It has been over a year since Kevin Cosgrove, along with the rest of Bill Callahan's staff, were fired at Nebraska. Until recently, Cosgrove, the Nebraska defensive coordinator from 2004-2007, was the only coach from Callahan's staff to not have a full time coaching job.
Very little, if anything had been heard from any of the previous coaches regarding their tenure at the University of Nebraska. Well, that is until recently, when Cosgrove landed a co-defensive coordinator position at the University of Minnesota.
In an interview with Gopherhole.com, an unofficial website for University of Minnesota athletics, Cosgrove reflected on his time in Lincoln.
About the failings of his Nebraska defense in 2007 Cosgrove stated, "Well, I'm not going to make any excuses for what happened there, but if you looked at my past we've had many successes on the teams I've been with."
When asked about the 2007 defense finishing 112th in total defense and giving up 38 points per game, he stated, "Did you know we lead the nation in sacks and tackles for loss?"
Note on 2005 stats: Thirty of the fifty sacks and I'm sure probably over half of the tackles for loss were against Maine, Wake Forest, Pittsburgh, ISU, and Baylor.
The 2005 defense was still exposed by Missouri, Kansas, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma. All teams with playmakers on offense and a good offensive game plan.
The offenses of these four teams averaged 425 yards per game against the 2005 defense! Of these four teams, Missouri's 523 total yards were the highest and Oklahoma had the fewest yards of the four, producing 337 yards of total offense.
These four teams averaged 36.5 points per game against this Nebraska defense that Cosgrove is apparently so proud of. The 2007 defense gave up an average of 476 yards and 38 points per game. It's amazing how similar those two statistics are.
Memo to Kevin: Sometimes it's just best to not say anything at all and just move on.
He also went on to say, "I didn't even look at (the stats) because the way things went down there, it was done before the season was over. We all knew we were fired before that, and it was just a tough time."
This sounds very much like a coach that gave up, that threw up his hands in defeat, threw in the towel, flew the white surrender flag, and screamed "No mas! No mas!"
Unfortunately, it appeared Cosgrove's own group of players at times also adopted this attitude and this is what angered most Nebraska fans.
I am sure that this is where much of Nebraska fans anger lies with the previous staff. That they had robbed them—the Cornhusker players—of their swagger and identity as the most physical team on the field.
One hallmark of Nebraska teams prior to the Callahan regime that fans and players could take hold of even in loss, and even in bad losses, was that the Nebraska players, especially the Blackshirts, never appeared to quit. They always appeared to play through the whistle, to play with a passion and reckless abandon that fans could be proud of.
That didn't always appear to be the case under Cosgrove and that is what rankled most fans.
Nebraska may not always be the most talented team on the field, but by god, they will be the toughest and the most physical. And never ever ever QUIT!
A few months ago, a few players came out and basically stated what every reasonably intelligent Nebraska fan saw.
That Cosgrove's defensive plan wasn't to attack the offense, that it was a "read and react" style of defense unfit for the superior athletes on offense in the Big 12.
Linebacker Blake Lawrence was quoted as saying that Nebraska defenders were never allowed to attack the offense, that their first move as a defender was always a reaction to what offensive players did.
And the strangest statement of all from Lawrence was that the defense seemed designed to funnel the ball carrier to one player and that player had to make the tackle. Wow, talk about setting up players to fail. No wonder they appeared to give up at times.
I guess Kevin didn't like the philosophy of gang tackling and all helmets and all players to the ball.
Most troubling to me is the way Kevin denigrates and criticizes Nebraska fans for criticizing him and the lack of effort that was often displayed by some players on the defense.
He stated, "When I was at Wisconsin, working for former Cornhusker linebacker Barry Alvarez we never even knew that stuff existed. I never saw anything negative; the only thing I ever saw was positive. Then I went to Nebraska and started to look at the negative stuff, and that was probably the worst thing I ever did, because our players started reading it."
One word explains this and it's not meant as a slap at Wisconsin.
What were the expectations of Wisconsin fans as opposed to Nebraska fans?
Before Alvarez took over at Wisconsin, the Badgers annually were mostly just a middle of the road Big 10 team without many expectations for huge success. If they finished .500 in the Big 10 that might be considered a successful year.
Barry Alvarez arrives and they begin to experience a level of success that is mostly unprecedented at Wisconsin. So, fans would be very happy and hence all the positive and warm feelings.
Cosgrove comes to Nebraska and to a program with five national championships and just six-seven years from the last of three national championships in four years.
Now, I think most Nebraska fans, myself included are reasonable enough that we understood that it would be nearly impossible to duplicate a run like the Cornhuskers went on in the mid-90's. But, we don't want to be embarrassed either.
Some of the rhetoric coming from Cosgrove about the Nebraska fans reaction to 2007 almost has a ring of "only at Nebraska" to it. Baloney!
If Kevin had been the defensive coordinator at USC, OU, Florida, Penn St, or any other traditional power and the defense performed as badly as his Nebraska defense in 2007, does he really believe that fan bases of these teams would have reacted differently? Come on.
Yeah, I know all about the threat on Kevin's voicemail before he was fired. But, that one idiot doesn't speak for Nebraska fans as a whole.
I am sure Cosgrove is a good man and a good coach, but it appears to me that his defense and the offenses of the Big 12 were just a bad mix for Nebraska.
An acquaintance of mine who was a long time equipment manager for the Nebraska football and baseball teams once described his first encounter with Cosgrove to me.
Kevin came looking for a piece of equipment and was unhappy with something at the equipment office and said, "This isn't the way we do things at Wisconsin."
Well, Kevin, This isn't the way we do things at Nebraska and you can take that defense back to the Big 10 where it belongs.