Has the Huskers football brand lost some of its luster? It’s a fair question after a decade of disappointments, and one that Lincoln Journal Star sports writer Steve Sipple has some thoughts about.

Sipple recounts a day in October 2006 in Stillwater, when there were a significant number of empty seats in Boone Pickens Stadium just before kickoff. Sipple asked a veteran writer on the OSU beat about the empties. “It’s just (expletive) Nebraska,” he said with a wry smile.

Here’s more from Sipple on the problem at hand:

Nebraska coach Bo Pelini has done well to produce records of 9-4, 10-4, 10-4 and 9-4 after inheriting a program that was 5-7 in 2007 under Bill Callahan. Still, Pelini feels a negative vibe from a fan base arguably spoiled by Osborne’s amazing success. In his final five seasons (1993-97), Nebraska was 60-3.

The program’s glory years are starting to fade. It’s Pelini’s job to make sure our dominance is more than a memory, but he’s not getting it done. Maybe he will get it done someday, but he’s not getting it done today.

Looking over the comments about Pelini on this site, I see one fan has taken to calling the coach Bo Callahanini. That is harsh, but it reveals how slippery the slope is. I couldn’t stand Loserhan’s professional demeanor on the sideline, but Callahanini’s is also bad in a completely opposite way.

It’s weird to feel as ambivalent as I do about Nebraska football right now. We’re looking at two more years of Taylor Martinez at QB, for starters. That’s hard to fathom, frankly. He might be a good kid, or a cocky brat from California — I don’t know. But he’s not a QB in any classic sense. Practically every team we played in 2011 had a better player at the position.

We also need to face facts about the relative strength of recruiting at this time in Pelini’s tenure–Nebraska’s 2012 class is currently ranked 35th by Rivals.com. We are being out-recruited by Vandy, Baylor, Purdue and Louisville right now. Without horses to pull the wagon, the team will continue to be stuck in a rut.

Maybe Pelini has a surprise season in store for us next fall. Let’s hope so, because 10-2 or better can’t come too soon.

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