Christopher Cashell (topher) wrote,
Christopher Cashell

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Frank Solich has been fired.

A 9-3 season, with the chance at 10-3, a ranking in the top 25 (likely top 20 or better when the new rankings come out), a winning percentage of 75%, which makes him sixth in the country among active coaches (Yes, that's right, only 5 coaches in Division 1A football have a better winning percentage that Solich), a win-loss record that almost exactly matches Tom Osbourne's first 6 years, and he gets fired for it.

And what annoys me almost more than that, is the fact that when Steve Pederson was interviewed a few days ago, and asked if there had been any discussion with boosters, or any plans to fire Solich after the Colorado game, he lied. He said that there had been no discussions, that here were no plans to fire anyone at this time, and that no decisions would be made until the season was over. The fact that Solich was fired the day after the game shows that in fact he *had* discussed it with boosters, at least some, as the 'unnamed booster' claimed, and if he was talking to a booster, that means that he had already made the decision to fire Solich.

Now, like him or not, Solich has given 25 years to the Nebraska football program, and has always acted with integrity. Even people who don't think he's a good coach will admit that he's a stand-up guy. He deserves more than being led on and lied to. Not only that, but I think Nebraska students, athletes, boosters, and fans, deserve more than being lied to. If you're going to fire Solich, grow some balls and be up front about it. He's earned better than this.

I've lost a lot of respect for Steve Pederson. And rumor has it that he's wanting to bring in Walt Harris, the head football coach from Pittsburgh (a team with an 8-4 record this year, an 8-4 record last year, and a 7-5 record two years ago). Curiously enough, Steve Pederson is the former Athletic Director for Pittsburgh. Hrm. Makes you wonder how long this has been in the works. Combine that with a statement that Solich's daughter made about a nasty letter Frank received at the beginning of the season, and you get the impression that Pederson has been planning this all year.

So much for "no evaluations will be done until the end of the year", eh, Steve?

Now, I'm sure there are some people out there who are going to say, "Good!" Who think we need to get rid of Solich, who think he's a bad coach.

But, let me make a few statements about that. . .

First of all, the players love him. A friend of mine plays for the Huskers, and from what he's said, they seriously love Solich. They stand behind him 100%. They're going to be really pissed that he's been fired. And before the bowl game, too. How well do you think the players will be concentrating on football, when their beloved head coach has just been fired? That's like telling them, "season's over, pack up your bags and go home".

I would drop our chances of winning the bowl game by 50% because of this.

Secondly, we now have to find a new coach. And who's going to want to come? A coach who went 9-3 just got fired, a coach who's team is ranked in the top 25, and who has a great winning percentage. Ask yourself this, if you were a coach, would you want to risk that? Knowing that a 9-3 season is bad enough to get you fired?

By that rating of 'good enough', half of the top 25 teams' coaches should be fired. That makes a lot of sense, doesn't it?

Thirdly, we don't just need to find a new coach, we need to find a coach who can do a better job than Solich. Which is going to be a *lot* harder than it sounds. Frank Solich's winning percentage is 75.3%. That may not sound all that impressive, until you consider that it places him 6th in the country by winning percentage, among active coaches (for some reference, Penn State's Joe Paterno's is 74.3%, while Florida State's Bobby Bowden's is 77%, both of whom are considered among the all time best college football coaches).

Statistically, there are only 5 active coaches with a better winning percentage than Solich which means that statistically, barring a miracle, we will NOT find a better coach to replace him.

Fourthly, let's look at another team that was pretty good, if not great, and had a coach that was pretty good, but not great. . . and fired him. That team is Texas A&M. In 2001, they went 8-4. Last year, they struggled and went 6-6. So, they decided to fire their coach, R.C. Slocum. R.C. Slocum was known as one of the most honest and reliable coaches in college football. His integrity was legendary, and he was responsible for cleaning up a program that, when he joined, was considered among the most corrupt in the NCAA.

And this helped them to be a better team this year, right? Well, not exactly. They went 4-8, their worst season in over 15 years (since before Slocum, who never had a losing season). Oh, yeah, and they lost 77-0 to Oklahoma. Rumor has it that Bob Stoops had to ask his third team offense to not play so hard, so they wouldn't score even more (the Sooners didn't score a single point in the fourth quarter).

Think about that over the next 8 months. Consider the fact that the odds and statistics say that our chances of doing better next year than we did this year, especially with a new coach, are very poor. Look back through history, first-year coaches don't exactly have a great record (yes, there are a few exceptions, but there's a reason they're called 'exceptions').

Now, I've never been a huge Frank Solich fan. I think he made a poor Offensive Coordinator, and I think he's made some bad decisions. However, I also think he's been moving in the right direction over the past year. He brought in some good people this year, and they've done a good job. Nebraska doesn't have the level of talent that they've had some years in the past. And let's not forget that half of the coaching staff is new this year. That means they're working with people they've never worked with, and there's no way around it, you need a little time for things to settle.

And at any rate, I think he deserved at least one more year to continue moving forward. The Huskers looked better this year, and they've got a lot of potential for improvement.

Up until today, I have liked Steve Pederson. I think he's done a lot of good things. But I've lost a huge amount of respect for him now. I think he handled this whole thing poorly, I think he's making a bad decision, and I think he's going to hurt Nebraska's football program.

But most of all, he lied to me. Even if we go undefeated and win a national championship next year, even if by some miracle we don't end up with a losing season next year, you still lied to me.

Update: I just thought of something else to consider. . . Steve Pederson now has his career riding on the next head coach. Because of the next Nebraska head coach doesn't have a season that's as good, or better, than Solich's 9-3 (possibly 10-3 with the bowl game), then there's going to be a *lot* of people who are gunning for his head for having brought the Huskers down. I hope you choose well Steve, because your career is most likely going to depend on it.

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