Doomed By History: What LSU Fans Need To Learn From Nebraska's Solich
Oct. 18, 2009—From the Bleacher Report:
"I will not let Nebraska gravitate into mediocrity," said Steve Pederson, then Athletic Director at the University of Nebraska, after firing head coach Frank Solich in 2003.
Steve Pederson had acquiesced to the outcry from the loudest corn-critics; those that impatiently demanded an immediate return to the final days of Tom Osborne's tenure when the Corn Husker Nation was awarded three national championships in four years.
Those voices were dismissive of the success Solich had enjoyed—National Runner-up and Fiesta Bowl Champion in his second year, two division, and one conference championship in his first four years, and 58 wins in six years, which was better than both of his predecessors, Tom Osborne and Bob Devaney who are in the College Football Hall of Fame—claiming that he had enjoyed that success 'only because of Tom Osborne’s recruits'.
To make matters worse, Solich had rebounded from a disappointing 7-7 2002 campaign that was crowned by a loss in the Independence Bowl to up-and-coming Eli Manning's Ole Miss Rebels.
In 2003 Solich got Nebraska off to a 5-0 start with wins versus Oklahoma State and Penn State, before suffering its first loss to conference foe Missouri. That loss rattled the nay-sayers, and the "Fire Frank" campaign was in high gear.
Despite finishing the year with a very respectable 9-3 record, an invitation to the Alamo Bowl, and a Top 20 ranking, Steve Petersen made the move and infamous statement mentioned above.
Of course, the move allowed the Corn Huskers to by-pass mediocrity and fall straight to futility, eventually costing Petersen his own job.
It was reported at the time that Dave Wannstedt, Al Saunders, Houston Nutt, Mike Zimmer, and even Steve Spurrier turned down the opportunity to coach the historical power-house Corn Huskers.
One could only speculate that perhaps the unceremonious firing of a very successful coach with only one rebuilding year on his resume, indicated an athletic department and fan base that was far too demanding.
Is it delusional to expect nothing less than three national championships in four years?
Recruits apparently thought so. Despite Bill Callahan's NFL pedigree, and the Husker's history, Nebraska's recruiting took a turn for the worse.
Callahan only enjoyed one Top 25 class ranking during his tenure, and though rankings were not available throughout the Solich years, I for one remember the days when Nebraska was one of those teams who had their pick of the best talent in the country.
Nebraska fans turned to Osborne to resurrect the program after four dismal years of Solich’s predecessor, and most corn fanatics are optimistic with his decision to hire former defensive coordinator Bo Pelini, so far—though Blog’s such as Corn Nation have already highlighted some "overreactions" to recent losses.
Only time will tell if Bo Pelini can restore the once prominent program to national relevance, but as of right now the Huskers have only "gravitated" back up to mediocrity.
What does all this have to do with LSU you ask?
Well aside from some eerily similar circumstances with the coaching staff, it serves as a warning message to a somewhat restless Tiger Nation.
As one who has followed LSU Football since I was knee-high to a grasshopper (and trust me when I tell you as a man who stands 6'7" inches tall, that was a long time ago) I have never seen some of my fellow Tigers more discontented.
When I read (LSU) blogs that question Les Miles job security, decry "the fall back to mediocrity" and discuss how horrible it is to be 5-1, I want to reach out and collectively shake my fellow Tigers in to consciousness.
"Wake up, Wake up, there is a fire…"
And YOU are setting it in your sleep.
Put down the matches Tiger Fans, wake up and educate yourself as to what’s really going on with the program, and for the love of goodness remember the Huskers!
The simple case for Les Miles
Results are what matters, and he gets them. With his next victory he will have as many victories (48) as his predecessor, with fewer losses, and he has won all of his bowl games by lop-sided margins.
In his third year at the helm he won his second division title, the conference, and a national championship.
He also publicly pledged his loyalty to LSU by rejecting an offer to become the next head coach at his alma-mater, and dream job, the University of Michigan.
For this alone LSU fans should be more than willing to give this man a chance to right the ship if it is taking on water.
But is the ship really taking on water?
In 2002 when Nick Saban finished 8-5 did we call for his head? Did we panic and decide that the best days were behind us?
In 2003 when we lost our sixth game to Florida (7-19) in Baton Rouge with an anemic seven point offensive output, did we mail it in and start making plans for the next year and the next coach?
No, we relied on a solid defense that would become the best in the Nation by the end of the season. We watched as Jimbo Fisher made some adjustments offensively, which allowed the Tigers to become a near unstoppable force running roughshod over the rest of the SEC, including Top-Five Georgia for a second time in the SEC Championship game, and then Oklahoma in the BCS National Championship Game.
Will the 2009 Tigers fulfill a similar destiny, who knows?
What we do know, is that destiny is still firmly in our grasp, and to fall asleep on these Tigers might be a big mistake.
Remember the Huskers
Regardless of what happens this year—another national championship, or an 8-5 campaign—Tiger fans need to be careful what they wish for.
When the Husker’s demanded Solich’s head they just knew that any coach would jump at the chance to reside in Lincoln. They didn’t.
When the Husker’s demanded Solich’s head, they took for granted that top athletes would always chose to reside in Lincoln. They didn’t.
When the Husker’s demanded Solich’s head they just thought they were asking for what they deserved. That they were, and they got it—they just didn’t know that they deserved to be looking UP at mediocrity.
That’s where we are Tiger Nation, the cross-roads between continuing greatness and looking up at mediocrity, if you are in that growing minority that is calling for "big changes", just know that you might get what you deserve.
Have faith in the Hat, support the Tigers, and get ready for a great second half.
By Henry Ball – Syndicated Writer and Feature Columnist at Bleacher Report
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