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Hot Reads: A national perspective on the program

ASK AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE >>> A Nebraska fan (presumably) in North Carolina asked Sports Illustrated’s Stewart Mandel if Husker fans should be happy with 9 to 10 wins a year and a clean program. In exchange, those same Nebraska fans have to deal with the occasional embarrassing blowout on the biggest stages.

Here was Mandel’s answer:

There are plenty of programs out there that should be thrilled to win nine or 10 games every year. Nebraska is not one of them. To his credit, Pelini has taken teams to conference title games in three of his five seasons. That’s pretty good. The Huskers have not won any of those games, however, and this year’s loss to Wisconsin was flat out embarrassing. That’s not so good. The Capital One Bowl against Georgia will be big for Bo. If he beats a top-10 SEC team to finish the season 11-3, that’s a pretty big momentum boost heading into the offseason. I don’t think there’d be much discontent. But if the Huskers lose — in particular, if they get blown out — it will be yet another reminder that the program is still miles away from rejoining the national elite.

Not even Nebraska fans expect a national title at this point, but they should expect to field a top-20 team that gets through a season with fewer than four losses. Remarkably, if Georgia beats the Huskers on Jan. 1, Pelini’s five seasons will have ended with records of 9-4, 10-4, 10-4, 9-4 and 10-4, respectively. That’s a model of consistency, and it’s certainly not disastrous. But a program like Nebraska can do better.

Reads like the answer to a bad boyfriend question in an “Ask Ann” column, no? Still, it’s interesting if that’s the perspective of a national writer on the Huskers.

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KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON >>> Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez met with the media on Sunday to relay a “keep calm” message regarding Wisconsin’s search for a head coach.

“Everyone gets anxious, but I said all along that we were going to take our time to get the right guy,” Alvarez told reporters on Sunday. “It’s only been 10 days. I couldn’t hire somebody if I wanted to until the latter part of this coming week, but I feel good about it. I feel good about the due diligence and people that I’ve talked to. I have one more to visit with, and then we’ll sit down and decide on the best person. I feel good about the candidates we’ve interviewed.

“We’re spoiled here because we were probably one of the most stable programs in the country with me being here 16 years and elevating an assistant [Bret Bielema] for seven years. This happens around the country. I’ll hire a good coach. This program will continue being very good. For those that are panicking, don’t panic. We’ll take care of business here and this program will be in excellent hands.”

Oregon State coach Mike Riley was rumored to be interviewing for the job late last week, but later said he would not and had “no interest in Wisconsin.”

MOVEMENT UP FRONT >>> Georgia could have some changes on its offensive line for the Capital One Bowl. OL coach Mike Bobo told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that every position is up for grabs. Strange approach for an offense that is averaging 6.98 yards per play (fourth nationally).

HOOKS ELIMINATES NEBRASKA? >>> It looks like Nebraska may have lost out on JUCO defensive tackle Lavon Hooks. The four-star prospect from Northeast Mississippi Community College visited Lincoln in November but now, according to Washington site RealDawg.com, Hooks is down to just Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Washington.

His final decision could come today.