Then and Now
No coach in Nebraska now or for many years is ever going to be able to do their job without comparisons or references to the amazing accomplishments of Tom Osborne over his tenure as the Husker head coach. But perspective is important. Bo Pelini's current set of problems have as much to do with the media and fan reaction as it has to do with his performance and behavior. And nobody, not even Osborne, has been able to avoid the spotlight of media and fans concerning themselves with results and actions of their coach.
Heading into the 1991 season, Osborne was under pressure for his lack of ability to win the big game. Sound familiar? Those who caught Sports Illustrated in the waiting room of the doctor or dentist in May of 1991, have seen it before. Specifically, Osborne was derided in this article for a few items, but a couple things stand out as particularly fitting to today's situation.
"Nebraska has lost four consecutive bowl games for the first time in the school's 101-year football history. The Huskers have become a classic bully, beating up on weaklings but falling short against teams their own size. Check the record. The 1987 Nebraska team won its first nine games, then lost to Oklahoma 17-7 and to Florida State in the Fiesta Bowl, 31-28. The 1988 team took an 11-1 record into the Orange Bowl only to get clobbered by Miami 23-3. In the regular season the 1989 team lost only to Colorado, 27-21, but was ripped by Florida State in the Fiesta Bowl, 41-17. Then came last season, the most bitter pill yet...In the Florida Citrus Bowl on New Year's Day, Nebraska was routed by Georgia Tech 45-21, and the Huskers wound up tied for 17th in the UPI poll and 24th in the AP poll."
It was the middle of 7 straight bowl losses for the Huskers before they finally won the National Title. Lack of on field success against the perceived equal or greater opponents was not the only thing that dogged Osborne at this time.
"That's typical of Osborne. Rather than look for causes within the program, he has tended to blame bad luck and outside forces. He thinks, for example, that the media and some fans harbor unrealistic expectations in this age of parity. He has a point, of course, but that hasn't stopped the Big Red faithful from voicing its discontent—and some of that grumbling is awfully close to home."
As we should all know, 1991 was not the year to win the big game. But this article considered the pending results of the season important enough to effect the employment status of Osborne at the end of the year.
"Osborne may deny it, but the 1991 season figures to be more crucial for the Huskers than for just about any other traditional power. The opportunities are there for Nebraska to make a significant impact on the fans and the pollsters ... But another late-season swoon, and even Osborne's most ardent supporters will begin wondering if a change at the top might not be in the best interests of all concerned, including Tom Osborne's."
Bo Pelini's position as head coach can sure be questioned at this time, but any decision should not be made now. The season as a whole (on and off the field) should be taken into consideration once the final regular season game (or conference championship game) has been completed. Looking into past history will not foretell the results of 2013, but it should impress the need use reason instead of emotion when it comes to what should be done today. Now is not the time for action. Now is the time to observe, reflect, and wait.