What a season it has been for Coach Bo Pelini and his Nebraska Cornhuskers. The Husker team has at times shown glimmers of the team that was touted as an offensive juggernaut in the Big Ten in all of the preseason discussions. The team has struggled through injuries and controversies. We are all aware of the tongue lashing that happened two years ago from the lips of Pelini. However, the lashing was only recently released this season, following a second-half defensive meltdown against Jim Mora Jr. and the UCLA Bruins. The Huskers have been seriously impacted by injuries.
The injuries for the Huskers squad includes players that are very important to offensive coordinator Tim Becks’ offense. His one-time Heisman hopeful quarterback Taylor Martinez has missed the majority of the season due to turf toe and other undisclosed injuries. Recently one of the replacements for Martinez, Ron Kellogg III threw a Hail Mary pass to defeat Pat Fitzgerald’s Northwestern Wildcats. The recipient of Kellogg’s pass was not one of the three highly touted receivers: Kenny Bell, Jamal Turner, Quincy Enunwa. Instead it was a fourth string wide receiver forced into action due to more offensive injuries at the wide receiver position. The Mustache-clad Tom Selleck lookalike freshman receiver from Illinois, Jordan Westerkamp was the hero on the other end of the pass.
There is one discreet difference for the Huskers this year that may go unnoticed by some (and if it does that is a positive). If the Huskers can successfully complete this season without this topic being brought up while still remaining competitive, reaching a relevant bowl game, and establishing confidence in the program, by season’s end it will be a big deal for many. It will be a bigger deal for Shawn Eichorst and Dr. Tom.
What needs to be brought to the attention of college football fans is that Tom Osborne is no longer officially associated with the team. The field still bears his name and every Husker fan who is in memorial stadium on game days or in their combine harvesting while listening to the game, is still thinking about Coach Osborne each week. To college football fans who are not familiar with the relationship that Coach Osborne has with the program and its fans, this may not seem like a big deal. For the Husker faithful, it is.
If the season is a failure of epic proportions, fans will be weeping all season and coach Pelini will not be the only individual on the hot seat. First-year athletic director Eischorst will also see his name in the Lincoln Star Journal and the Omaha World Herald more often than he would like. Since coach Osborne retired as coach of the Huskers, the program has spent 15 years trying to find another man to fill his shoes. The fact of the matter is that no one wants this more for the program than Osborne himself. Perhaps it is his dedication and modesty that inflate those shoes and set a standard that is so difficult to achieve. The year of 2013 has seen Osborne step away from his athletic director position and into an unfamiliar role as fan. Osborne will always be a fan of the program but more importantly he will be a fan of the coach, always offering support for the man who has what may be the most highly scrutinized job in the state of Nebraska.