Much of the offseason conversation of Nebraska’s quest for a rebirth is “when do we know the program is ‘back?’”
In a post earlier this summer, yours truly addressed what needs to be done before the program can claim such a status: http://napavince.blogspot.com/2009/07/at-what-point-is-nebraska-back.html
Going 9-4 in Bo Pelini’s first year is a good start but that progress needs to continue beginning with Saturday’s season opener against Florida Atlantic. The real question should be, will Nebraska ever “dominate” again? Keep in mind, from 1962-2001, Nebraska never failed to win fewer than nine games. From 1993-1997, the Huskers went 60-3 with four undefeated regular seasons and three National Championships. From 2002-2007, the Huskers were a mediocre 44-32. That’s a 57.8% winning clip if you are scoring at home. There were three non-winning seasons (2002, 2004, 2007) and two seasons without a bowl game (2004 and 2007). In 2002, the Huskers were 7-7.
The strong of 40 consecutive nine-win seasons and a five-year run of 60-3 are unheard of and not likely to be eclipsed any time soon. Sorry, USC fans, your 82-9 record with two National Titles this decade is great but 60-3 with three National crowns is better. The Huskers aforementioned run also trumps Miami’s record of 76-6 from 1986-1992 with three National Titles.
Anyhow, back to the original point. Nebraska could certainly use the much discussed “signature win” (i.e, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma or Texas) to provide a tangible sign that the program is “back.” Pelini’s arrival at Nebraska last year could not have been more timely.
For one, Pelini is a defensive minded coach in what has become an offensive-minded conference.
Anyhow, I think as evidenced by Nebraska’s run in the 90s, this program can absolutely return to competing for national titles. Maybe not on a year in and year out basis like they did during that period and like Texas and Oklahoma do now, but I truly believe that once every four years or so, this team can compete for a National Title. If a team has a transcendent player like say Tommie Frazier, Tim Tebow or Vince Young, sprinkle in some very solid 3 or 4-star recruits, and then try to find some diamonds in the rough. With good coaching and continuity on the staff, it can be done, even at Nebraska. Look no further than what has been built at Utah, who should have competed for two national titles in the last six years.