Who Will Be The New Athletic Director At Nebraska?

Husker Coach Matt Rhule was “shocked” along with the entire fanbase with the announcement of former Huskers Athletic Director Trerv Alberts’ departure. The surprise however does come with the Huskers women’s and men’s basketball teams taking on former Huskers AD Trev Alberts new school in Texas A&M this upcoming weekend in the NCAA basketball tournament, almost as if it was fate.

As for Alberts’ replacement, I do believe he currently resides in the state of Kansas. Both Kansas and Kansas State have made huge strides on the football field these past handful of years, with Kansas State winning the Big 12 in 2022 over CFB playoff participant TCU. Both schools are strong in basketball and well rounded in most other sports. Working with much less as far as faculty, facilities and overall brand than they would get at Nebraska. A smaller budget and less backing from an NIL standpoint. I do believe both Travis Goff of the University of Kansas and Gene Taylor of Kansas State would both be a great fit.

With the college football world slowly gravitating towards two power conferences with the Big 10 and the SEC. AD’s, Schools and coaches alike will all be wanting to accomplish one of two things. Either hitch their wagon to a new school already located in one of the two “super conferences” or try and get their school into that conference. That being said, I do believe pulling an Athletic Director from a Big 12 or ACC school will not be as difficult as some believe. Kansas is much better positioned to end up in the Big 10 if it did come down to such a decision, due to branding and academics. While Kansas State is more likely to get left out of the “super conference” talks.

While I do feel Goff would be a good fit at Nebraska, definitely in my top two. Gene Taylor would be a clear number one target for the University of Nebraska due to his resurrection and continued growth of the football program, basketball program and a seemingly well defined overall vision of Kansas State athletics. Nebraska does not necessarily need a pathfinder but a CEO in the AD spot and Gene Taylor fits that mold.

So as we all buckle up for the “Alberts bowl” this weekend between both Husker mens and womens basketball teams competing against Texas A&M we shall start to hear news of who the new athletic director could be. There will be some big names thrown around, but the state of Kansas may just hold the top two prospects.

 

Dylan Raiola Seamlessly Transitions

 

The news coming out of Lincoln has been much awaited but not as readily available as we would have thought, due to the entire country talking about the true freshman who is favored to start for the Huskers this year. Dylan Raiola, the highest ranked quarterback to ever play a game wearing the block “N”, has not made many waves in the news cycle this offseason since his decommitment from Georgia, and commitment to Nebraska. Many interviews have coaches stating Raiola’s quiet transition into a collegiate quarterback. Bringing up his leadership and work ethic in quotes from Coach Rhule such as “he just works”. This is exactly what is needed from a true freshman stepping into this role surrounded by many veteran players. 

 

Leading a much improved offensive roster with the addition of weapons like the All-ACC’s Jahmal Banks who led Wake Forest in 2023 with 59 receptions for 653 yards and once highly sought after wide receiver from the University of Texas Isaiah Neyor. Adding in the current young crop of receivers already having acquired playing time at Nebraska, this should be a very steady receiving room. Allowing Raiola to play within himself and not have to force the ball downfield to receivers with little to no separation. 

 

Raiola’s “He Just Works” mentality is something that could lend itself to a much needed improvement at the quarterback position in 2024. Finding Raiola in the weightroom, studying film or quietly covered in sweat from head to toe during mat drills may not make news headlines but it shows his want to succeed. The lack of “we” in college football is ever so growing as the want of “I” is taking over in this NIL era. That want of “we” paired with an upgraded receiver room and a very deep running back room will ease the stress on this young quarterback and allow him to grow without the outside pressure that may be put onto him with a less adequate offense. Finally giving a promising quarterback the ability to shine and stay healthy. 

 

From his commitment poem to his actions, Dylan Raiola is coming across as less of an outsider but more of a player who understands the totality of Husker football. The grit the people of Nebraska portray. The heart we put into this program, and what it means to an entire state when it’s thriving. So don’t mistake his quietness for inability. Mental preparedness is best done in silence, and Raiola is preparing for battle. 

Is The Defensive Line The Most Complete Group On The Team?

As we inch closer to spring practice for the 2024 season I sit and think of units that are going to make a difference this season, the defensive line’s potential tends to play on a loop in my head. From the obvious names such as Ty Robinson and Nash Hutmacher to younger potential 2024 impact players like Princewill Umanmielen who had 22 tackles last year and only started 1 game to Cam Leindhart who racked up 3 sacks last year as a true freshman but showed a massive upside. Let’s take a look at this group and see where they may stack up in 2024. 

 

In this new look Big 10 adding teams like Oregon, Washington and USC or even new coaches such as Wisconsin’s Luke Fickell we may see less of the abusive ground and pound game that we have become accustomed to. Don’t get me wrong, it will still be a big part of some Big 10 teams, but now not only will Nebraska need big bodies to take up blockers and let linebackers make the play. We now will need guys who can pressure the quarterback into making mistakes and to help turn the tide in Nebraska’s 3 point loss imprecation and I do believe this year Nebraska has just the pieces to do so.

 

The big man duo of Nash Hutmacher and Ty Robinson is a great place to start. Nash participating in wrestling this winter means that he will come back a bit lighter and faster than last year and will also have better handwork and leverage, which as a defensive lineman is indispensable. Not only now possessing the ability to take on blockers and help shut down the run game but also being able to get after the quarterback in passing situations with a faster first step. Pairing Nash’s improved attributes with Ty Robinsons’ much improved 2023 season and the ability for Elijah Jeudy to rotate in keeping them fresh, we will have two of the best interior defensive linemen in the Big Ten.

 

Princewill U and Cam Leindhart will be our key pieces on the edge. There were way too many opportunities for quarterbacks to sit back in passing situations in 2023 and take their shot downfield. With Princewill and Cam both having a year of playtime under their belt, that aforementioned pocket may start to collapse at a pace that opponents quarterbacks are no longer comfortable with. Throwing in MJ Sherman, Jimari Butler, and third down specialist and possible 2024 diamond in the rough James Williams will help round out the deepest and most effective defensive line the Huskers have seen in a decade. From pressuring the quarterback to stopping the run this 2024 husker defensive line seemingly has all of the needed pieces. Can they top what we saw in 2023? I do believe so. 

Vegas Odds Makers Say Husker Will Go 7-5

From 5-7 to 7-5 doesn’t seem like much of a jump, but for Husker faithful a bowl game and a winning record would be wondrous.  Taking a look at Vegas’s most recent over/under on Nebraskas’ 2024 win total (7.5) actually surprised me a bit. Stating that they think we will win 7 games in 2024 with the recent history of being the longest running power 5 school without making a bowl game and a freshman quarterback is in itself a bold statement. There is an old saying that the past is the best way to see the future, well it looks like the odds makers feel that Rhule and company may just be the ones to prove that statement wrong. 

Looking ahead at the schedule in a way in which we will not be able to fully grasp the scope of how each team will look this fall, but taking a look at where they sit now leaves Nebraskas’ ability to hit the 7 win mark very promising this upcoming season. Leaving out speculation of Rhule’s ability to make a massive year 2 jump, and just using a statistical breakdown, this is what the outcome for the Huskers in 2024 looks like.

Ratings by the numbers gives Nebraska 4 games with a 80-100% win probability. Those games are UTEP, Northern Iowa, Illinois and Rutgers. I am surprised to see Rutgers in this mix as they have had steady improvement over the last few years under Head Coach Greg Schiano, but I do think with the uncertainty at QB and lack of depth on both offense and defense as well as the mid-season placement of this game gives Nebraska the decisive advantage in the computers eyes. There is 4 wins with a high level of surety already, leaving the Huskers with the need to only pick up 2 more wins to make a bowl game and 3 more to meet Vegas’s projection. 

Moving on to the games with a slight edge the Cornhuskers see 3 teams pop up. Ratings by the numbers sees Nebraska having a 51-79% chance of beating Purdue, Indiana and one of the new additions to the Big 10, UCLA. I can understand all of these predictions with Purdue finishing 4-8 in 2023, Indiana 3-9 and UCLA’s recent coaching changes. I am however surprised not to see Colorado in this category. Colorado’s biggest advantage over us this coming year is the position on the schedule. I do still believe that they do not have the depth to play a complete season and rely on a few key players that if removed from the situation due to injury or fatigue will be detrimental to the buffalos season. Once again starting hot and finishing not. 

With only 1 game coming in at the lowest win probability, Nebraska’s chances of beating Ohio state come in somewhere between 0 and 30% according to Ratings by the numbers. Leaving Iowa, Wisconsin, USC, and Colorado with a deadlock or a slight advantage. Giving the Huskers a win probability percentage of 31-50% in those games. I do believe however that all 4 of those games are closer to a 50-50 draw than a dismal 31% chance of success. Matt Rhule is a proven commodity in years 2 and 3, However we do not yet know how true freshman Dylan Raiola will respond to such a large stage. Interjecting a bit of personal opinion here in an otherwise very logistical breakdown, I do believe the Huskers will win either Iowa or Wisconsin and Colorado. Giving us possibly and feasibly 9 wins in year 2 of the Matt Rhule era. 

Matt Rhule says “Half the team Grew Up On Husker Football”

In an interview with ESPN earlier this week Cornhusker Head Coach Matt Rhule commented on how half of the current roster “grew up on Husker football” also stating that “all of our guys are Huskers but some of our guys are Cornhuskers”. Stating that it will be a defining factor moving forward. “ They have a deep passion, wanting to be a part of turning it around.”. Leading Cornhusker nation into believing that Rhule clearly understands how much the program means to the state and how much it means to players born and raised watching the action in memorial stadium every Saturday in the fall their whole life. Instilling it’s importance onto them at a young age.
High level collegiate football players, play with a natural edge. They have passion for days, and a drive that leaves most confused. Even amongst their over the top characteristics, a born and raised Husker stands out on the field. From Adam Carriker being born in Hastings, NE to Garett Nelson a Scottsbluff native and so many others to mention, Their passion has shown through on and off the field.
These Huskers’ passion, motivation and understanding is one of the best tools for developing a championship team. Embedding their deep understanding of not the sport but of what it means to all 85,000+ in the stands every Saturday and millions more at home makes the players from instate and out of state alike feel like one big family. Rhule has mentioned many times that he wants to build a team with high school recruits and young transfers and I believe he knows this is the way to ensure that we will not be riddled with holes from the transfer portal like we have seen happen to so many up and coming teams.
Getting players to buy in is something every coach in the country is striving for. Building a family that you will protect at all costs every Saturday has been a goal since football’s debut in 1869. Nebraska has both the tradition and the fanbase to build off from to ensure players are all in on both of those matters. Playing football at the University of Nebraska is not just a stop on your journey, but hopefully one of the defining factors of your success. I do find a lot of similarities between the things that coach Osborne said and what coach Rhule says today and they are both on the same page with this one as well. Husker football operates best as a family, and family starts at home.