It should be clear by now that Bill Callahan and Kevin Cosgrove will be Nebraska coaches until at least the end of the season. Callahan isn't going to resign and cost himself $3M. Despite Osborne's slip about a 'new' coaching staff, he has repeatedly stated that there will be no coaching changes during the season. Rumors have died down, but the talk continues about the Cornhusker's next head coach. Fact is, finding our next head coach is not the number one priority. Finding a new athletic director is.
As long as Tom Osborne holds the title "Interim" the program will be considered up in the air. One of two things need to happen within the next month. Osborne needs to officially become the athletic director, losing the "interim" title OR he needs to find his next athletic director by Thanksgiving. (Whether Osborne is the right choice for athletic director is not the subject of this article, but will be covered in a future piece.)
If Osborne officially becomes the AD, he'll need to stick around for a few years after hiring a new head coach to guarantee a new head coach doesn't suffer the same fate as Frank Solich - being fired by a new athletic director after Osborne leaves. If Osborne finds a new athletic director by Thanksgiving, the two can work together to find a new head coach both can agree on.
Who would make a good athletic director? Dave Rimington's name has popped up mostly because everyone knows it. He has a college football award named after him, The Rimington Trophy, given each year to the best college football center. You can't get a much bigger name than that. It's not just about the name, though, it's about the man. Dave Rimington is a class individual. I can't remember a single incident in which Rimington ever embarrassed himself, the University of Nebraska, or the people he's worked for.
Is he qualified to be the athletic director at the University of Nebraska?
Rimington is President of the Boomer Esiason Foundation, a non-profit foundation that focuses on research to cure cystic fibrosis. No doubt he's experienced in fund raising. He's been President of the Foundation since 1995, earning an annual compensation of around $130k. Osborne made a comment during a recent interview (the 'new' coaching staff interview) in which he stated he didn't think he should be paid more than the guy who runs the University of Nebraska. Note that the marketing director of the Esiason Foundation makes around $450k, significantly more than Rimington, perhaps a sign that Rimington fits the same mold.
The Esiason Foundation's revenue in 2006 was approximately $5.5M. The University of Nebraska athletic department budget for 2008 is projected at $66.7M. A popular concept is that being athletic director at Nebraska is like being the CEO of a multi-million dollar company. That's only partially true. It's true in the form of that the athletic director must make critical decisions and must understand the finances of an organization much like a CEO.
Because the primary goal of the athletic department is education you cannot apply the same form of personnel management as you would in a for-profit organization, which is something that caused the demise of Steve Pederson. Rimington's experience in non-profit is of benefit here in terms of recognizing that not everything of value should be traded for cash, but that there is a goal more worthy than sheer profit.
Nebraska's athletic director would be in charge of 230 employees of the athletic department. He'd be responsible for 19 men's and women's athletic programs. Dave Rimington''s experience can't be that deep working for a small non-profit in New York City, but with Tom Osborne working with him, we'd get a feel as to how this could work out.
It's also interesting to note that Rimington worked as a graduate assistant at Wisconsin with Bill Callahan, Kevin Cosgrove, and tight ends coach Joe Rudolph, so he is familiar with them as coaches.
Would Rimington make a great choice as athletic director? There seems to be little to the downside and a lot of potential. I, for one, wouldn't be upset with the choice, but I am glad that someone else gets to make these kinds of decisions.
Dave Rimington, Athletic Director, University of Nebraska. Has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?