Leading into national signing day in 2014, The World-Herald's Dirk Chatelain dug through the history books to pull out the juiciest Husker recruiting stories. We've brought them back out for your reading pleasure in advance of this year's signing day.
It was a five-part series that included stories about the historically awful 2000 recruiting class, the emergence of Steve Pederson, the exceptional hype that surrounded the 2005 class, a rare (but epic) battle between Tom Osborne and Barry Switzer, and another on Switzer's downfall leading to NU's rise.
Below are the links/headlines from each part in the series:
Not one player from the class of 2000 earned first-team all-conference honors. That’s unprecedented in Husker history. You can’t evaluate recruiting classes by results only. A recruiting class becomes great largely because of the instruction it receives. Clearly Nebraska’s player development machine had dipped in the early ‘00s.
Pederson became Nebraska’s recruiting coordinator at age 24. To say Pederson was committed would be an understatement. His five-year experience under Osborne is the foundation of Pederson’s obsession with recruiting. It’s why he fired Solich (a move that infuriated Osborne). It’s why he believed in Callahan. He understood the importance of recruiting. In the end, he probably placed too much importance on it.
Nebraska was coming off its worst season since 1961. But recruiting! Hallelujah! The suffering was gonna be over. It’s easy to look back more than 10 years later and shake your head. But here’s the thing: the 2005 recruiting class was actually pretty good.
How could the two winningest coaches of their era, conference rivals that run similar offensive systems, not tangle more often on the recruiting trail? It’s true. Barry Switzer and Tom Osborne didn’t duel often. But every once in a while, NU and OU went 15 rounds in February. And it was downright epic. Never more than 1987, when Omaha Central I-back Leodis Flowers was the target.
In January 1989, Will Shields became only the second Oklahoman of the Osborne/Switzer era to accept a Nebraska scholarship. That came while the OU program was falling deep into scandal. Switzer resigned five months later, and the Huskers would lose only once (1990) to Oklahoma during the rest of the Big Eight era.