Before we get into it, don’t forget we had two posts today! Our Friday toilet reading:
After the game this past Saturday, there was something weird in the air. The October 1st date was well known by everyone, but something was wrong. We had just lost to a team we paid 1.4 million dollars to come play us, and our season seemed lost before September was even over.
You’ve heard people say “Trev Alberts decision wasn’t made because of the loss to Georgia Southern, it was made due to things that led up to that the past 6 months.” I partially agree, but definitely disagree that the game against the Eagles and our record didn’t have a lot to do with it. We were 3-5 in 2020, 3-9 in 2021, and we started 1-2 in 2022 where everyone said the easiest part of the schedule was the beginning. Our record had a lot to do with Trev’s decision. Further, you have Big Noon Kickoff coming to town this week, and what would Trev like the narrative to be? How is Frost going to turn this around? Or how are we going to move forward? This is a chance for our AD to highlight all of the positives Nebraska has, our new facility being built, our fanbase, our rich tradition, etc. Again, control the narrative.
But let’s go back to the comments made about “this decision was made due to events long before the Georgia Southern game.” If you read the “how did we get here section” from my links, you’ll see that I got kicked off another message board because a moderator and a handful of others didn’t like that I was pointing out things we needed to do better or that were problems with our program and/or leadership. Further, if we didn’t clean them up we were going to be in big trouble. While I didn’t think it would be THIS bad, I knew we wouldn’t get to our goal of winning the west and getting to a conference title game. You see, one of the things I don’t like about what’s going to go on the next weeks and months, is people are going to start coming out of the woodworks with things they know. I alluded to things back then that are now coming to light from other radio hosts, but never went too detailed. I was always pressed on that, and could have went further with some of the examples coming out now, but why bury a guy that was leading our current team?
One example is the fact that I told people our communication was awful with recruits, specifically in-state guys. I took it further and said that head coaches of out of state schools were talking to our in-state guys months before they even had any correspondence with our staff. Then we would inevitably get a commitment from some in-state guy that was coming to Nebraska no matter what and the response is “guess the communication wasn’t bad with him, huh?!” And I think that was a crux of some of the problems, our staff was filled with people that didn’t challenge what was going on, and they let it slip while failing to acknowledge that things needed to change. Why tell him it needed to? They were 13-0 doing what they did at UCF.
A huge problem was we had a bunch of guys that came in to coach with Frost because they were his friend. I wouldn’t say they were “yes men”, but they certainly didn’t challenge what was going on. I still remember an assistant saying “if he was from Florida he would have an offer right now.” There was just disconnect, and our assistants were constantly playing catch up because an Omaha kid had already talked to Matt Campbell or Kirk Ferentz for months before even hearing from our head coach. When all of a sudden the assistants changed, and outside guys came in like Joseph, Busch, Applewhite, and Whipple, now that buffer of what was going on was gone. Rumors and things that Alberts was told were going on were validated, and when he thought those things could be a reason for what we were seeing for on the field results, it was time to pay attention to the scores on Saturdays.
So now he had been made aware of what was going on (and I just gave one example, there’s so many), and we start out losing in Ireland. We are tied with North Dakota at half, tied in the 3rd quarter, sneak out a victory. Then lose to a Go5 team, all of those things that Trev saw as deficiencies that could be leading to this were confirmed. So that is where you get the “things from the past 6 months led to this” narrative. That’s fair, but us losing too much due to those things were also a factor.
And i’d also like to bring up something Sam McKewon pointed out today, and that’s the fact that Bill Moos did Frost no favors. When Frost was hired here, he wanted an AD that was going to give him what he wanted and stay out of his way. But looking back, he needed more help and more guide rails to keep him on track. Moos was not the guy that was going to say “hey maybe it’s best if you beat your assistants here.” He wasn’t going to ask Frost “what’s going on in-state recruiting-wise and how can we turn it around?” He was going to let Frost do it his way. McKewon referenced the Maurice Washington situation, and the fact that when that case came down on MW, at B1G media days Frost was asked about it and he said “we are still deciding what to do there”. As SM said, that decision should have been taken out of his hands. You find a way to play without him. You are having Frost send one of his lawyer buddies to help the kid and having Frost decide when or if he should play? There are some things where adults just need to step in.
And i’ve got Maurice Washington stories for days. How about when he was hiding from one of the coaches that was trying to find him for meetings, only to play that Saturday. That’s what gets you distrust amongst the team… the scholarship player or walk-on doing everything right sees you giving favoritism to the guy doing most things wrong and playing him and they say “what’s the point?” And that’s what Alberts is talking about with being a leader of young men and accountability.
Sticking with accountability… how about all of the people who said Riley culture and losing was a reason Frost was having trouble? You sure about that? We actually had 9 wins in Frost’s first 2 seasons with that terrible culture, compared to 7 the last 2.5 seasons. If you thought that was a problem for Frost, the next coach is in big trouble:
Again, no accountability, we just threw that out there about Riley being awful because no one would be able to quantify it was wrong. But the fact is no one was speaking that in 2018 or 2019, in 2022 and year 5 players are actually saying “we have a losing culture”. That’s tough for the coach in 2023.
Last thing on accountability… it started early here. Remember when we sent 2 kids to the hospital with rhabdo, and the response from our staff was “that’s just how out of shape they were”? That doesn’t do anything to build respect with your team. I’d actually argue that it gets them less likely to follow you. The Oregon coach was suspended without pay when that happened, in Nebraska we celebrated it as we are finally working them the way we need to.
We just had a constant barrage of actions that weren’t acceptable for a Power 5 coach and excuses to get the heat off. Scott Frost got more than enough time to right the ship. As a fan now, it’s frustrating to me because 2022 is gone. And if you get someone like Bill O’Brien here, 2023 he will talk about how he’s still building a roster and needing his guys. So we are 2024 away from getting where we want to be.
Nebraska completely squandered the B1G West opportunity we had to win a title. I mentioned it with Bo, it carried through to Riley, and Frost just detonated a nuclear warhead to it. In 2012 Penn State and Ohio State were on probation, we played Wisconsin who was 7-5 and third in the east and lost. The west had not great coaches, and we just couldn’t get it done. We couldn’t figure out how to get to more than 1 conference title game since coming to this conference. Now Minnesota has Fleck, Wisconsin has Chryst, Purdue has Brohm, and we are bringing in USC and UCLA. It won’t get any easier from here on out.
But allow us to do what Trev said and look forward:
Where do we go from here?
I’ve had so many moronic Iowa State and Kansas State fans say how we are not attractive anymore and with the expansion of the CFP it makes it so Big12 is relevant. I made a tweet about this, but I promise you that Oklahoma and Texas aren’t leaving the Big12 because they think it’s relevant. USC and UCLAs administrators didn’t vote to leave the conference because they thought things were stable. Nebraska is in an unreal spot because we are in the B1G, pour the most resources into our program out of any team in our division, and we are still nationally known.
I also made mention that we have made so many hires this century that literally anyone that is feasible has a “like” coach that didn’t work here. Campbell is compared to Riley as if there isn’t 25 years of difference between them and Campbell isn’t 2.5 hours away right now. Chadwell at Coastal Carolina is compared to Frost as a guy that is a Go5 coach that may not work at a Power 5 school.
Every coach is different, and I like what Trev is doing with setting what our values are and who coincides with them. But the key is going to be a program builder and developer. Again, from the last message board that kicked me off, I made mention how awful our strength and conditioning was. Pretty much no one does what we do anymore, and the culmination of that for me was the fact that a masters strength class started out the introduction to the entire course by talking about how you have to innovate and adapt with the times. “Nebraska strength program was innovative and people were trying to catch up in the 80s and 90s, they couldn’t and it resulted in multiple championships for the Huskers. But if you just stick with your old ways and think that was right while neglecting the advancements and studies that have been done, you end up with what Nebraska football is today.” I have the video if anyone doesn’t believe me. We went from S&C pioneers, to the laughing stock 30 years later, all because we are doing the same stuff. Again, that was a course anyone in the nation could take, and that’s how they started it, the football team I know and love as a reference point of what not to be doing.
And it makes sense when you start thinking about it. How come every year we rely on first year players to help us? Think about it this year… Thompson, Palmer, Grant, Allen, Garcia-Castenada, Washington, that’s basically our entire production, first year guys. Defensively Drew, Wynn, Mathis, Hill, we are starting first year players nearly everywhere. And the reason we are having to do that is because the guys that have been around for a while seemingly get worse. Just look at our OL where we start guys that have been here for multiple offseasons… Benhart looks worse, Prochazka gets hurt all the time, Corcoran looks worse, Piper started a game or two as an athletic and big freshman now nowhere to be found.
And to pile on for the last time, i’m not sure i’ve seen a more out of shape team that gets pushed around on both sides of the line of scrimmage than 2022 Nebraska. And that’s where Trev is going from a developmental standpoint, we can’t continually bring in 4 star linemen and have our line look the way it does. Not in year 5 of the weight program. If it takes 6 years to get results from what we do in the offseason we better hope for another Covid year so we can have players that long.
Now some of that is recruiting, and that goes with being a program builder. Along the OL and DL we’ve basically whiffed on 2 straight recruiting classes. And while we haven’t whiffed on the skill positions, all 5 starters on offense (QB, RB, WR, WR, WR) are first year guys. The one guy who isn’t is Vokolek who is injured all of the time. I just get sick of seeing our most explosive players be Wandale Robinson, Samari Toure, and all of these guys that haven’t been slowed down by how we do things.
How to build in the transfer portal era:
I had an interesting conversation with Damon Benning the other day and he was talking on his radio show about how Nebraska used the transfer portal to fill gaps but we had no foundation or identity, so things crumbled. Someone inevitably asked him how Mel Tucker was able to bring in 20 transfer portal guys and it works for him.
“His values and what he believes in never waivered. He had some misses with guys, but they were gone in a hurry. If you are unsure like we were, the portal can be a disaster. Mel Tucker knows what he’s going for.”
I brought this up on that message board I was kicked off of, but if you don’t embrace the transfer portal, you will be screwed because it’s here to stay. I said it’s a negative right now for Nebraska, as we lost our best offensive player to the portal the last 3 years (Spielman, Robinson, Martinez). You lose guys like Rogers, that can’t happen. The portal needs to be a positive. How can we get more Toure, Palmers, etc. and have less Robinson’s transfer out?
Further, you can’t sit here and tell me culture is awful for you when we have the portal. Get rid of it instantly. The portal can make it so guys can leave and be eligible immediately. The new coach is going to have his work cut out for him at certain positions such as OL and DL to completely change that room. But it can be done in a hurry.
My Hot List If I Were Hiring of feasible candidates:
Matt Campbell – I know a lot of people don’t like him, but he’s young, he’s familiar with this geography, has a conference title appearance in the Big12, but most importantly he doesn’t need top of the line recruits to win. We will never be able to outrecruit USC or Ohio State, but Campbell had his Iowa State team play within a touchdown of Clemson. They played 2 top 10 teams in 2020 and lost by a total of 9 points. For this hire I would definitely want an 8-4 or 9-3 type year for the Nebraska fans to get behind it. I truly don’t understand the Riley comparisons, he’s 42 and just got an extension and raise. Mike Riley was almost 70 and getting fired.
Kyle Wittingham – The Utah head coach has a team that always plays hard and the way I would love for Nebraska to play. He’s a bit older, and one of Trev’s points he made was being able to keep up with what the new age college player takes pride in like NIL.
Chris Klieman – Won multiple national titles at North Dakota State and is currently at Kansas State where he’s rebuilding. Klieman has less of a track record in FBS compared to Campbell, so like Campbell I would like to see an 8 or 9 win season to really get on board.
Matt Rhule – This would require him flunking out of the NFL first. But what he did at Temple and then Baylor during rape culture is really impressive. It’s just one of those things on if he wants back to college.
Bill O’Brien – Currently the offensive coordinator at Bama. My hesitation with him is I feel like he needs elite players to do what he wants to do. We will never get Texans and Alabama caliber players. But it’s tough to ignore what he did at Penn State.
Sam Pittman – The Arkansas coach is doing a really great job, my only concern is his age and if we could actually lure him since he is making good money there.
Dave Aranda – Has only been a head coach for a couple years but won a conference title year 2 and has helped Baylor get back on their feet. My hesitation here is the lack of experience.
That’s where i’m at with my coaching wants in order right now. As i’ve said before, this season is going to dictate a lot for Trev. For example, if Matt Campbell goes 5-7 that’s tough to hire him. If we are in on him early and he goes 10-2 all of a sudden he’s probably one of the hottest commodities out there.
I think we need a younger guy that knows how to build a program. While i’ll agree the ceiling isn’t crazy right now for Campbell, his best years are in front of him compared to a guy like Riley.
And that’s where I wonder about a guy like O’Brien… did he really build anything at Penn State? He was there for two years. I think it’s impressive what he did but I can’t really trust him to build something here.
My absolute most important thing is having P5 head coaching experience, and building a program. Which is why I think Campbell is the top of the list for Alberts.
Names i’ve heard who ain’t getting the job:
Mickey Joseph – Unless he plays for a conference title, he isn’t getting the gig. I think people forget that he has only been an FBS coach for 6 years and it’s only been a position coach. Trev just can’t gamble like that.
Urban Meyer – lol
Mark Stoops – Not happening folks
PJ Fleck – See Mark Stoops
Deion Sanders – The fit is not there at all, and zero FBS experience. Also would actually like to see how he is as a coach without a son playing QB for him
Larry Johnson Sr – 70 years old and has never been a head coach before. No go.
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