clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The False Profit of Nebraska Football

New, 152 comments

He Parted the Red River and Led Hi$ People to the Promi$ed Land

University of Nebraska moves to the Big 10 Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images

Every fall for over half a century, the Profit led his people in their Saturday prayer. He built monuments to their beliefs. Memorial Stadium is ...”the greatest shrine to football in America”. He adorned it with their most important affirmation:

Through These Gates Pass the Greatest Fans In College Football

Truly, he is a great man, they told themselves...Fun Fact, Kool-Aide was actually invented in Nebraska.

Anyway.

The Profit toiled away in the western desert for many years, until he received a sign. Dollar signs...several million of them per year. He left the paltry $9 million of the Big Twelve and signed on for the $50 million per year offered by the Big Ten.

So he parted the Red River and led his people to the promised land. The land of milk, honey, and television profit sharing.

However the Profit doesn’t suffer insubordination or profanity. He fired a winning head coach for having a potty mouth. He replaced him with a Young Life pastor.

The Profit entered the Big Ten from the Big Twelve to all kinds of hoopla.

His fancy robes and shiny trophies hid some ugly facts (don’t they always?). The truth was that the Profit hadn’t won a Big Twelve title in a decade. His school didn’t meet many of the academic standards of the conference. However, because of the Profit and his “football school”, the conference just lifted the gate and waived them in with a bundle of cash.

That “football school” mythology makes it much easier for B1G zealots to accept the Profit and his flock into the B1G. The Profit brought a big stadium and state of the art workout facilities. Instead of poking the obvious flaws in His backstory, most B1G fans are content to look east and mock the shaved backs, gold chains, and “never was” football in New Jersey.

Every summer, the Profit takes down his game-worn Tommie Frazier jersey and goes on the road. He proselytizes Nebraska football among the youth of the state and beyond. He and his minions sell their dream among the high-schools...the dream of titles.

  • One of ten football programs to win 800 games
  • More victories against power five opponents than any other program
  • Third most victories all time
  • Most wins of any program over the past 50 years
  • ESPN ranked the two Nebraska undefeated teams of 1971 and 1995 among the best teams in college football history

Sadly, the Profit’s robes are worn thin. His story is so old that it approaches mythology. Success in the 1970’s and 1990’s doesn’t carry much weight anymore. He lost his way a long time ago...

You see, the Profit and his minions settled for mediocrity today. It’s enough now, to rack up a decent record against patsies, win a close game against a decent team, then fall to shit at the end.

The Profit spins those nine win seasons into gold. He immediately brings up the successes of the past and yarns about future success. It’s a bright and shiny story, his version of history.

The Profit loves to preach about his time in the Big Twelve and the Big Eight. Those were the glory days, he says. But it’s hard to promote success in the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s today.

And a little digging proves that a false narrative.

Barry Switzer was the true King of the Big Eight...the Profit played a distant second fiddle to the young, charismatic coach of Oklahoma. Switzer was the face of the Big Eight. He was witty, charming, and he was good for a headline grabbing quote. The profit just stood, scowling and aloof...too good to be seen with the likes of Switzer.

The Profit’s second fiddle status continued in the Big Twelve. The Profit made it to the Conference Championship game six times between 1996 and 2010.

To give credit where its due, He won the Big Twelve twice. In the fourteen years they were part of the Big Twelve conference, the profit won twice. He came close many times, but he just couldn’t get over the championship hump.

The Profit was the Wisconsin of the Big Twelve. Perennial number two. The Profit owned his division, which consisted of them and five patsies. The Profit could win that division with his eyes closed. He just couldn’t close the deal to win the conference.

Oklahoma or Texas or Texas A&M always took the championship…whichever team managed to scratch and claw its way to the top of the other division. They were always better.

The Profit and his minions just couldn’t get over the hump…so he did the sensible thing and jumped to the B1G.

Unfortunately, the Profit found out that they aren’t the Wisconsin of the B1G…Wisconsin is. The Profit is now the B1G west runner up...forever.

Congratulations on beating Purdue and Illinois every year...and welcome to football Purgatory.

The truth is, you have to use a geologic time scale to remember when the Profit mattered…yet His followers will quickly point out their past glories. “All Those National Championships”, they proclaim.

And its true, from 1994 to 1997, the Profit’s name resonated in the halls of college football.

In those four years, the Profit’s teams boasted two Outland Trophy winners, a Lombardi award winner, and a Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award winner. They boasted eleven(!) All Americans [author’s note: that’s more than Rutgers and Purdue combined this century]. Those were some great teams.

However, no matter what the dogma of the Profit says, four years isn’t a football dynasty, it’s a recruiting class. Nice job, hustle off.

The Profit was the head coach from 1973 to 1997 AND the offensive coordinator from 1969 to 1997. That’s 24 years as a head coach and 28 years as an OC…he had four fantastic years in that period.

I submit that those four years were a statistical anomaly.

Anomaly or not, the Profit built a mythology that spread like wildfire. The shadow of the Profit is a long one. The sports media wants to believe that His dynasty will return to greatness…and the hype train gets rolling every summer. Just look back at last season…

Last year’s team was senior heavy and loaded with talent. Led by 10th year senior Tommy Armpunt at the helm, Nebraska was the pre-season favorite to win the B1G west. The story captured the imagination of ESPN’s marketing division.

The Profit bade them cover His team...and they did their best to anoint the “resurgent” Nebraska football team.

After two solid wins against Fresno State and Wyoming, the theme appeared to be solid. Nebraska was back and Bo Pelini could get fucked.

A gripping win against then 22nd ranked Oregon, carried nationally thanks to ABC, propelled them to 20th in the nation.

Little did we know just how awful Oregon actually was. Then another nail biter, tough win road win against feckless Northwestern moved them up another five spots to 15th going into a “contest” against Big Ten juggernaut Illinois.

That win boosted them to 10th in the country.

Let me reiterate this…after beating five teams that would go 23-40 that season, the Profit’s team ranked tenth in the country. Glory to the Profit for He will surely win it all this year.

The Profit’s anointed beat Indiana and moved up two more spots to 8th…then beat Hapless Hazell to move to 7th in the country. The Profit’s Young Life pastor had an impressive win/loss record at 7-0, against teams that would go 32-56 on the season.

Sadly, this is when the gilded story was exposed as dross...as it has for oh, so many of the Profit’s seasons.

They lost a heartbreaker to ultimate B1G West champ Wisconsin. Then get boat-raced by Ohio State 62-3. They plummet to 21st in the country. Wins against juggernauts Minnesota and the fucking Terrapins push them back to 17th in the country.

In the final game of the season, Iowa…lowly fucking Iowa…curb stomps the Profit’s team. It’s a 40 to 10 ass kicking that should knock His team out of the top 25 for good.

But it doesn’t.

The Profit has a long reach, and it keeps them at 24th in the country. Just high enough to get them run out of Nissan stadium by Tennessee in the Music City bowl.

Sadly, this is the truth of the Profit. With His best best team in a decade, He could only manage nine wins against the lame, the halt, and the blind.

The truth is, the Profit fled the Big Twelve because He couldn’t win the whole thing anyway. He took the cash and bolted. Now he can put up the same 9 win seasons in the Big Ten, without the disappointing losses to Oklahoma and Texas every year...and He gets paid a whole lot more.

Sadly His future looks troubled to me.

His Young Life Pastor of a coach won’t win a championship. He’ll be replaced...for doing exactly what the Profit did...because no one can live up to the myth that the Profit created around His own history.

His myth is false and the teams in the future will never live up to the lofty expectations and exalted history. But hey, at least he can still smite Purdue and Rutgers.

Your Friend,

Townie

Poll

When I think of Nebraska football, I think...

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    Lil Red holding a flaming Runza
    (38 votes)
  • 4%
    Here comes another loss
    (19 votes)
  • 3%
    Tom Osbourne’s scowl after another loss to Oklahoma
    (17 votes)
  • 31%
    The Greatest Fans in College Football
    (143 votes)
  • 24%
    Self-righteous, passive aggressive, delusional Flatlanders
    (108 votes)
  • 27%
    Just a flaming red version of Iowa
    (122 votes)
447 votes total Vote Now