Brandon Cavanaugh-Husker Corner

Nebraska Cornhuskers: Is Nebraska Football Still "A Winning Tradition"?

The words “Nebraska football: a winning tradition” should be very familiar to Husker fans. That patch has been a part of Big Red attire before the alternate uniform trend, the Big 12 conference and “The Glory Days”.

Former Husker Ralph Brown recently made comments regarding some fans’ acceptance of nine-win seasons. Several believe that this is a result of parity in the college game. Brown disagrees.

Honestly, I think it’s a cop out. I think a lot of other institutions do not care who they gotta bring in to bring back the era of winning.

He went on to say that if Bo Pelini is that person, so be it. If not, find someone who is. I can’t help but agree.

I understand the crushing disappointment of the Bill Callahan era. I was there just like everyone else. However, I have a question for those who’d cling to Pelini regardless of how his teams perform. Four losses every year, this is what we have to go on. This is Pelini’s legacy.

Is the current stagnation acceptable or would you prefer definite excellence or poor performance? At least decisions can be made this way instead of saying “Well, maybe…”

Many fans point to Pelini’s record (58–24). “How can you fire a guy with a 71 percent winning percentage?”

Look to that patch.

Is beating Western Michigan, San Jose State and New Mexico State before being piledriven into Tom Osborne Field by Missouri to the tune of 52-17 part of a “winning tradition”?

Oklahoma at the Sooners’ house by a score of 62-28?

Yes, Pelini has shown he can dominate Southern Miss, Arkansas State and Idaho State, but a healthy Ohio State or Wisconsin with consistency?

Is that patch a call to the past or a representation of the future? That piece of fabric is what Husker fans need to look at and decide what tense that tradition is in.

Staunch defenders of the current regime assume that those who aren’t fans of the status quo expect national championships every year and for the dominance of Tom Osborne’s last teams to be the norm. I don’t believe that to be the case at all.

The mentality of that era is what’s desired. When you have players who hold each other accountable and separate wheat from chaff themselves, you have a football team ready to compete at the highest level. Surely that didn’t leave when the Grant Wistrom and the Peter brothers did.

My question about the comparison of Osborne’s nine-win seasons to Pelini’s is what are the players learning as a result of these losses? Are they learning anything at all?

As long as something is taken away from a loss, some manner of knowledge or wisdom, you do not truly lose. I know plenty of people have said some variation of this before me and will say it after me, so I don’t know who to properly quote. Regardless, that doesn’t make it any less true.

If we’re going to compare Osborne’s legacy and Pelini’s, how many true “losses” did the former at this point in his career versus the latter?

The good news for Pelini is that the process he’s been installing for Nebraska football is going to be on full display this season. With five prime-time games (and counting), the nation will see what he has to offer. The team that’ll trot onto the field is a pretty good representation, and that is most definitely a compliment.

Thanks to players like Tommy Armstrong, Ameer Abdullah, Randy Gregory, Zaire Anderson, Josh Mitchell, it’s hard not to be excited about what 2014 holds.

However, when the college football world as a whole reads “Nebraska football: a winning tradition”, it still thinks about what was, not what is. A great deal of opposing teams’ fans want the present tense to return more than you might think.

Yes, Nebraska football is about hard work, Academic All-Americans, the longest sellout streak in the nation, etc. A winning tradition is about hardware. Conference championships, major bowl trophies, national championships. More importantly, a continuous flow.

2014 will tell us all a great deal about Nebraska football. That winning tradition could mostly certainly return and stick around.

If not and that problem isn’t addressed, maybe it’s time for a new patch, if any.

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