On Optimists Who May Need Optometrists

…The Huskers preseason more or less boiled down to beating UCLA, and the defense simply failed to show up on the road. While their loss looks a tiny bit more excusable based on the entire conferences struggles out west…

via Grading the B1G in the Non-Con – Off Tackle Empire.

The blogger MNWildcat, in a blog post evaluating the state of the so-called Big Ten so far, justifies a better-than-average rating for Nebraska by apparently grading on the curve — his own disclaimer that the grades are “based on performance and expectations” notwithstanding.

Read that through again.

Nebraska had one thing to accomplish in its nonconference schedule, and failed to accomplish it. For that failure, the Huskers are stamped with a your-parents-won’t-be-disappointed B. Never mind that the club’s presumed chief asset, its defense, has already had to chunk a good part of its playbook.

Mr. MNWildcat’s assessment is representative of an inexplicable rebound in expectations for the Huskers that seems to be rooted in the apparent weakness of the Big Ten at large. And it is not just the enthusiastic near-amateurs of the blogosphere; professional sportswriters have readmitted Nebraska to the Top 25.

None of it is understandable; expectations were never that high around here. Certainly, Nebraska does not lag its rivals by the margin that was evident last season in listless losses to Wisconsin and Michigan. But I fail to see how that translates into better performances — unless football games themselves are scored on a curve.

This leads me to a slightly mean-spirited observation. Bleacher Report’s J. P. Scott displayed an inadvertent insightfulness in his analysis of the Huskers’ conference schedule: “The Big Ten,” Mr. Scott writes, “has had much more parody than the Big 12 or even the Big 8 had during the final years.”

He means parity, of course, (the italics were mine) but a fan could be forgiven for reading right over the mistake. The Big Ten has been something of a parody of a major conference this season. Wisconsin and both Michigans, like Nebraska, each already have a loss. Northwestern, which last year beat the Huskers, and Minnesota are undefeated.

Nothing can be done, of course. For Nebraska, I mean; Mr. Scott can be forgiven for his homophonic confusion.


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