What i’m hearing about Mickey, Rhule vs. Fickell, negativity moving forward, and the new hires

Can you give us one more year Coach Joseph?!

Here’s what i’m hearing… MJ is trying to capitalize on the fact that he got us a win against Iowa and kept this team together. I’ve heard he’s asking for 7 figures and a 3 year deal. I tried googling things but that would make him the highest paid assistant (non coordinator) in the country. Do I think he’s the best assistant in the country? Probably not. Do I think we should pay him that and give him the extra year most assistants don’t get? Absolutely.

We’ve got one problem though. Alberts’ frugal investment in Rhule blew up a bit when we had to give him “fair market value” to coach, and all of a sudden ballooned to a 9 million dollar deal. So Trev is already feeling the strain (Bob Diaco) of the financials. Further, Wisconsin just got a guy for 6 million that is every bit as good of a hire as Rhule (more on that later). Now he’s going to have to pay a non-coordinator 7 figures? We should, but will Trev do it?

Mickey staying on staff would go such a long ways that I think Trev has to nut up here. It would keep our recruiting class mostly together, he can give precious intel to Rhule about who needs to stay and who needs to go on the roster while giving a sense of famililarity to the players, and the biggest piece in my opinion is keeping the portion of the fan base who wanted Joseph as head coach engaged and happy. Pay that dude his money.

Rhule V Fickell

If you read most of my previous posts, you know I held Rhule in high regard and had him on my top tier. I think we knocked this one out of the park. I had Fickell a tier below Rhule only for the fact that I didn’t believe he wanted to come here. If there was a chance he would have chose Nebraska, him and Rhule are on the same tier all day every day. I really like what Fickell did at Cincy, it’s tough to ignore going to the playoffs. But he also has no full-time head coaching experience in Power5 and took over a team that won the conference title 3 years before he got there. The cupboard wasn’t bare.

This is in no way bashing or downplaying what he did. That is an unreal hire for Wisconsin and they won a conference title a few years ago while mostly battling for supremacy in the west many years (save the last couple). The fit is just there for Fickell, the rebuild isn’t as steep.

Conversely, Matt Rhule steps into a situation at Nebraska where we haven’t had a winning season since 2016. We haven’t played for a conference title in a decade. This thing needs to be torn down and built back up. He has experience that quite frankly other coaches don’t in dealing with our current situation. And that’s why I think both teams got perfect fits for what they were needing.

The negativity

Look… since 2020 during a Covid year where we got hit with NCAA violations for practicing when others weren’t and still couldn’t finish with an above .500 record while people said Covid year deserves a reset. Then in 2021 when we have a 4 year starter coming back at QB and still can’t have a winning record. Then in 2022 firing our coach after week 2 and not even letting me enjoy this season of college football… Forgive me if i’m going to look at the positives and try to enjoy 2023 and 2024 for the Nebraska football team.

I freaking know he didn’t beat a ranked team at Baylor. Do you know that no Power 5 coach had ever gone from 11 losses to 11 wins in 2 seasons or less before him? I freaking know he hasn’t been places too long and he may bolt if things go well here. Do you know that if he bolts because things are going well here that means things are finally going well here?

Look, there’s going to be things that are great about this hire and things that aren’t great. Even Luke Fickell doesn’t check the box of Power 5 coaching experience, but that’s a great hire for Wisconsin. I have no time for trying to be pulled into a direction of not being happy with where we are going in 2023 and beyond so while i’ll give opinions on why things could be an issue, i’m not going to be worried about anything until I see things unfold on the field.

The New Hires

As we discussed in our previous post, the corners coach that he had at Baylor and followed him to Carolina will make his way to Lincoln. I don’t know enough about any of these guys yet, but what does excite me is this leaves room for Busch to stay on as safeties and/or special teams coach. We will see what happens there.

Corey Campbell is coming over from Carolina, and i’m not sure if he’s full time strength coach replacing Duval or in some other capacity. TBD on him but for those of you that know me, i’ll be diving deep into this one.

Lastly, he is bringing over Knighton who was the assistant DL coach for the Panthers. I’d be curious what capacity we have him here, and people need to remember if we go 3-4 Rhule had a DL coach and a DEs/OLB coach. Knighton was a college coach at Wagner who I faded nearly this entire season for gambling purposes (not sure the relevance just funny to type out), but again i’ll be watching closely to see in what capacity he is inserted. If full-time, might be a little Raiola-ish (again, speculating and don’t know a ton yet there).

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13 thoughts on “What i’m hearing about Mickey, Rhule vs. Fickell, negativity moving forward, and the new hires

  1. Good for MJ trying capitalize on the job he and his team did of keeping the squad together, playing hard, and finishing the season on a high note! The price seems steep, and I wonder how that would go (paying him that amount, then you have the Offensive coord and D coord to pay also???). Hopefully it works out that he can stay, but if not, I have no doubt he will land on his feet somewhere. I am partial to having him at NU…maybe because of his link to the past being former player, etc, etc, but we have seen how things like this have worked out in the past….if Rhule decides its better to not have him hear, I am on board with that too. I am already hearing grumblings about his staff…I would think if we trust he man enough to pay him what we are going to pay him, then I surely trust his judgement on assistants…its going to be a fun offseason!

  2. Really excited to have someone who will work their rear off for this program. Once its rolling he might stay. No matter what we have an adult in the driver seat.

  3. Feels good to have an adult and not a man-child leading the program. Appreciate your work predicting and covering this SSO. I have heard MJ doesn’t think he’ll be sticking around, but I hope that is incorrect. I hate having to talk financials regarding our staff. As long as football remains the cash cow it is, pay the money, and the wins will more than pay for the cost of talented coaches. What I don’t want is overpaying for mediocre coaches because they’re boys with the coach. If they’re worth it, and Mickey is, cut the damn check. Can’t wait to win a Natty in 2025!

  4. Make MJ the co-offence coordinator?
    I don’t like MR hiring all his old ass. I think there is value in searching outside of you group for coaches. Look at when BO was looking for other coaches, found Warren who is a great coach. Look at Riley, found Keith Williams, great coach. Look when frost searched for new coaches, found Tutiu, Whipple, Jospehe, Applewhite, all upgrades.

    1. I think he is going to get 3 or 4 guys from all over but have his core 6 or 7 guys with him that helped him at Baylor. I think you make Mickey WR coach, associate head coach, and recruiting coordinator.

  5. Yeah I find it interesting that some people have such a one-track mind on who the coach should’ve been. When I saw Fickell get the Wiscy job, I knew there would be people coming out of the woodwork complaining that we couldn’t get Fickell that’s why we have Rhule, or they got the better coach, etc.

    I mean can you not say both teams got good coaches? Rhule was at the top of my list, but if we got Fickell or Klieman or Doeren, I’d be like OK those are pretty good hires too. Hard to really tell what the fan majority is. The ‘vocal minority’ rule probably comes into play a lot on message boards.

    I won’t be too upset if he brings most of his prior guys, they’ve seemed to work for him, but would like to see targeting some higher-level guys from other schools.

    I would like to see Joseph retained, but understand and won’t be bothered either way. With him trying to get coordinator level money, hope it’s won’t become a power struggle in the locker room feeling. I don’t think it would be, I know he took on more responsibility as interim HC, just seems a little weird to me to be seeking that level money when you’ve never actually been a coordinator anywhere outside of the temporary coaching gig he just did.

  6. Agree. Pay Mickey the money. Absolutely earned it. Benning just a bit ago said he’s optimistic so I hope they get it done.

    Loved the presser from Rhule. Unless he’s a great con man it would seem he genuinely wants to be at Nebraska. Get the staff right and I am optimistic.

    1. I’ve been very optimistic since we hired Rhule we would keep him. Some local media guys seem to be a bit more negative and are saying it won’t happen. I think it would be great for Rhule to keep him.

      Rhule is going to win the presser all day everyday. Let’s see what staff he assembles and what he does to the roster.

  7. So we are willing to pay Rhule just over 9 million a year but can only give 7 million for 10 assistants. Honestly adding in another 1.0 to 1.5 million for assistants shouldn’t be a big deal. Either you are all in or you’re not. NU needs experienced P5 Assistants because things are going to get much tougher in 2024 when UCLA and USC arrive. If you have to pay MJ 1.1 million a year to keep him for 3 years then do it. Make him AHC, Recruiting Coordinator and Receiver’s Coach. From all accounts MJ is a hard ass (in a good way) just like Rhule. Also I would keep Busch on as Special Teams coach and for his recruiting abilities.

    1. I mean, we have a top assistant salary pool in the B1G tying Michigan so it’s not like we are being cheap with the 7 million. At some point it gets to be too much. Think about it this way, they are going to need to pay that DL coach from A&M 1.5 as well if we get him up here so all of a sudden you are at 5.5 with 4 assistants and 6 more to hire.

  8. This is no doubt a snarky comment, but Ron Brown has been associated with the Nebraska football program WAY too long. The ROI isn’t there. Clean house Matt.

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