Published Monday, October 15, 2012 AT 12:52 PM / Updated at 12:55 PM
Mad Chatter, Oct. 15
Dirk Chatelain Omaha World-Herald

On the first interception, the Ohio State cornerback jumped the route. He made a good play.

On the second one, officials should’ve thrown a flag for pass interference.

The third one? It was an 18-point game. When you’re 18 points down, you can’t play conservatively. Gotta take chances. Make something happen.

Taylor Martinez was asked about his turnovers Monday morning. Those were his explanations. At every chance to take responsibility for a bad night at Ohio State, he blamed something else.

After he went through his interceptions, Sam McKewon asked about his four fumbles the past four games. And Martinez said this:

“Well, it’s kinda hard if you’re getting hit from the back without seeing someone, so I don’t know. It’s kinda hard if you can’t see the guy coming around and hitting the ball out of your hands.”

Here’s the thing: Martinez is right in some cases. Some of his turnovers aren’t his fault. And every quarterback — from Tom Brady to Aaron Rodgers — commits the occasional turnover.

But Martinez shouldn’t be downplaying his mistakes after a 25-point loss — remember, after the game, he said, “Well, we scored 38 points. So I think that’s pretty good.” If your third-year quarterback, with 31 career starts, isn’t accepting accountability, why should anyone else?

Then I asked Martinez which of this year’s turnovers he does think were his fault.

“Umm,” Martinez said, clicking his jaw. “I don’t know. I’m not really sure.”

When Martinez left the press conference, Bo Pelini took his place in front of the cameras. And a few minutes later, another World-Herald reporter, Jon Nyatawa, asked Bo about the quarterback. His answer was a bit ironic.

“I thought he was good when he was good,” Pelini said. “And I thought there was a lot of things he needs to fix.

“He’d be the first one to tell you, we can’t have the turnovers.”

***

>> As Gary Sharp, co-host of 1620 The Zone’s morning show, pointed out, today is the five-year anniversary of Steve Pederson‘s firing. By sheer luck (good or bad), I was the first person to see Pederson afterward. I was waiting outside Harvey Perlman’s office to bug him about AD matters when Pederson walked out. He declined an interview, saying he had to get to a meeting. Soon I learned he’d just been terminated.

Twenty-four hours later, I found myself in a different hallway, about 100 yards away in the college of business. At the end of that hallway, Tom Osborne had an office, where he was discussing with a confidante a job opportunity

This is my 10th season covering Nebraska football. Nothing has compared to the twists and turns of 2007.

>> Is Iowa a contender in the Big Ten race? No way I would’ve said yes before the Hawks’ upset of Michigan State Saturday. But now I’m not so sure. Iowa doesn’t play Ohio State or Wisconsin. Its next four games go like this:

Penn State
at Northwestern
at Indiana
Purdue

Let’s say the Hawkeyes win three of four. That’s not exactly a stretch. That puts them 5-1 in Big Ten play. They go to Michigan Nov. 17, then host Nebraska for turkey leftovers. If they can manage one of those and finish 6-2, it might be good enough to get to Indianapolis.

Imagine the TV ratings for an Iowa-Wisconsin Big Ten championship game!

>> The Big Ten doesn’t have a single team in the BCS rankings. Meanwhile, the SEC and Big 12 each have seven in the top 25 — the SEC has six in the top 12! I wonder how many SEC teams would win the Big Ten this year. Definitely Alabama, Florida, LSU, South Carolina and Georgia. Probably Mississippi State and Texas A&M. Maybe Tennessee. Those SEC-Big Ten New Year’s Day bowl match-ups are gonna be ugly.

>> Clay Travis predicts four coaching openings in the SEC: Arkansas, Auburn, Kentucky and Tennessee. He also lays out the top 16 candidates, which includes some heavy hitters.

>> Is Mack Brown in trouble at Texas? After getting blown out again by Oklahoma, he doesn’t appear to be inspiring confidence. Austin columnist Kirk Bohls compares the ‘Horns to another slumping superpower. “For now, Texas is nothing more than Nebraska in better uniforms. Neither great program seems nationally relevant at the moment.”

>> Ryan Klachko, who left Nebraska and transferred to Illinois, is finished with football because of concussions.

>> Yankee Stadium had thousands of empty seats this weekend. What an embarrassment.

>> The NFL standings are just silly.

New England has scored 188 points and given up 137 (plus-51). Buffalo has scored 137 and given up 192 (minus-55). Both are 3-3. In fact, all four AFC East teams are 3-3.

Pittsburgh, New England, Denver, Dallas, Green Bay and New Orleans have a combined record of 13-19. Arizona, Seattle, Minnesota, St. Louis, Buffalo and Miami have a combined record of 21-15.

After tonight’s MNF game, there could be two AFC teams with a winning record. Two! Houston and Baltimore are 5-1. San Diego is next at 3-2. Five AFC teams are .500.

>> A thorough examination of Junior Seau’s personal demise after retirement.

>> Niles Paul crushed a Vikings punt returner Sunday. Check out the highlight.

>> Time for a random, meaningless statistic: Frank Solich, whose program joined the top 25 this week, went 58-19 in six years at Nebraska. Bo Pelini has coached 17 fewer games in Lincoln. In order to equal Solich’s record, he needs to go 16-1.

>> Typically, a 63-38 loss burns for seven days, then goes away (at least a little bit) when another game is played. Not Ohio State. The bye week may have come at a good time for coaching adjustments, but not for fans who desperately need an ice pack to treat the pain.

As the Huskers prepare for a critical road trip to Northwestern, it’s a good time to share excerpts of emails I received the past nine days.

I’ve taken 10 of the best reader contributions and made them bite-size. This may not be a perfect cross-section of Husker fans, but hopefully the diversity of opinion accurately reflects the fan base.

From John:

“Years ago a book called ‘The Peter Principal’ was released. It spoke about people rising above their skill level at work. Great salesman, bad sales manager. Bo Pelini is a perfect example of this theory. When he was at LSU and only had to work/worry about defense, he was excellent. As a head coach (actually a head coach in training), he has failed badly. When he arrived, he took over players who he had not recruited, bit did quite well. With his recruits, he has failed. A lot of the talent he did recruit has quit or gone to other schools. … Bo Pelini is a great defensive coach, but not a head coach.”

From Morey:

“Our passion for excellence makes us impatient and short-sighted. We need to realize program building takes time. … I believe Bo knows what he’s doing and what it takes to be successful. Remember the defense of 2007 and how much it changed by 2009? That takes coaching. To his credit, he changed the OC for the better. But Beck is only in his second year. The DC is a young first-year guy. They have endured key recruiting losses (see baseball’s first high school draft pick), and offensive line losses. Point is, it takes time for a new head coach and his program to mature. … He just needs time and a few more horses.”
From Michael:

“I am a baby boomer that was spoiled rotten by Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne. Even though they are no longer coaching, you felt as though anybody could come in and coach Nebraska to 10 or 11 wins every season and compete for the national championship due to the past tradition at NU. I now sadly realize that those two gentlemen were coaching legends, and tradition has nothing to do with it. The one thing I remember most about the teams coached by Devaney and Osborne is that they competed for 60 minutes. Yes, there were years when NU did not have as much talent as Oklahoma and other nationally ranked teams, but they always competed for the entire game. I have only seen that a smattering of times during the Callahan and Pelini years.”
From Zack:

“I’m a Husker fan from Georgia. To your question about national perception of the state of Husker football, I often have pleasant conversations with the people I meet here in the South about Nebraska’s football program. … Around here, if you’re not in the top 10 then, at the moment, you do not matter. I often wonder if Oregon hasn’t become the 21st century version of Nebraska. When I’m speaking with people around here about the national landscape of college football, the Oregon Ducks often come up in conversation (after an assessment of the SEC’s domination, of course). I guess the point I’m making is the old cliche: Winning cures all.”
From Dave:

“People today don’t know the meaning of the word patience. Go back to the ‘94 season and see how many years those coaches had worked together. I agree with you that this staff has to eliminate the blowouts. I think were still seeing them because players get their confidence from their coaches and our coaches haven’t coached long enough to have it themselves. Hopefully they’ll figure things out sooner rather then later, but one thing I have learned over the years is stability comes with time. The last thing we need to do is change coaching staffs every 5 or 6 years.”

From Tim:

“The main problem I see is Bo surrounded himself with inexperienced coaches, that have never gone through the fire. They are learning on the fly, and we are picking up the tab. We need seasoned assistant coaches, that can recruit talent & coach.”

From Mark:

“When Osborne was at the helm, his players would’ve walked through a wall
(or a Warren Sapp) for him. They wanted to win for him (badly), they wanted
to please him and deliver a victory. Great coaches have that kind of impact
on their teams. They don’t always win, but their player always go down
swinging and the other team knows they’ve been in a fight. It seems to be a
bit different w/Pelini’s teams. Instead of passion, they seem to be playing
with the fear of disappointing their coach. Maybe they’re afraid of getting
ripped a new one on national TV, like what happened to Martinez at College
Station? If so, they’re probably trying not to mess up and playing really
tight. How much better does a kid play when he’s playing for a General he
loves, rather than a drill sergeant he fears?”

From John:

“I have been off of the Bo bandwagon since the last half of 2010, and your point about the A&M game rings true; that was absolutely the turning point. In my opinion, the Bo experiment has gone on long enough. The flame of our flickering national brand is only becoming dimmer with the repeated embarrassment of these nationally televised blowouts. I can handle losing four games a year, just not in blowout fashion. Nor can I handle reading some of the most recent quotes from our starting quarterback. When you add Bo’s boorish personality and arrogance to the equation, I think the correct course of action to take in the upcoming months seems pretty apparent.”

From Jordan:

“Bo took a failing program and starting helping it rise again. We owe a lot to him for that. Bo is learning. Bo is taking his strides, and to me, has done a pretty good job considering this. Dr. Tom didn’t hire a guy he knew would get results now. He hired a guy he knew would be good for the program in the long term. Bo might be the guy we need, and in 5-10 years we might all be looking back to today and laughing at how ridiculous we all sounded. All I ask Husker Nation is to be patient. View the last 4 1/2 years as the learning years for Bo — the years he might have spend at a lower quality school. Then next season, view it as if Pelini just arrived at Nebraska, and give him his next five seasons as the judging seasons. See if he stops being so stubborn; see if he changes some of his coaching techniques, recruiting techniques; and see if he learns from his mistakes overall.”

From David:

“It might not seem like it, but Husker fans really do understand that we
can’t win them all.  A tough, hard-fought game that we end up losing, well, we
can accept that. What we will not tolerate is looking bad, looking foolish, and, as you
said, getting embarrassed.  Of course it occasionally happened in the old days
(the very first Husker game I watched on TV was the 47-0 beatdown OU put on
Bob Devaney in 1968), but boy, not very often.  Now it’s happening multiple
times over consecutive seasons.  Bo can say he doesn’t care what the fans
say, but when former Husker players are saying, ‘Hey, there are some real
problems here,’ well, maybe he should care.”

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 dchatelain@owh.com