Do you feel like Nebraska football is heading in the right direction? I do. Even if you don't follow college football recruiting as closely as some, it would be difficult to avoid noticing the success that Mike Riley is having bringing higher-rated talent to Nebraska. As it stands right now, Nebraska has one of the better recruiting classes in the nation slated for 2018.
Riley has shown that with the right strategies, and the right personalities, and with some effort that Nebraska can be a place where exceptional young athletes want to be. While it's still uncertain that Riley's staff can put together championship winning seasons at least he's killed the myth that nobody wants to come to Nebraska.
Projecting five years into the future and considering where Nebraska football will be in the year 2022 requires several assumptions. On the one hand, we can assume that Riley is capable of putting together championship winning seasons. Bringing in better talent, whether it be in athletes or coaches, should result in an upward spiral for Nebraska over the next five years.
Let's make that assumption. It'll be fun, certainly more fun than assuming that Riley and his coaching staff will bring in talent, but fail to win any more than they have in his first two seasons.
I don't see Nebraska winning a Big Ten championship in the next two seasons. It will take longer than that. I do see Nebraska winning the Big Ten West within the next two seasons because our young talent will come into their own within that timeframe. That success/upward spiral will breed more success. Even better talent will see Nebraska as a destination and that will increase the likelihood that Nebraska will consistently compete for Big Ten championships.
All of this so far also assumes that Nebraska fans maintain some level of rationality and patience which might be the most fantastic assumption in this entire article.
If Nebraska continues to win at a high level, an incredible event will occur that has not happened yet in Nebraska's football history – the Husker program will become known for feeding the NFL with quarterbacks and wide receivers. I’m not forgetting Jerry Tagge, Vince Ferragamo, or even Bruce Mathison, those players are not relevant to the here and now of Nebraska football. I'm talking about establishing a new trend of putting quarterbacks and wide receivers into the big league.
Traditional Nebraska fans that think we must run the ball all the damn time might find this an abomination. Perhaps their views will be mollified by winning. (I doubt it. Seems like no matter how well you do it anything someone is always bitching about something.)
Will Nebraska be good enough within the next five years to win the Big Ten and get into the College Football Playoff?
It would sound so rosy and easy to say yes, but that’s a little too easy, isn’t it?
Instead, let's assume that while Riley gets into the Big Ten championship game on multiple occasions, he does not win.
What then, Nebraska fans?
There was this Nebraska coach many years ago who lost so many bowl games in a row that there was a running joke about him not wanting to eat his cereal out of a bowl in the morning. In today's vernacular, that would be a meme. Fans had a lot more patience then. There was plenty of bitching, there was also enough success on the field for that coach to stick around long enough to become legend.
That environment is long gone. Instead, we’re a fan base that wants someone fired after every loss. If we’re going to get back to winning championships, we must establish an attitude in our fan base that reflects that attitude. Winners aren't made overnight, they take time, patience, hard work, and luck.
There are, of course, other dynamics at play. Will offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf stick around the next five years? Will he leave for another coaching position or be burned in a pyre near the Union for attempting too many passes in a game?
Bob Diaco has had a taste of being a head coach – will he want that experience again, or will he say the hell with everything football and go off to become the underwear model he’s destined to be? A head coach is only as good as his staff – we discovered this with Bo Pelini and Bill Callahan – what other changes will be made over the next five years by Mike Riley?
Another interesting dynamic – over the next five years will Nebraska fans really come to realize what it means to be in the Big Ten? Older fans spent decades watching Nebraska teams maul their way through the Big Eight to get to the only real opponent that was consistently good – Oklahoma. Even in the Big 12, Nebraska was dominant in the Big 12 North, a concept we cling to even though Missouri, Colorado, and Kansas State regularly challenged that dominance. That kind of conditioning is hard to replace especially when new conditioning requires getting old dogs to learn or, in this case, accept new tricks.
Being in the Big Ten means that everyone has access to the same amount of money, the same amount of resources, as everyone else. That's a much more level playing field than Nebraska has dealt with in its entire football history. It will be much more difficult to win the Big Ten title than it ever was in any conference Nebraska has been in previously.
Will Nebraska fans accept that, and by “accept that”, I mean, forgive the coaching staff and players who didn’t win, show some patience, and continue to keep things moving upward? Or will we march on Lincoln with proverbial pitchforks and torches, wanting to burn down our beloved Husker program because it didn’t feed our egos enough at whatever time we believed to need it the most?
What’s Most Likely Regarding Nebraska Football Over The Next Five Years?
This poll is closed
Mike Riley Will Be Fired And Another Staff Will Be In Place
Mike Riley Will Win A Big Ten Championship
Riley Will Win A Big Ten Championship AND Get Into the College Football Playoff
Nebraska Will Become Known For Placing Quarterbacks and Wide Receivers Into The NFL
Husker Fans Will Collectively Go Crazy and Burn Down The Program, Methaphorically or Otherwise
I could have easily written an article that stated that because of Mike Riley's increased recruiting prowess that Nebraska's five-year timeline looks incredible and that because of that Nebraska is sure to win a championship in something – whether it be the Big Ten conference or possibly even a national title. That would be the article that a lot of Twinkie eaters would like to read.