I remember the novelty of the first keyless entry fob my parents got. It was a unit that was basically the size of a credit card and about as thick as a deck of cards, and it was made for my dad's Buick Park Avenue. Still, the idea that you could open a car without putting the actual key in the door was such an amazing thing to me. For a lot of our readers, I am sure that the idea of a car coming with anything but key-fobs is probably insane, but it really happened and I am probably only a few years older than you, so there.
Anyhow, as the years progressed, these crazy fobs got smaller and smarter. Everything from one click to only open the driver side door to two clicks for all as well as lights, trunk, side door, etc. were added. Still, of all of these features and their infinite usefulness, one of the most absurd buttons, in my opinion, was the panic button. You know the one I'm talking about. It's usually red and with one push, you could drunkenly waken the entire neighborhood as you personally panic and try and figure out just how you are going to turn this giant ball of flashing noise off. It was a really annoying button and honestly, it was entirely way too easy to click. On the flipside, I suppose if you are about to be abducted, it would be useful -- you know, if people actually paid any attention to car alarms anymore.
To say that the panic button is the equivalency of, "the Boy Who Cried Wolf," is probably a disservice to the boy who cried wolf because at some level, people came with guns a toting whenever he rang the warning bell. No, the panic button is now pretty much the equivalency of a fire alarm in the mall. Everyone looks around to see what punk kid set the alarm, but at no point do people actually run for the exits. I'm sure that most of that is because a mall on fire is kind of a ridiculous idea, but seriously, if you've ever found yourself in that situation -- that is the mall on fire -- you know that it is ignored with the fierce force of a thousand angry shoppers.
Anyhow, to get to my point, Husker fans were given a panic button on their fandom key fob about nine years ago when Frank Solich was let go after winning 9 games in a season, and pretty much every season that did not result in a national championship has forced fans to panic and push the red button because the world is coming to an end. Of course, since that point, most of the panic has been a ridiculous farce at best. Bo Pelini looks angry? PANIC BUTTON! Nebraska lost to Texas again? PANIC BUTTON! FLASHING LIGHTS! CAR HORN! An 'obviously inferior' UCLA team beats Nebraska in a track meet of a football game? BO PELINI HAS LOST CONTROL OF HIS TEAM AND EVERYONE IS LEAVING AND TOM OSBORNE NEEDS TO SAVE THIS TEAM!!!
Needless to say, the panic button has been pushed so many times that it's almost cathartic to hear the horns blaring as opposed to the silence. At least you know people are out there and still care. It makes you relevant, if only in your own little world. This brings us to now. As you have noticed, I have yet to bring up Saturday and I am roughly 600 words into my own little rant. Saturday might have been a five year low point for Bo Pelini. Look, this was not the worst loss in school history, it was not the biggest blowout, and it surely wasn't the biggest differential in talent. There was always a chance that Wisconsin's run game could dominate and even the stats guys were saying that if Wisconsin's run game got going, they could do some damage. Without the anchor of a DT in the center of the line, the Huskers D-line got pushed off the line with little to no effort, and that was that.
However, while this might not have been the worst loss in school history, we can all generally agree that this was an embarrassment of epic proportions for the program. Fans now have a little bit of a right to question the direction the coaches have this team pointed in. Stat-heads will point to Nebraska's incredible streak of 'luck' this year as well and all of a sudden you have a team that won 10 games, but that could easily of lost 7. It is not a perfect trajectory anymore, and while Bo has earned the right to correct this ship, boosters and fans alike can now rightly place their finger over the panic button. Maybe its not time to push it and send the entire thing back a few years, but certainly it feels like you're walking out to your car that was parked in a dark alley with about forty dudes watching you. This is kind of an iffy scenario and at minimum, you'd rather be ready then lost.
Nebraska has a month to prepare for Georgia now, and while all signs point to that game being nothing but an abomination, it is up to Bo Pelini and his coaches to get things back on track. This team has pieces that are great or at least potentially great. Still, after Saturday, does anyone think Nebraska 'football' is capable of playing well? Would you put any amount of money on this team?
The Nebraska fans that have already pushed the panic button have been pushing the same damn button for years now. Their word is probably junk at this point, but the rational fans are at least concerned. Again, you cannot fire a coach for a ten win season no matter how it was achieved. Nebraska is playing above their weight class right now and has been fairly successful considering its distinct disadvantages in recruiting. It is not time to panic yet, and while football is important when you are actually talking about football (obvious statement is obvious), so are academics and staying out of trouble -- accountability to be something bigger. Bo Pelini and his staff have done that. It is his way or the high way and that scares some kids off. Still, it is a sign that there might be more to this than football and it is commendable.
Tomorrow, the sun will rise and Nebraskans will go about whining about the football team and all will be well. While the panic button is ready and waiting, it will be put away for another day. However, the time is ticking for Bo and his staff. He knows that, and his character will be tested in how he responds. And you thought bowl season wasn't interesting.