There’s been some dialogue on Twitter in regard to what people want in the new head coach and how it could possibly mirror what Trev Alberts is looking for. I dive into a little bit of what I think Nebraska needs to get back to where everyone wants us to be.
1 – Head Coaching Experience at the P5 Level
The first is pretty simple, we need someone that has done it before and not just watched it as an assistant. The examples are pretty few and far between for coaches that have had success without any head coaching experience, and on top of that with where Nebraska is right now being the only team who hasn’t reached a bowl since 2017 we need someone who has been there and done that in my opinion.
2 – Power 5 Head Coaching Success
This one gets a little subjective because it depends on how you reading this defines success. For me, I look at 8/9 wins and/or division/conference titles. Bielema has done this, Deboer at Washington is on his way to doing this, Klieman has two 8 win seasons and is staring at possibly another one this year, can Leipold get there this year? And maybe this is just me being paranoid of what happened with Frost at UCF. I haven’t met really anyone that thought he was the wrong hire. Maybe you had reservations about it, but the dude took a team to 13-0 and was an alum. Which takes me to my next point.
3 – Success at multiple FBS spots
This is probably me having PTSD with Frost, but I would prefer to see someone who has proved it multiple places. We have heard the term “lightning in a bottle” with what happened down in Orlando in 2017, and when you look at the fact that Frost only has one winning season (2017) out of 7 tries, I think we need more of a track record. In my opinion, there takes some form of luck to go undefeated, but can you replicate that “luck” which means creating good fortune for your teams with great habits and coaching. Rhule did it at Temple and Baylor. Bielema has done it so far at Wisconsin and is showing it a bit at Illinois. DeBoer did it at Fresno State and is doing it at Washington.
4 – Talent Development
One of the things that I think every Nebraska fan needs to realize, is that we were getting the right recruits in but we just weren’t developing them. And quite frankly we are actually seeing a bit of development this year just from doing some live practices and trying to get some younger kids in when situations present themselves. But the other things we have to come to grips with is we are never going to recruit like Ohio State, even Michigan/Penn State may be tough to catch up with. We can outrecruit everyone in our division but will that even matter a couple years from now when the B1G probably doesn’t even have divisions the same way?
There was a great article about Matt Rhule when he was at Temple. He basically said he knew he needed to beat Penn State, but also knew he was never going to get the caliber of recruit the Nittany Lions got. “How are we ever going to beat Penn State if they always get their first pick over us?” So how could he bridge the gap? This article goes pretty in depth into it and it may be multiple toilet breaks to read the whole thing:
I think this goes a lot into what we may need to do at Nebraska. Rhule’s time at Temple where he figured out who to look for and how to develop will help him a ton here. Him moving to Baylor and finding out he can get a better caliber athlete but still may be playing second fiddle to Texas in the state could be exactly like Nebraska.
The short summary is we have guys that can help in P5 in our state, we just need to develop them. I think Rhule has a track record of that. Bielema is showing he can do that at multiple spots.
5 – NIL and Transfer Portal Experience
I went into this in my “Nebraska and NIL” blog:
I’ve talked to more than one coach that is a bit older but just was so sick of having to deal with recruiting before NIL/Transfer Portal was even a thing. And to further complicate things, as we discussed in the above article, Nebraska is a bit of a mess right now shutting down their main collective and starting two new ones. We are still trying to find our way. A new head coach coming in with experience on how to navigate those waters and just guiding Matt Davison and Kris Brown on what they want will go a long ways. This is where Rhule may fall a bit short in my eyes.
6 – Taking a P5 Program To Another Level
For me, this one is kind of tough to gauge. What I mean by this is making them that much better than they were when he got there. Alberts referenced this in his press conference as a “program builder”. For example, if Leipold continues his trajectory with Kansas he flipped the perception of them for right now. But is that a “lightning in the bottle” type thing? DeBoer probably goes to what people consider success with Washington based on where they were, and is he a one season thing? Rhule definitely flipped the script at Temple AND Baylor, he’s a great candidate for this doing it two different spots. Bielema is doing it at Illinois, but I probably wouldn’t say he changed Wisconsin.
The example i’d give of not being impressed is Bill O’Brien at Penn State. He took over for Joe Paterno who was 8-1 before being let go. Then went 8-4 then 7-5 with an NFL first round draft pick QB. While I do think it’s impressive what he did at Penn State during recruiting sanctions, he didn’t build anything, and that’s what worries me from where Nebraska is that he would be taking over. We need someone to completely overhaul things.
I don’t think we are going to be able to find someone that is going to be homeruns on everything i’ve stated. But I think we can get pretty close to homeruns on 3 or 4 of them for our next head coach. For example, Rhule hits everything but the NIL bucket. Deboer hits everything but P5 success (as of right now, still could end up great). A guy like Campbell may hit 3 or 4 of them depending on what your idea of success is.
For Alberts, he said that head coaching experience was pivotal, and I think we have interest from some people that we won’t have to google to even see how they’ve done lately. If we have to get a guy like Campbell or promote Mickey, I really worry that we didn’t have much interest in our coaching job.
Let’s Talk Mickey Joseph
I’ve heard a lot of clamoring for him, and I think he’s done a very good job with this team. But let’s be real, if we are going to be paying over 5 million dollars for a football coach, I feel like they should at least have some experience in the capacity we are recruiting him for. Illinois and Kansas who are far inferior programs to us got successful head coaches to come lead their programs.
Mickey has some unbelievable qualities. Hell of a recruiter, players play hard for him, and other things like that. But all of those can be done from an assistant position for us. If we just promote Mickey I get pretty worried on just how far we’ve fallen. While I don’t think he would necessarily fail, we just should have better options than someone who is getting their first head coaching job.
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