Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Two Dumbest Things I've Heard from Nebraska Fans (and Media!) This Week

For the first time since 1981, Nebraska has started the football season with a 1-2 record.  It's not a surprise to me; I predicted a 1-2 start (and a 7-5) to this Husker season.  I won't claim that I predicted how Nebraska would lose those two games, though. I highly doubt anybody did; in fact, I get the feeling that most people didn't even see those two losses coming, and that's caused people to react strongly.  (And they should: nobody should like a 1-2 start.)  But those strong reactions have led to two "HOT TAKES" that, quite frankly, are simply ridiculous.

The first is from Bo Pelini supporters that a 1-2 start is simply unacceptable and proof that Mike Riley is merely a "likeable loser" as a head coach - and in over his head at Nebraska. Truth be told, I tend to agree that Mike Riley isn't the right guy and isn't an improvement over Pelini, but there's one little problem with that assertion.

Three games isn't anywhere near enough to judge Mike Riley. It's THREE GAMES in - and each of those two losses came on the LAST PLAY OF THE GAME. Both were games that Nebraska could have won - but didn't. That's bad on Riley, but really, you have to give Riley more of a chance than this.

The second is the far more common statement, but it's equally ridiculous:  "A Bo Pelini team would have simply folded and lost by perhaps 50 on Saturday."
I take that back, the more I think about it, it's actually the more ridiculous and inane hot take. The Pelini supporters are simply taking advantage of their first opportunity to take their shots. It's simply too soon to make that statement, but they might still be proven right.

The "Bo-leavers" really only have two games to stand on:  the 2013 UCLA game and the 2014 Wisconsin game.  Yep, those games got away from Nebraska, and they folded.  But the counter-evidence to that "Pelini teams would fold" claim is far stronger.

2011 Ohio State.  It's the game that brought us "How about?!?  Stan-Ley!" and the first Pelini hot recording.
But that's not the only comeback. In 2012, Nebraska fell behind Michigan State 24-14 at the start of the fourth quarter...but didn't fold. They rallied to win 28-24. In 2013, Nebraska fell behind Northwestern 21-7 and rallied to win 27-24.

Last season, it happened twice. Nebraska fell behind Michigan State 27-3, but came roaring back in the fourth quarter to pull within 27-22 late. A late desperation heave into the end zone was dropped by Alonzo Moore, and the comeback came up short...but the Huskers did come back. Arguably, if Nebraska hadn't gone for two point conversions on those fourth quarter touchdowns, they could have simply tried to get within field goal range on that final drive...and very well could have sent the game to overtime.

And against Iowa, Nebraska trailed Iowa 24-14 before roaring back in the fourth quarter to take the lead. In the Holiday Bowl (sans Pelini), Nebraska trailed 45-27 in the third quarter, but made it a game in the fourth quarter.

Oh, there are others. Like that miserable 2009 Suh game at Missouri. Nebraska trailed Missouri 12-0 after the third quarter, but somehow erupted for 27 points to win going away. In 2008, Nebraska trailed seventh ranked Texas Tech 24-10 in the fourth quarter, but stormed back to somehow force overtime.

So yeah, we've seen Nebraska come storming back from double digit deficits before. In fact, the common theme from many of Nebraska's beat writers for both the World-Herald and Journal-Star was "here we go again" with another frantic comeback.

So no, it's not assured that a Pelini team would have folded up. In fact, the evidence strongly indicates that a Pelini team more than likely would NOT fold under the pressure.

Bottom line: it's a ridiculous, stupid claim.

Mike Riley isn't going anywhere after this season. He doesn't even need to show progress from last season. Make it to a bowl game in 2015, and he's back - no questions asked - in 2016.  There's no need to puff up Riley with false charges against Pelini. Eventually, Riley's record - and record alone -will determine his fate.

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