Sunday, November 25, 2007

Cornhusker prose for Big Red pink slip

Yesterday my beloved Cornhuskers finished their worst season since 1961.

I grew up in Nebraska, where love of football is not a mandate, it's DNA. The political discourse of Washington, DC has nothing on the tone and gravitas of football talk in the Beef State. There, football stories are not written in the inverted pyramid style of journalism, but rather, in tender passages of purple prose. Consider this jewel from today's State Paper:

We're on some cold, often unruly stretch of earth that was broken, beaten and beautified by sweat and muscle. And so it must be with our football. Not the design so much as the mindset. This program was built to plow, punish and destroy. It cannot be sweet. It must be starch. Try to flip it and prepare for the reaping.
The Brazilians play soccer with a ferocity and abandon that matches the mysterious, exotic rain forest that surrounds them and the fatalistic poverty from which they rise. The Japanese play baseball with caution and precision. Americans play basketball with flash, pride, freedom, glory and hubris. So goes our nation.
Nebraska must go its own way.

"Plow, punish and destroy." This is more Beowulf than Sports Illustrated. Methinks no one writes like that about the Florida Marlins or the Toronto Raptors.

It's tough to coach for the Big Red. In 1962, Bob Devaney turned around a 3-6-1 program to go 9-2, culminating in back-to-back national titles in 1970-71. He handed the dynasty off to Tom Osborne, who won no fewer than nine games in each of his 25 seasons and took home three titles between 1994-1997. Frank Solich had a respectable 58-19 record in the next six seasons. But current head coach Bill Callahan has only managed 22 wins in four seasons, showing feebly against ranked teams and conference foes. Countless "worst" records were bested this season. To the Husker, this is unimaginable, much less unacceptable.

Today the revered Osborne fired the fumbling Callahan, and there is great jubilation in Nebraska.

If is any indicator, it's been a long time coming: "Now is the time for Husker Nation to get squarely behind the next coach... All along, all I knew is that Bill Callahan wasn't the right fit."

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