The current relationship status of Nebraska Cornhuskers football and fans is... well, it's complicated.
Any new head coach announcement looks like it'll easily creep past the two-month mark since the gig became available. Emotions run from hopeful to apathetic to downright frustrated and angry.
There's nothing wrong with a little healthy speculation. This is supposed to be a time of excitement and renewal. But those intensely following this process — and there are many — need a distraction to break up the boredom.
The result is examining the pros and cons of every and any potential head of the table. Flavors of the week get lifted to savior status before being tossed to the side in favor of someone shiny and new.
Pardon Husker Nation for being on edge. This a nerve-wracking search. One of its kind hasn't been seen in a good six decades. Sure, there's been turnover. But this one has an almost foreign element.
Anyone keeping up with the post-Tom Osborne train wreck knows the names involved: Frank Solich, Bill Callahan, Bo Pelini, Mike Riley, and Scott Frost.
Dig deeper and you'll find five more important names: Bill Byrne, Steve Pederson, Shawn Eichorst, Bill Moos, and even Osborne himself. These are the athletic directors attached to those failed experiments. Well, Byrne was more experiment-adjacent.
He was ready to buckle down and discover The Next Big Thing. But Osborne said Solich had next. Done deal.
Attempting to find multiple qualified candidates and announcing a well-vetted hire hasn't exactly been a hallmark dating back to 2004. Such a process didn't exist between the hiring of a rising star named Bob Devaney and Solich being dismissed. That's roughly 41 years of handpicked succession.
The common theme after Osborne hung up his whistle has been disorganization. From the terribly timed firing of Solich and Pederson's remarkably embarrassing hunt to Moos' lay-up delivery of Frost leading to the quagmire of today.
|Athletic Director||Hire||Tenure Result|
Bob Devaney (1962)
Tom Osborne Hired
Tom Osborne (1973)
Frank Solich Hired
Frank Solich (1998 - Picked by Osborne)
Bill Callahan (2004)
Bo Pelini (2008)
Mike Riley (2015)
Scott Frost (2018)
What trust remains is with current athletic director Trev Alberts. The former Nebraska linebacker made unpopular decisions in the same role at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Like them or not, he's ready to stand behind his choices.
But he has a great deal to offer applicants: the constantly growing war chest filled by donors and Big Ten money, a sparkling nine-figure athletics facility opening next year, and playing in a Power 5 pillow-fight division. In 2023, at least.
Yes, this role comes complete with life in a fishbowl, but fan loyalty can't be questioned. The faithful show up no matter the possible outcome. And despite Nebraska's current relevance or lack thereof, it's still a powerful brand.
A competent coach willing to embrace modern-day college football can quickly revive it. The transfer portal, junior colleges, and NIL deals offer instant solutions for a coach ready to immediately challenge the Big Ten West.
So who's it going to be? Good question. If the call's been made, nobody's talking. And if that person still wears a headset, there might be no news until the Big Red's season wraps up in four weeks.
Let's talk Mickey Joseph. When Alberts laid out his plans in September, he emphasized choosing a leader and the right fit, not winning press conferences. Ironically, Joseph doing exactly that gave him the spotlight he enjoys as interim head coach.
After what seemed like ages of Frost discovering new lows and not taking responsibility or hitting bedrock, an engaging personality was exciting.
It's easy to understand why Joseph is an effective recruiter. He oozes self-confidence and charm. Being himself has a notable slice of Husker Nation ready to invest heavily in him and a handsomely paid staff.
If Nebraska's quarterback situation keeps deteriorating and losses pile up, that luster could fade. Some Big Red backers won't buy into whoever has the title of head coach until wins rack up in every area Frost failed, and that's a hefty list.
Husker fans have memories of past administrative errors in judgment meeting today's lack of information and a rapidly growing need for closure. Then there's worry about more disheartening losses and disappointment with the eventual pick.
So yeah, things are getting tense.
Fortunately, the Powers That Be in Lincoln can now bring on a football coach they're confident in for all the right reasons and vice versa. This just needs to be the best hire since Ray Charles, The Sensations, and Elvis Presley topped the charts.