There is no place for anger management in football. And frankly, the
term “anger management” is a bit of an oxymoron. Sort of like “Nebraska
hope.” Note to the Children of the Corn: as it pertains to Oct. 16, keep
hope suppressed. Come early. Wear red. And then, be quiet.
Husker fans, we appreciate the passion you show toward your football team. As Texas fans, we have always admired you and appreciated your tradition and class. But you began a dance with the dark side a few years ago by hiring a coach from the Bob Stoops tree. In the old days, your very own Tom Osborne was always college football’s gentleman, and he lived the role and won championships. Sure, Oklahoma and Miami beat you now and again, but would you rather lose a couple of games or would you rather be a Sooner or Hurricane? Yeah, us too.
But somewhere – say, with about one second left on the clock in last year’s Big 12 championship game – you changed. I don’t recall Osborne ever going into a rage with officials after losing a tough game, and he’s lost a ton of games much bigger than the one you lost to Texas last December. I don’t remember him cussing his opponent, or blaming the referees or money or anything else for a loss. Heck, he’s even friendly with Barry Switzer.
But that’s not you anymore.
Since December, when the referees (accurately) “put one second back” on the clock, you’ve become a loud, antagonizing, arrogant, ignorant, fact-ignoring, excuse-riddled shell of a program you used to be. You’ve become Oklahoma.
Worse – for you – you’ve done something Osborne wouldn’t have dreamed of doing: you’ve publicly called out an opponent. As everyone from Lincoln to Austin has heard, the crack group of Nebraska marketers (another oxymoron) decided to produce a video (www.redoutaroundtheworld.com) that encourages fan zaniness with a thinly-veiled ultimate goal: Beat Texas.
To his credit, Osborne has ordered the ‘Beat Texas’ part of the message deleted, but he is definitely a part of this entire build-up. He’s the director of athletics, and he’s the one who hired the coaching staff. And maybe we shouldn’t be surprised by Osborne’s role in all of this. After all, he’s the one who orchestrated the Huskers’ move to the Big Ten, though he has denied that Nebraska moved primarily because of angst against Texas.
After his coaching career ended, Osborne spent some time representing his state in Washington, so between rubbing elbows with politicians and Oklahomans, maybe we shouldn’t be altogether surprised by his transformation. It gets pretty muddy in there with the pigs.
The problem with your newly-discovered petulance is that not only do you not have the tools in the toolbox to complete your task (a.k.a., an offense), but your attempts to drum up support are not only completely unoriginal, but also personal.
Still, how can we Texas fans not appreciate you imploring your backers to “Be Loud”? After all, Texas came up with that line more than 10 years ago. You’ve also asked your fan base to “Come Early,” which must’ve excited your marketing folks when the idea was first tossed across the picnic table outside the barn. Texas first thought of this in Ricky Williams’ Heisman year, which by the way included a shocking UT win in Lincoln. That shock wore off a long time ago.
The “red-out” aspect of your promotion is quaint, but unoriginal. Do you really have to tell Huskers’ fans to wear red? Really?
Here’s the deal: had you won last December’s game (you didn’t), Mack Brown would’ve been the first one to cross the field and shake your coach’s hand. He would’ve been gracious in defeat, as always. The refs wouldn’t have been blamed. Bank accounts would’ve have been blamed. DeLoss Dodds wouldn’t have had to be in the tunnel after the game calming down his coaching staff (Will Muschamp being the possible exception).
Like you, the Longhorns have suffered painful, gut-wrenching defeats. Oklahoma mocked the Longhorns in the early 2000s. The BCS mocked us in 2008, thanks in part to the voting bloc led by Stoops’ coaching brethren, two of whom lost their jobs last year following player treatment controversies. In Georgia, Bulldogs’ fans still ask: What time is it in Texas? Answer: 10 to 9. We’ve lost to Rice, for God’s sake.
And like you, the Longhorns will be ready on Oct. 16. A game that would’ve been a great game between a pair of programs with mutual respect has now become a “game to circle” for both teams. The problem for you, though, is simple: you don’t have the players to make your dream come true. Your marketing team certainly has plenty of swagger, but your real swagger – spelled S-U-H – is not walking through that door.
When next year begins, you’ll beat Western Kentucky and Idaho, and then you’ll lose in Seattle to Washington, to a team with one of the best quarterbacks in the country. You’ll beat South Dakota State, and then you might very well lose also to Kansas State in Manhattan one game before hosting Texas. It’s a very real possibility that you’ll have two losses before your red-out game with Texas. Your video will look silly then; you’ll have burnt orange crop circles in your corn.
And you’ll lose to a Texas team fueled at least in part by your lack of respect given since last December. Your red throng will file out of the stadium disappointed, again, still bitching about that one second from last year’s title game. But then your hopes will be buoyed with another thought as you click on the radio and begin to listen to a litany of excuses for the ninth loss to UT in 10 tries: the Big 12 North is crummy, so maybe we’ll win the division again and make things right by facing Texas for the championship in Dallas.
Texas fans would like that very much.
[Also see the Tuesday Podcast where Inside Texas' Ross and Ross
try to search out the origins of the Huskers' growing obsession with
Texas and with "10/16/10".]