Should We Pity Poor, Winless Nebraska?

Nebraska Coach Scott Frost
Despite the Historic 0-6 Start, Nebraska Head Coach Scott Frost Should Keep Looking Up

The  University of Nebraska was once a college football power.  Under Tom Osborne from 1973 to 1997, the Cornhuskers went an astounding 255 – 49–3,  for a winning percentage of 0.836. Osborne subsequently became Nebraska’s longest-tenured coach, ending with the fourth-highest winning percentage in major college football history. Osborne never won fewer than nine games and secured 13 conference titles in his 25 seasons. And for those interested in ancient college football history, before Osborne, there was head coach Bob Devaney.

Bob Devaney lead Nebraska to a 101–20–2 record, with a 0.829 winning percentage from 1962 to 1972.  Delaney brought about an immediate turnaround in the fortunes of Nebraska football. He led Nebraska to a 9–2 record in his first season, which was capped by the school’s first bowl win, against Miami in the 1962 Gotham Bowl.  Wow. Talk about winners. Nebraska could surely use Osborne or Devaney right about now.

Now, the once mighty and proud Nebraska football program has fallen on hard times. Most recently, The Cornhuskers blew a ten point margin and fell to Northwestern, 34 -21, after having a 31-21 fourth quarter lead. A Northwestern field goal cut the lead to 31-24 with about two minutes left in the game. Northwestern would then get the ball back and marched 99 yards with zero time-outs for a game tying touchdown that sent it to overtime. Unbelievable. Just unbelievable, especially for a team that was 0 -5 and searching desperately for its first win.

In that oh so painful loss to Northwestern, Nebraska had the ball first in the extra period. The drive came to a fourth and one, and then a nightmare for Huskers fans. A botched snap and QB Martinez was forced to scramble; he launched one for the endzone and it was intercepted. Northwestern got the ball and got into position to allow kicker Drew Lauckenbaugh to make a 37 yard field goal to give Northwestern the stunning 34-31 win.

Last week, after Nebraska lost to Michigan, Head coach Scott Frost told his players in the locker room at Michigan Stadium that “things can’t get any worse”, and their 56-10 loss to No. 19 Michigan could serve as a “watershed moment” for the program in its first year with a new coaching staff. When they were 0 -5, the Nebraska coach believed that the Cornhuskers had reached the bottom.

But then the bottom fell out, and they lost this heartbreaker to Northwestern to fall fo 0 – 6 for the first time in school history. It’s the worst start EVER for this storied football program.

Incredible. Just incredible. So, are we to feel sorry and compassionate for the Cornhuskers? Some say yes, but most, I surmise, would say no. They had their heyday, and now the mantle for winning big in college football has moved on the Southeastern Conference. The SEC touts such powerhouse schools such as Alabama, LSU, Florida and Georgia, just to name a few.  Ohio State and Michigan, two bragadocious, Big Ten schools, are still powers, so why not Nebraska? It’s a thousand things, none of which can be fixed in an instant. 

So let’s encourage Nebraska.  And let’s encourage all of our friends who are going through a tough time. Things will get better. Things HAVE to get better, right? They have to; they just have to.  Becasue life is like sports and sports are like life.  Trouble don’t last always. 

And always remenber; “weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”

 

Note From Tua Tagovailoa: “Wait Your Turn”

Tua

Did you see the game? Don’t tell me you went to bed at halftime!  What? You didn’t know the College Football Playoff National Championship game went to overtime?  Seriously?  Yes — I know the game went to well past midnight (East coast time) and I know that Georgia looked like they had Alabama whooped, leading 13-0 at intermission, and I know you get up at zero dark thirty to get to work. I do too. Trust me, I paid for staying up way past my bedtime; but believe you me, it was worth it.

I’ll almost forgive you if you tuned out and turned the TV off at halftime. I’ll try to forgive you if you didn’t want to watch Alabama and Saban win AGAIN. And I’ll definitely forgive you if you didn’t know about the Alabama second string backup quarterback from Hawaii. All he did was start the second half and end up winning the whole dag gum game in OT in dramatic, unforgettable, and for Georgia fans, unforgivable fashion. I’ll give you that one, because before 10 pm on Monday night, there probably were more than a few Alabama players that couldn’t even pronounce this kid’s name.

Just who is Tua Tagovailoa?  Good question.  In 2015, Sports Illustrated told the story of Tagovailoa, who was considered to be the best high school football player in Hawaii. At the time, the junior quarterback at Honolulu’s Saint Louis High School was drawing comparisons to the school’s most famous alum, Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota.  And not coincidently enough, Tua has this in common with his hero, Marcus Mariota: they are Christians whose goal is “to go out and show the world that Christ lives.” http://christiannewsjournal.com/throwin-prayin-samoans/

Tagovailoa is now the true freshman from Hawaii who everyone is talking about. Talk about a David coming off of the bench to slay a Goliath. One sports writer said that “sometimes, it pays to wait and watch, biding your time until you can show the world just what you can do” Amen. And the hymn writer gave us this gem:

 Watching and waiting, looking above, filled with His goodness, lost in his love.

“For Tua Tagovailoa, his chance came on college football’s biggest stage, when Alabama Coach Nick Saban decided at halftime to replace quarterback Jalen Hurts with his freshman from Hawaii, a guy who had been offered a scholarship only after Jake Fromm flipped his commitment to Georgia.

“It was a wild ride from there, with Tagovailoa completing one of the best game-winning passes in college football since Doug Flutie in 1984 as the Crimson Tide won in overtime. But the glory of that 41-yard touchdown pass came after an ugly moment in which he took a sack. “Tua probably couldn’t have thrown that pass if I could have gotten ahold of him after the sack,” Saban said afterward, “but I couldn’t get out there fast enough.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/early-lead/wp/2018/01/09/who-is-alabamas-tua-tagovailoa-and-why-wasnt-he-playing-all-season/?utm_term=.278650168bee

Yes, let’s not forget about Nick Saban, probably the best college football coach, ever. EVER!  Nick Saban most certainly deserves credit for changing quarterbacks, and he also deserves credit for how both players handled themselves.  Sometimes things work out better than our wildest dreams, just because we went with our gut (Saban), waited our turn (Tua) and maybe even handled adversity with grace (Hurts).

Tagovailoa had played only sparingly as a freshman, but Saban turned to him with the Tide down 13-0 at halftime and he threw two touchdown passes, along with an interception. He completed 14-of-26 passes for 166 yards and left everyone wondering why Saban hadn’t turned to him before. I’ll tell you why. Because his time had not yet come.

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship Game-Alabama vs Georgia

So the lesson from the Polynesian lad from Hawaii is this: be patient. Wait your turn. Don’t get a big head and don’t get down on yourself.  Things will work out, just you wait and see.

Note from Clemson: Don’t Be Surprised When You Actually Win The Big One

dabo-swinney-looks-up

Clemson Actually Won! Coach Swinney said “Only God could do something like this.” Amen brother. Down by 10 at halftime, Coach Swinney told his team

We’re going to win the game, because we love each other. I don’t know how, but we’re going to win the game.

Period. End of discussion. And after the game, Coach Swinney gave us the moral of the story: Clemson’s win gives us all hope, because “greatness is for everyone.”

So it shouldn’t be a surprise when our dreams come true. It shouldn’t be a shock to the system or a jolt to the nerves when everything we’ve worked for and everything we’ve hoped for and everything we’ve longed for actually and finally comes true and bursts through the front door.  

I am so happy for Coach Swinney.  I am. He deserves this win way more than most coaches that have won. And Deshaun Watson, Clemson’s star QB, was as confident and convinced and certain that his team would win as any other player ever.

Alabama did not lose the game; Clemson won the game, fair and square. Because Alabama was ranked No. 1 and Clemson was No. 2, it was an upset. But make no mistake, like it or not, the better team won. And Clemson clearly was the better team. And to quote Coach Swinney once more, “the win was not an upset, it was an expectation.”

The legend of Dabo Swinney just hit No. 1 on the charts and it will stay there for some time. The coach that almost nobody at Clemson wanted or heard of just won a national championship. And they didn’t just win, the won with ONE SECOND left on the clock! Wow.  Talk about a dramatic, come from behind finish. Some of the headlines spoke of the spectacular win:

Clemson Shocks Alabama to Win National Championship.

Clemson Wins National Championship in Thriller.

Clemson Stuns Alabama To Win National Championship.

Rarely is a sequel as good as the original, but Clemson rewrote the ending in its national championship story against Alabama. It was a triumph savored by Tigers players past and present.

Alabama v. Clemson II was everything we hoped it would be. The sequel was even better than the original. Legends were born as Clemson scored in the final seconds of the 2017 CFP National Championship, stunning Alabama with a thrilling victory.

Over the final 4:38 of the game, the teams would score three touchdowns and trade the lead three times, with the Tigers ultimately ending the night and the season on top the sport via a 35-31 final score. That insanity triggered a frenetic schedule that would continue for the coach, his family and his team that would carry on until well after most of everyone else on the East Coast was fast asleep.

He was already the best player in program history, but after coming up short in one title game and missing out on two Heismans, Deshaun Watson sealed the deal with an epic game-winning drive. At 12:27 a.m., the game finally ended after the game clock hung up on one final second for more than five minutes as officials made a ruling on the onside kick by Clemson.

What a way to win the big one.

http://www.usatoday.com/videos/sports/ncaaf/acc/2017/01/10/swinney-clemson-win-gives-hope-%27greatness-everyone%27/96393442/

Can Clemson Beat Alabama? (Round II)

dabo-swinney2

I like Clemson’s Head Coach, Dabo Swinney. I do. And in Alabama v. Clemson II, I DO think the Tigers can hang with the Alabama Crimson Tide tomorrow night. If Clemson pulls it out and pulls it off, the game will go down to the wire, which means I’ll need to stay up way past my bedtime to watch. Phooey.

Tomorrow night is college football’s big stage: the College Football Playoff National Championship. And on that big stage lies the 60 minutes that separates No. 2 Clemson from winning its first national championship in 35 seasons. To do so, the Tigers must beat No. 1 Alabama, the most successful program of our time. A victory by the Crimson Tide would be the school’s fifth in eight seasons, all under head coach Nick Saban.

Alabama is the college football team everyone loves to hate. People hate and love Alabama basically because of their colorful, crimson character of a coach, Nick Saban. Because of Saban, “‘Bama has been (and will be?) the standard in college football for a long time,” Swinney said before last year’s game. So, the question is this: can Dabo do it? Will Dabo do it? Or more pointedly, how might Dabo do it?

I ask myself these questions each and every day. Can I do it? Will I do it? Or more pointedly, how might I do it – whatever “it” is? And the answer is simply this: if you want to achieve you must first believe. And Dabo is driven and determined and set and settled on beating his alma mater tonight. Good for him. And his win tonight, if he can notch it, will speak volumes and teach another life lesson and set another sports precedent for the rest of us to follow.

On the flip side, Dabo’s desire and drive and desperation just might spell and equal an UPSET for Alabama. Make no mistake about it; even though the Tigers are No. 1, if they win, it WILL be an upset, because Nick Saban will be UPSET!

So here’s to the Clemson Tigers and cheers and hats off to Dabo Swinney. Because if he pulls this one off, he will have kept me up and kept us all awake and keep the college football world roused up and hunkered down to do it. Because it’s going to take some doing to do this. But isn’t that what we all face every day?

Can Anybody Beat Alabama?

alabama_logo

Alabama beat USC into the ground. I mean it was so bad that USC doesn’t know if they got beat up or beat down. It was that bad. Their motto is “Roll Tide”, and Saturday at the Jerry Jones Arena, I mean Dallas Stadium, they did just that.

Alabama is king of the college football jungle. They are the reigning football phenomenon and they are a force to be reckoned with. The question is, can they be beat? Or, better still, will they be beat? Is it possible for Alabama to lose this season? They pasted USC. So will they lose in two weeks to Ole Miss? Or to LSU? Their schedule doesn’t seem all that challenging, so again, the question looms large. Let’s watch and see, and enjoy the ride along the way.

This reigning football dynasty is so similar to how we are to live as spiritual beings in the earth, it again gives credence to the nexus between God and sports. As God’s creatures in charge of the Tera firma, (and the sky and sea, too) we are to dominate and rule and kick butt.  That’s what Adam was told to do in the beginning.

Now, with the help of our Lord, we are to be invincible and insurmountable and indomitable. As believers in the Most High God, the ruler of the universe, we are to be unshakable and unbeatable and unconquerable. That’s if we obey and observe and submit to the pure and perfect will of God.

So, how ‘bout it? Let’s live as champions and as victors and as more than conquerors through Him that loves us. Let’s triumph in everything and over everything. Let’s live a life pleasing to God so that we continually kick devil butt, and solve the problems that face us all.

So back to Alabama:

The only thing that Alabama and their coach Nick Saban have that we shouldn’t want is arrogance. This is the one caveat that Alabama has that we need to be wary of. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). Alabama needs to know that if you’re the best, it takes God to keep you humble and holy and modest and lowly.

Because this season, the only team that is going to beat Alabama, is Alabama.

Can Clemson Beat Alabama?

saban-cover by Monte Burke

With Alabama’s help, tonight I can be in bed at a decent hour because the Brick Red will take the Tigers to the woodshed. I like Clemson’s Head Coach, Dabo Swinney. I do. But I don’t think the Tigers can hang with the Alabama Crimson Tide tonight. I don’t. If Clemson pulls it out and pulls it off, the game will go down to the wire, which means I’ll need to stay up way past my bed time to watch. Phooey.

Tonight is college football’s big stage: the College Football Playoff National Championship. And on that big stage lies the 60 minutes that separates No. 1 Clemson from winning its first national championship in 34 seasons. To do so, the Tigers must beat No. 2 Alabama, the most successful program of our time. A victory by the Crimson Tide would be the school’s fourth in seven seasons, all under head coach Nick Saban.

Alabama is the college football team everyone loves to hate. People hate and love Alabama basically because of their colorful, crimson character of a coach, Nick Saban. Because of Saban, “‘Bama has been (and will be?) the standard in college football for a long time,” Swinney said Saturday.  So, the question is this: can Dabo do it? Will Dabo  do it? Or more pointedly, how might Dabo do it?

I ask myself these questions each and every day. Can I do it? Will I do it? Or more pointedly, how might I do it – whatever “it” is?  And the answer is simply this: if you want to achieve you must first believe. And Dabo is driven and determined and set and settled on beating his alma mater tonight. Good for him.  And his win tonight, if he can notch it, will speak volumes and teach another life lesson and set another sports precedent  for the rest of us to follow.

On the flip side, Dabo’s desire and drive and desperation just might spell and equal an UPSET for Alabama. Make no mistake about it; even though the Tigers are No. 1, if they win, it WILL be an upset, because Nick Saban will be UPSET!

So here’s to the Clemson Tigers and cheers and hats off to Dabo Swinney. Because if he pulls this one off, he will have kept me up and kept us all awake and keep the college football world roused up and hunkered down to do it. Because it’s going to take some doing to do this. But isn’t that what we all face every day?

Dabo Swinney: #Bring Your Own Guts!

Dabo Swinney
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney

William Christopher “Dabo” Swinney, the head coach of the Clemson Tigers, will play for a National Championship on Monday Night against the vaunted and seemingly invincible Alabama Crimson Tide.  I’m rooting for Dabo, not only because of his insanely cool, country boy name, and not because of his faith or the fact that he’s had a life of family pain and poverty, but because of his manly, macho motto: “Bring Your Own Guts!”

Dabo, that’s right Dabo (how do you get the name Dabo?), took in his mother while playing at Alabama. ALABAMA!? Wow. How’s that for irony? He played AND coached at Alabama, and now he’s got to go through ‘BAMA to reach his ultimate goal. Dabo also reconciled with his alcoholic father before his death. Tear-jerker stuff.

Monday’s championship game will not be his life’s biggest battle, just the most recent.  And I just checked on the name “Dabo:” this nickname was given to him as an infant by his parents when his then-18-month-old brother would try to enunciate “that boy” when referring to Swinney. Ok. I guess that’s just a southern thing.

Anyway, I like Dabo. I like the name and I like his game. I like his maxim and his motto. “Bring Your Own Guts.” This principle and proverb applies to sports and to life. It applies to the pros and the para-professionals. And it applies to collegiate champions and to high school letterman alike. Everyone needs guts, but you’ve got to bring your own.  You can’t live off of mine, and you can’t make it without yours. It’s that simple, and yet it’s that profound.

When I perspire, I can inspire and I can preach hellfire, but at the end of the day, you better bring your own heart and your own spirit and your own mettle and your own muster. Because everyone needs to learn how to aspire to be all they can be. In other words, bring your own guts.

I like another thing Dabo said. He’s a tough coach but he loves and is loved by his players. That’s why he’s right on another note: “Rules without relationship lead to rebellion.” Wow.  The Apostle Paul couldn’t have said it better. Rules, rules, rules.  They breed refusal and rejection and resentment and ultimately rebellion. But with relationship, rules restore and redeem and reconcile. It’s so spiritual. And yet many still don’t get it.

But I do. And I hope you do too. So thanks Dabo. Thanks for being a walk on at Alabama and for graduating with honors and for having the guts to coach Clemson with gusto. Alabama may look good, but your guts will hopefully lead to Clemson’s glory on Monday night.