Nebraska didn’t care for Texas when they were together in the Big 12. But they share common ground this week. Both are coming off big football losses after blowing nice halftime leads, and both fan-bases are tense.
1. Social Insecurity: It’s funny that social media is called social media. Because “social” means “marked by or passed in pleasant companionship with friends or associates.”
When it comes to sports, social media is often a misnomer. Two glaring examples cropped up Saturday after Big Ten teams suffered disappointing losses. After Nebraska got socked by UCLA, 41-21, Cornhuskers College Football Hall of Famer Tommie Frazier (@TouchdownTommie) tweeted this:
After letting it sink in for about 4 hours I still struggling. It’s time to get rid of the defensive play caller, the Dc, lb dl and db coaches. I hate saying this but this crap is getting old. How in the hell do you not make adjustments or put your players in the position to compete? If this is what is going to happen for the remainder of the season, count me out. I don’t care if we lose a game but the way we are losing is just not what #Nebraska fans deserve. I have fought, bled, and cried over this program. I didn’t do all that for the program to become what it has today. Time for change!
Nebraska Coach Bo Pelini had a response to that on Monday:
“If he feels like that, so be it. We don’t need him.”
Frazier, the 1995 Heisman Trophy runner-up, has been and probably forever will be held in high esteem by Husker fans. Pelini’s status in Husker hearts is wobbly.
But Pelini did impress me with these comments from his weekly Monday press conference:
“By nature, I’m a perfectionist. I push. I have high standards, and that will never change. But at times I looked at our players and I saw a look like they had seen a ghost. When I look back on it and I think about it, I think about have I pushed to the extent where they’re not having fun anymore? Or are they playing not to lose? Trust me, they want to play great. A lot of things that happened in the game weren’t necessarily physical but at times mental. At the end of the day, that comes back on me. Have I been doing the right things?
“Am I doing the right things to, No. 1, make sure first and foremost that these young men are enjoying their experience? No. 2, that they are able to handle the pressure, the adversity and the things that go along with being a collegiate football player? I’ve thought about it. I push, push, push. Believe me, there has to be some of that, but there also has to be a fine line. I want our players to get back to having fun again. I want them to go back to going out to play to win and not worrying about losing the football game.
Meanwhile, shortly after Wisconsin’s 32-30 loss to Arizona State on the craziest final play in a long time, the wife of Arkansas football coach Bret Bielema (@jenbielema) had a short, pointed tweet. It simply said:
When someone harshly replied to that, e pointed out that those Badger players were recruited by her Bielema, someone came to her defense and said A little harsh huh? She is referring to the WI fans that bashed her & Coach B when they left.”
To which Jen Bielema retweeted, adding “AMEN!”
The Hlist loves Twitter.
2. Evanston’s Big Ten Team: For the last few years, Northwestern has marketed its football squad as “Chicago’s Big Ten Team.” Given that Chicago has thousands and thousands of graduates of other Big Ten schools, it hasn’t been universally accepted.
Saturday, Northwestern hosted Western Michigan in an 8 p.m. game, and Illinois played Washington at Chicago’s Soldier Field at 5 p.m. The Illinois game drew 47,312 fans. The Northwestern game drew 33,128.
Now, Western Michigan isn’t an attraction, and 8 p.m. is a crummy start time. But it’s not like Washington is a big gate-attraction in Chicago, plus, the Fighting Illini aren’t exactly at the pinnacle of their football history these days.
How big a crowd do you think Northwestern will get for its game in Evanston Saturday against Maine?
When you’re in a pro market, sports fans are discerning with their dollar. You can’t sell Western Michigan. The Broncos won’t even sell out Kinnick Stadium Saturday.
3. The Weakest Week: When the Hlist first heard Michigan would play at Connecticut, the first thought was “That’s interesting.” It was a Big East team on the rise, one that won its way into a Fiesta Bowl in 2010 (after going 8-4).
The first half of the home-and-home series was in 2010, when the Wolverines beat UConn in Ann Arbor, 30-10. The return date is Saturday in East Hartford, Conn., where the Huskies will host Michigan in a 40,000-seat stadium. And with a bad team.
UConn is 0-2, having lost at home to FCS Towson (33-18) and future Big Ten team Maryland (32-21).
But that will be a classic compared to Ohio State’s game this week. The Buckeyes will host FCS Florida A&M, which is 1-2. The Rattlers are coming off defeats to Tennessee State (27-7) and Samford (27-20).
It’s the Buckeyes’ first game against an FCS team since 2008. They should have waited longer.
It makes Nebraska’s Saturday home game with South Dakota State (3-0) look positively imposing. Who knows, maybe it is.
4. Mournful Horns: Maybe Texas needs to bump up its football budget.
The well-heeled Longhorns are reeling. They’re 1-2 after their latest loss, a 44-23 home loss to Ole Miss.
“Get all this righted by winning the Big 12 championship,” Texas Coach Mack Brown said afterward. “That’s what we’ve got to do.”
That would be quite an achievement for a team that would probably rank fifth behind Texas A&M, Baylor, Texas Tech and TCU in a power ranking of teams from Texas alone.
“Keep coming,” Brown told Longhorn fans. “Let’s beat Kansas State (this Saturday in Austin). Forget the coaches. Come for the kids. Come and try to help us beat Kansas State, which we haven’t done very often.”
Which leads to an obvious question: Who goes to games to watch the coaches?
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