Big 12 Championship Reaction – Taylor Martinez


Time has passed, and my emotions have cooled from Saturday night’s defeat to the Oklahoma Sooners in the Big 12 Championship, and hopefully, rationality has replaced my dissatisfaction (the Chiefs victory helped, as did the Raiders victory).

After meditating on it for a few days, the decision to not pull Taylor Martinez from the game still baffles me. That was one of the worst QB performances I have seen in my 24 years of watching football (Ravens’ QB Stoney Case comes to mind).

The inability of Martinez to get rid of the football, while ironically, his inability to hold on to the football at the same time, cost Nebraska the game. Taking 7 sacks while only attempting 24 passes is almost unheard of. Luckily, only one of his four fumbles was recovered by the happy-go-lucky Sooner defense.

It was the sack that T-mart (yes, it has now been lowercased) took in the 4th quarter on a 3rd and 8 from the Sooners 39 yard line was what really sent me over the top. There was little pressure on him, while I screamed at my TV, “Just don’t take a sack! Don’t take a sack!” Unable to find a receiver, or an ounce of common sense, T-mart took the sack.

To explain the idiocy of that play would be an insult to my readers. But I’ll do it anyways. The Huskers trailed by 3 points at the time (as they fortunately did throughout much of the 2nd half). Alex Henery might be the best kicker in the history of mankind. I’m confident in the guy from 60 yards in (his 1st quarter FG may have been the hardest a ball has ever been kicked). Throwing an incompletion would’ve ensured a 56 yard field goal attempt from Henery, with the chance to tie the game (I may have even attempted the 62 yarder on 4th down after an OU offsides penalty on the punt).

I lost it when Martinez took that sack. Every ounce of civility temporarily left my body. I threw an infantile tantrum that lasted from my couch throughout much of my living area, throwing and kicking anything and everything in sight. It was the type of behavior that I’m glad only a few of my closest friends were able to witness. I literally had to tell myself, out loud, to calm down after the fact.

Now, for the record, I only half-blame Martinez. I understand he is a freshman. I also understand that he is a shell of himself because his style of play has been rendered ineffective due to lingering injuries. However, this does not excuse the poor decision making on those sacks. That’s on him.

Yet, the bigger picture takes me to Mr. Bo Pelini, who’s choice it was to leave T-mart in the game. After the game, my brother and I compared it to allowing my 4 year old niece to drive us through a snowstorm, while two licensed drivers sat in the backseat.

That’s the weirdest part of it all, is that the Huskers occupy two extremely capable backup QB’s (Zac Lee and Cody Green), both of whom have started and won games for this team, watched the game from the sideline. The disappointing part was how a non-factor at QB probably wins Nebraska the game. You hear the term “game manager” thrown around when describing certain quarterbacks. Taylor Martinez sorely lacked that attribute in the game on Saturday.

Here’s my explanation to the inexplicable: There was a lot of truth to the rumors going around about Pelini and Martinez (and his daddy) not seeing eye-to-eye on a number of matters. Bo Pelini, with the intention of solidifying Martinez to stay with the program for the next three years, sat him down and told him, “You’re my guy.” Pelini feared the potential consequences on the program had he pulled T-mart. For better or worse, Bo was not removing his freshman QB from the game.

The question is…was it worth it? Was it worth possibly throwing away the biggest game in Nebraska history that didn’t directly affect a National Championship? Will Martinez bounce back from his tumultuous ending to this season in time for the Huskers’ inaugural Big Ten season?

It would be tough for me to look at T-mart’s face with anything resembling confidence running through my brain right now. However, I may be short-sighting the long offseason that awaits. There is plenty of time to sift through the positives of Martinez, especially looking back at a time when he was healthily inspiring nicknames like T-Mobile.

Oh yea, and there’s still a bowl game! Oh wait (scratches head). No, we already played Washington, who’d we really get?