Nobody said it would be easy: one of life’s most difficult tasks is trying to turnaround a losing sports program. Just ask Damon Benning.
Since 2005 Omaha Northwest High School has compiled the State of Nebraska’s worst football record in Class A (6 – 58). And while entering his third seasons as the Huskies head man Benning is still looking for his first win. Currently, Benning’s win-loss record stands at 0-18.
Prior to Benning’s arrival, the Huskies were always good enough for at least one win per season and would play competitively enough to pose a real threat of an upset for a couple of other opponents during a given year. But not anymore.
So What’s Going on at Omaha Northwest?
I’ve heard the gambit of explanations for Northwest’s woes: from the program is beyond the capacity to be rejuvenated to Damon Benning is just not the right man to make it happen.
Those believing that the task of revitalizing Northwest football would take a miracle of Biblical proportions, akin to Moses parting the Red Sea, indeed have something to sink their teeth into.
Man, I mean it’s a hell of a problem: an attitude and expectation level that runs deep throughout the fabric of the school and into the neighborhood — it even manages to wrap its defeatist tentacles around the psyche of the city.
As for Damon Benning not being the right man for the job, the one theme that runs persistent when talking to folks that have been around Huskies football is the question:
Is Damon Benning truly committed to Omaha Northwest football or is he more interested in being a broadcast personality?
In short, the overall impression — held by some — seems to be the perception that Benning does not put in the type of herculean effort in focus, time and legwork that’s necessary to successfully turnaround a program in the depressed state that Northwest finds itself. The consensus being (and I concur) that anyone attempting to right the Huskies ship must be a hands-on master architect 100% of the time!
Does Damon Benning Have too Many Irons in the Fire to Successfully Revamp Northwest Football?
The former Husker I-back is one of the best around when it comes to breaking down and analyzing Nebraska football (and/or sports in general) as he routinely showcases during his regular appearances on KOZN 1620 AM The Zone radio show Unsportsmanlike Conduct and through his numerous high school basketball and football television broadcasts.
Listening to Damon on the radio, there is no doubt that he possesses the intellect and the passion for football. But I wonder which is more important for him: being a successful football coach or becoming a thriving sports broadcast personality?
There is wisdom in the saying “you can’t have your cake and eat it too.”
In Benning’s defense I say, “Given the magnitude of the problem at Northwest, even a Tom Osborne in his prime would be hard pressed to do better job than what Damon has accomplished in two years.”
It will take more than just a great football coach to reverse the Huskies fortunes: it will take a master builder who is truly dedicated to the cause.
The three-season evaluation period, an often quoted measuring period for assessing the direction of a program under new leadership, will soon be at hand. Right now It’s anyone’s guess whether or not Benning will notch his first victory by the end of the 2011 season, or more importantly — be viewed as taking the program in the right direction.