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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

In Defense of Kool-Aid Drinking Husker Optimism...

So apparently I wasn't paying attention to blog traffic lately (or apparently the comments), but this post about a former Husker--who played in 3 national championships, no less--is saying that "he wouldn't be surprised" to see Nebraska in a BCS game this season.

I saw that this post was linked here, here, here, and here. Apparently some don't share in the optimism (although some do).

First of all, I totally get that. I believed and believed and believed until my belief turned blue the past 3 years or so with Callahan. Every year was "the year," every year was going to be better, blah blah blah. So for a Husker fan to start pounding his chest talking about how great of a year it's going to be does seem a bit...desperate. Totally understand.

However, there are legitimate reasons to ignore those feelings of betrayal and to go ahead and hook back up with that cheating girlfriend/boyfriend that is overhyping the Huskers in the spring.

1. Talent. Talent. Talent. So much of this coaching/AD/philosphy change (er, change back) has been talked about, you all know all the talking points. But the big one is recruiting. How many times have you heard "we don't care about stars, we'll know a good football player when we see him"-type quote over the past few months? 1,000? 10,000? I certainly agree that Callahan lived and died off of star ratings on Rivals, which is ridiculous.

However, it should not be overlooked. When you look at the Rivals' team rankings over the past few years, it matches up with the top 25 pretty well:

USC - Top 5 recruiting class past 5 years
LSU - Top 10 recruiting class 4 of 5 years
Florida - Top 10 recruiting class 4 of 5 years
Georgia - Top 10 class 6 straight years
Texas - Top 10 6 straight years
OU - Top 10 4 of 5 years

And on and on. You get the point. Or do you? What's the point again? Oh, I remember: Nebraska has had a top 20 recruiting class the past 4 or 5 straight years. Now, I know this is confusing. You're saying to yourself "well, we sure as shit didn't have a top 20 team in any of those years." And you're right. However, there's a reason for that--none of the young talent got to play.

As has been my completely unfounded theory, Vrzal told me after seeing several practices so far this season "you would not believe the talent that has just been wasting away down there the past few years." I don't need to go on; I already typed about this in the first post. The fact is, however, that there is a ton of talent on this team that just never was A) Used, B) Motivated, C) Developed.

By all accounts, Bo Pelini and his staff A) use everybody as much as possible, whether that's at their "natural" position or not, B) motivates like few others do, and C) have a track record of developing talent.

The biggest thing in my opinion, however, was where the info was coming from. For anyone that has talked football with Vrz, they know that he is always from the "hope for the best, but expect the worst" camp--particularly the past few years. I remember specifically last year when everyone was fired up about the upcoming season, he predicted they'd be lucky to win 7. And this wasn't a Callahan thing; he has never predicted the Huskers would be better than an 8-win team since I've known him (circa 2000).

On top of that, the guy knows what a great team looks like. I mean, the guy played on the best team in the history of college football. He practiced against the best players in the nation every day for 5 years. I believe this is why he was never high on big Husker predictions; I mean, what's going to impress you when you've lived/played/seen the best?

So for him to talk this highly about a team with a guy who has never been a head coach in his first year HAS to tell you how great the team looks already.

I think when you couple this with every interview you read/hear from a current Husker--all the "we actually look forward to practice" quotes, and you hear how excited these guys are to play for this staff and to make up for last year...if there's as much talent on this team as I believe there to be, finally matched up with coaches that understand college football and have a penchant for coaching up their players, why would it be so crazy to think this team can win a lot of ball games and sneak into a BCS game?

I could cite a bunch of other things here, but what it comes down to is this: if you continue the success of the offense had once Ganz became quarterback, and add to it a radically improved defense, you should easily see a Top 20 team. Think about it: the Ganz-run offense AVERAGED 54 points a game. 54! They scored 39 on one of the best defenses in the country last year. So if Bo can just get his defense to only give up 4 or 5 touchdowns--which is insane and I do not think that will happen, it will be better--we should win most of the games we play.

So, jilted lovers that are Nebraska fans, I understand your trepidition. And I understand that people who think that the Huskers will win 9 or 10 are out of touch and are reminded "this ain't the '90's anymore, you suck!" However, I humbily submit to you the post above.

I think the Huskers will shock the world and be a legitimate Top 20 or higher in 2008.

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Ganz AVERAGED those numbers against two of the worst pass defenses (and horribly overrated KU) in the entire league. He also did it without any sort of running game, because he was constantly down 30+ points from the get go.

But if you think they'll be a top 20 team...you have every right to think so.

Just pass down the bong when you're done.


PS - I do like the blog.
Ganz scares me as a full time starter. From all accounts I've heard from Spring ball, he's been erratic at best. So Joe, go prove yourself again!
AJ, that's certainly true. My point is that we've got a guy who clearly is solid behind center playing with the same offense, just minus Mo Purify. Another year of experience for most of these guys--particularly the offensive line--is only going to be better.

I guess we'll see, but I really do think they'll be top 20. If not, I'm not going to be pissed or disappointed. The only way I will be disappointed this season is if the team plays the same way as last year, and you see sideline shots of guys who don't really give a shit as to what's going happening on the field.

As long as the fire is back this season, I'll be pumped. That said, I think a team that has as much talent as Nebraska playing with pride and purpose will lead to a good number of wins.

I do look forward to you swinging by and keeping us in check through the season, however.
I'm curious to know how A.J. feels about Creighton...A.J., are you out there?
Thanks GA Hill - also thank you for visiting our husker tradition form found at BillMustGo.com

Always enjoy reading your blogs. Keep up the great blogging!

I'm not dismissing the possibility that Nebraska could be a top 20 or better program in 2008. I'm really hoping it will be. I really, really, REALLY want it to be true.

But just wanting it doesn't make it so.
^Absolutely true, but along with all the reasons I pointed out, the home schedule is obviously in Nebraska's favor. Not to mention that I don't think Kansas will be anywhere near as good as they were last year, nor Mizzou, nor Virginia Tech.

I'm really worried about OU and Texas Tech...other than that, I think that NU can absolutely win every other game on the schedule.
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