First, my apologies on the absence. It got difficult to continue to write things when people you had relationships with were in a bit of flux and turmoil. Frankly anything I wrote would have been a guess anyway as I was just assuming how Busch would change the defense or how Whipple would do things offensively. Anyway, let’s get into it.
I wanted to go over this before the coaching search gets finalized in the next 30 days, as I made a tweet that threw some people off and I want to clarify it as well as state where we are.
People were confused by that, they said “a head coach should have people around him taking care of that stuff” and other responses of that nature. Allow me to expand… you see, Nebraska was and for the most part still is a bit lost when it comes to NIL. Remember how the entire narrative of our fan base and even media members was that Nebraska would be a top NIL destination? How much it would help us? We weren’t even close to any of that, and Nebraska may not have even been a top 25 team for NIL the first year it could be utilized for college athletes.
I can feel people disagreeing and fuming reading that, but sometimes facts hurt. I’ll expand… According to Rivals and their 2022 recruiting rankings, Nebraska finished the worst it has ever finished in terms of nationally (41st), Big Ten Ranking (10th), and average star ranking in the Big Ten (7th). That’s right, teams like Michigan State, Iowa, and Indiana were beating us in terms of quality of recruit. Even teams like Rutgers, Maryland, and Purdue were ahead of Nebraska when it came to overall class (though we all know that was due to quantity of recruits). If we are so awesome at NIL, why were we the worst recruiting class this century according to Rivals?
To finalize the point here, Texas A&M went on to spend close to 35 million dollars in NIL money for their recruiting class, and ended up with the #1 class ahead of Alabama, Georgia, and Ohio State both in overall class and average stars per recruit. I had told people that we weren’t where we needed to be, we weren’t ready and couldn’t compete with some SEC trust fund baby blowing his net worth to get a recruit, and if 2022 recruiting classes proved anything it is that that was completely correct.
But why did it end up that way? First, we had a collective that basically was just formed by the best friend of the head coach who was being removed from his position anyway. We didn’t know how or what to do, and you saw that with the first things coming out being a lot of our guys tweeting about eating at Runza or other local establishments. ABM was just trying to grab partnerships with local businesses and taking care of financial things for the players. They weren’t necessarily getting a pool of money together at first (more on that later).
The second part of why we were lost and weren’t ready wasn’t really our fault, it was more of what it shifted into. You see, for all of Frost and his staffs flaws, they were trying to play the game the right way and how NIL was intended in my opinion. Come here to Nebraska and businesses will be lining up to sponsor you. Come here and Rivals will give you a weekly radio show. Things like that. What we failed to realize is what teams like A&M were doing, sign on the dotted line, tweet one thing and this bag of money is yours. Now, I won’t go into how much of those figures are legitimate or not, I just need everyone to understand we weren’t ready and the recruiting rankings prove that.
So Nebraska figures out that is how the game is going to be played after getting their worst recruiting class in a decade and goes into scramble mode. When we realize we can pay players, we all of a sudden get Ochaun Mathis and Casey Thompson (amongst others) to come here with payments and land a top 10 transfer portal class in all of college football:
The problem is, we actually ran out of money. You read that right. You see, the University can’t just have a pot of money sitting there to pay players, that’s illegal, even though that’s absolutely what is happening we are just using a third party. You have to have these collectives, and ours hadn’t been pooling any money together, ABM was still trying to find its way and was just trying to get heating and cooling companies to let guys do a commercial for them. To further complicate things, we were building a new facility and Matt Davison this spring stated “it is really tough to ask boosters for money for a new facility and simultaneously ask for money for NIL, many times we had to choose.” That’s verbatim. If you remember, the facility was on schedule for build, but we were behind schedule for donations. So we were having to split up our resources a bit, while teams like A&M were spending 35 million on a single recruiting class and pooling together 200 million for new facilities which includes a new indoor practice area for their football team:
We just weren’t ready. And for those of you still saying “well our decrease in recruiting rankings was due to on the field performance” then you are either conceding that NIL isn’t as big of an impact, or tell me why our transfer portal was so good according to 247 sports if wins/losses mattered. NIL does matter, we just weren’t ready.
Allow me to circle back to the original tweet… all of what I just said let’s me know we still don’t quite get it. We are making some of the right moves, but we need a head coach to say “this is how the collective worked/works for us now and this is what I need from them.” Our athletic department that already failed at it once doesn’t need to say “we will take care of it for you” they need to say “how were you successful where you were previously” and have the blueprint laid out for them. They need a guy they trust to be the intermediary between the HC and Matt Davison, “this is how much we think we will need” or “here is who is on our board that we are needing resources for.” But how it is ran and what we raise money for needs to be dictated by the CEO of our football program, the head coach.
The great news in my opinion is the groundwork is already being laid before the blueprint is even printed based on who the coach is. Matt Davison has shifted from his associate AD role to heading up the main collective for the University, 1890 Collective. It is backed by the heaviest of hitters/donors for our football program and in my opinion it will be the key cog for trying to get us back into the top 15/25 for NIL destinations. I also need to point out former Husker and successful entrepreneur Kris Brown and his Big Red Collaborative will work hard in Omaha to get things going as well. But back to Davison, I know he has somewhat of a negative perception and I do think he could have helped shield or guide Frost a bit more in his time here, but I think there’s no denying that he is very good at getting people to donate their money to the cause. Having him as a face with war stories of the 90s and his ESPY while having some insight to keep people interested will go a long way. We are just a year or two behind others.
The long and short of it, is we are in a better place now. While the narrative was we needed to tear things down to build a strong foundation in the first years of Frost that faltered, that is the narrative now with NIL and I believe we will be better for this in the long run. All we need now is the coach to tell us how he wishes to see it unfold and what he needs.
I’ll try to get out my coaching search thoughts next week but it’s been a wild month or s
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