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CN Roundtable: How Healthy Is The Huskers Athletic Department?

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To start off the season, lets hit up a CN roundtable on Shawn Eichorst's comments on the Nebraska AD.

CN

So, Nebraska athletics is doing well, and that’s from the lips of AD Shawn Eichorst. A $100 million dollar budget and harmony with Bo Pelini seems to be the highlights of his talk with a few media members on Wednesday. What’s your take on Eichorst talking before the season?

Mister Mike: Two Words - "coach speak."  What Eichorst said as it relates to, well, just about everything in the article can be summed up with that phrase.  It’s almost as if he had TO write the responses ahead of time and was standing there looking over his shoulder as he read them.  I don’t take anything from them.  The last thing he’s going to do at this point in the season is give a comment that could be interpreted by the readers as "controversial."

Cobcast Ryan: What’s he supposed to say, "Our Program is in the shitter."? Plus I’m team sunshine. I think Bo’s doing great so I’m with him, and full disclosure, athletics only means football (and maybe Nebrasketball) to me.

Derek: Eichorst is a methodical dude, so I wasn’t surprised by his stance on all things Nebraska. Even if he actually thinks otherwise, this would be one of the worst times in the sports calendar to rock the boat with any controversial statements, especially regarding Bo and company.

Also, if you look at the athletic department as a whole, we are in fact doing pretty damn well. NEBRASKETBALL made the dance, the baseball team had a thrilling postseason run, and pretty much all the women’s sports are very good to elite. The only major sport that’s sort of at a crossroads happens to be the cash cow of the university though. Hmm…

Andy: I just think it’s a case of learning one’s lesson. He meant well with the sphinx routine and thought he was being a good guy staying out of coaches’ hair. But, obviously, everybody involved, from Pelini to the fans to the media, reacted to his silence like a girl that got taken home from the bar and defiled by a wonderful young man who never bothered to call her again. Now, he knows to pick up the damn phone and say hi from time to time.

Ranchbabe: He seems like a pretty deliberate person, and I think Andy nailed it as far as learning his lesson. Talking to the media now is a preemptive move so he can maintain radio silence and uphold his "no comment during the season" policy. Hopefully, he and Pelini have figured out some way to communicate, like secret hand signals as they pass in the hall, to avoid a meltdown like we saw last year. I think the other big challenge will be to manage expectations surrounding Nebrasketball (haha, too late).

Brian: What’s more interesting to me at least, is that Shawn only called in, what, five press guys for this? Kind of in his MO in that he’s going to talk on his terms in his environment period. What he said about Bo… fine, better to say what he did instead of "well yes my frying pan has clarified butter in it and it’ll get warm when it needs to for him". Ranch is right when he’s deliberate, but he’s almost too deliberate.

Pinnacle Bank Arena isn’t going to get beer for Nebraska events, at least for now. With the way that PBA lost money for the City of Lincoln while making a ton for UNL, is this an issue?

Mister Mike: Like I said above, I think this falls under the bulleted list of talking points.  Me personally, I don’t think it makes a difference at this point in time.  I’m not against beer in the arena, nor do I particularly care if it’s not sold either.

Cobcast Ryan: Yeah but Paul McCartney.

Derek: I don’t think it’s an issue for now, but what one part of Eichorst’s comments I want to point out is his line about preserving "the wholeness of the experience to our kids"…come on, man. I hate Creighton as much as anyone, but it’s not like the kids that show up at those games are witnessing some sort of barbaric atmosphere.

It’d be nice to have alcohol at the arena, but I’m with Tim Miles in not wanting to mess with the amazing atmosphere at PBA. MAYBE, if the team starts to struggle for a few years and fan attendance starts to dip we can introduce alcohol to offset the lack of fan excitement, but I’m good with the way it is now. Just sneak in a flask or a few shooters if you absolutely need your booze fix. I heard from a friend it’s pretty easy to sneak stuff in ;)

Andy: Politically correct bullshit. Everything’s better with beer. OK, maybe not Cocoa Puffs or distance running.

Ranchbabe: Even if they sold beer at PBA, they would likely charge so much for it that I wouldn’t even look toward the concession stand. $8 for a plastic glass of flat, crap-lite? No thanks.

Husker Mike: If Lincoln had any delusions that PBA was going to make money, that’s the city’s problem, not the University’s. Arenas and stadiums should be viewed as a civic improvement, not a profit center. You build them because they make the city a better place to live.  The city went into this knowing that Nebraska events would be dry.

Brian: I agree with Mike, but at the same time, the City should have had a better deal. I would say that the alcohol would give the City some of that money back. If they are breaking even to making a little bit, team NIMBY would not have a reason to have a bonfire in the North Bottoms screaming WE TOLD YOU IT WAS A MONEY DRAIN and such. Funny though, I would LOVE to see how much in Neb & City of Lincoln sales taxes the coffers have hit from just the Haymarket businesses on Gamedays in both Memorial Stadium &PBA.

Eichorst also said that the FB program is "stable" under Bo Pelini and that he’s been given every resource that the staff has asked for, including more recruiting positions and a bigger budget. What’s that mean in your eyes?

Mister Mike: Well, if it wasn’t for the overall tone (read: coach speak) of the article, I would perhaps interpret this as stating that "Bo’s gotten everything he’s asked for, we’ve removed the ‘we-don’t-support-our-coach’ excuse.  Now it’s on him to produce."

Cobcast Ryan: ^ Read that paragraph again

Derek: SE is playing the political game here and like my colleagues have stated above, this diffuses the ridiculous "the AD doesn’t support Bo" excuse a few prominent message board messiahs like to use. Also, it’s not like SE can’t change his stance later on…(see image below)

Andy: "You got everything but the bagman and I have no knowledge of that operation, nor would I be able to comment on any knowledge I did have should such an operation exist. Now get some W’s."

OK, that’s basically repeating what’s above, but I just rewatched the opening scene of Apocalypse Now and was feeling froggy. Am waiting for GD Spradlin to tell Martin Sheen if he eats the local shrimp, he’ll never have to prove his courage in any other way while Harrison Ford looks on.

integrity11-1024x523.jpg

Ranchbabe: I took this as a sign that Eichorst sincerely wants his bell cow program to be successful. It is a win-win for him. If he gives Bo what he needs and the program goes backward, he gets to remove the weak link and take a desirable coaching job out to the open market. If he gives Bo what he needs and he improves the program, then we have our championship-caliber football team back.

Husker Mike: I’m not sure that "stable" is exactly a ringing endorsement.  In any event, I think every Husker fan would agree that we want Nebraska football to strive for more - much more. Eichorst understands that.  And believe it or not, I think Pelini understands that as well.

Brian: I can’t really add anything else, but it’s laudable when Sam McKewon says "YOU CAN DO MORE, WE ALL CAN DO MORE" after Eichorst’s statement.

We can always get better, and that includes Nebraska Athletics. What could the NU AD’s department do better in your eyes?

Mister Mike: Wow.  How long do you want this post to be?  Because it’s likely to be as long as a doctoral thesis

Cobcast Ryan: I won’t blame the AD’s department for much. Eichorst could be more personable. He reminds me of a (good) politician. I think he pretends to listen, thats the impression I got the one time I seen him speak and briefly said hi to him. Nebraska needs a good ol boy somewhere in the upper echelon to speak to us more clearly. Update the website. PUT THE STUDENT SECTION BEHIND THE OPPOSING TEAMS BENCH! Sorry for yelling.

Derek: Not giving into the whole "Nebraska Nice" mentality all the time. I can elaborate, but this is a roundtable not a long-form feature.

Andy: Most of my suggestions only serve to irritate God-fearing folk, women’s groups and people with ethics, so I’ll pass, Alex.

Ranchbabe: Please remind the marching band that they are allowed to learn some new music once in a while. I also wonder if there are ways the athletic department can mentor or somehow enable in-state high school and boys basketball programs to raise their games. Nebraska cannot be as bereft of talent as most people say. Our women’s volleyball and basketball programs not only have in-state elite talent, but Nebraska exports D1 recruits in both of those sports. Probably a pipe dream (and way too exhaustive a process to be practical) but surely those 6 foot plus women all around our good state have brothers or cousins that can dribble a basketball or run a go route.

Husker Mike: I’m seeing some nice things to show that Nebraska isn’t satisfied with doing the same-old stuff.  They’ve stepped up their game online by enabling their digital marketing team to interact with fans. I think they recognize that the fans in the stands are too easy to take for granted in this era where all games are broadcast in HD.

I do like Ranchbabe’s comment on the band. It’s not so much that the band is bad, but some of what the NU band does is getting stale and sloppy. The marching and alignment isn’t that precise, and there seems to be a lack of creativity.  Look at what Ohio State has been doing. A T-Rex morphing into a game of battleship?

And we get a salute to Glenn Miller?

Brian: I think the pure initiative to make a Gameday Experience better is a big deal. For me, however, it’s not what it initially looks like, but how it could evolve during the season and a couple years from now that’s going to prove to me how well Nebraska is in this thing. Stale seems to be a key word in a lot of things. The Gameday stuff, the band… is Nebraska stale? A lot of people like to tell you no, but then again, they are the ones who think nothing needs to change.