Mailbag: Beebe in Lincoln, MU's bowl slights

Jason in Omaha, Neb., asks: DUbbs, I've been waiting for your take on Dan Beebe not giving the Huskers their rightful trophy last week, but it hasn't come. Why not? What's the deal with Beebe?

David Ubben: I've mentioned this on a couple of radio spots I've done this week, but have yet to write about it. Beebe was in a really tough position. To go to Lincoln would be against the advice he received from security professionals, and I know that's frustrating for Nebraskans, but put yourself in his position. Would anything have happened if he had gone? Probably not. But what's the point of taking the risk? Yes, a small portion of Nebraska fans sent him nasty e-mails or voicemails. Yes, a smaller portion of that small portion were outright threats. Yes, a smaller portion of that smaller portion has the gumption and means to act on it if given the opportunity. But -- and excuse what's become a bit of a tired cliché over the past week -- all it takes is one nut job to turn this into a national fiasco.

You want him to send Ed Stewart, a former Husker working for the Big 12? Well, that would be nice in terms of a trophy, and a good alternative, but Beebe would still be getting the same questions and probably still be demonized by some. Decline comment, and the perception arises that he's slighting Nebraska for no good reason. Give the reasons why -- as he did -- and suddenly he's out to turn public opinion against Nebraska. There's no attractive option there. I don't know what it's like to receive messages like the ones Beebe says he did. Very, very few people do. But if you're really, truly angry about the no-show ... come on. It's a division trophy for a game of football. Show some empathy.

And let's get it out there: There's a portion of people who believe Beebe exaggerated or, at worst, lied about the threats. I got a lot of mail referencing the report in the Omaha World-Herald about the police not investigating any threats currently, but that's getting caught up in some semantics if you ask me. I don't think an e-mail or a voicemail has to explicitly threaten death and mention Dan Beebe by name to give him reason for pause. If you believe he's exaggerating or flat-out lying, you're starting to paint a pretty sinister picture that I frankly just don't believe exists. Villains are great for cheap cinema. They're rare in the real world, which mostly consists of a collection of separate entities who on occasion conflict with one another while acting in self-interest. That's what Nebraska did when it chose to leave for the Big 12. The opportunity was there, and it offered greater stability and financial windfall. They took it. Good for them. That's what Texas did when it chose to remain in the Big 12. It believed a future in the Big 12 would be more prosperous and it could get what it wanted more easily in the Big 12 than anywhere else. That's what Beebe did when he didn't go to Nebraska. He believed it was the prudent choice; sometimes people forget we're still just talking about a guy with a family.

Obviously, Beebe didn't do a great job of assessing alternatives to not sending a trophy, but it doesn't sound like to me anyone involved with the actual Nebraska program was all that worried about a North division trophy. I suggest fans follow suit. The only one that matters will be up for grabs on Saturday.

Bret in Grand Island, Neb., asks: I find it tough to believe that Beebe blatantly told officials to hurt Nebraska's chance at winning via penalties. However, the magnitude of the penalty differences and completely blown calls seem to claim otherwise. My best bet is that Beebe used inception on the officials and they are making these calls on a subconscious level. Your thoughts?

DU: I've heard the same rumor. The catch? Tom Osborne is his architect. Oh, snap!

But honestly, I've spent a lot of time writing on this blog. If this whole charade ends up all being a dream, I'm going to be pretty perturbed.

Jeremy in Missouri asks: DU, I love my Tigers, but I want to see them in the bowl game they deserve. What's the answer? Do we need to try and get into the Big Ten?

DU: Jeremy, you're not alone. Missouri fans are frustrated. The tag of "don't travel" is a tough one to shed for fans of any school, but there's only one solution. Instead of complaining about going to what fans perceive as a lower-tier bowl than they deserve, how about you do what everyone says you don't do: travel. Here are the attendance numbers for the Alamo Bowl in recent years:

  • 2009: 64,757

  • 2007: 66,166

  • 2006: 65, 875

  • 2005: 62,016

  • 2004: 65,265

Missouri played in the game in 2008 after losing the Big 12 Championship. Its attendance: 55,986.

Northwestern, Missouri's opponent in the game, doesn't have a huge fan base, but those 10,000 tickets or so had to end up somewhere. If Missouri fans wanted to make a point, they should have bought them up. And traveling extends to more than just bowl games. Bowl executives saw all those empty seats in Arrowhead Stadium last week. Missouri's side was reportedly respectable, but it's in Kansas City. It doesn't exactly take a Kansas diploma to get a hold of Kansas' share of tickets. Obviously, the Jayhawks' struggles this season had a lot to do with those empty seats, but it shouldn't take playing for a chance at the national title game like in 2007 to provide a rivalry game atmosphere on a pristine neutral site like Missouri and Kansas had last week.

It won't happen overnight, but if Missouri fans want to show bowl committees that they're not a fan base deserving of that dreaded "do not travel" tag, the only choice is to prove them wrong a few years in a row.