By CHUCK SAMPLES
Note: The author is a native of Omaha, Neb.
I couldn’t help but tweet that as Nebraska struggled mightily with Northwestern last weekend. Part of that was NU’s difficulties beating a team it honestly should have had in hand by halftime. Part of that was Saturday’s effort stacked on top of Nebraska’s Swiss cheese impersonation against Ohio State. And part of that was the numbing realization Big Red fans have seen this before and, well, we’re stuck with it. For now.
Seeing that post come down, one of my former work acquaintances said it Nebraska should have never joined the Big Ten. I had to pause on that. Should Nebraska have left the Big 12?
After considering, I still believe it was a good move — for the entire university.
My thoughts haven’t changed on that since the discussions really ramped up, and most of the arguments have already been hashed out by more educated folks so I won’t revisit them here. Athletically, NU has held its own in many sports. It has been a power in volleyball and continued its recent run of success in women’s basketball. Both gymnastics teams will be national factors regardless of the conference and baseball made strides in restoring its glory days under first-year coach Darin Erstad. The jury is obviously out on men’s hoops with the hire of a new coach.
Which leaves football.
Sad to say, but success everywhere else at a university doesn’t mean diddly if the football team isn’t reaching expectations. And that’s where Nebraska is now: tantalizing with its talent, frustrating with its execution. In short, falling short of expectations. Granted, Nebraska wasn’t really built offensively or defensively to be an immediate fit in the B1G. But with the results the past two seasons and some of the ongoing issues really in all phases of the game — offense, defense, special teams, planning, in-game adjustments — I find it hard to believe Nebraska in its current construct would be a powerhouse in any of the major conferences.
Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst now has to decide whether to stay the course or to start writing up some job postings. If Nebraska wins out and, perhaps more importantly, plays relatively mistake-free football, it’s a no-brainer. Continued sloppy play or a 2-3 record or worse in this stretch to close the regular season and Career Builder may be getting a call.
Follow Chuck Samples on Twitter: www.twitter.com/chucksamples