Derek Johnson Muses

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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Poor who Hide, the Simple who Ascend, and the Place of Ambition: Application of Vocation

The doctrine of vocation is one that I am very grateful for. I delight in that everything I do, as a son, a brother, a friend and a worker, is to the glory of God. Earlier this year, the DoV (abbreviation mine, trademark pending) helped me to process the Occupy Movement. But as I continue to ponder the DoV, I keep pouring over situations where the application may not be as clear.

First, say you have the ability to be a doctor doctor, but you decide instead to work on the factory line or in a service profession because you want an easier life with fewer commitments or you don’t want to move away from your family, ALA Good Will Hunting. As someone who gave up the goal of trying to be a pastor (when I was succeeding in much of the coursework), this question rolled over in my head many times. Of you are a single parent and choose to stay in a less demanding job to spend more time with your children, the situation is different. The vocation of father is just as important if not more so than the one of a job. But running away from responsibilities?

By no means am I saying, everyone who works in factory is not fulfilling their vocation. Many of them are. In fact, most people are simply gifted with the contentment to do the exact same thing over and over again every day for their entire life, and this contentment is as much a gift from God as preaching or being a political leader.


But what if you’re in a job you’re not qualified for? The situation: a manager for a growing company who joins the first year that the company is formed. The company grows, and its sales double in size. The manager assumes a great title because of his seniority, but, out of ignorance, he doesn’t perform as many of the duties as his position demands. Is he stealing from his company by doing less than he could? In some sense, he is, although he may not be conscious of it; if he should realize it, he needs to tell his boss what he is and isn’t able to do, and hopefully, the two can find an appropriate role for the manager.

And what about the head of a company? Say there’s an owner of a single restaurant in downtown Lincoln. He pulls a nice business and makes a nice profit, and people talk about his restaurant. He’s happy doing it, but then he considers: should I expand my business and open a new restaurant in Omaha? Yes, his business is good, but, with a single restaurant, he is very vulnerable to a bad month or a bad quarter. If he opens several new restaurants, his business becomes more sustainable, and he will be able to provide more for his employees and create new jobs, not to mention improve the community he lives in.

This is a dilemma that faces all businesses and causes us to face Gordon Gecko’s question of whether or not greed is good. Over course, greed can cause great pain and suffering, but what about the nature of business? Even though we may crack the one percent in America, but the one percent in America provide a lot of the leadership that give the ninety percent their jobs and food, even through charitable donations. And many of these wealthy individuals had to make hard choices and screw people over to get the point where they could provide jobs to others. Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs certainly had too, and all of their actions are not to be condone. But to provide for many, hard choices do have to be made.

This is where vocation for me becomes a dilemma between doing what you are able, right in front of you, to doing what God calls you to do out of faith (like Abram leaving his homeland). Take my situation. I believe now that God probably was calling me to be a pastor at that time, but through a series of events that culminated my senior year, I didn’t go. Since then, other opportunities have arisen, and now my vocation is to work for my father, display photographs, write this blog, and write for Husker Locker. In many ways, it has been “all things working together for good”. Whatever God calls me to in the future is up to Him; thanks be to Him.

An Important Announcement….

To all my regular readers, I want to think you who have taken an interest in my blog, commented, and most importantly, read what I have written here. Your feedback and encouragement has been quite helpful to my development as a writer, and it is now paying off.
As of today, I am an official contributor to the Website I be writing one post a week for that site, and while I will likely continue to have some Husker posts here on this site, the majority of Husker stuff I write will probably be for that site. Again, I want to thank all of you for reading and commenting, particularly on the Nebraska alternate uniform post. I will continue to update this blog.

Here’s the link to my first Husker Locker post.

Stirring the Pot

For Easter, my mother gave me two packages of soup mix, one vegetable and one chicken noodle. For the vegetable pack, I decided to bust some left over roast beef out of the freezer and make vegetable beef soup.

The soup mix, courtesy of Harry and David

Note the pasta I set aside.

I took out the medium-sized pan out and filled  with the two cups of water I thought it was supposed to cover making the soup. Then I mixed in the bouillon in and actually read the directions on the package: the soup called for 9 cups of water. Time to break out the big bowl. Sigh. One of my flaws as a cook is trying to get away with using the smallest bowl I can.

My naivete.

I get the water boiling, and then I add the package of dehydrated veggies and roast beef, and from there, I boil and stir.

The boiling pot

I have a great pot lid I got at Bed Bath and Beyond with glass and small steam holes, excellent for soup making. I always try to stir at least every five minutes, sometimes more often. With  three minutes to go, I add the soup base.

Almost there.

It is supposed to take another ten minutes after you add the soup base…if you add the pasta at the same time. Oops. I add the pasta, and worry the whole I’d boil away half the broth.

Coming along....

After ten fake-tense minutes, the soup is done, and not really harmed by the extra boil. What I get is a delicious blend of spice, and the vegetables are okay, considering that they had to be rehydrated. But this soup is about the spices.

Topped with gold Kashi crackers.

Trade Up…Down…Does it Really Matter? Belichick, and 31 Other Mad Organizations Vying to be Right

There were two events that made trading down in the NFL draft popular. First, there was Jimmy Johnson’s trade of Hershel Walker for a bevy of picks that rebuilt the Cowboys in a hurry, and Bill Belichick’s winning Super Bowls with lesser round players shot the practice. The latter’s mastery probably helped increase the popularity of the whole draft, but when Belichick started to started to pile up late-round picks while the talent on his team dwindled, it calls into question the real value of trading down.

Darth Hoodman

Whether or not a team should trade up or not depends on how good their roster is. Last year, Atlanta could afford to move up and take Julio Jones because they had a good quarterback and had drafted well for three years. Belichick may have scolded his former understudy, Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff for throwing his draft at a receiver, and granted, Atlanta might have been better off taking a pass rusher. But Dimitroff’s move has good precedent: in 2007, San Diego GM AJ Smith traded four picks to get safety Eric Weddle high in the second round, because he knew Weddle could make their team coming off a 14-2 season. The best player that the Bears got with those picks was running back Garrett Wolfe, who provided four average seasons before exiting for the UFL.

Belichick’s drafting is even stranger when you see why he’s loosing Super Bowls. The teams that beat him, the Giants, do so because they are getting raw, athletic pass rushers at the top of the draft, and where even once labeled as having the worst draft in 2006 when they took Matthias Kiwanuka when they already had two good pass rushing ends, Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora. But Belichick goes out and continues to draft defensive backs high in the draft, and with all those defensive backs, he still had to have a wide receiver (Julian Edelman) play corner in the playoffs last year. Sure everyone plays the spread, but the Giants showed Belichick personally that if you can sack the quarterback, your back seven fills itself out.

See Bill?

The Giants, in fact, of why you want to trade up: getting a player (and fore-mostly, a quarterback) who changes your future. And ironically, the Chargers had to trade Eli Manning to the Giants but still got a franchise quarterback (Phillip Rivers), a good kicker (Nate Kaeding), and an outstanding pass rusher for the length of a contract (Shawn Merriman). So at times, trading back has it upside. The Brown wish they could say the same when they trade out of the Mark Sanchez pick, Alex Mack, an All-Pro center, is the only player from that trade on the Browns roster. However, two of the experienced players, safety Abram Elam and defensive end Kenyon Coleman, were serviceable starters who became expandable when the Browns changed coaches and switched from a 3-4 to a 4-3.

There is another paradox I’ve noticed in such mega-draft choices, and that is the blossoming of players acquire with seemingly insignificant draft choices traded with two super-stars. Peter King wrote about this when he reviewed the 2008 Jared Allen trade from Kansas City to Minnesota a year after the trade. The Chiefs netted a first-round pick, two thirds, and a sixth. King speculated at the time that Brad Sullivan, a player the Vikings took with a sixth round pick the Chiefs threw in, would be as good as anyone of the players that the Chiefs had picked. Ultimately, the two players the Chiefs drafted with those picks worked out: left tackle Brandon Albert and running back Jamaal Charles, but clearly, the Vikings didn’t lose any sleep. Similarily, Josh McDaniels handed the Bears a fifth round pick in the Jay Cutler trade that would yield John Knox, a reliable forty-catches-a-year, downfield threat. Obviously, it helped both Knox and Sullivan that they came onto teams that had few draft choices and thus more opportunity to make the roster.

Not bad results

A team’s draft is merely a reflection of how good their front office is. The Lions picked at the top of the draft for years and came up with nothing, while the Colts kept picking pro bowlers at the end of the first round. Pray your organization hires a good GM and coach, and drafts a good quarterback. As long as you hit a first-rounder every year for about four or five years, hit seventy-five percent in rounds two and three, you just need one year where you get a couple of solid players in the later rounds, which is exactly the kind of year the giants had last year. And then hope your great coach doesn’t turn senile.


There comes a time in your life when you know you have to take courage and go on the run. Maybe it’s just because I’m an artists, and artists thrive on fresh perspective. Either way, I’ve flown from my coop in Seward to come to Dubuque to stay with a great friend. I’m living in a little studio side apartment which sits on a hill overlooking the Mississippi. It’s small and humbling, and frankly, I’m relieved.

My studio

I don’t know what exactly I’ll do here or how long I’ll stay. Probably a couple of weeks. I’ll do some roaming of the country roads, find some barns to photograph. I’ve brought about eight book, and hopeful I will read at least some of them. I’m going to roam the rural roads in southwest Wisconsin and northern Illinois and find some nice barns to photograph. I’ll write a lot and try to get some perspective.

The view

Today, I took a walk in the Mines of Spark State Park south of town and considered where I stood in life. I’m twenty-eight, and I still have a lifetime of opportunities ahead of me. If I want to be a writer/photographer, some sacrifices will have to be made to get to where I want to be. Stay tuned…

All for Others

Recently, I met a man recently who came across as friendly and giving, and talked about helping others out. But as I observed him and tried to engage hi, he only wanted to talk about his ideas. And if you told him one of your own ideas, even if he liked it, he would talk about it like he valued because it was his idea only. This made me very self-aware of a personal flaw.

Many times in my life, when I had the opportunity to socialize with others, I would take the time to just unload on them. As a person who lived alone, I saw only the opportunity to talk about what I wanted to, not realizing that by doing so, I was missing opportunities to listen to others and learn about their interest, not to mention the general premise that a relationships is a two way street. Nobody wants to talk to someone who never asks them about them.

It has lead me to this observation of human nature: we are all very much into ourselves.  We have our interests and our circle of friends, and we don’t see much outside of it.  Our culture prides itself on specialization, and we can go online and find hundreds of people who share our interests (OK, guilty), instead of taking the time to make an impact on those immediately around us. But sometimes, it can just be one moment that can show another a courtesy in what the other does. This happened to me once when I was at a conference with my father. One of our distributors came up to us, and he mostly needed to talk to my dad. But before he did, he took a minute to ask me about what I did for the company, and I told him about my work with samples. It wasn’t much but I was much more interested in what he had to say after he’d paid me some attention.

To that end, I have come to a personal resolution: celebrate others. Listen to them and let them talk about the things that are important to them. Praise them and tell them how amazing their accomplishments are. If I even make one person feel better about themselves in this way, it would have been worth it.

Wathcing Robert Griffin III in Person: My Personal Story of Seeing RG3 face the Blackshirts

My seat on the day in consideration; thankfully it was just beyond the obstruction of west stadium.

It was bemusing, listening to Jason Peter complain on radio about Nebraska’s sub-par performance as I walked down 8th Street toward Jack’s Pub. Peter, playing the former player bemoaning the way things change, was furious that Nebraska had only beaten a Big 12-bottom feeder by only twelve points. While I  hadn’t been thrilled by the Huskers doing enough to win comfortably and no more (“We sure like to make it interesting” Bo Pelini said in his post0-game presser), I didn’t think the Huskers had to feel shamed. This Baylor team was much improved, fueled their freshmen quarterback, whose game I thought at the time rivaled Tommie Frazier’s.

It is a bit surreal now that quarterback, Robert Griffin III is being touted as the second pick in the NFL draft. Griffin that day was a spark plug that started to get a down-on-its-luck program to believe again, but he still had a ways to go.

That game broadcasted two programs, priming for rises under first year coaches. While Nebraska was obviously morphing into a more confident team, Baylor’s turning was much sublime. Indeed, Bear Country had scored a serious coup by nabbing Briles from the Houston Cougars, but the real credibility was RG3. Given that Baylor, the Big 12’s entitled brat who was allowed to stay in college football relevance because of a technicality, had landed an elite quarterback, showed that the private school Bears could grow some teeth

From my vantage point, I saw RG3 a smooth improviser with a noticeably good arm, apt to run first. His boyish confidence was the thrust of two scoring drives that answered Nebraska scoring drives with two of his own. The most impressive play-a 4th and 1, where RG3 trapped Nebraska’s defense inside on a fake sneak, and then ran around the left end for a 47-yard touchdown with shocking ease. (See it Below). After it, I remember cursing Bill Callahan for not recruiting him

But after taking a 20-17 just before halftime, Griffin and his cohorts hit a wall. The Bears pushed Nebraska to the limit, getting a first-and-goal from the seven. But, Zach Potter and Larry Asante penetrated and stoned the fab frosh on third down from the two, and then Ben Parks missed the short Baylor field goal. Nebraska took the lead on the next drive (Nate Swift broke Nebraska’s career receptions record with the go-ahead schore), and it became one of the first times that Bo Pelini’s teams made their own luck. But RG3 would have better days.

Cody Glenn Takes down RG3

Suprisingly that day, I didn’t think that RG3 wouldn’t be anything more than a great college running quarterback who maybe became WR-RB hybrid in the NFL, ala Brad Smith. Watching him against TCU in last season’s opener, Griffin throw the ball down field with an authority and command he didn’t have as a freshmen. And keeping the Bears fighting to beat Oklahoma showed how much his ability to lead had brought the Baylor program so far. While I still think Andrew Luck should have won the Heisman, that ability by RG3 to inspire others and lift a perennially bad program made him worthy of the trophy.

But looking forward, the mix of Griffin’s energy with Mike Shanahan and the dysfunctional culture of the Redskins promises a peculiar clash of personalities. Shanahan’s gruff, perfectionist nature has lead his former quarterbacks Donovan McNabb and Jake Plummer to criticize him publicly, and like RG3, both those quarterbacks were prone to run a lot. But both McNabb and Plummer were veterans who had been known for having the greatest work habits. Shanahan is getting RG3 straight off the tree, but while he can mold his habits, it won’t guarantee that Shanahan-Griffin marriage (forced because Shanahan has to win this year) will work. How patient will the coach be after putting hard work into a game plan that becomes irrelevant when Griffin takes off and runs half the time, then gets most of the credit when the team turns around?(A Tebow situation brewing?)

(Oddly enough, Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel also concluded that Griffin may not be the lock others think he is. Here is his assessment of the quarterbacks in this year’s draft. Link While I think Colin Cowherd was accurate when he said there isn’t much of a chance RG3 busts, he may indeed hit a wall in the NFL where his athletic ability can’t compensate for every flaw.)

The great part for me of having that debate now was, three and a half years ago, I walked out of Memorial Stadium thinking to myself how lucky Nebraska was not to have to face Griffin as a junior or senior, which, incidentally, conference realignment made sure of. But the chance to watch RG3 perform now with a quickly improving Redskins team is an exciting proposition indeed.

(Update after RG3’s rookie year: Like many, I was surprised when the rigid Shanahan imported Baylor’s offense to Washington, but again, he had to win this year. We’ll see if it continues to work and if RG3 can stay on the field. Getting rid of the ball and not taking hits are key to quarterback longevity in the NFL; ook at Tom Brady and Peyton Manning as opposed to Donovan McNabb, and more recently, Jay Cutler and Tony Romo. McNabb became great at the same time as Brady and Manning, but washed out sooner. Cutler and Romo falter this year due to the affect of cumulative pressure. RG3 needs to learn how to slid early and often, otherwise he could have eight to ten productive years and disappear.)

Filibuster: Bo Ryan Reacts to Jarrod Uthoff’s Request for a Divorce

When I got out of the shower this morning, I heard some old geezer whining on ESPN Radio with Mike and Mike, and when I heard Mike Greenberg ask him to stay on through a break, I  assumed it was Bo Ryan, the Wisconsin basketball coach who was not allowing Jarrod Uthoff, a true freshman who redshirted this past season, to transfer. What I couldn’t understand is why Ryan would call up in the middle of a radio show he was being criticized on and offer up additional fodder. (Mike and Mike Interview.)

While Ryan clearly made his situation much worse, I was reminded of Darnell Autry wanting to leave Northwestern prior to the Wildcats’ miracle run to the Rose Bowl in 1995, a story that I read in Gary Barnett’s book High Hopes over ten years ago. Autry was even visiting Arizona State when Barnett called then-Sun Devils coach Bruce Synder and told him that Autry wouldn’t be given a release. The memory of that story struck me, so I serached for it and found a LA Times article (Link) from before the ’96 Rose Bowl about Autry’s literally playing Hamlet in the 1995 off-season. The difference between that situation and the Ryan/Uthoff was that, one, Autry’s debate stayed private, and two, we are listening to Ryan discuss the situation mid-divorce.

To be fair, Ryan should be angry at this point. Uthoff told him he was leaving while Ryan on vacation, and, with all that Wisconsin has invested in Uthoff’s development, Ryan has a right to expect a conversation with him. In many ways, Bo Ryan is like a spouse who has been asked for a divorce out of the blue; maybe didn’t even realize that Uthoff didn’t like it at Wisconsin. So he feels betrayed, but going on a popular national radio isn’t exactly keeping it “in house”.

The Divorcing Parties

But Ryan convinced Uthoff to come to Wisconsin. In his book A March to Madness, John Feinstein chronicled how Mike Krzyzewski did it: he flew back with each recruit after their on-campus visit to make sure they were the kind of player who fit in at Duke, a private, exclusive school which every urban high school basketball player might not be comfortable at. As much as Bo Ryan has to go out to seal Wisconsin, it’s no good if it is to someone who doesn’t want it. Granted, Uthoff may not have realized he didn’t want until he got to Wisconsin, but still, Ryan has to read every recruit and ask himself, will this guy gel on campus?

As for the transfer process itself, it needs to have some restrictions on it. Right now, Garrett Gilbert is taking a whooping 27 credit hours (nine more than I ever took a semester) to graduate from Texas and play this fall at SMU. College basketball is frustrating enough with its one-and-done, and now transfers? In my opinion, Doc Sadler was fired at Nebraska because players transferring (and other reasons here stated), and it’s always easier to keep an old customer than to recruit a new one. Ryan said that other NCAA coaches were supporting him in his efforts to restrict Uthoff’s transfer, and of course they would. Likely most have been in a similar situation, knowing that if the loose a good player already in the program, it could be big trouble

But where Ryan becomes petty is when he blocks Uthoff from transferring to Iowa State, a school that’s isn’t going to be playing Wisconsin in the next couple of years (and where a former Wisconsin Deputy Athletic Director, Jamie Pollard, serves as AD). When Ryan says, you can’t go to Iowa State, he’s basically saying, I’m so upset at you, I’m not even going to let you play in your home state. I’m making this personal.

This is the classic divide between older people and younger people. Hey, I’m the first to admit, young people can be cocky and brash to their elders, and I have been. But young people also have more options in this society then their elders did fifty years ago, and young people know their worth these days. They won’t put up with cranky old guys who are always whining about how much better stuff was forty years ago. The old guys may not like it, but look at Mark Zuckerburg-the guy had a great idea and drive, and he absolutely earned every penny of it. If they had the options we do now, who’s to say they wouldn’t have used all of them? (Being a young man in an old man’s church)

Then there’s the desperation of the rural northern program. While Madison is a great city, there aren’t a plethora of great basketball players who want to play there in the winter. Tom Izzo was willing to consider the Cleveland Cavaliers job because he was frustrated that, after six Final Fours and a National Title, he still had a hard time convincing top recruits to come to the alma mater of Magic Johnson in central Michigan. Consider how it must be for Ryan.

But what I come back to is the point in the Mike and Mike interview where Ryan ended up playing his own defense attorney, trying to muddle the issue after he couldn’t defend himself with the facts. After Mike Golic asked him when the list of schools Uthoff could transfer to was so restrictive, Ryan went on about how it is when a team practices together every day and how Greenberg couldn’t understand because he didn’t play the game. Just what happens in a messy divorce.

Pizza Night

A couple of Friday nights ago, I decided that I would make a homemade pizza. I had bought the sauce a couple of months ago when it was on sale, and it was finally time. First, I set up the dough in the bread machine

1 1/2 C. water

1 TBSP oil

1/2 TSP salt

3 C. bread flour

2 TSP yeast

This is a basic batch that works well for kolaches or rolls too.

The Primitive Crust

For the topping, I unearthed the sausage leftover from a time I made sausage gravy. I’m lucky our local grocery store (Pac ‘N’ Save) sells such good natural sausage.

Grilling the Sausage

Having worked for Valentino’s in high school, I have had a lot of experience making pizzas. I kneed the dough a typical twenty times, and go through the familiar motion of spreading the sauce with the back of a spoon.

The Saucing

I add the sausage and cheese, and I bake at 400 degrees for thirty minutes. I rotate the pizza at twenty minutes.

The cheese needs to be just a little bit browner

And at the end, I have a great pizza for dinner!

Finished Product

Husker Losses’ Un-Definition: Conference Realignment’s Aftermath

We all knew there were going to be certain causalities when Nebraska moved from the Big 12 to the Big 10. The long series with Big 8 rivals all ended, and new schools, schools to the east of Lincoln, will now dot Nebraska’s conference schedule. Granted, this is the way major college sports has to move, from small regional conferences to larger ones that merit more TV revenue. The unfortunate part is that now, when you loose to a school like Northwestern, there’s this sense of un-definition that comes with the displeasure of loosing.

I was at Nebraska’s 9 home loss to Iowa State back in 2009 that featured eight turnovers, four inside the five yard line. I felt so horrid about the loss, when Nebraska beat Iowa State the next year 31-30, I left Jack Trice Stadium fumed over the fact that Nebraska hadn’t beat Iowa State worse than they did. That’s what you get out of the regional series. Contrast those two games to Nebraska’s home loss to Northwestern this past year, and you see what fans loose in conference realignment. While I still burnt on the Iowa State loss after a year, the Northwestern was just a loss. Maybe I jst assumed they were a pasty going, maybe it was the lack of history between Northwestern and Nebraska, or maybe I knew Nebraska was primed for a let down that week. Either way, the ghost of another formerly forlorn program in purple nicknamed “wildcats” was there to leave my heart empty that day; it’s just this program was from Chicago, not rural Kansas.

For Northwestern, it almost isn’t fair: the best coach in college football not named Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, Mack Brown, or Les Miles just happens to be a Northwestern alum. Without Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern is likely struggling to get a conference win in the new, tighter Big 10. With him,  Northwestern walked into Memorial Stadium and completely worked Nebraska for four quarters, making plays the second the Huskers let their guard down. The Big 10 schools should all chip and help Arkansas (or another big-time school) offer Fitzgerald $8 million a year, and another $5 million a year to pay his assistants.

And in their own city, Northwestern alumni rank tenth or eleventh among Big 10 alumni in the city. Michigan and Michigan State probably wanted to be in the same division as the Wildcats so that they each get a fifth-conference home game every other year. Northwestern alumi care more about the Cubs, the Bears, the Bulls, and the Blackhawks over their football team. Plus, drum up the fact that Northwestern alumni Mike Wilbon and Mike Greenburg just happen to be major ESPN personalities, and the Wildcats’ success becomes particularly annoying the more it gets pumped. Consider all this, and I guess I have some reason to get pumped about playing Northwestern next year, even if the school is 531 miles and another culture from Lincoln.

The Northwestern loss showed Nebraska the realities of the Big 10 and of the super-conference: you have to win multiple big games in a row in order to play for the conference title or have a shot at an at-large BCS berth. In 2010, Nebraska had to win one big game, against Missouri at home, in order to get to the Big 12 Title Game. The next week, they went to Iowa State, played a so-so game, and were able to escape with a win. Michigan State was thought would be the de facto Legends Division title game, and given the special defense Bo Pelini designed for that game, he apparently thought the same. But the next week, Nebraska arguably played a game at home no worse than the game they played in Ames a year ago, yet got worked. Of the six teams that Nebraska will play every year in the Big 10, Northwestern’s program right now is fourth or fifth. In the Big 12 North, the fourth best program of the dissolving division were the Colorado Buffaloes, fresh off the Dan Hawkins-disaster.

So here we are in the new era of college football, the Nebraska-Northwestern series. Could this be an interesting series? Maybe; Iowa has drummed up some passion against Northwestern after Fitzgerald handed the Hawkeyes their first loss after a 9-0 start in 2009, so anything’s possible. There is something of a culture class: uppity, city academics, versus a rural farm school. But maybe this is just wistful thinking, a sign that Nebraska may end up as Arkansas has in the SEC (until Texas A&M and Missouri joined). At least Nebraska’s capable of putting 20,000 red shirts in Ryan Field every other year (did it at Minnesota), not that Wildcat Nation will find that embarrassing.

Could it be a sea of red?

A Day in My Life…

A while ago, my fellow blogger Eirinn (who you should all follow) wrote a merry post that outlined every thing she did in a day. That really inspired to write a similar post, and after a couple of months, the idea felt perfect for this past Easter Monday.

6:13 My consciousness hums for the first time since last night; I see a wisp of light from outside coming through the window outside, and I hear my parents bustling around downstairs.

7:23 Actually come around.

7:26 Get out of bed, use the bathroom, dress in ratty work clothes, and come downstairs to find my mother engaged in a pre-dawn nap.

7:31 Heat up milk to pour over my natural foods version of shredded wheat. Breakfasts takes me five minutes, during which a read a page or two of Laura Rider’s Masterpiece by Jane Hamilton, a Wisconsin author if there ever was one. I have committed myself not to look at my computer or IPod screen until noon.

7:46 Make coffee; my current brew is an indulgence, Cream City Blend, a signature of Stone Creek Coffee, a chain from Milwaukee that I feel in love with in college and wish was in Omaha or Lincoln.

8:15 Today, I am planting 26 cold samples my father has brought me. I get out six kimpak prep trays, only to find I haven’t made the marking sticks for the trays. So I have to put the prepped trays back in the cold chamber (they can only be out of the cold chamber for 45 minutes). First half of the morning, I do all the sticks and plant 12 samples. I listen to half of an ESPN: First Draft podcast (Kiper and McShay’s back and forth), two segments of an Issues, Etc. podcast (Pastor Will Weedon on the Easter hymn “Ride on, Ride on in Majesty”), and then The Herd on ESPN Radio.

9:45 I don’t like taking breaks before I’m halfway down, but if I start another set, my head will be going numb toward the end of it.

9:50 Snack on a banana and pace a bit. I don’t read, I don’t check facebook or e-mail. Just hanging loose.

10:00 Start back on the remaining 14 samples, listening to my playlist from late last summer (The Band Perry’s “If I Die Young”, The Fray’s “Heartbeat” are the signature tracks), and turn The Herd back on at 10:30, in time to hear Adam Schefter come on and talk NFL.

11:30 Finish with work and head into shower. To rid myself of the horrid scent of wet corn plant and seed lab, I pour on the Axe body wash.

12:05 When I get out of the shower, mom is making omelets for her and dad and offers to make  me one. Thus lunch is an omelet with two cheeses, the last of an oatmeal like cereal that mom made, and toast with crab apple jelly. I’m not eating meat, and I assume it will catch up to me around 3. While eating, I allow myself to go online and check stuff.

12:30 My parents leave for Lincoln to go to my Dad’s dentist appointment, and I settle down for some solid Facebook and e-mail time .

1:00 My mother calls; she has arrived at the dentist’s office in Lincoln and has forgotten the guide book for the diet my dad and she are on. I agree to bring and plan to leave in five minutes.

1:30 Leave for Lincoln after thirty minutes of running the house and gathering unimportant crap that I probably won’t use but might need. (I’m still eight years old.) When I get four blocks from my house, I find that I don’t have the diet guide book that I’m supposed to bring to my mother. I head back to the house to get the book, and after I’m back in the car, my mother calls me again.

1:35 Given that I’m turned around, I now set out to drive the round-about way. Late and listening to “Rumor Has It” on the radio, I get angry when I get stuck behind a gold Cadillac driven by an old person. Flipping the car off (I know), I circle back to the main route, only to re-encounter the Cadillac while it waits to turn into the hospital and holds me up again.

1:52 Get to the light at Fletcher and Highway 34 by the highlands and call my mom; she says they’ll be a while and that I should come straight to the dentist’s office. Could have just taken the Interstate.

1:55 Get off the I-180 at Cornhusker; contemplating taking Cornhusker until I can branch off on Holdredge, then decide to follow Sun Valley to North 10th and get onto Vine. Of course, there isn’t a direct way to Vine from 10th, and end up downtown where the I-180 ends. To try to justify my inefficient route, I take P over to 17th, to then go down to Capitol. This makes no difference.

2:07 I get to the dentists in an office plaza north of the crossroads of 40th, Normal, and South Streets. Mom compensates me for my gas and talks to me about work for roughly twenty minutes.

2:28 Leaving the dentist, I decide that my car is running funny and I should fill up on gas (although the real problem is likely that I need an oil change). I get gas at the Fast Mart on 33rd and A, which happens to be on the corner across from a Valentino’s where worked for two months almost seven years ago.

2:30 When I go into use the bathroom, an older gentleman holds the door open for me on my way out and says “you’re welcome” to me as if I should be ashamed of myself for not saying “thank you”, which I do on my way in. (Hey, I just happened to be in the right position for you to hold the door for an extra half second; if I had been two seconds ahead of you, I would have held the door and been grateful if you hadn’t said anything.) On my way back out, I make a conscientious effort to go out the other side door, but the man has already left.

2:32 Not wanting the trip to Lincoln to be a waste, I go to the Starbucks on 33rd and O, order a green tea smoothie, and set to work on catching up on my e-mail. The place is full, and people are coming and going. I sit on the half-couch, half-chair thing and type to my heart’s content.

3:35 Leaving Starbucks, afternoon traffic has picked up, and it takes me a while to get through downtown. I decide to go to Pioneer’s Park to take my afternoon walk

4:00 I park next a gray Bronco-like vehicle in my favorite parking lot in the middle of the park and hit the trail; millions of kids are out here playing, along with female joggers. I walk along the stream and let my thought peculate.

4:35 Leave the park.

4:53 Stop at the truck stop just of the Northwest 48th Street exit to buy something to drink; settle on two 16 oz. pops for two dollars (root beer and Sierra Mist).

4:58 Blast on to I-80 and blaze for home.

5:26 Get home and make a list of things people I still need to contact.

6:00 Begin to make supper. Mom has left two soup mixes, so break some roast beef out of the freezer and open up the vegetable mix. I dirty an extra pot when I underestimate how big the batch will be. (A blog post on this soup “adventure” is coming.)

7:00 I turn on How I Met Your Mother, the show whose original episodes I look forward to the most. The soup finishes up at 7:10, and I balance eating it with tweeting about #HIMYM.

7:30 Watch 2 Broke Girls while I wash and put away dishes and food. Girls has the best set up of any show that’s come out this year, other than maybe Up All Night.

8:00 Exhausted from standing in the kitchen for better part of the last two hours, I sit and game on my IPod while watching other shows on my computer, instead of doing the things on my list.

9:30 I turn off my computer with the intent of going to bed for Men’s Bible Study at 6:30 tomorrow. Instead I decide to put away some more dishes and fold the laundry that’s been sitting in the basket for several days.

10:30 Prior to going to bed, I fake scan the book next to me for a page or two, then stop kidding myself and turn out the light.


6:03 After waking up around 4:30, I decide that I should sleep as late as I can before having to head out. When I see 6:03 on the clock, I’m tempted to go back to sleep, but I know I’ll regret it if I do. I intend to take a five minute shower, and set up my IPod to time myself. My shower last a typical ten minutes. Even still, I somehow manage to show up to Bible study on time.

The Perfect Gameplan: How Mediocre Coaches Stay Longer than they Should

When Doc Sadler was fired by Tom Osborne, I  was befuddled at how the Nebraska media covered: they rarely highlighted Sadler’s lack of accomplishment and instead praised hie effusively for being a “good guy”. Good grief, Nebraska beat writers and columnists. Doc Sadler was like a girlfriend who you knew was wrong for you and you continued to go out with, because she was a good cook. Yes, her brownies were amazing, but that’s not enough to overlook the fact she doesn’t listen to you. Not that I mean to gloat; he got fired, which is a sad. But he had six years in a competitive job, more than a lot of coaches get.

But it got me to thinking about the more important question: why wasn’t there enough pressure on Osborne to fire Sadler after the embarrassing end to last year, as Nebraska was switching conferences? Sure, it’s college basketball, less pressure than football. I think there’s something else, and it has to do not only with how basketball is perceived at a football school, but how football is perceived at basketball schools.

If you live in Nebraska, in July, you read the story on Husker football’s summer workouts before you read the baseball box scores. If you live in St. Louis, on a Tuesday in November, you read about who the Cardinals are going to sign, before you read Missouri’s or Illinois’ practice report. We follow the team we care about most every day and the other teams we care about when they are on. And if most fans only watch on game day, there are going to judge a coach more on his game plan. This is the mold for the coach who keeps his job longer than he should: he is  a great game planner, but he isn’t a great recruiter, and not reaching out to the fanbase. For example:

Ralph Friedgen at Maryland. Friedgen went 31-8 in his first three years at Maryland, at a school that hadn’t even made a bowl game in ten years. Yet the Terrapins went 44-42 in Friedgen’s subsequent seven seasons. Friedgen was know as genius inventor on offense (he ran Georgia Tech’s offense in their national championship season in 1990 and for the San Diego Chargers’ when they made the Super Bowl in 1994), but several Maryland high school players who crossed the state line to play at Virginia described Friedgen as crusty and difficult to work with. ACC blogger Heather Dinich said in an interview on 1620 the Zone in Omaha that Maryland players have been bailing in droves since Randy Edsall has taken over the program over a year ago, a possible sign Friedgen was recruiting the wrong players. He also didn’t help attendance: Maryland alum and ESPN personality Scott Van Pelt noted that the luxury suites at Byrd Stadium were empty during Friedgen’s final year (translation: he doesn’t appeal to big money boosters).

Mark Mangino at Kansas. While Mangino was a great coach, his temper kept getting in the way; the fact that Kansas only pointed out when the team started loosing after two years after winning the Orange Bowl just goes to show how little attention was being paid to the program. For as highly regarded as Mangino was as an x-and-o-er (one of  the best in college football), he was only two games above .500, mainly because of a weak non-conference schedule and a weak division in the Big 12. As a Nebraska fan, I always hated it when Mangino was the Jayhawk coach, because without him, I knew we could crush their mediocre players. (And Kansas has their own sense of self-importance. They hired Charlie Weis.) And when Mangino left, Kansas football went straight into the tank. Translation: Mangino couldn’t recruit.

And there was Sadler. For six years, I kept hearing about how great Nebraska’s defense was (not unlike Bo Pelini’s), so great that good programs didn’t want to play Nebraska in their non-conference schedule. But Sadler couldn’t recruit a single great players, and there were contributing players leaving the program after every year. And in the off-season, Sadler, much like fellow Steve Pedersen hire Bill Callahan, left the state to recruit or camped out in his office.

That defense were the brownies that Sadler always made Nebraska. Surely, they came in the form of several court-storming wins (Oregon 2–7; Texas 2009 and 2011; Texas A&M 2010; Indiana this past year), but an annual court-storming isn’t enough to build a passionate (i.e., ticket buying) fan base.


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