At first glance, the name Shawn Eichorst doesn't make sense to be Nebraska's next athletic director. He's currently running the show in Miami facing another major NCAA investigation over Nevin Shapiro's claims of providing extra benefits to Miami athletes.
But look again. Eichorst spent just under 18 months in charge of the Miami athletic department. The Shapiro accusations didn't become public until last summer. Eichorst has nothing to do with the situation..and would have had to preside over the scandal and the resulting sanctions. Hard to question why Eichorst would leave South Beach.
But why would Nebraska select Eichorst? He's a rising star, having spent time at South Carolina (as acting AD briefly) and Wisconsin. That Wisconsin connection is probably where Nebraska got the lead on Eichorst. Considering Barry Alvarez's fondness for Nebraska, I'm sure any recommendation from Alvarez was valued very highly.
But won't Eichorst be a natural candidate to replace Alvarez? Perhaps, but Alvarez doesn't appear to be in a hurry to retire. While he's a Wisconsin native, he's not deeply tied to the school. (His background in Wisconsin was at Wisconsin-Whitewater, not in Madison.) The Omaha World-Herald is reporting that Eichorst is commiting to at least five years in Lincoln, for what it's worth.
Shawn Eichorst gets 5-year contract, $973,000 salary. "Substantial financial penalty" if he leaves in 5 years. $750k more if he stays. #fb— World-Herald Big Red (@OWHbigred) October 4, 2012
Why not Eichorst? There aren't any really good answers. Steve Pederson was a Nebraska guy, and we all know how painfully that worked out. Just being a Nebraska guy who knew of Nebraska tradition doesn't mean he actually believed in it. And in Pederson's case, couldn't wait to change it in his own vision. Why not someone from within? The better question is whether gentlemen such as Paul Meyers and Jamie Williams will stay with Nebraska after being passed over for the athletic director's job. Meyers can be extremely valuable to Eichorst in introducing him to the movers and shakers of this state and fan base, but not if he's unhappy about not being the top dog.
I'm sure that's something that Perlman considered, and hopefully came to comfort with. Why so fast, barely a week after the retirement announcement? My opinion, shared by others, is that last week, Perlman felt strongly enough that Eichorst would be the next athletic director that it was time to go ahead and announce Osborne's retirement. Let that news sink in, let the kudos and accolades of Osborne begin flowing. Once that quiets down, then the stage is ready for Eichorst to step in. Perlman didn't want this search to be Pederson-esque in it's futility, so he wanted to keep the announced search period short. If Perlman hadn't decided on Eichorst last week, we probably wouldn't have had a press conference last week. Nothing pushed Osborne to retire on January 1st, and in fact, probably would have stayed on as long as necessary for Perlman to finish his search.
Is Eichorst the right guy? We won't know for a couple of years, to tell you the truth. Pederson had super-high approval ratings in 2003; he did everything right until word started to leak out about his plans to fire Frank Solich. Then it all spun out of control from there.
He comes recommended by a great Nebraska alum. We have to take that for what it's worth.