Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Lunatic Fringe

Finally, we have an idea of the size of the "SaveRosenblatt" movement: about 1.9% of the city of Omaha. Earlier today, a parallel campaign to recall Mayor Mike Fahey over the plan to replace Rosenblatt Stadium came up a dismal failure as they only obtained 40% of the signatures needed to force a recall election. The opposition to the Mayor's plan always seemed bizarre, and now with the city close to securing a long term agreement with the NCAA, perhaps it's time to dismiss the "SaveRosenblatt" folks as lunatic fringe.

Speaking of lunatic fringe, it seems the few remaining members of the Steve Pederson fan club took a lot of joy over the fumble on the opening, tribute play of the spring game. I guess now that they've been completely marginalized, they have to find SOMETHING to hold onto after their hero nearly ran the program into the ground. But if there was any doubt that the vast majority of Husker fans are glad that the last four years are history, it was erased on Saturday afternoon when over 80,000 showed up in Lincoln for a freaking scrimmage. Jon from CornNation reported that fans started lining up around 6:30 in the morning, even though they were assured of getting a seat in the stadium.

After digesting on the spring game for a few days, I'm still not sure what to think about the Huskers in 2008. It certainly didn't clarify much, other than I think the defensive line is much improved. (Either that, or the offensive line isn't as strong as we've been told.)

The success of the Husker offense is going to revolve around Joe Ganz managing the game and the stable of Husker running backs being productive. I came away from the Spring Game even more impressed with Roy Helu and Marcus Mendoza. I already liked Quentin Castille as well. That's four backs who look like they can contribute. And if Kenny Wilson can somehow get healthy again, that would make five.

Wide receiver is going to be the question mark offensively. Nate Swift and Todd Peterson are going to be the anchors, but some of the young receivers are going to have to step up this spring. Curenski Gilleylen can stretch the field, but will need to improve his hands. Chris Brooks one-handed catch showed he has good hands. With the depth at I-back looking even stronger, I've got to believe that we'll see Marlon Lucky split his time between I-back and wide receiver. If you want to get the best players on the field, you need both Lucky and either Helu or Castille on the field at the same time occasionally.

Defensively, should Husker fans be pleased or worried that a walk-on and a recently converted I-back were among the stars at linebacker last Saturday? I guess pleased, when you consider the lack of depth going into the spring. Certainly, I think the position will be stronger than I thought it would be a month ago. But it's still cause for worry, because that position only went from being a major liability to a concern.

The biggest takeaway is watching and listening to the change in attitude in the players. Almost to a man, they all seem happier than before, and it shows on the field. Will that make a difference next fall? Hard to say, but considering how horrible things were towards the end of 2007, it couldn't hurt.

But even if they improve...does that mean a better record in 2008? Improvement could mean that thirty-point blowout losses simply get cut to single digit losses. In 2004, I knew that the team would struggle with the transition in offense. In 2008, it's not so much a change in methodology but rather a change in attitude and coaching. I still could see a 9-3 or even a 10-2 record, if everything breaks right and we see incredible improvement on defense. On the other hand, 7-5 isn't hard to fathom with road trips to Norman and Lubbock, plus games against solid teams like Virginia Tech, a top-ten Missouri, and a Kansas squad coming off an Orange Bowl victory.

Maybe we'll find out more in the remaining months...but I have a feeling we really WON'T know until the end of September or perhaps the middle of October. Until then, it's all speculation.


Sammy Vegas said...

Husker Mike,
The new stadium in Omaha is getting to be ridiculous. I hate seeing it on the news everyday. It will happen but like you said it is all speculation. I say do it and get it over with.

Also, come meet us up sometime in the fall. We have spots at the LJS and Champions Club. However, it is kind of an adult rated show. :)

Husker Mike said...

If it's anything like the photos you post on DXP... I might have to bring AJ along. That might just be enough to convert him...

DT said...

I didn't make the spring game...400 miles is a long way to travel for a practice. But one thing that didn't make the radio broadcast was the part where "Steve Pederson fans" were on hand for the scrimmage. Silly me, I figured only Husker fans attended such events. In all the NU games I've attended, I've only heard fans cheer for an AD once... and that was at the A&M game this year. However, I've never heard anyone cheer for a former one, so you've got one on me there.
But keep grinding that axe, Mike...the way I figure, as long as both sides continue to do their part to maintain the Pederson divide, his NU legacy will remain intact (much to the delight of the fan club to which you refer, I'd assume).
Fortunately, by now it seems that (a few straggling extremists aside) the "vast majority of Husker fans" you mention continue the tradition of counting themselves as neither Pederson fan club members, nor Pederson grave-dancers...but rather rational folks who still support their University and football team, regardless of the politics of who's in charge of such. If you really want to marginalize the fringe groups, here's a tip: the most infuriating way to accomplish such would seem to come via a complete disregard of their existence.

Thanks for sharing your photos and putting a personal touch on your day at the stadium (I noticed you even got some pub on the Wiz...nice!) But seriously, man...is there any end in sight to this self-righteous, we-were-right-and-they-were-wrong chest thumping at every possible opportunity? I know you pride yourself on calling it like you see it, but the way I see it...comments like those I point to only serve to perpetuate the 5-year rift NU fans have suffered through. Many more chose to note the failure of the opening option play with the positive slant of "a sign that the defense will play with emotion and swarm to the ball". You chose the opposite tack...and in doing so, you accomplished little more than reopening the wound that has infected our fanbase for half a decade. In a previous writeup, you felt another petty swipe merited inclusion: "But at least fans didn't give this fumble a standing ovation, unlike the opening pass into double coverage that fell incomplete in the 2004 spring game." So, in specifically detailing a long-forgotten memory of Husker spring games gone by, it appears to this reader as you've succeeded in calling out 60,000+ people as being idiots...for being nothing more than misguided optimists. Well done...you were right and those who cheered for Callahan were wrong, if that makes you feel more Treu Husker-ish than the rest of the simps, great. All I ask is can you just finally get over how right you were and how keen you were to the whole Pederson charade? The "vast majority" of us would like to move on already.

I truly don't mean any disrespect here and I don't mean to lecture...but I guess bloggers are in the business of lecturing to the masses, so I figure that if you can dish it out you can take it too. I really just wanted to finally engage you in a discussion of an ongoing trend that I've found unsettling in your blogging efforts about the Huskers: You're always so quick to claim how happy you are that the last four years are behind us...yet in the same breath you never fail to bring up the very lightening rods of controversy from the last four years. This sort of logic is inconsistent & disingenuous...and my only purpose here is to try to help you examine this aspect of your writing.

And one last thing...the actual reason I chose to offer a comment (where I otherwise ordinarily wouldn't):
Regardless of the context, I gotta give it up to any blog post featuring America's favorite cartoon barfly, Andy Capp...

Husker Mike said...

I'm sure there were many places where the play of Tyler Wortman was credited. He deserves credit; he played great on Saturday. Forcing a fumble is something the defense needs.

But there was one particular thread on a particular board frequented by the remaining members of the Pederson supporters who took joy in the failure, not in Wortman's play. The thread opened with "HA!" and followed with comments such as "Suck it" directed at people who backed last year's changes. I thought that was out of line, almost as much as the vocal minority of people in Omaha protesting the Mayor and the new stadium.

As for the "self-righteous" comments...well, that goes to perception. I've tried to avoid "dancing on the grave" as much as possible, but I suppose it will pop up from time to time. But it's hard to ignore the sellout crowd for the scrimmage, or the upbeat feelings of nearly everybody.

Unfortunately, for now, that also means a contrast against what was. Soon that will fade into the past.

DT said...

I hope you're right...this too shall pass, I suppose. I just wanted to bring the point to you regarding how the divisive tendencies of the factions on the message boards you mention are the very reason why I don't go on those boards hardly ever...similarly, this is also the reason that I don't go on other message boards that swing in the opposite direction. All I'm saying is that when you allow yourself to inject a similar spirit into your own writing (whether "pro-this guy" or "anti-that guy") it's a bad thing...I'm not suggesting for a minute that you don't have the same right to be critical that we all enjoy--but you've had a long habit of beating down on a particular drum and all I'm suggesting is that that ship has sailed...to continue to make reference to a guy who's currently the AD at Pittsburgh just shows that you're willing to sink to the level of those whom you claim to despise. Just food for thought, really.

But your also correct in pointing out that sometimes I'm sort of picky and choosey about how I read your words...it really is a matter of perception, I suppose. You echoed other commentators in voicing how upbeat and positive the vibe in the crowd was, but I chose to focus solely on the couple of pot shots you made. That was wrong of me, I'll try to keep more of an open mind when I read your blog from now on, instead of just responding with a knee-jerk reaction to those few passages that I disagree with.
Thanks for responding to my comments.

Husker Mike said...

I did take several potshots (three to be exact) on Tuesday night, but it was driven more by the abysmal failure of the Omaha mayoral recall petition. But then after I thought about it, I realized it also fit a couple of others...and decided to just get it out of my system. And hopefully put it behind me.

But you are right... I could call this the last word on it, but someone else might respond, and it goes on. So I've got to watch myself and not let it linger on. Your post did remind me I need to update my profile as well.

Perhaps the last weekend was kind of a cathartic release for the last four years of frustration. (If you read my take on the Nebraska Way over at CornNation, you'll find even more...) Hopefully I've gotten all this out of my system.

You are right... we need to move on.