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The timing for Rutgers football to go to Nebraska couldn’t be worse

It’s always dangerous to face a wounded animal, and the Cornhuskers are just that

NCAA Football: Arkansas State at Nebraska Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Tell me if these quotes either sound familiar or bring back scary memories:

“....disappeared from the arena like a puff of smoke and put off reporters for 47 days before explaining himself.”

“As sportswriters tallied the carnage and waited for interviews, a surprise guest emerged....[the] Athletic Director”

No, they aren’t talking about Julie Hermann. See, there are other programs that can have bad times, too. But I’ll bet you never expected the program to be Nebraska.

Those quotes are from a story in the Omaha World-Herald, writing about besieged Nebraska athletic director Shawn Eichorst.

As the story explains, Eichorst was hired in 2013 and, in turn, hired Mike Riley in 2014 as the head football coach. The hiring of a head football coach, especially at a place like Nebraska, becomes a referendum on your ability as an AD. That referendum’s results are being tallied, and they don’t look good. From that World-Herald story by Lee Barfknecht:

It was Eichorst, who in less than a week as a one-man search committee in December 2014, hired a football coach with a career .547 winning percentage who was on the hot seat at Oregon State and has never won a championship at the college level.

It was Eichorst who notified Riley in late January of a one-year contract extension, even after NU lost four of the final six games of 2016. Yet Eichorst failed to publicize it. The World-Herald uncovered it last week — two days after a loss to Oregon in which NU trailed by four touchdowns at halftime — creating widespread debate.

The Huskers’ head coach, Mike Riley, is now in his third season in Lincoln. He is 16-13 while roaming the sidelines there. At Nebraska. Bo Pelini was 67-27 in seven seasons there and got fired. Granted, there were some other issues there, but Pelini never won less than nine games. And he was fired.

The Huskers, if nothing else, are demanding.

It seems they are still demanding. They are coming off their second loss of the season, this to the MAC’s Northern Illinois, 21-17. At home. Nebraska has lost six of its last nine games. Barfknecht points out that they have been ugly games, too. The Huskers have fallen behind at halftime in ten of the past 14 games. This is Nebraska we’re talking about.

As in the team Rutgers is playing this week.

Think Nebraska fans are nice? Well, they are, as even their criticisms of Riley and Eichorst are, well, nicely stated. Some examples from the story’s comments:

Yes and thank you, SE [Eichorst] needs to be held accountable....Then hire a real athletic director, and pony up the $6+ million it will cost to get a championship coach to Lincoln. This job has been so diminished since 2003 it will cost at least that. Hopefully fans have realized they've paid top dollar far too often to have crap on the football field.


NOBODY who is any good would come here right now as AD or head coach and listen to you people bitch....just get in some great offensive guys to generate and offense.

It was the hacks at the Omaha World Herald that began to lead the charge for the firing of two 9 win coaches. It is the hacks at the Omaha World that stir the pot constantly to sell papers and web clicks.

Okay, maybe not that nice.

Regardless, Shawn Eichorst is in trouble. And we know that how? The Chancellor at Lincoln recommended that Eichorst and Riley both get one year contract extensions back in August. The University President, however, said let’s wait and revisit the issue in December. That doesn’t sound good for either man.

And they are both hosting Rutgers this Saturday.

Which means both men - and the football team they oversee - are desperate. They need to win.

Just as Rutgers goes into Lincoln.