The Omaha World-Herald and Lincoln Journal-Star report that University of Nebraska president Hank Bounds has commissioned The SilverStone Group to perform an independent review of the culture and leadership within the Husker athletic program.
"This is nothing more," Bounds said, "than understanding what’s working, what isn’t and what the culture is so that we can bring a new chancellor up to speed quickly. This is about being smart in transition.
"This shouldn’t be seen as something negative. People shouldn’t make more of it than what it is."
Except, of course, this is dealing with the Huskers. It's impossible for people NOT to make more it than what the people in charge say it is. Besides, Bounds HAS to say that. A "no comment" or anything else is tacit admission that athletic director Shawn Eichorst is on the hot seat.
That doesn't mean that Bounds is lying or simply hiding his motives, either. He's simply asking to learn more about the atmosphere inside One Memorial Stadium as well as key stakeholders outside the athletic department. Several members of the NU Board of Regents have been interviewed along with current and former employees of the athletic department.
Wait, "former employees"? You mean someone like . . .
While it's not known whether former football coach Bo Pelini actually will be interviewed, it's reasonable to expect that he would be. In fact, one could argue that the secret recording of Pelini's final comments to the football team in December 2014 could be one of the reasons why Bounds feels the need to look into the athletic department, if only to do due diligence.
While many Husker fans wrote off Pelini's tirade as sour grapes, it's important to note that Lee Barfknecht of the Omaha World-Herald, a noted Pelini critic, touched on some of the same points in an article written weeks before Pelini's dismissal:
Eichorst told us in August that he has strong relationships with his head coaches. That is counter to what coaches have told me and many others. Some say they can’t directly get a meeting with him. One said the number of books Eichorst has assigned coaches to read has outnumbered his in-person visits to that sport.
Say what you will about Pelini's four-loss streak or temper, his criticisms of Eichorst substantiate Barfknecht's report, and that warrants a closer look. Normally, that responsibility should fall to the Chancellor, but with Harvey Perlman's retirement, Bounds appears to want the successor to be able to get up to speed quickly about the state of the athletic department. Why? I can give you seven reasons that, if repeated in 2016, could require the next Chancellor make some major decisions very quickly.
And it's best to be prepared, should it become necessary.