It’s been, without much argument, the most tumultuous off season in college football history. From a head coach falling off his motorcycle and falling from grace at Arkansas, to players selling dope at TCU to the entire gruesome Penn State saga, it’s been an off season to forget around the country.
Yet not a peep from Nebraska.
I haven’t tried to verify this, but it seems pretty likely that there are more players suspended around the country for the first games of this season than of any season in the past.
None from Nebraska.
Notre Dame radio analyst Alan Pinkett now says that for teams to be big winners, you need a “criminal element” on your team. (Four ND players will miss the opener for various offenses.) It’s easy to find examples to back up his claim (including some from past Husker title teams) but just as easy to point to championship teams that remained free of off the field distractions.
So how should we take the quiet and relative calm that’s emanated from Lincoln all year? As a good sign? Is a distraction-free off season a signal of good things to come on the field?
In this case, you can make a strong case for “Yes.” Nebraska being “off the radar” during 2012 appears to be a very good thing for the program. No players in trouble, no talk about switching conferences or being the new kid on the block or any of that. About the only off the field news was a couple new assistant coaches joining the program. Pretty tame stuff.
This should be taken as a sign of maturity and growth for the program, in every way. You feel a quiet confidence coming from the players and coaches. It’s growth that’s been needed, but could not be rushed. It had to happen over time and through experience. And while the growing and maturing is not over, it’s reached a point where we can now expect good things to come from it.
That’s why I’m picking NU to win 10 games this season and play in a BCS game. If things fall right, maybe it’s the Rose Bowl. If not, a Fiesta Bowl match-up (with Oklahoma, maybe?) would be awesome.
It all starts with the Southern Miss game of course. This is a good, quality opponent to open with, not a cupcake. This is a team that came into Lincoln in 2004 and beat Bill Callahan’s first team. While all the pieces have changed, Southern Miss, coming off an 11-win season, is capable of beating Nebraska…again.
It shouldn’t happen that way, of course. The Huskers are three score favorites and should win the game by that margin. This game will show us if the off season calm was indeed a sign of maturity, or if the mistakes of the past – penalties, turnovers, bad decision making, etc – are to remain a constant with the program under this coaching staff.
We all want to hear news about our team during the off season, but hopefully not hearing much about Nebraska over the past few months is a sign of great things to come.