Yes, I just changed the words to a Backstreet Boys song to coincide with Bo Pelini handing out 12 Blackshirts on Thursday. It's a catchy song.
It is impossible to know what goes into Bo Pelini's decision to hand out the coveted Nebraska Blackshirts. He has long stated that "Blackshirts are earned on the field".
Maybe he was waiting until Nebraska showed they were a top 25 scoring defense after playing a nationally respected team. Maybe he was waiting until they showed they could rank number two in the country in takeaways. Maybe he was waiting until they showed they could make a Heisman candidate and potential first overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft look like a Pee-Wee quarterback. Maybe the players have just been really nice to him in practice lately.
Why Bo Pelini handed out the Blackshirts is not important. What is important is that Bo Pelini felt that his defense was deserving of those Blackshirts sooner than any other defense he has coached at Nebraska.
In 2008, Pelini did not hand out the Blackshirts until the second week of November. In 2009, it was mid-October. The fact that a defensive guru is pleased enough with his squad to hand out 12 Blackshirts after only three games has to make Nebraska fans feel pretty good.
It would be unfair to call the 12 players who received their Blackshirts on Thursday the "Lucky" Recipients. These 12 players earned their Blackshirts.
Jared Crick, Cameron Meredith, Baker Steinkuhler and Pierre Allen on the defensive line; Eric Martin and LaVonte David at linebacker; Prince Amukamara, Alfonzo Dennard, Dejon Gomes, Eric Hagg, P.J. Smith, and Rickey Thenarse in the secondary.
Whether or not receiving their Blackshirts will make the Nebraska defense play with a little more swagger is yet to be seen. Blackshirts are earned on the field, and I'm sure that Pelini would have no qualms about taking away those Blackshirts if play does not live up to expectations.
What we do know is that Cameron Meredith has a sweet mustache and 12 players are going to be a little hotter going through their final pre-game practice on Friday. Something tells me they will be alright with that.