Bo’s Public Relations Nightmare
Not long ago, a few of us at the Big Red Network were commenting to one another on how Bo seemed to have turned a corner when it came to public relations. There was Jack Hoffman, the boy with cancer that scored a touchdown at the spring game and then the unwavering support of recruit Zack Darlington through his concussions. Even leading into the game with UCLA, you knew he'd handle the tragic death of Nick Pasquale the right way. But as billionaire investor Warren Buffet put it, "it takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it". A sound bite here, a secret recording there and a lot of that goodwill has evaporated.
Taking on Tommie
You sort of wonder whether Tommie Frazier has had an axe to grind with this coaching staff over former NU quarterback Brion Carnes. Carnes is Frazier's cousin and blood is thicker than water as the saying goes. Carnes transferred from Nebraska after it appeared his opportunities to become a starter weren't very promising. Carnes burned no bridges and handled things in a classy way. Still, it would be understandable if there were hard feelings there.
Frazier's Twitter comments about the defensive staff were hardly unique among Husker fans. There are many calling for jobs in the wake of another horrible outing. But it's one of the first I can recall involving a former player. Even as bad as things got with Kevin Cosgrove's defense in 2007, I don't recall loud any public cries for his job by former players three games into a season. Of course, Twitter wasn't quite so big in 2007, either. By it's nature, it invites this kind of behavior.
Bo's response, "we don't need him" may seem harsh or disrespectful to one of the all-time greats, but how would you respond to someone calling for you to be fired? If anything, the response seems somewhat restrained.
The Deadspin Recording
No fan base would be thrilled to hear comments like the one secretly captured from Bo in the wake of the Ohio State comeback in 2011. Pelini directing f-bombs toward fans near a microphone isn't the wisest move he could have made. Nevertheless, you'd have to imagine even the great Tom Osborne probably had some resentful private thoughts about the fans over the years. In simpler times, you could picture Bob Devaney on a bender making such remarks in a crowded bar in say 1968. A two-year old rant shouldn't mean all that much, but it certainly fuels the fires of overreaction that Nebraska fans are prone to in the wake of a defeat.
Nick Saban survived comparing a loss to Louisiana-Monroe to 9/11. Winning can cure a lot in the PR department. It put him on thin ice when he was 6-6. Now that he wins 12+ games a year, it's pretty much forgotten.
Does Pelini Have a Point?
Tommie Frazier isn't the key to turning around Nebraska's defense. That hardly seems debatable. More relevant might be Pelini's reaction to fans booing unpaid college kids who make mistakes on a football field. Is that the right way to support the team?
Husker fans are both the best thing going for NU football and the worst thing about it. Filling the stadium, making noise, buying merchandise, and donating to the athletic department all provide real tangible benefits to the program. But the negativity in the wake of losses or even unimpressive wins, can only hurt the psyche of the youngsters that play the game and potentially even scare away recruits. Imagine if we shook off losses as if they never happened. If we cheered on the team even when they fell behind by 21 points. If our support of the team was truly unwavering.
Can (or should) the team do better on the field? Absolutely. Does it help the team in any way to complain endlessly about it? Not one bit. The time for discussion of who ought to keep their job on the coaching staff should always wait until the end of the season. There's plenty of time for it then. Nobody won a prize for being the first one to say we should fire Kevin Cosgrove. You won't get a cookie for saying John Papuchis should be unemployed either.
Football is supposed to be fun. We should allow ourselves to be entertained by the action but not waste one ounce of energy being negative. Life's too short for that. As Nebraskans, we've been spoiled by great success. But we were never entitled to it and we never will be. We need to stop acting as though we were.