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Nebraska Huskers

How Nebrasketball went from an NCAA team to an NIT 5-seed

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There’s a lot of angst in Huskerville about why the Nebraska men’s basketball team failed to reach the NCAA Tournament despite a 22-10 overall record, a 13-5 conference record in the Big Ten and a 16-1 record at home.

From this uneducated vantage point about 250 miles south of Lincoln, Nebraska’s slide from the Big Dance to the National Invitation Tournament — as a No. 5 seed, mind you — comes down to five of the nine regular-season losses. I’m excluding the Big Ten Tournament beat-down by Michigan because, based on the fact NU was not a First Four Out, the Big Red would likely have had to win the tournament and gain the automatic qualifying bid. And, as you can see, the five losses on this list fall in two categories — tough losses to NCAA teams and losses to teams NU should have beaten:

  1. Nov. 23: UCF 68, NU 59. Shooting 25 percent in the first half and trailing by 18 at half was too much to overcome for the Big Red. It didn’t help the Huskers’ Big Dance chances that the Golden Knights finish the regular season 19-13, with their best win Dec. 3 against then-No. 24 Alabama (an NCAA Tournament team). UCF, by the way, did not make either the NCAA or NIT brackets.
  2. Dec. 9: Creighton 75, NU 65. Huskers held a five-point lead at half, built the advantage to eight early in the second half and trailed by three with just over 1 minute left but couldn’t seal the deal…a mantra in several close losses for Nebraska, both on this list and off. Had NU won here and, I think, any of the next three games on this list, Creighton AD and NCAA Tournament Selection Committee Chair Bruce Rasmussen would have had a lot more pause before leaving the Cornhuskers out of the NCAA Tournament (and putting Oklahoma in the tourney…but I digress…).
  3. Dec. 16: Kansas 73, NU 72. Nebraska’s best of several chances at the coveted Q1 win anywhere on its schedule, and it goes to the very last second before coming up short. At the time, it was Nebraska’s third loss in four games, including an 86-57 thumping by Michigan State to start the early-season skid. Had either Anton Gill’s 3-pointer or James Palmer’s follow-up in the final 20 seconds gone in, this win could have been enough to push NU into the Last Four In category. If it hadn’t been for the next two defeats…
  4. Jan. 22: Ohio State 64, NU 59. The third loss on this list to an eventual NCAA qualifier, and much like the Creighton game, the Huskers battled toe-to-toe with the then-No. 13 Buckeyes before Ohio State pulled away in the final four minutes. The loss offset a career game for Palmer, who went off for 34 points.
  5. Feb. 18: Illinois 72, NU 66. Nebraska came into the game on a six-game winning streak following the Ohio State loss and verbally marked the Illinois battle as a game it had to have with questions about its post-tournament direction already swirling…and then it just could not shake Illinois. In fact, the Illini were the team with the finishing kick, outscoring NU 14-5 over the final six minutes to pull the upset. NU then won its final two regular-season games, but in my mind this is the game that sealed the Huskers’ fate as a non-NCAA Tournament team.

While the NCAA’s decision to leave Nebraska out of the 2018 tournament may have surprised a lot of people, those that saw an NIT Tournament bid as at least a decent possibility were shocked the Huskers fell all the way to a 5-seed, meaning no first-round home game and a likely second-round battle with a top seed — in this case Baylor — if they get past Mississippi State on Wednesday night. The general statistics — no Q1 wins, a 2-3 overall record against Q2 teams, six wins against teams with plus-.500 records — don’t help, but I think NU becomes an NIT top seed just if it can beat UCF and Illinois. And I think NU gets into the Big Dance by winning one of the other three games.

Instead, Nebraska goes to the NIT for the 18th time and the first time since 2011. Hopefully, the Huskers feel spurned and roar through the tournament, getting their first title since 1996. My guess is the season ends well before that, capping a year of disappointment on several levels for the Big Red. At least it looks like Nebrasketball is trending up — finally — after a couple years where the so-called eyeball test had NU starting to circle the drain like it has done so many times in the past.

 

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Big Red Fans, Welcome to Mediocrity

“Unacceptable.”

“Extremely disappointing.”

“Low point.”

Call it what you will, but Nebraska’s 21-17 loss today to Northern Illinois should leave no doubt that Big Red Football is not so big anymore. At least when you consider our place in the Division I football hierarchy.

NIU has actually done very well against Big Ten teams recently, but that’s no excuse for what we saw out of the Huskers this morning and early afternoon.

True, the defense had a much better day at the office — right until the deciding drive of the game late in the fourth quarter. But the offense should have pushed Northern Illinois up and down the field. Instead, we see a pair of pick-sixes and another underwhelming performance offensively.

Against an Ohio State or a Michigan, seeing this level of play would almost be understandable — given the turnover in coaches, a new defensive scheme and a new quarterback between seasons. But against Northern Illinois? After poor performances against Arkansas State and Oregon?

What we saw today may have been the low point of the Mike Riley Era. Unfortunately, it was also the continuation of the decline, the regression from a championship caliber team to a program now struggling to be considered a middle-level squad in a Power 5 conference.

Face it, Husker fans. Nebraska football has been sliding toward mediocrity since the end of the Solich days. It took a huge step backwards under Bill Callahan. It stepped back — briefly — towards above-average play under Bo Pelini before the us-against-the-world atmosphere surrounding the team famously imploded.

And now we have…this mess. We have full-blown mediocrity.

Is this what we can expect during what’s left of the Mike Riley Era?

When Riley was hired, I was one of the optimistic ones. I thought his tenure at Oregon State was fairly good, based on where he was recruiting. After the last full season of play by the Huskers, however, especially after how the 2016 season ended, my optimism faded. And the start of the ’17 season hasn’t helped.

Whether you booed or not during the Northern Illinois game (and I have no hesitation in saying I booed), feel free to be embarrassed. We will always be fans of the Big Red. But this phase of Husker football may not be ending anytime soon, even if leadership changes.

Lawrence Phillips: Dead at 40

  
Shortly after noon today, I saw a headline that went something like this: “Phillips was explosive on the field, troubled off it.”

It would have been entirely appropriate to consider Lawrence Phillips explosive wherever he went.

If you wanted a case study for a “talented but troubled” sports figure, Phillips was your man. When Phillips took to a football field wearing Nebraska’s scarlet and cream, you knew he would deliver. Need six yards to move the chains? He’d weave through the line. Third down, 18 inches, tight game? He’d bowl you over. Screen pass as a change of pace? Not his forte, but he’d get the job done.

Off the field, he was a mess. And that was before college. But man, could he run. Power, grace, fluidity, and anger all in one sculpted, 220-pound package.

But nothing could uproot that anger. Not the national championship at Nebraska. Not an NFL career. And not even prison.

A lot of us wondered if death in prison would be where the Lawrence Phillips story would end, especially as the physical violence incidents continued and escalated. That’s what I thought. But it’s hard to imagine the immediate subplots leading to today. Phillips faced death row — death row — for allegedly killing another inmate. 

From the cheers of 77,000 people to death row. And then to possibly suicide.

I’m having a very hard time wrapping my mind around what I saw at Memorial Stadium 20 years ago and what I’ve been reading today. It’s mind-boggling that one character trait that can make you great in one arena — in Phillips’ case, his deep-seated anger — could eventually kill you.

  

Royals Keep Steamrolling to a Title (First Takes and Second Helpings: Oct. 29, 2015)

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Various and sundry thoughts while mulling the end of a vacation week…

  1. The Kansas City Royals are primed to win the World Series. That’s something I didn’t expect at the start of the regular season, and it’s certainly something I didn’t expect after the Royals dug themselves a massive hole in the American League Division Series Game 4 against Houston. One thing that has highlighted this season is an ability to get big at-bats at big times, and that trend has been in full evidence against the New York Mets in the first two World Series games. The Mets rotation is designed to miss bats. The Royals hitters are now designed not to miss pitches, especially those in the strike zone. Mets pitchers are losing this battle in a big way. The other thing in the Royals’ favor has been underrated starting pitching. Edinson Volquez was every bit the equal of Matt Harvey in Game 1, and Johnny Cueto (and I can’t believe I’m typing this) simply outpitched Jacob deGrom in Game 2.It just has to be the nails.

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    After the All-Star break, while Ginny and Bella were getting their nails painted, my foster son asked whether I’d get my nails done. I said I’d get mine painted blue if the Royals got back to the World Series. Lo and behold, they did. And I had to remind the ladies of the home about this. Typically, I’m the one having to field the reminder on just about everything. Anyways, Bella was pretty giddy about getting to paint Daddy’s nails. As far as the on-field results, so far, so good. Just waiting to see what happens when I chip a nail.

  2. If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything. Therefore, this will be the only mention of Joe Buck’s broadcasting, um, style, excellence, high-priced waste of air space in this blog post. I gladly utilized the six to eight seconds of delay between KVOE’s feed of the ESPN Radio coverage and the Fox TV picture for Game 2. It hurts the brain somewhat with that approach, but it sure eases the mind when you know you have an unbiased broadcast at the national level.joe

    I just love how, according to Mr. Buck, Harvey was the perfect pitcher for the Mets to start the World Series…and then how deGrom was the perfect guy to get a win for the Mets in Game 2 after they lost in crushing fashion in Game 1. Well, obviously they weren’t because the Mets are down 2-0 for the aforementioned reasons. There weren’t any perfect Royals starters to be part of the World Series, the way it appears. Funny how that works out. And it’s funny how the backhanded compliments — “and those Royals, nobody knows how they do it” — just enhance the fact that they, not the other team are doing it in emphatic fashion.

  3. Man, does Emporia State football have a big one coming up. And not against Northwest Missouri on Nov. 7. Archrival Washburn comes calling — on Halloween Day, mind you.10895870235_452fc42ba9_b

    If you wanted an example of inconsistency, the Ichabods would be about as good an example as you could get this season. Defeat Pittsburg State, ranked in the top 15 at the time, lose to bottom-dweller Lindenwood. Defeat Missouri Western, a longtime powerhouse in the conference before quarterback injuries hamstrung the offense over the past four weeks, lose to Central Oklahoma, a team finding its way after being the pleasant surprise in the MIAA last year. A ton is at stake for the Hornets, who at 7-1 can still get into the playoffs with two losses — and just about everybody expects ESU to lose at Northwest Missouri. Losing to Washburn and to NWMSU, though, and it’s just about curtains for any postseason hopes.

    It’s your archrival. Weird things happen against your archrival, especially in games where you should win — as Emporia State should on Saturday. It’s Halloween Day, the day of weird things. Hopefully the Hornets take all the strangeness out of the game early on, take care of business and move to 8-1 before a national broadcast in Maryville.

  4. Mike Riley isn’t in trouble, but the Huskers are. Let me rephrase that: Mike Riley isn’t in trouble yet. There’s a big difference, but regardless, there’s no way NU should lose to Northwestern at home. It shouldn’t have lost to BYU, Wisconsin or Illinois, either. And there’s no business losing the way they have this season, whether through bad defensive positioning or shoddy play-calling or bad communication or, apparently against Northwestern, just a poor effort. For a team allegedly hungry to prove it can win two straight, it sure sounded full of itself until it was way too late.Oct 24, 2015; Lincoln, NE, USA; The Northwestern Wildcats sign their fight song after a win against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium. Northwestern defeated Nebraska 30-28. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

    What does this mean? Well, on the field it means this team had better cinch up the fundamentals and at least play solid football. Win or lose. That’s now the best we can expect as fans for this season. Which isn’t nearly enough for this program or its fans. We have come to expect more because we have seen it’s possible. And we were told solid football would be the basic common denominator of this program. So far, it hasn’t been.

    Going into Riley Stardate 2.0, it should mean a purge of all the players who are demonstrating any unwillingness to buy into what Riley and his coaching staff are selling. If you’re not on board, find some place where you’re comfortable. It’s as simple as that.

    Off the field, it means this can’t continue or else Riley’s seat will get extremely hot extremely quickly. So will the seat under his coaches, especially defensive coordinator Mark Banker. And so will the seat underneath Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst. The Riley regime didn’t have the talent of other Big Ten teams to start, so struggles were anticipated. Quarterback Tommy Armstrong’s skill set didn’t fit what Riley and offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf had in mind, and at times they have melded the separate approaches into something quite nice. Injuries haven’t helped. But the sheer sloppiness of things…it’s unacceptable. In all phases of football. And that should have been communicated to the coaching staff from somebody — Eichorst, football god Tom Osborne, an outgoing chancellor, anybody — well before now. Even after the mess of the Bo Pelini era, NU football has taken a significant step backward in the first year of the Mike Riley regime. It’s a step backward I didn’t expect. And it’s a step backward that I hope doesn’t mean leads to backing into the mud of mediocrity. If the program isn’t already there.

  5. You can make a buffet out of anything. Ginny made the point abundantly clear this morning when I asked her what’s for supper tonight and she said, “We’re gonna have a leftover buffet.” Now that’s craziness. An all-you-can-eat buffet? Awesome. A pie buffet? Heavenly. But a leftover buffet?Now that you mention it, that pot roast from Tuesday night does sound pretty tasty.

Until the next plate of mental goulash…

Deja Vu in Huskerville

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In case you missed it, the Nebraska-Miami football game Saturday turned out to be quite the battle.

Miami jumped out to a 17-0 lead after a quarter and led 33-10 early in the fourth. NU stormed back to force overtime only to lose.

The nation yawned. Husker Nation cussed.

This was just the latest battle for the Big Red to return to relevance. And it was the latest opportunity to slip by in tantalizing, maddening fashion.

Look: the win over South Alabama was nice and all for getting the Mike Riley era into the win column — and erasing the nasty taste of the BYU game to start the season — but honestly, nobody cares. Those don’t get you back into the national spotlight as a title  contender, whether it be for the national championship or even for the conference crown. It’s games like BYU and Miami that we as Husker fans care about. And it’s those games that determine whether you’re on the road to respect or spinning your wheels as an also-ran.

And what’s concerning is the problems NU has had the past, oh, 15 years or so haven’t departed with the new coaching staff now on board.

Dumb penalties? Yep. Questionable play-calling, bad positioning? Mmm-hmm. Taking too long to get engaged in the game? More of an issue against Miami than BYU, but remember that second quarter against the Cougars? And did you listen to Nate Gerry, who said issues in practice carried over to the Miami game?

I have to breathe. Stuff like this doesn’t change overnight. But don’t tell me there’s a lot of hope after another kick to the gut like the Miami game. Hope for what? More of the same? Because that’s exactly what we got. And we have the loss to prove it.

Inauspicious Beginnings, Hopeful Future in Lincoln

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How do you lose a football game? Usually it’s with mistakes, either a whopping amount or a handful that are poorly-timed. And make no mistake: errors killed Nebraska’s victory chances in its season-opening football game against BYU.

To spare you a lengthy recap, just observe each team’s final drive of the game. Nebraska’s drive ends in a shanked field goal. BYU’s ends in a Hail Mary touchdown with all of NU’s defenders behind the receiver.

I didn’t watch the entire game — stories to write and post and the like — but I mainly liked what I saw from the offense, although I was more pleased with the passing game as opposed to the rushing attack. So much was made of how head coach Mike Riley’s passing emphasis was different from quarterback Tommy Armstrong’s demonstrated skill set, but that side of the game could have ended up a lot worse.

Punting wasn’t bad, but missing two field goals inside 45 yards is about inexcusable at the Power 5 level these days.

And then there’s the defense, shredded for a half and the out of position enough on the final play to claim defeat.

It’s unfortunate the Huskers lost the game, and with it the streak of consecutive home opening victories. But the game showed there is a lot of hope for the Mike Riley era. They say the most improvement in a given football season happens from Week 1 to Week 2. If that happens, Nebraska’s chances for returning to relevance improve dramatically — if not this year, then certainly by next season.

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First Takes and Second Helpings: Aug. 24, 2015

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Filling your plate with an unhealthy diet of my thought processes. Not exactly spanning the globe to bring you a variety of sports…

Austin Willis snapped up by the Buffalo Bills. That didn’t take long, although I didn’t think it would. Released by Oakland on Aug. 18, Willis signed with Buffalo over the weekend. What was surprising — pleasantly so — was the series of reports indicating several teams wanted Willis. That says volumes about Willis’ speed, athleticism and also his work ethic. Congratulations to Willis. Here’s hoping the Bills’ revolving door at quarterback doesn’t hurt Willis’ chances to make the team.

Emporia State upgrades its football experience. Hornet fans should have a blast once the Dennis Shogren Videoboard is totally up and running. The new scoreboard should be among Division II’s best. Now we’ll see how the Hornets upgrade after a forgettable 4-7 season. As mentioned last week, the Hornets don’t have to get back to the playoffs to reclaim the momentum seen in 2012 and 2013. Finishing above .500 with their schedule would do, although seven wins or better would certainly help.

New blood in Lincoln. Can’t wait to see how Mike Riley does as Nebraska’s head coach this season. I like the Riley hire, maybe because he reminds me more than any other D-1 coach of Tom Osborne — a happier, more media-understanding version of Osborne, I should say. I believe prior coach Bo Pelini fostered a toxic atmosphere in Lincoln and did nothing to stop the festering before he was booted out, and that more than anything was what led to his dismissal. I know he’s the Pelini antitype. Now it’s time to see if he’s the Pelini antidote and can move the Huskers to the next level.

Royals-Orioles. The rematch of the 2014 ALCS really doesn’t have that much buzz going into Game 1 tonight, in large part because the Orioles have been scuffling to stay above water all season long while the Royals continue to blister most of their opponents. As an O’s fan, it would have been nice to see the team with more significant upgrades last offseason and again before this year’s trading deadline. Buck Showalter is an amazing manager, but it would have been nice if he had been given more to work with this season. By the way, Mike Moustakas looks like he’s refinding his stroke, but even though his average has shed points like I need to lose pounds over the past six weeks, he has still had some of the Royals’ best at-bats of the season. Long live #OppoMoose.

Bowyer bounceback. After being set free by Michael Waltrip Racing (granted, at the end of the 2015 season), Clint Bowyer did extremely well at Bristol, finishing fifth. There are two more Chase for the Cup races before the field is set. Two more Top-5 finishes would go a long way towards solidifying a spot in the Chase, or if nothing else building momentum as Bowyer gets ready to make his next move.

The sobering side of racing. The racing community is praying for IRL driver Justin Wilson, who was severely hurt when Sage Karam crashed and a big piece of debris hit Wilson in the head at speed. If you remember, Dan Wheldon was killed during an IRL race when his car sailed over a football field worth of distance in the air before his head smashed into a pole at nearly 200 mph. Believe it or not, these kinds of accidents don’t happen all that often for open-wheel racers. The question now is what IRL, Formula 1 and other open-wheel series will do to protect their drivers so this doesn’t happen again.

First Takes and Second Helpings: April 2015

042815 baltimore

As you can see, this post will cover a gamut of topics…some serious, some not.

The serious first: Baltimore blew up the past two days after the death and subsequent funeral of Freddie Gray.

This tears me up because Baltimore has been a city I’ve wanted to explore more since I was a child. We didn’t travel much to Baltimore during our two years living in Bel Air, Md., about 35 miles northeast of downtown Baltimore, and when we did we never made it to an Orioles game (something that still eats at me). But what I saw as a five-year-old I liked. I have no idea whether the Baltimore of 2015 mirrors the Baltimore of 1975. All I know is people are destroying anything they can get their hands on.

I understand the anguish and anger over alleged police issues, but there’s no excuse for what we’re seeing. It’s humanity at its worst. It’s now happening with less provocation. I’m not sure which of those last two sentences is scarier.

To the silly: Weird work-related things.

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News is not always hard-core, and I’m grateful we’re not always talking about riots or shootings or fatal accidents or fires or budget shortfalls. Thankfully, we started our Feel Good Friday segment a few years ago to balance out all the nasty or the mundane we report on daily. And sometimes, that balance is totally unintentional or unexpected. Couple cases in point:

Earlier this month, I’m searching through district court documents to see what court cases of note are coming up. I didn’t see anything pertaining to my newscasts, but I did see this:

weird

That’s right. Officially, the state of Kansas is in trial proceedings against a car (a luxury car, mind you, although the status of rich Corinthian leather is to be debated). Not sure if this is a regular occurrence. Also not sure how John Stewart hasn’t picked up on this yet.

Yesterday, I’m typing up a story on court proceedings stemming from a combination battery and shooting incident early in April. Instead of typing “aggravated battery,” I punch up “aggravated batter.” Talk of deep-fried food crimes and misdemeanors follows. Insert your own joke here.

Now to the sad:

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Broadcasters outside the state of Nebraska may not have known Adrian Fiala, and that’s a shame.

Fiala passed away recently after a lengthy respiratory illness. He was a legend in Nebraska sports as a football and baseball player, and he then made his mark as a color commentator for several Big Red sports.

He was well-respected, even revered, for several reasons. Being a player, he brought a locker-room perspective to his broadcasts, and he did so realizing most of his audience weren’t former players so he educated without being pushy or overbearing. He was thoroughly prepared for his assignments and studied game trends. And, what I found most important, he was himself behind the mike.

I first met Adrian Fiala as a rather fresh part-timer assigned to run the board for SportsNightly, the Pinnacle Sports Network’s signature weekday talk show. He gave me a warm smile and a firm (very firm) handshake. Just that made me feel like I was part of the team — no small amount of welcome and assurance for somebody struggling to prove I belonged with some very polished broadcasters. On top of that, though, Fiala never — and I mean never — big-timed anybody on his broadcasts, either on or off mike.

This is a business filled with massive egos and a tendency for those egos to get loose, trampling anybody and everybody either lower on the totem pole or outside the field, treating those individuals as if they are less important or not important at all because they don’t have a four- or five-hour air shift to spew opinions couched as facts.

Adrian Fiala was a rare individual in this field. I’d like to be part of his broadcast crew at that next level.

And finishing up with the superlative.

Alex Gordon, Play of the Year candidate. Do I need to say anything else?

Ready To Move On

Bo Pelini

Well, now it sets up to be handled on the field.

Now that Nebraska Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst and Chancellor Harvey Perlman have said they will not discipline football coach Bo Pelini for his F-bomb-spiked tirade following a game two years ago, it’s all on Pelini and his Huskers to make sure the current head coach stays on board next year.

Eichorst and Perlman issued a joint statement Wednesday:

“The comments made by Head Football Coach Bo Pelini in 2011, published Monday, are unfortunate and deeply concerning to us, as they would be to anyone who loves this university.

“Our coaches, staff and student-athletes must be held to a high standard and Coach Pelini’s remarks were unfair to the legions of Nebraska fans and not what we expect from a representative of this university.

“Former Director of Athletics Tom Osborne became aware of these comments and the existence of a recording more than a year ago, and addressed the matter with Coach Pelini.

“We have observed, and many others have commented, that Coach Pelini’s demeanor has significantly improved since the time of this incident. Coach Pelini has given us his assurance that he understands the seriousness and inappropriateness of his comments.

“We believe he is sincere in his apology and in his regret. We are prepared to put the matter to rest. Our football student-athletes, coaches and staff deserve all of our support and we know the Nebraska faithful will be there for them.”

As you probably have heard (and possibly read here), Pelini was a tad upset NU fans bolted for the exits before the Huskers went from wusses to worldbeaters in defeating Ohio State in 2011. And although he probably didn’t know he was being recorded at the time, he certainly didn’t mind unloading on the Husker “fair-weather” fans.

Fan reaction is all over the place. Some people think this is the straw that snaps the camel’s back just because of the foul language. On the other side of the spectrum, a lot of people think Pelini had every right to rip into the fan base because they didn’t want to see what was coming.

My concerns are as follows:

1. Which is Pelini’s true feeling about the Cornhusker fans? Was he merely worked up after what may well become his signature win at Nebraska? Or, given Pelini’s implication he was at least considering leaving the program, is there something more deep-seated?

2. Some players have said they were unhappy with the fans leaving. Deal with it and play better. You play well, fans cheer. You don’t, fans boo. Or leave. It’s all dependent on what you do. And you get what you deserve far more often than not in athletics.

3. Is foul language and a skewering of the fan base enough to get a coach fired? No. Can it be a tipping point or a last straw? Absolutely, depending on the circumstances.

And the circumstances do not favor Pelini. Or the Huskers, for that matter. Nebraska increasingly looks physically clueless and mentally fragile. That’s on everybody — players and coaches — to recognize (which I don’t think is a problem), address (which I’m pretty sure has been done repeatedly) and change.

Which hasn’t happened. Not in the games where Nebraska wants to — no, needs to — make a statement it’s back among the nation’s elite.

Now that the decision has been made not to discipline Pelini on his language, questions still remain about the Huskers;

1. Do they rally around their coach and finally play to their capability?

2. If not, who replaces Pelini? More losses in the UCLA-Wisconsin-Georgia mold will likely seal his fate, and based on what you saw Saturday, can you say this team won’t hack up a repeat before the season’s over?

3. Is Nebraska’s day as a national powerhouse officially over? Regardless of who follows in Pelini’s footsteps? And if not, who can reclaim the magic other than Tom Osborne?

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