Feb 19, 2011; Lincoln, NE, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers athletic director Tom Osborne was on the court prior to the game against the Texas Longhorns at the Bob Devaney Sports Center. Nebraska won 70-67. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Thorson-US PRESSWIRE

Four-Down Territory: Wisconsin Week


Well Husker fans, I don’t think I need to even mention anything to be taken away from that poor excuse for a college football video game set to easy mode. This week I’m going to cover a potpourri of topics.

First Down:  Tom Osborne Retires… Again.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the guy. I just can’t get too excited or upset about Dr. Tom retiring as Nebraska’s athletic director. I lived through one of his retirements already and he was meant to be Nebraska’s interim AD. He was named interim AD in 2007. That was five years ago. That’s not interim that’s just being AD, which makes me think that he may have gotten a visit from Harvey Perlman where he was nudged in the direction of the door.

I think it might be message-board poisoning over those five years, but I’m kind of shocked that they didn’t have a successor in line. The more I think of that the more I think being AD at Nebraska deserves someone of a higher pedigree than the old-boy network in Lincoln. Nebraska already hired a consulting firm to look into candidates and I sure hope this is a serious search and not a charade where they just hire their buddies at the end.

Enjoy your retirement, Tom Osborne. You’ve earned it. And fans, I’m sure he’ll be consulted and welcomed by the Big Red in the years to come.

Second Down: Will The Huskers Be “Back” If They Beat Wisconsin?

No.

I wish the media would stop declaring teams are “back” after one big game. Here are a few examples of this:

-Stanford was back from losing Andrew Luck by defeating USC. The next week Washington 17, Stanford 13.

-I heard a nationally aired radio show interview Rich Rodriguez about how he has Arizona back in shape after defeating a down Oklahoma State team 59-38. Then the Wildcats lay a big goose egg against Oregon 49-0.

-UCLA defeats a ranked Nebraska team. There is a huge buzz about the difference Jim Mora Jr. has brought to the team. Oregon State beats them 27-20. (No, I’m not making a commentary on the PAC 12, these are just off the top of my head.)

The list goes on. So don’t fall into the “they’re back” trap should the Cornhuskers win. When your team actually does something and does it consistently then have this conversation. Nebraska’s back when they get back to conference titles and BCS games. Don’t bother me with message boards and lazy members of the media until then.

Third Down: The Wisconsin Game Has Lost Its Luster.

You’ll be hard-pressed to find even local buzz about Nebraska hosting Wisconsin. Former Heisman finalist Montee Ball is dealing with multiple concussions. The Badgers have had tumultuous coaching changes. They’ve lost some big receivers and are struggling to replace an NFL-caliber quarterback. And they’ve struggled against the likes of Northern Iowa, Oregon State, Utah State and UTEP.

Let’s inspect that schedule a moment. I watched Oklahoma struggle against UTEP, up only 10-7 going into the fourth quarter. Oregon State defeated Wisconsin and UCLA in back-to-back weeks. Utah State is a much improved team that took down the PAC 12′s Utah. UNI is in the upper echelon of FCS teams and shouldn’t be overlooked. Maybe that isn’t such a bunch of cupcakes.

So yes, this game has lost it’s luster. That doesn’t make the Badgers any less dangerous.  Wisconsin has played ugly against teams it shouldn’t have. Welcome to Big Ten football.  You have unattractive, baseball-score victories from time to time. Wisconsin still has players to contend with. Don’t forget that the Badgers can really give themselves an advantage in the Leaders Division with a win in Lincoln. That’s something to play hard for.

Nebraska needs to win the trenches, stop Wisconsin’s young RBs from turning the corner and don’t give up any deep passes. Oh, and protect Taylor Martinez, especially his blind side.

Fourth Down:  Is The Big Ten Bad This Year?

I admit, I am one of those Nebraska fans that used to dog on the Big Ten for being slow, defense-heavy teams with few good skill players. But after a year in the Big Ten I must say that I was pretty much exactly right, except now Nebraska is one of those teams. OK that’s unfair. With the way the offense has progressed this year I can’t say that is the case. The offense is built like a Big 12 offense, but the defense is definitely a Big Ten D. Until Nebraska can show it can run sideline-to-sideline to stop the run and short pass I will think this way. We’ll see what they can do against bigger Big Ten backs and fewer mobile QBs.

So is the Big Ten bad? Perhaps. The best team is on probation. I mean, of course they’re going to be the best, that’s why they’re on probation! The rest of the pack hasn’t exactly gotten destroyed by teams of equal talent. Bad? The jury is still out on that. All-around overrated? Definitely.

By Steve Siedlik