were untested and young. If Nebraska could have stopped the run it would have been a different game. Patrick Turner couldn't hold onto anything all night. Realistically, Bill Callahan is too analytical and can't relate to the moment or the players during a game. He stands on the sidelines, with his reading glasses, trying to figure out which play to run next. There are a million guys at MIT who can do that! Steve Pederson is a completely different topic. He's a political animal who would sell Callahan down the Platte River if it meant keeping his job. The college game is played with passion. The kids need a passionate leader. Where is the next great NU coach?

Christopher said...

socal: gotta say I think you're way off. Passion doesn't count for much. Did you ever see Dr. Tom yelling on the sidelines? Do you ever see Jim Tressel or Bob Stoops yelling and getting worked up? Plenty of coaches are cerebral schemers rather than yellers or screamers. Callahan and Coz spend so much time with their play sheets because their philosophy depends on detailed preparation for any and all situations.

Now how well those schemes are designed, especially on the defensive side of the ball, is worth critiquing. Anyone willing to defend Coz?

TB said...

Christopher, have you ever watched Oklahoma play? I swear Bob Stoops is going to have a coronary every time OU plays.

Husker4Yankees said...

I tend to agree with both SoCalHusker and Christopher. TO was not a "get in your face" motivator. He was analytical on the sidelines, but he simply a great offensive mind and knew his schemes inside and out. His success came with a lot of time, practice, experiencing failure, getting the right personnel, etc. However, he was an inspirational motivator and had assistant coaches that were in your Frank Solich and the famous push up contest. I think a head coach can be stoic, as long as he motivates through other means.

huskerbeav said...

Really not excusing Coz at all here and I'm not necessarily comparing situations, but an interesting thought occurred to me the other night.

I remember (as I'm sure most of you do) when Nebraska was struggling to break into the top tier of college football in the early 90's there were many calls for Charlie McBride to be run out of town.

A few years later the guy would be heralded as a genius for the defenses constructed in the mid- to late-90's that helped win 3 national championships and launched many Huskers to successful NFL careers (Wistrom, Brown, Minter, Rucker, etc.)

Again, not necessarily saying anything here, just thought it was an interesting perspective.

Flame away...

DSC4NEB said...

Ok, if Callahan goes, Pederson better go also. Get a new AD, have some suggestions, but, the new head coach would be our last 'head coach' Bo Pelini, who was undefeated!

irafreak said...

I agree with Christopher. I didn't expect to play for the NC every year. It's unheard of. Not even USC does that. I just hate the double standard set. SP clearly doesn't want to admit he opened his mouth and said too much so he'll ride this thing to the grave. Turner Gill could coach this team to 9 wins consistently and with class. I don't even care about wins anymore..just want the identity back.