Published Wednesday, November 23, 2011 AT 9:20 AM / Updated at 9:20 AM
Looking back at unique year
Rich Kaipust Omaha World-Herald

Nebraska assistant coach John Papuchis said Wednesday morning that preparing for the first season in the Big Ten and going through it have been two different things for the Husker football program.

Papuchis also told a Big Red Breakfast crowd at the La Vista Conference Center that it’s been “a unique year in every way” as NU has made the jump from the Big 12.

“Going into it, you know the challenges that you face on your schedule, you understand who you’re playing, but it’s something that I’ve never been a part of when you play 11 new opponents,” Papuchis said. “Each week you’re getting ready to play a team that you’re not familiar with.

“It’s one thing to scout your opponents in the offseason in your preparation, which we did last spring for the season ahead, but it’s another thing to live it.”

Nebraska is 8-3 overall and 4-3 in the Big Ten heading into a Friday home game with Iowa. The Huskers were eliminated from contention for a Legends Division title with their 45-17 loss last Saturday at Michigan.

“I think we’ve learned the league a lot better so far,” Papuchis said. “And hopefully as we move forward we’re going to be in a position to do exactly what we set out to do when we came here, and that’s win a conference championship and get back into the picture for competing for a national championship.”

About Rich Kaipust

Rich Kaipust is a staff writer for The Omaha World-Herald and covers Nebraska football. You can follow Rich on Twitter (@RKaipustOWH) or email him at


  1. David says:

    Yeah, right, national championship? Even a conference championship is not very likely with Michigan on the way up, Ohio State will be back up soon, and Wisconsin and Mich. State leap years ahead of the Huskers. Of course, we cannot even beat Northwestern and maybe not Iowa. It’s certainly nice to have lofty goals, though! Kudos for that.

    1. Ro for Bo says:

      So….why don’t you coach for a day and tell us what you think??? Take a look at the schedule and a depleted roster on defense before you criticize. If you don’t keep your eyes on the prize then might as well quit.

      GBR – I am with you through rain or shine.

      1. HuskerinLA says:

        “why don’t you coach” … that’s your response? … of course, he’s not going to coach

        Why don’t you engage him in some intelligent debate instead of some ridiculous attack for having an opinion. He’s entitled to an opinion.

        Some of us, who like the Huskers just as much as you do, happen to think that this coaching staff is doing a terrible job. And that goes for taking into consideration the circumstances of this “unique season.”

        Some of us see problems that are beyond wins and losses, that are consistent, and that we do not believe this coaching staff is up to fixing.

        David (whoever he is), myself and others are entitled to their opinions. That’s what a comment page is about.

        And to criticize someone for criticizing is the most (patently) ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen. Being a Husker fan means you can’t criticize? Ridiculous. It’s never been that way, and never will be.

        You can have your opinion to, but please engage in intelligent debate rather than a “why don’t you coach” comeback like a 4th grader.

        1. hotrodhusker says:

          I agree with you about the “Try Coaching” comment. Its like saying that you are unhappy with the economy and being called out because you are not the President. The argument that we are not coaches and don’t have any say is a very bad one. Personally I think this season has been very disappointing, but we have had much worse.

          I think it is a step in the right direction that we are back to complaining about a 3 or 4 loss season. Under Cally, we would have considered a 3 or 4 loss season a step forward, not back. That being said, Nebraska football does still need some work. The offense has been a real sore point, the defense is entitled to have an off year. The Blackshirts have carried NU for a while now, so a drop off is ok. I say ok, but trust me, its hard to say it.

          Pelini IMO needs to stop acting like the football program is his personally and that the fans are the enemy. This is why the players dont do better at home, they are told we (The Fans) are part of the problem. In the past the players would not only play for their team, their school, but also for the fans of Nebraska. Now, that extra bit of push from the fans is ignored.

        2. Jeromethechicken says:

          So it’s okay to attack the team and coaching staff with a short sighted view and no evidence to back it, as long as you agree with it. But, heaven forbid, someone points out the obvious to a naysayer. That’s not allowed on here because, it does not conform with your view. I think Ro adequately expressed his point by backing it up with facts, such as the depleted depth on the roster.

          Now, had you pointed out a deficiency in recruiting or development of backups as a reason for the lack of depth, we might all agree or disagre. Then an “intelligent debate” might ensue. You are doing the same thing that you accused Ro of.

        3. NUCORNDEVIL says:

          what people dont seem to understand, is that it doesnt take a lot of intelligence to coach football.

          1. NUCORNDEVIL, it amazes me how you always show what a lack of foorball knowledge you have. To make a statement that it doesn not take a lot of intelligence to coach a football team is completely ridiculous unless you are talking about a Pop Warner team. I would love to see you debate your position with some facts as others have suggested.

        4. mark pelini gave kevin's mom a blackshirt says:


  2. BlueJay says:

    I agree with the idea that Michigan is going to be an obstacle, but Nebraska will always have a bigger upside than the rest of the schools in the Legends.

  3. HuskerDave says:

    Since when is it a bad thing to be “as good as” teams like Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin? Those are all great teams with incredible programs! Most football programs would give their left shoulder pad for a chance at that kind of credibility!! We’ll win some and we’ll lose some – It’s still pretty decent company to be keeping.

    There will hopefully be a year soon when we can beat all these teams in the same season – but it’s just childish to believe that the season is a failure if we don’t do that each year (or, for that matter, in our first year in the conference). Stop being spoiled, and enjoy the sport for what it is – a sport – not something to pin your hopes, dreams, and identity on.

    1. Bill says:

      “not something to pin your hopes, dreams, and identity on.”

      … from someone named HuskerDave.

    2. hotrodhusker says:

      Ohio State and Michigan are true traditional powers, but the others are not. Neither Mich State or Wisky have ever won anything of mention histrically. Sure, Wisky is has been good in the last decade, but not Nat championships etc. Mich State is always an up and down program with no real credible history of victories. Nebraska for 20 + years had better scout teams than their starters. Some people think it can never be like that again. Maybe, but I think it could. If teams like TCU, Boise St, Cincy and a dozen others can climb from the depths of nowhere them there is no excuse for Nebraska. Look at Kansas State, this is a team that probably has only had one recruiting class in 20 years ranked over Nebraska. They are coached up, schemed very well and find a way to work with what they have to win. If K st can make that quick of a turn around, they what the heck are we waiting for? Believe me, it pains me to no end to say anything good about the mildcats!

  4. Falcon 78 in Northern Virginia says:

    I’ve scratched my head over beating the teams that beat the teams who beat the Huskers–e.g., Michigan State & Ohio State over Wisconsin. But the Big 10 is kind of like the NFL–”on any given Saturday”–and the scores will reflect NFL-like game summaries–e.g., last second FG to win 17-14 or 21-10 or 24-17. It will basically be a very tall task for anyone–any team in the Big 10–to get through a conference schedule undefeated. Welcome to the Big 10. Go Huskers–Beat Iowa (and there is no reason why that can’t be done.) I hope the coaches have that special recruit in mind for who will take Rex’s place after his senior year.

    1. Ballfield78 says:

      Rex is a Jr. The 3 Fr. backs have seen some time, and will be quite experienced by the time Rex graduates. I don’t think Rex would leave early.

      1. Jeromethechicken says:

        Michigan State is allowed to lay an egg against Notre Dame and DONU, and still is considered leap years ahead of us. However, we are not allowed to occasionally lay an egg, least we immediately be designated as failed program and become a second tier team in your opinion. Is that what I am to surmise?

        1. Jeromethechicken says:

          Meant to post that below David’s remark.

        2. HuskerinLA says:

          Um, Michigan State is first place in the division.

          We are tied for third, with a chance of falling to fourth.

          What’s not to understand about that?

        3. dave says:

          The extreme Husker fans- the entitled ones- have a very distorted view of football. Look at Bielema: He has a great team in Wisconsin, and even he has two losses. Oklahoma has two losses. Fire everyone who isn’t undefeated: Kevin Sumlin and Les Miles. lol

          1. mark pelini gave kevin's mom a blackshirt says:

            dave- and what r u ? you guessed it -pathetic

    2. Shanna says:

      An answer from an expert! Thanks for cnotrbiutnig.

  5. NUCORNDEVIL says:

    Papuchis is prolly one of the biggest underachievers and overrated coaches in the big slow, unfortunately he coaches our D-Line and oversees our recruiting…………….see results.
    David is right, Michigan leads the country in recruiting now, when urban meyer is Coach @ ohio state, they will skyrocket even further ahead of Pelini and his bumbling moonies from Mooney.
    Husker football will always be a doormat like illinois, indiana, iowa, penn state, purdue, and northwestern.
    pelini will be LUCKY to get to the big championship game every four or six years only to be destroyed by ohio state.
    There are bad coaches, houston nutt, there are mediocre coaches, bo pelini, and there are great coaches urban meyer.
    Think about it, Pelini, in his fourth year, needed a come from behind win in historic fashion, to beat a new coaching staff with a QB who was still 17 years old in his 2nd game ever. Had not the starting 17 year old went down, Nebraska could very well have been blown out in that game as well. Red Flag People.
    Look up urban meyers coaching success, he turns programs around in 1 or 2 years……..what do we have? we have inexperience learning from mistakes, could take 20 years, I can assure you osborne has a higher I.Q. than pelini.

    1. Grounded says:

      Someone who thinks “prolly” is a word has no business commenting on anyone’s IQ.

  6. Joe says:

    Did David honestly just say we’re leap years behind a team we beat by 3 touchdowns this year?

    1. David says:

      Wisconsin certainly is, what was it, 48-17? And Mich. State is in conference championship, even though they laid an egg against NU this year, admittedly.

  7. NUCORNDEVIL says:

    Should Neuheisel be fired @ UCLA?
    Should Erickson be fired @ ASU?
    Did Arizona fire Stoops fairly?
    Is Richt underachieving in Georgia?
    Why did Mac Brown fire his OC?
    Why did Notre Dame fire Weis?
    Why did Tennessee fire Fulmer?
    Why should Nebraska not demand the same?

    1. hotrodhusker says:

      A lot is made of pulling the trigger to fire a coach to quickly. There is a lot to be said for that. But sometimes you either get it or you dont. IMO I think BO was stuck with Watson and that put the development of the program behind a little. One of BO’s best personal qualities is his enduring loyality. But that is also one of his worst qualities. If he had pulled the trigger sooner, maybe things would be better. If he was more of a “Out side the box” kind of coach, maybe he would have hired someone else with more experience than Beck. But instead he let Beck try it out. I don’t know of another big time program that would have hired an offense Coord with no D-1 experience. If Beck had really had his $%^& together, Bo would look like a hero. But now it seems like a questionable choice. But there is no way he can just dump him after one season.
      If you think we should dump the entire staff after this season, you have plenty of people who will support that. But I think we are a season away from having that option as a possibility. Next year, who knows, maybe it will be what we hoped for, maybe it will be fuel for the fire.

      1. NUCORNDEVIL says:

        Not w/Taylor

  8. Jason says:

    The thing I don’t like about this coaching staff is that our veterans (besides David) are not improving, and our young guys don’t see the field to get experience. They have talent on the bench but continue to go with guys they trust more even though they aren’t as talanted.

    1. NUCORNDEVIL says:

      So what you are saying is you see a development of talent void?
      So does the rest of college football, and its being used against us. The major under development of talent issue @ Nebraska is QB, when the QB situation is a dumpster fire, and there is no experience, or progress in the vault, confident talented athletes are not going to commit to that program, regardless of what position they play, the QB is the leader, confident talented players want to play for confident talented leaders, and that’s the bottom line…….

    2. HuskerinLA says:

      The corner’s opposite Dennard don’t seem to have really improved — but I wonder how their golf game is?

      1. HuskerinLA says:

        corners NOT corner’s

        1. Jeff J. Jeffrieson says:

          In L.A. or in LA? D lacks closing speed in the secondary, push on the D line, and after L. David leaves, instincts on the second level. Not sure if it is entirely about the players that left after last season, but the secondary is seriously lacking confidence…coaching?!?

      2. NUCORNDEVIL says:

        seriously, how does a coach without a winning record, only 1 win against the top 25 in 19 tries, beat, and completely out coach Pelini with equal (injured) talent?

        1. Corndevil, what coach is that you are talking about? The 3 losses this year have nothing to do with the teams you are chatting about? Or are you talking about Northwestern. If that is the case then let me ask you if they are such a bad team why are the bowl eligable.

    3. braskaboynga says:


  9. NUCORNDEVIL says:

    Osborne needs to offer Chris Peterson the biggest salary in all of college football.
    This is the perfect time!

    1. Again Corndevil you prove it does not take a intelligent person to post an opinion. The opinion you just posted ranks right up there with your post that it does not take an intelligent person to be a coach.

  10. Royster says:

    I agree, everyone has a right to their opinion, but here’s something to consider. I am willing to bet everyone who is posting on here would agree that Tom Osborne was a great coach. It took T.O. 20 years before he won his 1st N.C. He went 9-2-1 in his 1st year, 9-3 in his 2nd, 10-2 in his 3rd and 9-3-1 in his fourth, in which NU was a pre-season No. 1. That’s a record of 37-9-2 in four years – Pelini is currently @ 37-15 and has played more games in the same period. Callahan went 27-22 in 4 years. I agree the losses this year are painful, but the man has posted 10 win seasons for the past 2 years and is on track again this year. Considering the schedule we had this year, the fact we are playing in a completely new league and the infamous injury bugs, I’d say we are probably right about where we should be. I’ve said all year we are a year away – I think next year could be the year. Calling for a coaching changes now IMO seems a little extreme – even the great Bob Father had two 6-4 teams in 1967 & 68 and Thank god we didn’t fire either him or Osborne. Be careful what you wish for – the grass isn’t always greener.

    1. NUCORNDEVIL says:

      it took pitchforks and torches to force Osborne into change.
      Get a match!

  11. ron frost says:

    Your crazy if u think the huskers can start with a totally new offense and be playing for a national or even a divisional champ. Bo and his coaching staff are on the right track. GBR

  12. NUCORNDEVIL says:

    LOL, is that you Taylor?!
    My bad, I didnt mean to be so insensitive to all you blind faith Husker fans, by all means, sign Pelini to a 20 year contract, that should take care of it.

  13. Farmer says:

    Our VB team has played in 9 BIG venues in which we had played, as far back as 2007. Only recent BIG venue was at UMn.

    For those counting the # of wins; also consider the % of wins.
    First 4 yrs:
    TO: 77.55%
    BP: 71.15%

    BP is a perfect example of The Peter Principle. He is a good defensive co-ordinator. He is a mediocre head coach.

    I wouldn’t fire BP after this game, but if he is wooed by another team, I wouldn’t offer him any additional incentives to stay.

    Dr Osborne will have a dilema if we lose out; an 8 win season could be perceived as regression; 8 wins is fewer than 9 and fewer than 10. AND, Dr Osborne was told that he would have been fired had NU not won the ’76 Astro Bluebonnet Bowl.

    1. Farmer says:

      edit: “Our VB team has played in 9 BIG venues in which we had played, as far back as 2007.” should have stated: Our VB team has played in 9 BIG venues in which we had NOT played, as far back as 2007.

    2. Jim in Nevada says:

      The “Peter Principle” is right on target. Bo isn’t the first and won’t be the last great coordinator that turns out to be a mediocre head coach. The last two games of this year and being able to win at least 9 next year (WITHOUT blow out losses) will determine whether he is the Husker’s head coach in 2013.

  14. Frank Solich ruined Nebraska football.

    1. NUCORNDEVIL says:

      or you could say Osborne, Byrne?

    2. At what point in Solich’s 20 some years of coaching the Huskers did he ruin it. Billy C. ruined NU football. He changed the entire culture of NU footbal and it is just now trying to regain that culture.

      1. mark pelini gave kevin's mom a blackshirt says:

        at least billy c could recruit. where would pelini be if he hadn’t inherited callahan”s players?

        1. yes Billy C. could recruit and he did it by promising them they would start right away. Remember Keller? Again you are right that Bo did inheirit those recruits of Billy C.’s. He also inheirited their lack of motivation, disipline and poor work ethics.

  15. FloridaHusker says:

    I get a kick out of reading the various posts, both pro and con on Nebraska football and the coaches. I’m not pleased with the game results when we lose. Never have been and never will. I want to win them all. And not only that, I want to stomp the enemy every time. That is what makes me the most happy and proud. Kick some A@# Big Red. That being said, I do agree with the fact that these comments are are a good place to express our thoughts. So here is mine… I remember when Devaney went 6-4 two years in a row and people wanted a new coach. I also remember when TO couldn’t win the big one. Please take a look at their year by year records. Now, for those of you that hate our coaches at the moment, what do you supposed would have happened if we canned Bob and Tom early in their careers. I think Pelini has learned a lot, he is relatively new at this head coaching gig. They want to win as bad you all of us. I do believe we are heading in the right direction. Sure makes me mad when we lose though. I want to kick every team we play. I must have some patience. GBR

    1. Floridahusker, good points made. I would also add what kind of coach would ever want to come to NU if we have a reputation of firing a coach every four years. What kind of recruit would come to NU if they believe that the person recruiting them will not be there by the time they finish thier careers. One of Bob Devany’s and TO’s greatest feats was their logivity to the program. Not only theirs but their staff as well. It allowed them to get past the tough years. Coaching changes always create caos and when caos rules there is no stability or ability to grow.

      1. mark pelini gave kevin's mom a blackshirt says:

        charles n china-you personally must have experienced your share of chaos. my guess is every time you attempt to post a decent reply. no one has seen one yet.

        1. The only caos I experience comes from nay sayers and fault finders that would rather post junk opinions with no facts backing them up. I am pretty sure my posts are more to the point than yours are though. At least I try to point out facts. With that said I will say it is sad that you would rather attack the messenger when you do not like the post than the message. I am not sure but I assume it is because you have no valid points to make to rebuff my opinion.

          As far as i am concerned all of these chicken littles running around here claiming the sky is falling are way off base. They have let their emotions take over for sound judgement. If I am wrong please point to some facts as to how I am wrong just do not attack me on a personal level it does not bode well for you. I personally know nothing about what type of person you are in real life so I would never be so brazen as to misspeak in public about the type of person you are. I would much rather let the readers decide that for themselves.

  16. FloridaHusker says:

    About the lack of proper proof reading prior to posting the prior post….. Stuff it, you still got my point didn’t you.

  17. Mike in DM says:

    I think the issues Nebraska has had the last few years boils down to a lack of an unquestioned leader on the field ON BOTH SIDES OF THE BALL. In 2008, the offense was solid and Joe Ganz was in charge. In 2009, the defense was dominant, it was Suh’s team, without a doubt. We were in flux at the QB spot and guys like Helu were not overhelming leaders. Same last year with T Magic at QB. Prince, Dennard, David and Crick led the dominate side of the ball again. This year, still not a strong leader at QB, including his weak answers to questions after games or during the weekly press conferences. Burkhead is the leader, as evident by the reaction in the stadium when he was hurt vs Michigan State, but he isn’t the “Refuse to Lose” type of leader. David is the closest thing we have on D since Crick and Dennard have missed games at one point or another. I can see someone with an edge like Chase Rome stepping forward in the next few years, but until there is a constant personality like this on both sides of the ball, we will continue to go into a shell when things really head south. You can look at the Ohio State game as an exception, but the bucks folded like a house of cards when things went bad for them. Same for Michigan State. Michigan and Northwestern certainly stood up to adversity and Penn State was on the way back. Luckily their rally started too late.

  18. dave says:

    Not only a new conference, but a brutal schedule, injuries, new coaches, new offense, and a big loss of defensive NFL talent. I think the coaches are a little shell-shocked from all of that. And now, to top it all off they’ve got the small, but loud group of disgruntled fans breathing down their necks.

    We just need to be patient and not panic. The coaches didn’t forget how to coach. If it turns out there are deeper issues, and they don’t get fixed, then it will become apparent and we can deal with it then. It’s been a tough year, but most of it has been very fun to be a fan. I’ll never forget being in the stands for the Ohio State game.

    Go Big Red–> Punish Iowa!

    1. mark pelini gave kevin's mom a blackshirt says:

      do u think nebraska would have won that game if ohio state’s qb hadn’t got injured? be honest.

      1. NUCORNDEVIL says:

        no…..NU would have lost 34/37 to 13/16………

    2. NUCORNDEVIL says:

      those poor babies, how dreadfully mean of those big bad football bully BIG schedule people, maybe NU should develop a national clause which states they can only schedule non-conference games and play bowl game’s with teams we are only familiar with until Bo grows up into a football coach.

  19. ken gilmore says:

    i get the general jest of all the comments, we are all unhappy that we drank to much kool aid coming into this season, i know i did. i say yes pelini is some of the problems that we have at nu, the people he has surrounded himself with, all friends and a brother. none of them really have alot of coaching experience, not even the head cheese, not at being the ceo of a footfall nugget like nebraska. see what i don’t ever get is these coaches always say this or that about a player for one reason or the other, has his left foot forward when it should have been his right, or he kept his eyes in the back field to long and didn’t run to the spot where the ball was going to be thrown, how much money have they spent on film rooms? listen, as the season goes on, you as a coaching staff have got to get your players better, they shouldn’t look like they are playing against chattanooga, but we did. hoke has his players playing better, he is first year, right? our coaches don’t coach, when was the last time an offensive lineman under the watchful eye of blarney rubles did any thing? what the heck tim beck, yah explain that one away. i think, now this is just me, but i think if you stand up to bo, he shows you the door. hey bo, this isn’t kansas is it?

  20. WisconsinHusker says:

    Good comments from all. But one observation if I may. I have followed this team for 47 years. I remember when everyone in Nebraska wanted to fire Tom Osborne in the mid’ 70′s because he could not beat Barry Switzer. Thankfully cooler heads prevailed and we all had the pleasure of watching TO evolve into the coach he eventually became. And he brought home the hardware in the mid 90′s with 3 national championships.
    Give Bo time. He’s maturing as a person and a coach. The one thing this program needs is stability. That’s a big deal out there on the recruiting trail when Nebraska is vying for talent. These kids want to see that our university is not going to freak out and fire the entire staff because of a 3 or 4 loss season. So my message to all…….chill, be patient. I think we have a good solid core of coaches and the beginnings of a program that can compete in the Big 10.

    1. Excellent post Wisconsinhusker. It is a shame that too many of these posters here post comments out of raw emotion and do not think before they send their hate through out the web. If these haters think a coaches worth is of value only if they bring home a confernece or national championship then I am afraid they are going to get use to having worthless coaches about 90% of the time. They are either way to young or lack the insight to see that winning a confernece title in TO’s days was by far easier than it is in todays football climate.

  21. Tmart says:

    I like the Kool-Aide and am still sipping as we speak. Haters should vent on Myspace. GBR.