Did you hear? Taylor Martinez quit the team! OMG! I saw it on Twitter and read it on a message board, and the guy who posted it said he knows someone who knows someone who knows someone who washes towels for Nebraska, so it MUST be true!
I also heard that T-Magic is a secret Muslim Kenyan Marxist terrorist, and so he'd be ineligible to play quarterback (or be President) anyway! Seriously, I got the e-mail! Where's your birth certificate, Taylor?
It's been a busy 48 hours for Nebraska fans, to be sure. Before Saturday, NU fans were doing the math to see how Nebraska could sneak into the BCS National Championship Game. By Sunday night, they were wondering if they'd be cheering for a new starting quarterback. And a new coach.
There are some lessons to be learned from the whirlwind that was this weekend. The first lesson is that we still need professional journalists.
I know we're in the age of the New Media and the Citizen Journalist, and in many ways that's a good thing. The Internet has given a platform to just about anyone, including yours truly, to opine about the things they care about.
But with this Martinez story, we see the difference between news and opinion. My columns on here are just my opinions. While I try to be as accurate as I can with my facts to support my conclusions, ultimately all I'm putting out there is what I think about things.
Reporting is a different animal altogether. When you're actually telling people that something has happened, and that you have inside knowledge from an anonymous source about it, and that you're telling people before anyone else, you're playing by a different set of rules.
You have to learn those rules by actually BEING a journalist, by covering the team on a day-to-day basis, and by building up credibility based on your history and your professionalism.
Unfortunately, in the race to be first to the BREAKING NEWS and all of the clicks and views that generates, sometimes we all get sloppy with our standards. Even this fine site fell victim to the "OMGDIDYOUHEAR" surrounding the Martinez rumor.
That ultimately does nothing but hurt the credibility of any other writer on the same platform. Thanks a lot, pal.
A word of advice to those blogging about Nebraska football. Write all the opinion you want. Leave the actual reporting to the professionals who are doing the job, like Mitch Sherman, Steve Sipple, Sam McKewon and the rest.
If you're going to try and actually write news, then play by the same rules the professionals play by. Get off your couch, get on the phone, get down to the press conferences, and do the actual hard work of journalism. Don't just make stuff up and pretend to be one in an effort to get attention. All you do with that is make the rest of us—and yourself—look bad, and make it harder for the real journalists to cover the team and get fans the information they want.
The second lesson is related to the first, and it comes back to Dark Bo's reappearance on the sidelines in College Station on Saturday. One of the reasons the Martinez rumor picked up steam so fast is because it made so much sense.
We all saw Pelini go berserk, jabbing his finger into Martinez's chest and screaming obscenities. While his anger at Martinez may have been justified, the way he let it come out in such an uncontrolled manner in public set the table for the "Martinez quit" rumor to be No. 1 on Google Trends.
I'm sure Pelini was livid that he had to give a quote to Sherman last night that Martinez was still on the team. But he's really got no one to blame but himself.
It's the same with his incandescent rages at the officials. The coverage of the game on Saturday was dominated by Pelini's antics, not by the defensive gem the Blackshirts pulled out or even the shockingly bad officiating from the Big 12 officials.
Pelini has made himself the story. By letting Dark Bo out of the box and back on the field, Pelini has fueled the fire and put Nebraska players even further under the microscope when it comes to penalties.
Every big hit, every close call, will now be looked at with even more scrutiny, with Nebraska players having no benefit of the doubt. And when the headlines start reading "Petulant Pelini," you know that national perception is beginning to turn against Nebraska.
In a sport where the subjective opinions of national figures is still critically important, headlines like that don't do you any favors in the polls.
What's most frustrating about this whole brouhaha is how unnecessary it is. At their heart, Pelini's actions betray a real selfishness.
Anyone who has been angry and frustrated knows how good it feels in the moment to rage against the world. But ultimately all Pelini's rage is doing is freezing things in place, letting Nebraska fans (and, worryingly, Nebraska players) believe the problem is Dan Beebe's conspiracy rather than an anemic offense and team prone to making mental mistakes at bad times.
Bad calls happen, to everyone, and at times they seem like they all happen to you. Championship teams learn how to rise above those calls and win anyway, rather than go into fits of rage and hint about conspiracies from offices in the Lone Star State.
And the worst thing about the whole Dark Bo act? It's not like it's helping. At this point, there can't be much question that Pelini and his players are going to get flagged for anything coming close to the line, in part because of Dark Bo's ranting.
If the rants are making more penalties likely, and they are doing nothing more than serving the selfish emotions being felt in the heat of battle, they need to go away. Now.
One of the criticisms of Bill Callahan was that he didn't understand his role as a college coach. He saw his players as professionals, and didn't take on the mentoring and leadership role that a coach has with the 18- to 22-year-old kids under his charge.
I don't have any question that Pelini understands that role, and in many ways admirably fulfills it. His preaching of the value of family, and of accountability, was a welcome change of culture from the sterile Callahan era.
But this particular aspect of behavior he is modeling for the players under his charge is doing them no favors, either on the field or when they graduate and move on.
Let me be clear. I like and respect Bo Pelini, both as a coach and as a person. On the whole, I think he's definitely the right man for the job, and I think the positives he has brought to the program and the culture, both on and off the field, have been outstanding.
But Dark Bo is a problem, and is a program-threatening one if left unchecked. Pelini is a passionate man, and to expect him to have a demeanor like Tom Osborne would be unrealistic and dishonest.
But there's a difference between passion and selfishness, and Pelini needs to find that line, fast.
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