Nebraska Cornhuskers, The Big 12, Dan Beebe and Closure

Shane JohnstonContributor INovember 29, 2010

A lesson etched in stone at Lincoln's Memorial Stadium.
A lesson etched in stone at Lincoln's Memorial Stadium.

Baghdad, Iraq

Ciudad Juarez, Mexico

Kabul, Afghanistan

Lincoln, Nebraska

These are just a few of the world's most dangerous cities listed on the travel ban for the Big 12 offices down in Irving, Texas. As you might have read by now, Nebraska did not receive the Big 12 North trophy after their demolition of Colorado on Friday.

Dan Beebe refused to come up. No one in his staff showed up, maybe because Beebe received over 2000 "vulgar" emails from Nebraska fans following the debacle that was the Texas A&M game. These were followed by death threats, and even a call from someone masquerading as a police officer stating they had his daughter.

First off, these are the actions of complete wackos and this article isn't directed at them. Nothing will change what these basement-dwelling trolls do or say.

Second, there are wackos everywhere rooting for every team. Hell, if Tom Osborne refused to do his job after a threatening message, he'd have left for Colorado back in the late 1970's. (Colorado - That has to burn, doesn't it?) And that was back in the day when wackos had to do some work to find a piece of paper, a writing utensil, a stamp, and a mailbox. Now all they have to do is type and hit "Send."

But that's OK. I completely understand if Beebe and his staff felt too threatened to leave the warm embrace of conference offices deep in the heart of Texas. I would have had much more respect for him if he'd had just stated "I don't think we're welcome up there and, frankly, I don't care to be there."

Here's another reason why I'm OK with it: I simply do not care. And neither should you, Nebraska Fan.


“Not the victory but the action;"


Does anyone really care about the Big 12 North Division trophy? Oh sure, Iowa State or Kansas would love to get their hands on one.

But Nebraska is much bigger than some division trophy. And, as head coach Bo Pelini stated after the Colorado game, this only puts the Huskers half-way to their goal. 

The victory over the Buffaloes was a means to an end, leading to bigger things: A winning tradition and constant improvement.

Pelini's first year netted eight regular season wins—three better than Bill Callahan's last year at Nebraska. Last year Pelini's team got nine regular season wins and a division trophy. This year the team got 10 regular season wins and is heading to the conference championship for the second year in a row.

Sure, the Huskers have a few things to clean up—mostly penalties. And there's no denying the brothers Pelini have some maturing to do in the emotions department. But the Huskers are in constant pursuit of perfection. And a division trophy does not define perfection. 

"Not the goal but the game;"


There's no denying the coaches and players would love to exit the Big 12 conference with a victory next Saturday. Call it a goal.

But the path to get—game by game—weighs heavily on Bo Pelini and his staff. And the painful, inscrutable details of each and every game—each and every play—permeate through the team that every player is a student looking for constant improvement. 

“I can't say one thing that I liked on the defensive side. I thought we played poorly. That is not what our standard is around here.”

"Give those guys credit. That football team outcoached us, that's my fault. They outplayed us, that's my fault. I didn't get our football team ready to play. We didn't execute. We played bad football. Tonight we were a bad football team, and that's my fault. It's squarely on my shoulders, I promise you."

"We gave up a bunch of big plays in the first half: we missed some tackles and just not playing the ball well down the field. They threw a bunch of - I don't know whether it was by design - but there were a lot of underthrown balls and we just didn't react well to them."

"You want to get more explosive plays. Explosive plays equate to points more often than not. We didn't have much explosion and we weren't efficient enough. We took ourselves out of the drives. It was obvious. It comes down to one thing, execution, being efficient. We weren't like that consistently on offense and it hurt us. When you're not having explosive games, you better be efficient."

These are all Bo Pelini quotes after Husker VICTORIES.  A couple of them by fairly decent point margins. The point is, a trophy does not define success nor does recognition from the conference.

The games define success. Or, more accurately, the plays within the games. 


"In the deed the glory”


So, in the end, Nebraska is exactly where they wanted to be and will be playing Oklahoma for the Big 12 Championship. Actually, it will be Nebraska versus every other Big 12 team. Maybe Colorado is pulling for the Huskers or, at the very least, doesn't care who wins. 

This season has been a wild ride full of victories, controversies, and a few low points. We've seen great performances from individual players—Taylor Martinez at Washington, Roy Helu against Missouri, Cody Green against Colorado, Lavonte David and Rex Burkhead almost every week. We've seen outstanding game planning by the coaches versus Washington, Kansas State, and Missouri.  And we were left scratching our collective noggins with the coaching strategies against South Dakota State, Iowa State, and, of course, Texas.

The Huskers have matured overall, but the fire this team went through just a couple of weeks ago at Texas A&M will probably have the biggest long-term impact of all, particularly on the brothers Pelini. The fiery coaches may have learned more in that defeat than in any of the victories of the past three years.  And Nebraska will be better in the long term for it.

Ah, the long term: No doubt it would be outstanding to exit the conference with a victory over Oklahoma and a championship trophy. But not because the Huskers beat the Big 12 and Dan Beebe. A year from now this conference and its commissioner will be a distant memory. 

So, Husker Nation, let's revel in the deeds of the past year and look towards growth and glory in the Big 10 as we tell former conference foes and friends goodbye. And don't let a few weeks of political tether ball ruin these relationships, some of which have lasted over 100 years.