At 3-0, Nebraska has had a great start to this young college football season. The team has managed to overcome the media-produced angst over naming a starting QB during fall camp and the truly controversial subject of who should start at mascot. South Dakota State week provides a good time to address one final issue that could potentially derail the entire season: the appropriate nickname for the freshman phenom leading the offense - Taylor Martinez.
Since Martinez has burst on to the national scene with outstanding rush/pass performances - albeit against inferior foes - everyone has tried to pin a name on him. It would be great to see how he performs in a couple of conference games before anointing him with a superstar nickname but, obviously, this important issue must be settled now before things get out of hand.
Thankfully I've decided to commit 15 minutes of thought over this so everyone can just calm down right now.
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Several options have been thrown out by the media, coaches, and players (one option is rumored to be provided by Martinez himself). Some of these include T-Mart, Latino Lightning, T-Mobile and T-Magic.
But, in order to appropriately nickname someone, you have to get inside the soul of that person - to really understand them.
"I was all right with it. I can play a lot better.” Martinez after his first start against Western Kentucky with 127 yards rushing, 136 yards passing, and scoring three touchdowns.
Let's start with T-Mart. A fantastic nickname for a discount quarterback. Or sounds like a place where you can gas-up, grab some Slim Jims, and pick out a quarterback - but not one that would start for a BCS conference team. Seriously, who even uttered this nickname? It's ridiculous. He was a freakin' all-star recruit who won the LA Times' player of the year award after taking Centennial High to a 15-0 record and a USA Today #2 national ranking for crying out loud.
“People in the stands, they haven’t seen his speed. We know his speed. We’re just sitting on the sidelines having a ball with it, because the (opposing) team’s not ready for it, the stands aren’t ready for it. They’re oohing and ahhing. We’re just laughing. We see this every day. Our defense sees it every day." Sophomore back-up QB Cody Green on Taylor Martinez's first start.
Latino Lightning? It does have a certain flair to it. And the guy is scary fast. But, being a white-bread middle-aged man of Northern European descent, I've never been comfortable assigning ethnic-based nicknames for fear of offending someone. Call it hyper-sensitive white man's guilt. This would be a close second to my preferred nickname, though.
“If you tell him, he probably wouldn’t listen to you anyway. He’s going to handle it his own way. I’m telling you: He has no emotion out there. No emotion.” Senior wide receiver Niles Paul on giving game time advice to Martinez.
How about T-Mobile? Sigh. How about naming your quarterback after a wireless phone carrier which isn't even one of the top three networks in the nation? I can read the potential headlines now: "T-Mobile Hangs Up on Kansas State." Or "Texas Coverage Can't Beat T-Mobile." Or "Call Complete: T-Mobile Leads Nebraska to the National Championship." Nope. Let's not even entertain this one. Although there are probably a lot of sportswriters eager to see T-Mobile take hold.
“I don’t get nervous before games, so they should probably stop asking me. I don’t really care if it’s a home game or an away game; if it’s in a loud environment or not. It doesn’t really bother me.” Martinez to the media after his first road game, a 56-21 thrashing at Washington.
Finally, there's T-Magic. This nickname is referenced the most. There is a slight rumor that Martinez gave it to himself, but this can't be proven. Besides, true nicknames can only be given, not taken. And Martinez seems too quiet and humble to make up his own nickname.
That said, there is nothing particularly intimidating about T-Magic, unless David Copperfield scares you. "Magic" is weak. It reminds me of woodland fairies or gnomes or Criss Angel. What Martinez does isn't illusion - it's the real deal.
Therefore a completely new nickname is required. One that captures the cool composure of this quarterback that has ruthlessly demolished the defensive game plans of the first three teams he's met. A name that represents the cold, calculated precision with which he's managed Nebraska's juggernaut of an offense so far.
I submit to you: The Tmarnator. It doesn't look pretty written down (The Terminator wasn't all that cute, either). But say it out loud a couple of times. It rolls off the tongue. It's powerful. It's threatening.
It's everything we want the Nebraska offense to be.