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How A New Cornhuskers' Era-Opening Loss Affects Mike Riley’s Recruiting

Mike Riley

Mike Riley

Ah, college football recruiting. There’s nothing quite like it and I mean that. It has the drama of a soap opera, the passion of the game itself and politics that rival anything in Washington D.C.

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I wondered what effect (if any) Nebraska’s loss to BYU would have on a currently solid recruiting class.

My super-duper recruiting database ran a scan before finding Rivals.com's (and HuskerOnline.com contributor) Bryan Munson as just the candidate to answer such queries.

Brandon Cavanaugh: How much of an impact does a win or a loss usually have on a recruit? Do you feel things were different considering this was Mike Riley’s first game as Nebraska’s head coach?

Munson: I have seen it work both ways. I have seen the loss be a turn off for the player as they look for a school option that is a little closer to being ready to contend for titles. On the other hand, I have also heard that the loss demonstrated need to the recruits.

In the end, the vast majority of recruits would prefer a win, but it didn't really matter. They know that the game of football has winners and losers. There are very few Kyler Murray's out there that literally had a perfect record going to college (from Allen, Texas to Texas A&M).

Being that it was Mike Riley's first game does work in the favor of Nebraska somewhat. However, it really comes down to how they lost and how they competed.

BC: Do you feel this loss will be used against Nebraska in recruiting by opposing coaches?

Munson: This loss by Nebraska to BYU doesn't really seem to have upside potential for schools to negatively recruit against Nebraska.

The Huskers lost on a typical low percentage play in a game that the line favored Nebraska, but many pundits picked BYU to beat Nebraska.

To me, the way the Huskers fought to get back into the game only to lose to a Hail Mary pass doesn't present a lot of opportunities to negatively recruit against Nebraska.

BC: What does Nebraska need to underscore with recruits moving forward within the next few weeks considering they don’t have the most daunting non-conference schedule?

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Munson: I actually think that Nebraska's out-of-conference schedule — besides South Alabama — will prove to have been fairly daunting later on in the season. I think that BYU has a number of offensive weapons that will make it difficult for teams to beat them week in and week out.

Miami is always going to be Miami and the Huskers go to South Beach to play against the Hurricanes.

Both BYU and Miami went to bowl games last year (both lost). BYU could definitely finish up being a top-25 team and it's possible that Miami could be, too.


BC: Do you feel Nebraska made progress with any recruits despite the opening day loss?

Munson: First, there is only one, net result of the weekend and it was completely unrelated to Nebraska at all. That result was quarterback Terry Wilson from Oklahoma City (Del City) flipping on his commitment to Nebraska to Oregon.

That seemed destined to happen regardless of the outcome this weekend.

Overall though the feel from the official and unofficial visitors as well as visitors watching from home on TV seemed positive. Nebraska was able to go out and display an improved Tommy Armstrong and put an example out there for players to see.

The concept of the Nebraska offense has been a difficult sell particularly to wide receivers if you asked me. It's tough to say "put in this Oregon State game and then envision that team in red and white." They can now give them film and players to watch.


BC: While it’s a long time until National Signing Day, how do you feel this class will finish in terms of talent and national ranking?

Munson: This class has some incredibly talented and highly ranked players already and the Huskers are in good standing with a number of others. The class size always matters in the overall picture.

You can go out there and have an average star total per recruit close to four and only take 15 guys and not make a blip on the recruiting radar. The perfect combination is class size, the closer to 25 the better, and then a high number of stars per recruit on average.

Nebraska is sitting right at 3.14 stars average per recruit and I would expect that to be about the same at the conclusion of the class. Quickly looking at the 2015 team rankings and the first team to get 3.14 or lower was Mississippi State (3.14 stars) and they finished 16th with 28 total recruits.

I think that the class gets to 23 recruits or so which I think puts Nebraska into the top 30, but a stretch to get them into the top 25.

— Written by Brandon Cavanaugh, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Be sure to follow Brandon on Twitter @eightlaces and Periscope (eightlaces), and like his Facebook page.