Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Where Zac Taylor Ranks All-Time At Nebraska, Or We Promise Not to Mention Mark McGwire and the HOF or Danny DeVito Getting Drunk With George Clooney

At least two people came up to me this week to for whatever reason congratulate ME for Zac Taylor being named Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year. I thought for a second, after giving them the Beavis confused face, that I shrunk 12 inches and turned into Billy C. They reminded of how I've been touting Taylor all season long. True, I said from the first game he should be all Big 12, but I never thought this would happen (at least not with a healthy Adrian Peterson or Colt McCoy in the league).

Taylor's got two more games yet before we can figure out where he stands in Husker History, and understand you really need to do a Pre-WCO and Post-WCO list with the stats that some QB's can and put up in this new offense. Remember, Nebraska's never exactly been Quarterback University (although Bill C certainly wants that to change). But right now, the gold standard is as follows (or in other words, there aint no way even if the Corn finish 11-3 that Taylor finishes ahead of these two):
  1. Tommie Frazier: Contrary to popular belief, Frazier did NOT play all four years of his Husker career. He didn't play until midway through his Freshman year, where he was absolutely brilliant. He missed most of his Junior Year with an injury, and didn't even get to play the entire Orange Bowl that year, even though he was named MVP of the game and secured Tom Osborne's first National Championship. But God what a player. In many circles, he's considered one of the greatest college football player ever, or at least the greatest college QB of all-time. He was the leader of the 1995 National Championship team -- widely considered the greatest college football team of all-time -- and had 5,476 yards of total offense with a 33-3 record as a starter. For good measure he was MVP of three straight Bowl games, all three of which determined the National Champion (the last two of course Frazier won). Let's just say it's going to be a while before anyone comes close to knocking Frazier out of first. They'd have to have a Matt Leinart collegiate career to do so. Word is that Osborne cried when he was told Frazier was coming to Nebraska.
  2. Turner Gill: Most of what you can find (or at least google) on Turner Gill is that he's the coach of Buffalo. You can email him if you want, and his direct line is listed on the school's website. Wikipedia barely mentions his playing career. Yeah, he was a lot more than that. In short, he was Tommie Frazier without the titles or press. He was 28-2 as a starter for the Corn, and literally carried the team on his back in the 1984 Orange Bowl after Mike Rozier got hurt. In fact, if Irving Fryar hadn't thrown the game -- I mean dropped that pass -- or Jeff Smith had better hands, we'd be talking about Gill as number 1 with a bullet. Stats don't begin to tell the story with Gill. He led perhaps the greatest offense in college football history with Rozier, Fryar, Roger Craig et al. He was Tommie Frazier before Tommie came to NU. Perhaps the greatest compliment to Gill can be paid this way: When Billy C came to town in 2004 to completely overhaul the staff, the only coach he kept was Gill, and I'm guessing a lot of it had to do with what he meant historically to Husker football.

The rest of the list, in no particular order whatsoever, looks like this:

  • Eric Crouch: Vastly overrated because he rides that Heisman for all it's worth. He did (almost backhandedly) lead the Corn to a National Title game in 2001. Had to be talked off a cliff by Solich in the fall of 1999 (because he took his ball and went home when he learned that Bobby Newcombe won the QB job from him). In truth, Taylor makes him look like a AA QB.
  • Steve Taylor: Was a very good player during his four year career with the Corn, but he's more remembered for his mouth than his arm. Never won the really big game. Is now a successful real estate agent in Lincoln.
  • Scott Frost: Only a starter for two years (was only at NU for two years, if you don't count the whole unfortunate Lawrence Phillips incident in 1995 when Frost had to sit out for a year after transferring from Stanford), and for most of the time was booed until he won at Washington in 1997 (So many fans pinned the horrible shutout at Arizona State in 1996 directly on Frost). He'll forever be remembered for his passionate speech following the 1998 Orange Bowl, asking voters how they could possibly vote Michigan ahead of Nebraska and securing Osborne a share of a 3rd National Title. In a lot of ways, he became the epitome of what Nebraskans wanted from their football stars.
  • Vince Ferragamo: Definitely (until Taylor pulls a Tom Brady) the most successful pro QB from Nebraska. We forget that until Turner Gill came in and was so devastating with the option that Osborne's teams could really air it out. You can also buy some real estate from this former NU QB, but you'll have to do so in Orange County.
  • Mike Grant: Sorry, couldn't resist.
  • Keithan McCant: OK, I'll stop now.
  • Jerry Tagge: Will always be remembered for that Sports Illustrated Cover photo of stretching over the goal line against LSU to win the first National Championship for Nebraska in 1970. For good measure, was the QB of the 1971 title team as well, a team that was Number 1 for all but one week of the entire season. The stats don't tell the story with Tagge (In fact, if you look up the two big games from 1971, he didn't have a touchdown pass).
  • Dave Humm: Had all of those passing records until Taylor came along (and also had the most passing yards in a game before Joe Dailey screwed everything up). Devaney's last QB and also the quarterback for TO's first two teams. Wound up winning two Super Bowl rings with the Raiders (although he didn't start for those teams). Truth be told, is probably the legitimate Number 3 on this list. Completed a school-record 15 consecutive passes against Kansas in 1974, the same year in which he led the Big Eight in both passing and total offense.
  • Zac Taylor: Will ultimately be remembered as the first star of the Billy C era and the first true sign that Callahan's plan might actually work here. People are already quick to point out that Taylor is getting these accolades this year because the Big 12 is so downtrodden. Completely different from everyone else on this list (except for maybe Humm, who's records he topped in only two years at Nebraska). Time will tell where he ranks. Still, the numbers tell a lot with him. First QB to throw for over 400 yards in a game at Nebraska. Statement victory that may have saved Billy C at Texas A&M. In the next five years, there could be two quarterbacks who are miles better than Taylor, or he could be the bell weather for the WCO. He certainly is right now for the Corn. Perhaps Taylor's biggest legacy at Nebraska will be this: If it weren't for Zac Taylor, we're probably all sitting around this week talking about Billy C being fired and who the next Husker Head Coach will be next year.


Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Callahan Complex

LINCOLN, NE: "Oh yes, we definitely happy."
--Vincent Vega (John Travolta), Pulp Fiction, 1994

A 9-3 record so far, with a guaranteed two more games left on the schedule (and yes, two games that the Corn could actually lose). At this very moment three years ago, Frankie Solich had the same 9-3 on his season's resume after beating Colorado ON THE ROAD, and that was enough to make Steve Pederson pop a cap in his ass.

The 9-3 start in 2006 is enough to bring back jubilation to the Capital City and around the Husker Football Program for the first time since TO was bringing back National Championships from Bowl trips. Maybe it was because there was a surprise (at least to me) trophy presentation after the game for winning the Big 12 North. Seriously, I don't remember anything like this after they won the North in the past, so this had to be something Pederson demanded for the season's final home game, but it would have been especially awkward if the Corn lost to CU.

By the way, what if I were to tell you that 58,000 of the Big 12 Championship tickets were mailed out to Nebraska addresses. Is that something you might be interested in? Even with the euphoria that took over Lincoln and surrounding areas following Nebraska taking care of business against the undermatched Buffaloes, the Billy C critics (of which I've been accused of, but evidently not EVERY week, more on that later) were still out if not in full force but at least vocal enough to get my attention. A few of the most notable:

  • "What's with all the fucking trick plays? Can't they just run the normal offense?" OK, here's where I'm going to come off as blowing Billy C (again, allegedly), but does anyone who hasn't read the 350 pound playbook really know what the "normal" offense is? I'm sure that on at least 3 of the 834 pages in that thing there are a handful of razzle dazzle ones listed. But you know what? One, these plays are a part of the WCO, and two, they've generally worked, dating back to the fake punt against USC and starting off yesterday with the fake field goal that Joe Ganz threw for a touchdown (and you can't tell me that everyone wasn't excited to see Ganz, the heir apparent, getting a touchdown throw at home before next season). All told, Billy C (or Jay Norvell, depending on what you believe) called six "trick" plays yesterday. And most of them actually worked. Or let's just say this: Colorado certainly wasn't ready for any of them, and there were no major turnovers because of them. Plus, isn't it to the Corn's benefit to have the variety of trick plays available on film for other teams to prepare for, which just gives the Bob Stoops' and Mark Mangino's (when he's not busy trying to figure out whether or not to eat that third sandwich) something more to get ready for during practice. I'm all for this from time to time, and I doubt you see anywhere near six of these next week against the Sooners (or, ah-hem, Texas, whoops). One thing's for sure: The days of Tommie Frazier standing over center on 3rd and 9 and yelling to the defense, "Hey boys, we's gonna run the option to the left and get about 15 yards out of it. Good luck trying to stop me or LP or Ahman Green" are o-v-e-r. Deal with it.
  • "So where was all of this shit when we played USC?" Excuse me, looks like I've gotta go down on Billy C once more. USC runs a similar system on offense to Nebraska's now. I'm sure their defense was a wee bit more familiar to some of the tricks and treats than say, I don't know, Colorado maybe. I'm also guessing that early in the season that the team didn't have a lot of those plays down yet. Please let me stop being so nice to this guy...
  • "We let a team like COLORADO play with us close for an entire 3 quarters, we can't put teams away early anymore." OK, this is really starting to hurt, I should just go be the guy's PR guy right now. First of all, USC, the barometer for where Nebraska wants to be, does the same shit. Go back to their first game of the season, where they let Arkansas hang around for the entire first half before opening up the can of whoop ass. Or old school fans will remember the "wearing the opponent down" thing from their Best of Tom Osborne DVD's. Exhibit A would be the 1995 Orange Bowl against Miami, where TO won his first title. It's why games are 4 quarters and not 2 or 3. So you get a little frustrated for part of the game (OK, I can finally get up now, I was in that camp too!).
  • "Everything I hear about Callahan is he's a douchebag!" Yeah, you might remember I brought that up months ago, when I reminded everyone about Billy C's sins and how he'd handled some things during his short tenure here. It's been our most popular post, one people still remind me of and tend to bring up when I evidently go and praise Callahan from time to time (hold on, we're getting to that). Yes, we know he handled Ross Pilkington quitting the team wrong, and the whole Harrison Beck 5-Star QB thing ended in awkward fashion. But you know what he's done with these situations? He's made one thing perfectly clear to everyone who's made the decision to come and wear the scarlett and cream. You're either in our your out, right now. And if you're out, you're out, don't expect me to get on my knees and beg you to come back. I'm sorry, but the days of Solich driving down to Millard to talk Eric Crouch off the cliff and promise him his job back are over. If you're not happy, Billy C's not going to bolt the door down and stop you from going someplace where you might find happiness. So Billy C isn't going to get the Universal love that everyone threw Osborne's way. I do know that the guy certainly does get this: Winning solves everything. And no matter how many "Fucking Hillbillies" comments or throat slashes he makes, if he wins just one national title, he's automatically up there with both Devaney and Osborne.
  • "You know the second he hits it really big here, he's bolting for a job in the NFL." During his first season, I swore that indeed would be the case, primarily because he spent his entire press conferences comparing everything to the NFL and how things are done in the pros. The misery of that season really took something out of the guy. Thankfully, our man learned a lot from that year. He finally got the NFL out of his system, moved out of his Embassy Suites hotel room and bought a great house for his family and started to really feel comfortable here. Like I said, winning fixes everything. And in many ways, Billy C is a lot like Jimmy Johnson when he coached football. Jimmy was the happiest, most giddy son of a bitch in the world when his team's won, but he couldn't have been more miserable or angry at everything and everyone following a loss. Billy C's got some of that in him. He might also be past the point where succeeding in the NFL appeals to him (I mean, can you think of another coach who left the league on worst terms? Ray Handley anyone?). Maybe he just now wants to be Pete Carroll and dominate the college game (if he gets to that point, we're not there YET). The only thing that I can seriously see happening, speaking of Jimmy, is a Jerry Jones/Jimmy Johnson ego fallout that could legitimately happen between Callahan and Pederson. It's just a matter of time before Stevie P starts to want in on this spotlight. If you thought Bill Byrne was insufferable when Osborne brought back titles, wait until you see how badly Stevie P could rub Billy C, especially with both of their egos.
  • "He's got to do something about Kevin Cosgrove." This cry started happening whenever Nebraska fans would run into people from Wisconsin back in 2004. The famous line from the Wisconsin native was always the same: "Hey, I want to thank you for taking Kevin Cosgrove off our hands. He absolutely RUINED our defense!" Cosgrove is still the big pink elephant in the room, the one major fly in Billy C's ointment. Kids are still missing tackles. There was the complete defensive meltdown at Oklahoma State, a loss you have to pinpoint right at Cosgrove. The big rumor is that Billy C has already told Cosgrove to start looking for another gig, even encouraging him to put his name in the hat for the Iowa State job. Some team (I think it was the Minnesota Vikings) had an interest in Cosgrove after last season. My guess is Billy C is going to encourage Kevin to take whatever job becomes available soon. Maybe an 11-3 finish could change everything. I know a 9-5 record would definitely force Cosgrove out. Defense is the one area that Nebraska has failed to improve on since Bo Pellini left.
  • "Shouldn't they just play 'Short People' by Randy Newman over the PA when Billy C leads the team out to the field?" Alright, that one was from me, but you've got to give me something here since I've spent the better part of this post doing nothing but praising the guy. Might explain his Napoleon Complex.
  • "YOU (that would be me) have been flipping and flopping on Callahan all season. So where are you this week?" OK, first of all, going back to that infamous first post, I've made my feelings about Billy C perfectly clear. I have always "wanted" him to work out here because he's just so different about anything that's ever been a part of the biggest thing going in the state of Nebraska. From day one, he's brought new energy, a completely new offense that literally made people's heads spin when they first heard that he was doing away with the option. He and Stevie P both realized that for a program to win and win big, you needed a salesman more than anything. He got the ultimate door to door salesman in Billy C. I fell for his charms his first 6 months on the job, meeting him after 3 months, where he gave me the old Billy Clinton Handshake: The shaking of the hand while grabbing your elbow with his other hand. Thanking me for the good things that the company I worked at had done for the program. Of course, I had to look quite a ways down to make eye contact with him, but that's another thing. So following every Husker game, I've just said exactly what I saw. The old "vacuum cleaner" salesman blog following the Oklahoma State debacle. The big one everyone wanted to remind me about yesterday was the one I wrote following the USC game, "Callahan's worst coaching job by far." I had to go back and re-read that thing. I didn't suck the guy off there at all. I even quoted "Long, Long Way to Go" by Phil Collins for chrissakes. I did see that I predicted that an 11-3 season was on the horizon, that USC was going to again play for the National Championship, and that the Corn still had a long way to go before they were in USC's class. For whatever reason, people still maintain that opening things up against perhaps the best team in college football would have garnered maybe even a Husker victory. So I'm asking for a few friends to at least read all the work before putting me in the same category as Tom Freaking Shatel of all people. Oh, and I did mention we're on the right track. Even if the Corn lose next week (a big possibly if they play Oklahoma, and by the way, is there any doubt that Bob Stoops is Coach of the Year? Look at what he's done with losing is quarterback before the season and his Heisman Trophy candidate running back midway through). They'd still get either the Holiday Bowl or Cotton Bowl. And if they somehow pull the upset, Billy C has the Corn BCS bound. In year three of the Callahan regime. And if you're asking if I'm buying that sales pitch, right now I'd have to say yes. But he's got a tougher schedule next year. A better USC team will come to Lincoln and a better Texas team awaits in Austin. Everyone's going to expect a Top 10 team and a lot more next year. If Nebraska wets the bed in 2007, it's going to be one long year for Billy C.

It doesn't matter what I think of the guy, or what any other huge Husker fans say about Billy C. What matters is that junior and senior high school kids who sit in their living rooms with their parents and buy exactly what Billy C is selling them on those recruiting days. Their buying Callahan stock in spades. And the way college football is right now, where you really don't always out coach somebody, but you definitely have to out recruit them, that's all that matters from here on out. You don't have to out coach anyone anymore. You just have to out recruit them. And for that you need the ultimate salesman, which, here I go down again, Bill Callahan most certainly is.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Colorado Is Nebraska's Biggest Rival...For Now

The older generation simply refuses to accept the Colorado Buffaloes as nothing but pretenders to the Nebraska throne. They think that the 2006 season is what the CU football program has always been. They remember that no Nebraska team lost to Colorado from 1968 - 1985, and that the Corn have pretty much owned the series, going 45-17-2 so far.

But what we all need to accept is that Colorado is frankly that one hated team on the schedule EVERY year. The two teams play each other every season during what ESPN has now officially billed as "Rivalry Week", on the day after Thanksgiving. Yes, it used to be that way with Oklahoma and Nebraska, but as Neil Diamond once warned us, "Used to be's don't count anymore, they just lay on the floor 'til we sweep them away." And basically, Corn fans would just like to sweep away everything about Colorado, dating back to when Woody Paige was at The Denver Post and would annually call out Nebraska for being one of the most God-forsaken places in the world. This was before he took a job in Bristol, Connecticut, of course.

The truth is that Colorado has done plenty on the field to stake a claim as Nebraska's true current football rival. Consider:
  • 1986: An uncharacteristically unprepared Nebraska team gets whipped in Boulder for the first time under Tom Osborne, 20-10. You could excuse the Corn for overlooking the Buffaloes, considering they'd been the laughingstock of college football for quite some time.
  • 1989: The rivalry really starts. Then CU coach Bill McCartney had gone out of his way to put the NEBRASKA game in all-red letters on the schedule. Nebraska was somewhat down in terms of talent (they had just lost 3-year starter Steve Taylor as QB and replaced him with inexperienced Senior Gerry Gdowski). Colorado was ranked #2 in the nation and ready to announce they were for real by defeating #3 Nebraska. After their own quarterback Sal Aunese had died of cancer, some Husker fans actually came into Boulder with signs that read "Cornhuskers Bury Sal" (the game was on CBS, and they figured using words that began with C, B & S would get their signs on air). Colorado was able to stake their clam with a big 27-21 victory.
  • 1990: Nebraska under Osborne NEVER lost at home. Especially to Colorado of all teams. The 1990 Buffaloes under McCartney were the real deal, coming into Lincoln and thrashing the Corn 27-12. This was the season of Colorado's lone National Championship, a title they'd have to share with Georgia Tech. Buffs fans can also thank Nebraska for that, as the Corn would lose to the Yellow Jackets in the Citrus Bowl at the end of the season. Mostly people (especially NU fans) bring up the infamous "5th Down Game" at Missouri that helped Colorado when talking about their title.
  • 1994: Number 2 Colorado comes to Lincoln to face backup quarterback Brook Berringer and the #3 Cornhuskers. Probably the greatest moment in the series history for Husker faithful. Berringer led Nebraska to a huge 24-7 win over an extremely talented Buffs team that included the likes of Kordell Stewart, Heisman winner Rashaan Salaam, Michael Westbrook and Rae Carruth. More importantly, the win vaulted the Corn to #1 in the country, a position they'd hold the entire season, finally winning Osborne his first of three national championships.
  • 1995: Just another day at the office for the greatest college football team of all-time. Nebraska throttles the 7th ranked Buffs at Boulder 44-21. But mostly this game is remembered for one of the greatest lines in Cornhusker radio history (behind only Lyle Bremser's "Man, Woman and Child did that put 'em in the aisles"). Kent Pavelka noticed late in the game that Christian Peter and Jason Peter were both taking a breather from the game for a few defensive plays. Pointing this out to the listening audience, Pavelka said, "Nebraska is now playing with it's Peters out." And we're stuck having to listen to Jim Rose on radio while Pavelka still walks the earth.
  • 2001: Perhaps the biggest loss in Nebraska football history. After a decade of unprecedented dominance in college football, Colorado exposed #2 Nebraska in the worst of ways. In a game that many point to as the beginning of the end for Frank Solich, the Buffaloes embarrass Nebraska 62-36 in Boulder. And it seemed a lot worse than the score indicates.
  • 2003: Solich's final game as head coach. The heat had been on him big time for two weeks following the disastrous 38-7 loss to Kansas State at HOME. We'd learn later that AD Steve Pederson had already decided to fire Frankie because of that debacle. But the thinking of most going into the Colorado game was that if Frankie could somehow lead the Corn to victory over Colorado in Boulder, his job was more than safe. In Solich's finest hour as Nebraska head coach, the Corn did just that, taking care of business on the road and rebounding with a 31-22 win. In the following morning's Omaha World Herald, columnist Tom Shatel said the victory was enough for Solich to get a second chance, but he also mentioned something could be on the horizon. He was right in a big way. Pederson fired Solich the VERY NEXT DAY, all with no idea who to replace Frankie with. After all, Billy C still had another month left to keep calling his Oakland Raiders team "stupid."
  • 2004: The official end for the Corn. Colorado comes to Lincoln and ends their final streak, the infamous 35-year "Bowl Game" Streak. The Buffs were too much in Joe Dailey and Ross Pilkington's final game as Huskers, ending Billy C's first season waaaaaay too early. Final score: Colorado 26, NU 20. "We're building towards our championship season," Billy C would say after the game.

So yes, the Buffs have had their way against the Corn more than a few times. Nebraska still gets more excited about beating CU than any other team (see last year's big Billy C breakout game at Boulder for an example). Enough to qualify this affair as a true rivalry. It's not Michigan/Ohio State, it's not Oklahoma/Nebraska, but for now, Colorado is the only team Nebraska can truly call it's hated rival.


Monday, November 20, 2006

The Biggest Celebrity Meltdown Ever

Maybe he can play this off that he was having an Andy Kauffman moment. Frankly, I have no idea how you can spin this. I'm sure that is overflowing with new folks today, and none other than Jerry himself is "sick" about all of this. It's not just that he used the word...and he's's HOW he used it.

(Actually what Jerry meant to say is, "The Season 7 DVD just came out, millions are wanting it for a Holiday gift. We paid you handsomely to participate on this thing...seriously, you couldn't have waited a few years to try this stand-up that I don't even do anymore???")

No big updates on youtube yet, but they do have the poor guy in happier times, doing much happier stand-up. Be warned, however. It's ridicuously unfunny.

So what happened here? An incredible television talent who made one of the Top 5 greatest television characters ever....and well I guess that's just about it. CLICK TO READ ENTIRE POST!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Manning Will Never Win Anything

You can tell everything about a leader by how they react during moments of despair of defeat. Why everyone still appreciates John Elway and remembers him fondly is how he behaved despite getting slaughtered in 3 Super Bowls, only to keep his chin up and eventually finding a way to win 2 straight Super Bowls when he finally had a supporting cast. Elway exemplified the comeback, something he did more than any other quarterback before or since, in the regular season or playoffs, including that incredible "Comeback" in January, 1997 at Cleveland for his first of five Super Bowls.

The way Peyton Manning acts when things don't go his way leads me to think he's come as far as he's ever going to be to even playing in one Super Bowl. He whines, he points, he pouts. All despite having probably the two best receivers in the league in Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne. Yes, Dallas had an incredible game plan today in their win over the Colts. But the game just proved what you can do to a Peyton Manning team by simply punching him in the mouth a few times. He turns into the ultimate baby.

Seriously, I've never seen a more gifted quarterback act this way, and this dates back to his career at the University of Tennessee, a career marred by the fact that he could never beat rival Florida, he came back for his senior season with the idea of winning a Heisman he'd sadly lose to Charles Woodson because the entire media is in love with all things Ohio State and Michigan, and lay down so that Tom Osborne could win one more National Championship during both Manning and Osborne's last ever college games.

(The look on Peyton's face, when they announe Woodson as Heisman winner December, 1997, is one of the all-time moments and probably led to Bill Simmons' infamous "Manning Face". Why this isn't available on right now is beyond me.)

(OH -- and before I forget, Bo Schembechler never won a single national title, he's been, as Keith Jackson said on Friday, "In trouble for quite some time", and his death didn't deserve the ESPN coverage that was Princess Di-esque, or at least in their case, TO swallowing 30 Vicodin-esque. My favorite Bo Schembechler memory: He tried to fire Hall of Fame Tiger announcer Ernie Harwell. Blah de fucking blah. Sorry for your loss Michigan, but this isn't as big a college football loss as say a Bob Devaney, who won two National Championships, encouraged a much greater rivalry in Nebraska/Oklahoma, and who's death I don't even think ESPN acknowledged because it didn't happen the day before a Nebraska/Oklahoma game. And there should be no rematch, despite the game on Saturday that wasn't as classic as everyone's making it out to be. Let Ohio State take on USC or Arkansas if they get to that point. Nobody outside of Columbus or Ann Arbor cares about Ohio State/Michigan anymore. Plus I'd love to see Pete Carroll and his white long sleeve shirt smack Jim Tressell in the mouth. Please let this happen.)

At any rate, I'm just completely disappointed in Peyton Manning, who's going to go into the Hall of Fame as one of the most prolific quarterbacks ever, as probably the greatest Fantasy Football Quarterback of all-time, but one who never gets a taste of the Super Bowl. I'm thinking this all goes back to Archie Manning, another quarterback who never came close to winning anything. It's obvious, especially from the way Archie handled Eli Manning before the 2004 NFL Draft, that both of these kids have been spoiled and coddled their entire lives to the point that neither can be counted upon to lead a group of men to the promised land. The Giants are already taking incredible heat for trading Philip Rivers in that draft for Eli. Peyton wants to point the fingers at the refs, other players, other obstacles, when things don't go his way.

Of course, Archie wound up in Canton, but was the face of the legendary "'Aints" football team. Peyton's biggest wins so far have been the last two years in New England and a few weeks ago when he brought his team back in Denver, in a game where I famously mocked his tourettes-esque audibles while hoping he'd make a 5-team parlay of mine come true. Three very big wins. But when shit goes bad, when shit is so not going his way, and more importantly, a stadium of wild fans is screaming against him, Peyton folds like the cheapest Winnie the Pooh indoor plastic tent built for five year olds. Peyton Manning has got to come to grips with his behavior in these moments in a big way right now. He's got to watch serious film of his behavior, and more importantly, since his father certainly won't do this, have somebody point out to him how negative an impact it has on everyone around him.

When Peyton and the Colts lost that AFC Championship Game at Foxboro a few years ago, Boomer Essisan famously went on the air and called Manning this generation's Dan Marino (with Marino present, no less). That's a huge insult to Marino. Dan Marino got his team to the Super Bowl and consistently took talent challenged teams to the playoffs. And all the while Marino never panicked. He may have never won the big won, but he at least got a shot at the title, something that may never come Peyton Manning's way.

If I'm Peyton and Eli, I start watching old film of John Elway, and focus on how he acted in both victory and defeat. John Elway eventually got to leave the game the ultimate winner. Unless the Manning boys, and in particular Peyton, can star picking a few things up from Elway and other predecessors, the Super Bowl is nothing but a pipe dream. CLICK TO READ ENTIRE POST!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Come on! Billy C Gave Us the Week off, What Did You Expect?

Impressive and definitive list of it's kind from Time Magazine of all places. Funny how Rolling Stone has done a lot of these and missed the boat almost each time. The great thing about the list is there's a side poll where they suggest a few albums that should have made the list, and there are three that I think should be on there:

  • Dusty in Memphis, Dusty Springfield
  • Appetite for Destruction, Guns N' Roses
  • The Band, Music From Big Pink

The list has all of the usual suspects (the five great Beatle Albums, which will forever have to populate all of these lists). The did include two REM albums (Out of Time and Document), but missed their best album (Automatic for the People, one of my top-10 all-time favorites). They did remember U2's finest hour (Achtung Baby), got the RIGHT Neil Young Album (After the Gold Rush, most lists put Harvest on there instead, but Gold Rush is much better), and got Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music by Ray Charles room on the list, and album that includes the great "Too Far Gone", which none other than Don Henley covered in concert the day after Charles passed away. I'll put the mp3 of that song up later today. Happy reading.


Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Nebraska Executive Game

After squandering a 21-7 lead, if Billy C would have blown today's game against A&M, it would have been a loss of Solich-esque proportions. Instead, a huge comeback capped by the only way it could happen -- an underthrown pass to the best receiver to come to Nebraska since Irving Fryar in Maurice Purify -- has Coach Bill Callahan on the verge of joining the executive game. In three weeks -- no matter if they shit the bed the day after Thanksgiving at home against Colorado, that game is now nothing more than a tune up -- the Corn will travel to Arrowhead Stadium, to play for the Big 12 Championship against Texas. And really for the first time since Nebraska lucked into playing in a National Championship game they had no business playing in back in January 2002, there are legitimate smiles in what Stevie P by way of the Red Sox calls "Husker Nation." Finally, a huge win against a very good team ON THE ROAD.

And knocking at the door to get into the Executive Card game is one Billy C, who's taken his share of hard knocks from yours truly and a host of others (and God I hope I can can only continue to find ways to make fun of the guy). Understand, here's the current list of the Nebraska Football Executive Card Game:
  • Bob Devaney: Forever the Godfather, the reason anyone ever got so passionate and dedicated to Husker football in the first place. A permanent seat, our Marlon Brando.
  • Tom Osborne: Even outdid the "Bob-father", winning 3 National Championships, and was thisclose to winning two more (the two point conversion in the 1984 Orange Bowl and the failed kick against FSU in the 1994 Orange Bowl). Another permanent seat.
  • Frank Solich: Christopher Moltisanti to Osborne's Tony Soprano, the heir apparent who didn't live up to the billing. But he did win a Big 12 Championship and played for a National Title while coaching a Heisman Trophy winner. He can be booted from the game at any time however...
  • Johnny Rodgers, Mike Rozier, Eric Crouch: Heisman Trophy winners get a lifetime pass here, even though Crouch's win looks more and more like Gino Torretta's with each passing year. Rodgers and Rozier will forever be two of the greatest to ever wear the Scarlett and Cream, and can play all night in this game.
  • Tommie Frazier: Somebody else who gets a lifetime pass, even though he lost a Heisman that was most deservedly his to Eddie George. Won back to back National Championships and is still considered one of the greatest college quarterbacks of all-time.
  • Grant Wistrom: And not just because the game needs a bouncer. Wistrom was the defensive leader for three national champions, and won his share of hardware. It's doubtful Nebraska wins two of those three without him, and you need a defensive representative at the table.

And guess who's now able to knock on the door? That's right. Our kicking boy Bill Callahan. But understand, time at the table means he's got to somehow beat Texas in KC, which would get him into a BCS game in only his third year at Nebraska. And if he wins a BCS game, that means that the 2007 Corn start the season as a top 10 team, even though they've got a schedule that includes USC, Oklahoma State, Texas A & M and trips to Texas and Kansas. That's looking way too far ahead. Let's just focus on now.

My guess is that the time of November 12 - December 1 will be spent planning for the Texas rematch, now that the Colorado game is meaningless (no matter how much Billy C is going to spin it, and God knows he's going to). Billy C with time on his hands was able to properly prepare for a decent Michigan team -- who could be playing for a National Championship this year -- and beat them in last year's Alamo Bowl.

Now of course, Billy C could disappoint Husker faithful in two weeks and lose at home to CU, then get slaughtered by an improved Texas team in KC, and then even lose a Holiday Bowl or Cotton Bowl to a team the most certainly should win. And if that happens, all of a sudden this year's team has six losses, which is completely unacceptable. But for the next two weeks at least, Callahan can go knock on that door at room 523 at the Cornhusker Hotel and ask Wistrom if he can buy in for some chips at the executive game. The other boys might tell Billy C that he's not ready to play in their high stakes game yet, which is fine. But after today's game where I guess the greatest compliment you can give the Huskers is they didn't wind up giving a road win away, Callahan earns the right to at least knock on the door for the executive game.

Don't bother listening to what the media pundits have said in the past. Today was FINALLY a statement win for Callahan. Proof FINALLY that the West Coast Offense was worth it (Taylor and Purify on the game winning drive proved that alone). Nothing in the past three years -- not the win at Boulder in 2005, not the Alamo Bowl victory, not the Missouri game of last week -- is as big as Billy C's Houdini act today. A game that could have been one of the worst in recent memory wound up being the biggest of the Callahan Era. And that alone at least gets him to sneak a peek at the Executive Table.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

What if I were to tell you that I had a package deal with Dennis Rodman and Vern Troyer? Is that something you might be interested in?

Dennis Rodman will star as the coach of a dwarf hoops squad in "The Minis," with Vern Troyer as one of his players. "Me and Mini-Me," Rodman says. "It'll be wild." Cameras roll in 2007.
--ESPN Magazine

A Dirty Laundry Imagined Conversation

Int -- Hollywood Studio Bungalow

Producer: Alan, congrats on the new gig!

Studio Chief: Thanks Murray. Sit down, sit down. It's 2:30, care for a cocktail?

Producer: No, I'm fine.

Studio Chief: OK, well, I might have a short one...what do you got for me today?

Producer: Big Picture: Think "Fish That Saved Pittsburgh" with the Ooompa-Loompas from "Willy Wonka."

Studio Chief: Uh-huh, want to do a line? No? I think I may just do a line or two, it's been a long week.

Producer: Remember "Blue Chips" with Nick Nolte? Well, what if instead of a drug-addled, slightly insane method actor as the head coach, you have a former actual NBA star? Granted, it's a former NBA star with some borderline bipolar disorder. But we can get him cheap -- room, board and three bottles of Jagermeister cheap. Alan? Excuse me, what are you doing?

Studio Chief: Oh, I'm just shooting some heroin in-between my toes...go on, I'm listening? So you want us to greenlight a movie with Ruben Patterson?

Producer: Right. What? No. Dennis Rodman. As a head coach. Think "Eddie," but instead of the New York Knicks it's a team of dwarves. A team of dwarves who by the way--

Studio Chief: Could probably beat the Knicks? I get it. Ha-ha, very funny. You're reading too much Bill Simmons. Who else is in the cast? Can you help me with this bottle of Percocet?

Producer: Sure, sure...well, we got Mini-Me, Vern Troyer.

Studio Chief: Uh-huh, and he's what, the Two-Guard?

Producer: We really haven't drilled down that far into details...

Studio Chief: Billy Barty at Point? Peter Dinkalage in the Post?

Producer: I'm afraid Billy's dead and I don't think think this is Peter's kind of movie...

Studio Chief: What, the Station Agent's too good to be in a dwarf basketball see, that pisses me off.

Producer: You know, we were thinking no-name dwarves for the rest of the cast would be cheaper anyway. So what do you think, are we in bed together?

Studio Chief: (into intercom) Angie, has my shipment of ether come in yet? Murray, I've got to be honest with you. I'm so high right now I can see three of you, one of which is slowly melting in front of me, so I'm hoping that that one is not the real you. And next on my schedule is a meeting with the writers of "The Benchwarmers" so I'm not exactly Merchant-fucking-Ivory. But this idea sounds like pure unadulterated shit. Why don't you take it over to Tom Cruise's new studio...he likes anything with someone shorter than him in it.


Sunday, November 05, 2006

Damon (not Johnny) is A Gifted Actor; So Is Bill Callahan

(This post was written much more effectively before blogger decided to do an update for 45 minutes, and the entire post was lost in the process. The re-write isn't nearly as good. My mother did the best she could, sorry.)

First off, this should surprise absolutely nobody anywhere. What, the guy was everywhere but Sesame Street and people in La-La Land are surprised that it was the #1 movie in America? Come on, was there anyone in the world who didn't know this guy had a movie debuting this weekend? I'm just surprised ESPN wasn't behind promoting it, this guy was literally EVERYWHERE. I still say maybe only 10 per cent of the population understands the whole thing though.

And my wasn't it great to get a non-Husker related post, and of all things it was about Matt Damon. Look, I'm fond of the guy's acting skills, he's a major talent and I'm glad he's chosen most of the pictures he's been in so far with his little movie career. He's underapreciated in both Ocean's Eleven and Ocean's Twelve. I'm just proud of the guy for surviving the ridicule he took in Team America, but then again, everybody got hit hard in that thing.

So back to Billy C and the state of the Corn. I got a bunch of email's saying "They're 7-3, what else did you expect?" Oh I don't know. 8-2 maybe, hell 9-1 was legitimate if you consider that they almost beat Texas at home, never mind the wheels coming off like they did at Okie State. I'm just wondering where I can sign up to order my Big XII North Championship ring early. I'm sure the Omaha World Herald will have something on this anyday now. Oh, and they had to go out of their way to hyperbolize what a huge win it was yesterday for the Billy C era. "A signature win" battered World Herald Columnist Tom Shatel said, "Finally."

I'm not even going to bother to check, but I'm sure Shatel and company used the words "signature" and "win" when discussing the win at Boulder in 2005 against Colorado. The same thing said after that Alamo Bowl when they beat a decent Michigan team. Hell, for all I know, Shatel thought the October 16, 2004 win against Baylor in Lincoln was a "signature" win. All I know is that the way things are going, if the Corn beats Texas in Kansas City for the Big XII Championship, I fully expect Billy C to personally parade down O Street in Lincoln with that Big XII trophy for over a week in December.

(BTW, can we stop calling it the Big XII Conference? I mean, are we filming Rocky sequels here? Isn't everyone, Billy C included, OK with calling it the Big 12 Conference? I mean, this isn't the Super Bowl, is it? Can we lose the Roman Numerals? Good, Big 12 it is.)

(Oh, from the "This Just In" department, Neil Patrick Harris is Gay and Loving it. I think Mackenzie told me about this in 1991).

I'm not a broken record, but I've made it perfectly clear that I so want Billy C to succeed at Nebraska. He's fun to have around. He does and says thing that were unheard of during the Osborne era. Some weeks, he really pulls some fucked up shit. And now, our salesman has brought in some serious talent that Osborne and his great recruiters would have never have even talked to about come to a place called N-E-B-R-A-S-K-A. It's interesting to note that after this "Big 12 North or Bust" season, it's going to be time for Billy C to grow as an actor and prove he's not a one trick pony. In other words, he's got to go from master salesman/recruiter to decent head coach.

After the Big 12 Championship game, it's more than just recruiter for our boy. That's the time for Billy C to pull a Matt Damon and move up to the next level, and become Coach Bill Callahan. Damon's been hanging out with A-listers George Clooney and Brad Pitt in Italy after becoming boys with them following the "Oceans" movies. Perhaps Billy C should mention that he's had some conversations with Pete Carroll (and not just to thank him for not running up the score on him back in September). Drop the name "CHARLIE WEIS" a few times at some press conferences. From the Big 12 championship game on, it's the A-List level for Billy C and crew. The Corn are a top 10 program from then on out. It's a BCS game every year or bust. The Big 12 North is a given. The Big 12 North as a goal is for suckers like Dan McCarney. Hell, look in your rearview mirror Billy C, and you'll see that fat bastard Mark Mangino sprinting up right behind you. Mangino's obviously got more than just the Big 12 North in mind on his plate.

Let everybody know that you're a much bigger deal than Dave Wannstedt. Let McCarney and Mangino try to catch up to you. Firmly kick Kansas State and Colorado in the ass. It's time for you to become Matt Damon to their Ben Affleck. Get a seat next to Clooney and Pitt, Billy C. Go for that segment on 60 Minutes. Stop wanting to make movies like Reindeer Games and Bounce and go for that big Scorsese picture like The Departed. You can be big time. You told us that back in January, 2004, when you quickly wiped away the failure that was your last year in Oakland, promising some strange new way of life called the West Coast Offense. You sold us on incredible recruits (some of whom strangely enough have already left under bizarre circumstances). We want rent bad Affleck flicks anytime. Give us the Scorsese film, set a goal of a national title and see if you can't really coach some talent and not just recruit.

But if you brought J-Lo around Lincoln for a few months, we'd all be fine with that too.

(And if this blog wasn't everything you wanted it to be, remember, it had to be written twice with the blogspot maintenance schedules. Which of course led to two more vodkas.) CLICK TO READ ENTIRE POST!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Seriously, This Was Never Meant to Be A Husker Blog Site

But I guess that's what happens when you lose two games in a row and their coach "SELLS" you on the idea that the greatest thing in the history of college football is winning the Big XII North Division. So before The Corn comes in...
  • Mackenzie immediately dismissed The Departed as overrated, and then spent the next 48 hours coming around on recommending it, up to the point of actually saying that Leonardo DiCaprio was a shoe in for an Oscar. Each time he'd praise it, he'd have to follow it by saying, "OK, it was good, but it certainly isn't Goodfellas." And really, since Goodfellas is one of the top 5 greatest cinematic achievements of our lifetimes, do we really have to compare everything Scorsese does to it? So what if he gets a "lifetime" Oscar for this movie, when he should have been handed a slew of awards for Goodfellas or even Taxi Driver and Raging Bull. But let's not forget, Taxi Driver made John Hinkley Jr want to impress Jodi Foster so he attempted to assassinate Reagan. No matter, Goodfellas is Marty's crowning achievement, no matter if Leo, Jack et al walk away with all the trophies for a movie everyone seems to really like but is in no hurry to overpraise.
  • Great argument about Matt Damon came from this movie when talking about how great his career has been since Good Will Hunting compared to his boy Ben Affleck. My opinion is that Damon isn't that much better an actor, it's just that he seems to have taken George Clooney's advice regarding career choices (something you'd think Marky Mark would have done by the way, but he did give us Entourage, for better or worse). No matter, with The Departed now on his resume, it's amazing at how much better Damon's career looks compared to Affleck's. Damon is officially Michael Jordan to Affleck's Scottie Pippen, and that's probably being a bit too kind to Ben Affleck, who really hasn't been in a decent movie since Chasing Amy.
  • I have really good friends who I swear have never said two words to me about something called Borat EVER, and yesterday I had text messages from all of them saying that they just had to go see the premiere of Borat on opening night. I don't think these friends ever have mentioned Ali G to me, and one said it was the first time he wanted to see a movie on it's opening night since...well, Ghostbusters. Yes, he has no dick.

Anywho, on to the Corn....

Jimmy Johnson had a famous line that he used to great success in his Miami (college) and Dallas (pro) coaching stints. "Treat a player like he is and remains the player he is," Johnson would famously say. "Treat a player like the player he could become, and he becomes the player he could and should be."

Billy C has constantly preached that the only thing that matters this year was winning the Big 12 North title, and anything else was simply gravy. But if the team lost six games (Still a distinct possibility, when you consider they could lose next week at A&M, the Big 12 Championship game to Texas, and then whatever bowl game the Corn gets sent to), it wouldn't matter as long as the trip to Kansas City was punched. For all intents and purposes, that ticket was punched earlier today with the Corn beating Missouri 34-20 in Lincoln, a game that the old school Huskers (read: circa 1993-97) would have won 65-7.

I just can't figure this year's team out. They should be doing so much more, but their leader limits their potential by strictly keeping them satisfied on only feasting on the appetizer, but not even getting a sniff at the Filet Mignon. I think it all goes back to Jimmy Johnson's philosophy. I think Billy C has his team thinking that they're about as good a team to win the Big XII North and nothing more. Consider:

  • Two of their three losses were to Big XII SOUTH teams (Texas and Okie State), and that other loss was to a program that Billy C is trying so desperately to emulate but knows, to quote Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction, is not only not in the same ballpark with, it might as well not be in the same sport (that would be USC, having a down year by the way).
  • The Corn seems to come out blazing during every game, often hanging a big early lead (including today, where the score in the 2nd quarter was 27-3 at one point) only to lay off the pedal and let the opponent right back into the game (which led to last week's disaster at Stillwater). Remember the Kansas game, where NU had a 24-3 lead in the 2nd quarter, only to watch KU come back and force overtime? Or the games at Iowa State and Kansas State, where the old Al Davis "Just Win Baby" mentality came into play (just escape with some sort of a semblance of a victory and we'll sell them all at the post game buffet).

So I was stunned when the goal posts didn't come down following today's win against Missouri, because if you drank the Kool-Aid from August on, you knew that this team had just did the only thing Billy C wanted to see them do. Be in a position to win the Big XII North. And again, if this is what we call progress, if this is why the University had to fire Solich following a decent 9-3 season, if this is all it takes to make Husker fans happy anymore, then maybe Stevie P's famous quote about not allowing the program to continue to slide towards mediocrity is simply all the more telling.

Face it Corn fans. Nebraska is now and looks to be in the near future nothing beyond mediocre. And until you can treat your players and expectations to levels where the SHOULD be rather than where they really are, well then I guess you're all just going to have to deal with enjoying the bang band shrimp as an appetizer while Texas and Oklahoma and the rest of the real programs feast on the real stuff.


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

This Shouldn't Take 7 To 8 Years

Really great piece from St. Louis of all places regarding the current state of Husker football. But here's another take that is a lot more realistic.

Bill Callahan (or Billy C as we often refer to him here) didn't just blow up every possible bridge to Husker football past, he napalmed them. And because he did, we're just supposed to give him a SEVEN year plan to get his shit straight???

I'm sorry. This year, you know, 2006, the year in which Nebraska has already lost THREE games, was the year we were supposed to see some progress. All we've seen is a close loss to Texas -- at home -- something that Solich managed to accomplish with his worst team (the 7-7 2002 squad). It's time to stop saying that Frankie Solich had the program in such a mess that it's going to take 7-8 years to "restore the glory."


I've had it with that. God knows Frankie wasn't the best recruiting or even X's and O's guy in the world, but for crying out loud, he made incredibly drastic changes to his coaching staff following the 2002 debacle, including bringing in still sought after assistants like Barney Cotton and Bo Pellini, turned things around to go 9-3 in 2003...and he's the one who pissed all over everything? Guess what folks. Billy C aint going 9-3 this year. I don't even know if he goes 9-3 NEXT year.

Despite everything, I still understand the Solich firing. He probably would have kept things at a 9-3 level, but never gotten back to the winning national titles conversation. But come on, why do we CONTINUE to give Billy C a pass. Catch the latest news: Highly recruited tight end Justin Tomerlin has now been stripped of his 750 page playbook. How many recruits are left from that infamous Omaha World Herald spread from February, 2005? Seriously, isn't it officially time for Billy C to pick up the check? Enough already. Winning the Big XII North shouldn't be enough to put a smile on his smug face. The Holiday Bowl was something Solich could have taken the team to every year. Shit the bed against Missouri and then at Texas A&M, and you'll be lucky to get an invite to Shreveport, LA. Stop telling us that everything's fine and go out and win a few football games. I don't need to try the Kool-Aid again. I'll wait for whatever Solich has at those bars in Ohio.

It all goes back to the vacuum cleaner we bought back in 2005. It doesn't suck anymore. It's just really fucked up. CLICK TO READ ENTIRE POST!