It’s Friday! That means Ten Big stories in 10 little bites. We hit Doug McDermott and Ndamukong Suh, Ben Johnson and Lance Armstrong, Jayson Werth and Joel Stave. But first, Bo Pelini v. Tom Osborne.
Defenders of Pelini the past few years have often referenced Osborne’s early struggles at Nebraska. He couldn’t beat Oklahoma. He didn’t have Devaney’s personality. He considered leaving for Colorado. It’s written in the history books.
I understand the virtue of patience. And nobody with a rational mind is saying Pelini, as of Oct. 12, deserves a pink slip. But let’s cool it with the Osborne comparisons. Just because a coach is struggling doesn’t mean he’s the next legend. That’s like saying a high school basketball player who gets cut from varsity is on the same path as Michael Jordan.
Pelini is more likely to be the next Frank Solich or Bill Callahan. Why? Because 90 percent of head coaches have careers like Solich and Callahan. Less than 1 percent have a career like Osborne’s.
Look at it another way: If Nebraska falls behind 14-0 to Michigan, you might say, “Yes! It’s just like Ohio State 2011 and Wisconsin 2012! We got ‘em right where we want ‘em.” But what about Texas Tech 2009, or Texas 2010, or Northwestern 2011? Isn’t it more likely to be a sequel to those games?
No matter where you come down on the Osborne-Pelini comparisons, they don’t hold much relevance. Too much has changed in 40 years of college football.
>> John Gaskins, a friend and radio host at Lincoln’s 93.7 The Ticket, did some research this week on the first 4 1/2 seasons of Devaney, Osborne, Solich and Pelini. Here’s what he found:
Devaney: 44-6 (88%)
Osborne: 41-12-1 (76%)
Solich: 46-11 (81%)
Pelini: 43-18 (71%)
Weeks Ranked in AP Top 10:
Devaney: 28/50 (56%)
Osborne: 42/54 (77%)
Solich: 51/57 (89%)
Pelini: 14/61 (23%)
Final AP Top 20 Ranking:
Devaney: NR, 5, 6, 5, 6
Osborne: 7, 7, 9, 7, 10
Solich: 19, 3, 8, 8, NR
Pelini: NR, 14, 20, 24, ?
Record vs AP Top 20 Teams:
Devaney: 2-3 (40%) * all top 10 teams = AP only had top 10
Osborne: 11-5 (68%)
Solich: 9-10 (47%)
Pelini: 4-11 (26%)
Record vs AP Top 10 Teams:
Devaney: 2-3 (40%)
Osborne: 4-4 (50%)
Solich: 3-4 (43%)
Pelini: 2-6 (25%)
Losses by 20 or more points:
Losses at Home to Unranked Teams:
>> Does Pelini need to make staff changes at the end of the season? There’s been a lot of talk this week about Bo’s inexperienced assistants. And while it’s too soon to make conclusions, Bo could definitely use another outside perspective from a veteran coach who’s been through the battles, especially on defense. But can you really see him firing or demoting anyone, especially John Papuchis or Tim Beck? I can’t. I think Pelini would resign before severing those relationships.
>> I wrote a column today comparing the Huskers’ defensive numbers to two very dark years. In one of those seasons, 2011, Nebraska’s defense rallied to respectability. The other season? Not so much …
>> How does Ndamukong Suh still have a license? Suh’s problems continue. His Lions are 1-3. He hasn’t made a highlight play in seemingly forever. And he continues to get himself in trouble, on and off the field. The latest episode is a road rage allegation. Suh is accused of sideswiping a car and berating a driver.
>> Which Leaders Division team gets to Indianapolis? The winner of Saturday’s Wisconsin-Purdue matchup has the inside track. I took the Boilers in this morning’s paper, but they’re coming off a terrible performance against Michigan. Mostly, I don’t trust Wisconsin’s quarterback play on the road.
>> How did the SEC East get so good? ESPN examines. Everyone thought Missouri caught a break going to the East, while Texas A&M entered the West. Now the Aggies are playing well and it’s possible Mizzou could miss a bowl game.
>> I have yet to watch the “30 for 30” on Ben Johnson and Carl Lewis. I hear it’s outstanding. The Johnson-Lewis race was my earliest Olympic memory — I was 7. Here is Charlie Pierce’s recollection of the rivalry.
>> College basketball starts tonight! Well, sort of. CBS Sports gives us 68 things to watch. Here’s No. 18: “McDermott’s (National Player of the Year) hopes: Two of the past eight Wooden Award winners — namely Utah’s Andrew Bogut and BYU’s Jimmer Fredette — have come from outside of a so-called power conference, so it’ll be interesting to see whether Creighton’s Doug McDermott can make it three in nine. He’ll have the numbers. But his team will need to be nationally relevant to give him a chance.”
>> Answer me this: Who wins more games this year? Bo Pelini or Tim Miles. I think we’re looking at one of the worst Nebraska basketball teams ever. If the Huskers win 10 games, it’s a success. That doesn’t mean there isn’t reason to watch. Miles has a sense of humor. He’ll bring a little fun back to the program, even amid losing streaks.
>> I promised a bunch of email excerpts about Husker football in today’s Chatter. I’m going to save that for Monday. Sorry for false advertising. Again, thanks for your feedback.
>> Clay Travis compares Alabama football to Mike Tyson in 1988. Fun read.
>> Now that Lance Armstrong belongs in the same cheaters class with Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds — actually, his situation is worse because teammates have betrayed him — what do we do with all these Livestrong bracelets?
>> Finally, four divisional series. Four Game 5s. Baseball couldn’t have had a better week. From Raul Ibanez to Coco Crisp to Jayson Werth. The highlight, though, is Yankees-Orioles. As Dan Shulman tweeted, 42 of 43 innings in the series have ended either in a tie or a one-run lead. If Baltimore beats C.C. Sabathia in Yankee Stadium tonight, the rest of the playoffs is a piece of cake, right?
>> Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend.