Published Monday, November 7, 2011 AT 3:04 AM / Updated at 6:53 PM
Dirk’s Brunch Bites, Nov. 7
Dirk Chatelain Omaha World-Herald

I wish I could start somewhere else this morning, but the scandal at Penn State is too serious to downplay.

The horrifying allegations against Jerry Sandusky are difficult to read (there’s a link to the attorney general’s graphic report on this web page). If true, Sandusky is nothing less than a monster.

This was Joe Paterno’s right-hand man, the guru of “Linebacker U.” It’s frightening that a man with Sandusky’s reputation was doing this behind closed doors. And unfathomable that leaders at Penn State didn’t work harder to stop him.

The scandal has already ruined the careers of two Penn State officials, including the athletic director, who stepped down Sunday night.

Is Paterno next?

A sports columnist in Philly says Paterno must go. Here’s another column that hits JoePa. Sports Illustrated’s Joe Posnanski — one of the best journalists in the country — is spending the season in Happy Valley writing a book about Paterno. He tried Sunday to put the news in perspective.

It’s been a rough year for college athletics. Miami, Ohio State, Oregon … the list of shady behavior goes on and on. But nothing compares to sexually abusing little boys.

If Paterno had knowledge of Sandusky’s actions and didn’t do everything to prevent them, he failed not only as a coach, but as a human being. And people will never look at him the same.

Even if Paterno wasn’t part of a cover-up, I doubt he’ll coach next year. Which means Saturday’s game against Nebraska will be his last at Beaver Stadium.


>> About five years ago, my roommate and I picked football games every week: five college, five NFL. We may have wagered pizza money — I don’t even remember.

For whatever reason, I wasn’t very good at picking college games. But the NFL? I hit 60 or 70 percent. I didn’t study scouting reports. I didn’t look at the handicapping trends. I broke the NFL down very simply: What happened the week before? Who played well? Who didn’t?

There’s so much parity in the NFL, it usually comes down to who is emotionally fresh and who isn’t. So if a team played really well the week before, I picked against them. And vice versa.

That’s the Big Ten this year.

Michigan State rolls off a few emotional wins at home, then fails to show up at Nebraska.

Nebraska dominates Sparty one week, then gets victimized by Northwestern.

Iowa lays an egg at Minnesota, then roars back against Michigan.

(Of course, there are exceptions, but more times than not, the rule has held up.)

The Huskers played some bad games last year in the Big 12. At Iowa State. Kansas. They managed to win those games.

The Big Ten is not better than the Big 12 — not at the top anyway. But the bottom half of the league is usually superior to the Big 12 bottom. That means Nebraska needs to play with more focus each week. More intensity.

At the start of the season, a lot of smart people observed that the talent gap isn’t very wide in the Big Ten. There would be a lot of games that could go either way.

Saturday in Lincoln, it went the wrong way for Nebraska.

>> Friday I wrote that Bo Pelini changed tradition to maximize the motivational value of the Blackshirts. That’s true — and there’s an argument for his method. But in the future, Pelini should reconsider awarding the jerseys the week before the season opener — as his predecessors did.

Pelini, in my opinion, counted on the Blackshirts to give his defense a confidence boost last week. Instead, they may have distracted his players. And when you base Blackshirt distribution on team performance, what do you do when the defense gives up three touchdowns in the second half? Take ‘em away? Just award the shirts in August. And try to stay under 15.

>> Inside the Nebraska press box Saturday night, I caught some of the LSU-Alabama game and thought to myself, maybe it’s time to expand the football field. Maybe 53 yards wide isn’t enough. The athletes are too fast nowadays. Then I turned to Oklahoma State-Kansas State. And I thought, maybe it’s time to condense the field — 53 yards is too wide.

It’s hard to believe, watching those two games, that they were playing the same sport.

>> I would submit LSU as Exhibit A that a bold nonconference schedule can pay off. The Tigers were hardened in September by showdowns with Oregon and West Virginia (both away from home). Did they beat Alabama because of those games? Maybe, maybe not. But LSU was about as prepared as a team can be for primetime at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

>> Missouri to the SEC became official on Sunday. Something tells me Les Miles isn’t losing sleep over Gary Pinkel’s offense.

>> Roy Helu is the new No. 1 back in Washington. Helu caught a franchise record 14 passes Sunday in a loss to the 49ers. When a running back catches 14 passes, the quarterback — John Beck — isn’t seeing the field. But that’s beside the point. It was a big day for Helu, even if he wasn’t happy about it.

About Dirk Chatelain

Dirk Chatelain is a staff writer for The Omaha World-Herald and covers Nebraska football and general assignments. You can follow Dirk on Twitter (@dirkchatelain) or email him at


  1. Bill says:

    Jeez, I am beginning to wonder about the B1G. With OSU and PSU I wonder what next.

  2. Major Downer-more important things in life. says:

    I was in Iowa City this past weekend. Nice win for my Hawks. Returned to my hotel bar to watch the Nebraska game. Then the reports started coming out about Penn State. It made me ill. Great day of college football. I went back to my room and just stared at the T.V. I love college sports because of the PSU’s and Joe Paterno’s. But you qickly realize there’s so many more important things in life. What was a great day ended badly.

    Children. They were children. I’m still ill.


    1. BV says:

      Totally agree…this is just sad.

  3. R says:

    >> Roy Helu is the new No. 1 back in Washington. Helu caught a franchise record 14 passes Sunday in a loss to the 49ers. When a running back catches 14 passes, the quarterback — John Beck — isn’t seeing the field. But that’s beside the point. It was a big day for Helu, even if he wasn’t happy about it.
    –Dirk Chetelain

    Dirk–Proof positive you know nothing of football.

    There is a guy named Montana in the Hall of Fame–who apparently “couldn’t see the field” and threw to his backs, often!
    He threw to a back named Craig, who set records for receptions–by a running back. Craig played at NU.
    They played for a guy named Walsh–who helped create and refine, the West Coast Offense.
    Also threw to a running back named Rathman. Rathman played at NU.
    Walsh evidently couldn’t see the field, either. ?
    Nor the 4 Super Bowl trophies SF won…

    “Can’t you see the field”, Dirk ?

    When a running back catches 14 passes–it usually means he’s OPEN and uncovered by the Defense.

    Dirk, the rest of your drivel is not worth even commenting, on or about. Do you even read the crap what you write ? …or is that….. “besides the point, too?”.

    1. Nphusker says:

      It’s a column, which means it’s his opinion. Grow up.

      1. Drew says:

        Agreed, and he does make a good point, either the quarterback wasn’t seeing the field very well, or wasn’t getting enough time to throw, or the secondary had his recievers locked down, usually the running back in the flat is your last check down. He is free to give his opinion as well as you, respect that fact!

    2. Jay in Singapore says:

      I listened to the radio replay of the Skins game.

      Sonny Jurgensen-of the Hall of Fame-indicated that Beck wasn’t seeing enough downfield, hence, Roy was catching all the passes.

      Yes he did catch a couple of screens and flairs but most were simply because Beck isn’t that good.

      Sorry Dirk did know what he was talking about……..

      Maybe you should go help Corey Raymond down in Lincoln as he needs it.

    3. Marv says:

      Don’t ever attempt to compare John Beck to Joe Montana again. Please.

    4. Rob says:

      He also threw to a guy named Rice and that was usually a better formula for winning than either throwing to Craig or Rathman. I suppose R here thinks that Sam Keller was an elite quarterback with his masterful check downs to Marlon Lucky throughout the ’07 season. Getting the ball to a back is nice but receivers create explosive plays. There’s a reason that while Larry Centers was catching 100 balls out the the backfield for the Arizona Cardinals in the mid 90′s, and they were losing, while Michael Irvin was only catching 80, and the Cowboys were winning Super Bowl titles. Marshall Faulk was the same back in Indy, and losing 10 games a year, that he was in St. Louis, but all of a sudden you have Holt and Bruce on the outside, and again another title.

  4. Mr Football says:

    Enough NFL talk.

    “The Big Ten is not better than the Big 12 — not at the top anyway. But the bottom half of the league is better.” This statement is false. Iowa State trucked Iowa. The bottom 3 in the Big Ten are miserable. Indy, Minny, Purdue. The Big 12 is much better than the Big 10 this year. It’s not close.

    Perhaps in other years the bottom of the B12 is worse, but those must be years when Baylor, BAYLOR! Doesn’t have the most outstanding player in college football.

    1. Dirk Chatelain Dirk Chatelain says:

      That’s what I should’ve said Mr. Football. The Big Ten bottom this year is better than the Big 12 bottom in PAST years. I’ve amended it.

    2. Mike says:

      Didn’t Iowa state beat Iowa in overtime? I don’t think that’s considered “trucking”

  5. hornontherange says:

    Excellent column Dirk. Some of our rivalries get a little overheated, and certainly pale to what’s been going on at Penn State. I think if this were to happen at the school I rooted for, I would have to step back annd reconsider my fandom. Thanks, and good luck.

  6. Rick Harris says:

    Agree the Big 12 is better than the Big 10 this year. That certainly can change year to year. Penn State should be enjoying a week off and be more than ready for Nebraska but this scandal may give Neb an advantage. Huge distraction.

  7. Desmoines Husker says:

    Ah yes, Dirk. I guess you have the benefit of 20/20 hindsight on the awarding of the blackshirts since if it was before the Michigan State game, you would have said what a brilliant idea or you would have crucified him since they were not earned.

    I am sure that Coach Pelini must have forgotten to check with you again for your tips on motivation and when to award blackshirts.

  8. BlueJay says:

    I am hoping it comes down to the Nebraska-Iowa game for the Legends crown. If the Huskers can’t make it to Indy I hope the Hawkeyes do.

    1. Ned says:

      Agreed. That would be a fun way to start Black Friday…or will it be Blackshirt Friday?