Today, I got a rare Husker Football/Maverick Hockey doubleheader, and believe me it was a tale of two programs heading in opposite directions. When UNO hockey nearly outscores the Huskers in football this weekend, that pretty much says it all.
Three weeks ago, I told JJ from CornNation after the Iowa State game that the Huskers had to significantly improve or they'd go 0-for-4 in October. Since then, the Huskers have been blown out three weeks in a row and now have to head to Austin to face the Longhorns. Followed by a road trip to Lawrence to take on the undefeated (yep...that's right...) Kansas Jayhawks. Nebraska still needs to find two more wins after getting blown out in two of the more winnable games down the stretch.
A lot is being made of Shawn Watson taking over the playcalling in the early part of the game...a definite sign that this staff hasn't completely given up on this season. If the coaching staff reviews the results, you'd have to argue that Watson should get the job permanently. Callahan's play calls in the two minute drill featured short throw after short throw to Marlon Lucky which weren't going to get the Huskers anywhere near scoring range. And the goose egg on the scoreboard in the second half with Callahan back in charge speaks volumes. Do I really expect Watson to take over play calling next week? Of course not. Remember, Bill Callahan is doing an excellent job, remember?
Meanwhile, we watched that old obsolete option offense run through the Husker defense like a hot knife through butter. You'd think that after watching A&M struggle to throw the ball last week, you'd see the Huskers try to stack the line and try to stop the Aggie run game and dare them to throw. Of course not. Stephen McGee ran for 167 yards, but could have easily run for well over 200 if he would have turned several runs upfield instead of being satisfied to dart out of bounds after a moderate gain.
Now the rumor mill is alive with talk that Callahan and Cosgrove are close to accepting a buyout to resign. Is it believable? Hard to say. The same rumor mill says that Nebraska is already talking to Bo Pelini at LSU (very unlikely in the middle of the Tigers' season) and would bring Turner Gill back as offensive coordinator (yeah, he'd give up a head coaching job to become a coordinator) Heck, why not suggest that Charlie McBride was going to take over. (Oh wait, we heard that one too...)
Bottom line... such talk is more wishful thinking than anything else. Tom Osborne told us yesterday that there are no easy fixes. Repairing the damage that Steve Pederson and Bill Callahan inflicted to this program is going to take time. The question is...how much more damage can be done? We already see that the players are disenfranchised. But what if Bill Callahan starts pulling the redshirts of guys like Marcus Mendoza or Patrick Witt? Would the minimal playing time and contributions that newcomers seem to make under Callahan be worth the loss of a season of eligibility in the future? Frankly...I see more downside than upside to desperation moves.
Hold your breath Husker fans... 4-8 is looking more and more like the Huskers final destination this season. Who saw this coming? Nobody. Even AJ the Huskerh8er predicted a 6-6. How we now hope that AJ was right?
I did make it back to Omaha in time to catch most of UNO's 5-1 victory over Alabama-Huntsville in the season opening Stampede. Considering the number of players out this weekend due to injuries and other issues, a very impressive debut for a freshmen dominated team. Yes, Manitoba and Alabama-Huntsville is not tough competition, so you can't gauge much from it. But it was a nice start. The next two weeks will tell us a lot about UNO... next weekend is a road trip to #2 Miami, followed by the #6 Weasels of Michigoon.
Right now, I'd rather put my money behind the Mavs than the Huskers the next couple of weeks.