LINCOLN — Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos has so settled into his new job that he can even poke a little fun at the state.
“The people of Nebraska are not only so cordial and wonderful and inviting, I say they’re the most wonderful people I’ve been around,” Moos said Thursday at a kickoff luncheon. “Until they get behind a steering wheel or a shopping cart.”
The joke didn’t land flat. The audience laughed at the punchline. Moos, previously the A.D. at Washington State, Oregon and Montana, added that he’s jumped into the produce section twice at a local grocery store “just to get out of the way.”
Here’s why the joke worked: Over the next five minutes, Moos launched into a no-script recitation recapping Nebraska football’s advantages. The facilities. Adidas. The support staff. The history of national titles and Heisman winners. The 10 Outland Trophy winners. NU is mentioned in the same breath as Alabama, Texas and USC, among others, Moos said, and with coach Scott Frost returning to lead his alma mater, the Huskers were on their way back to national prominence.
“Our brand is not tarnished. It just needed to be dusted off a little bit,” Moos said. “And I’m here to tell ya: It’s dusted.”
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The audience applauded.
Moos and Matt Davison, associate athletic director for football and catalyst for Frost’s return, held court for 45 minutes Thursday at the Embassy Suites hotel in downtown Lincoln. They’ll do the same Friday at La Vista’s Embassy Suites.
The duo covered largely familiar ground in broad strokes. Davison said he expected a starting quarterback to be named “pretty soon here.” Blackshirt decisions would be left up to defensive coordinator Erik Chinander. Nebraska’s walk-on program is no longer merely a “marketing tool” but a program development tool that Frost intends to embrace deeply.
“We’re going to work hard to develop relationships with coaches and communities so that young men — young boys — in this state want to grow up and wear the N on their helmet,” said Davison, a Tecumseh native who played four seasons at NU. “I would have never played anywhere else.”
More notes from the luncheon:
» Davison said Nebraska’s 2018 schedule is indeed tough and the team has discussed the opportunity afforded the program because of it.
“We’re going to take some swings and see if we can knock somebody off,” he said.
» Asked about widening the seats inside Memorial Stadium, Moos said he liked the current capacity, so widening seats is “a little bit of a challenge” because seats would be lost and some fans would lose their seats. Moos said he has staff looking at how to make games more comfortable.
“Did I dodge that bullet well enough?” Moos quipped at the end.
» Moos reiterated that “there is really no excuse” for NU teams not to finish in the top half of the Big Ten given the budgets and facilities.
» Frost wants to grow the roster to 150 players eventually, and Nebraska will likely need to add women’s sports participants — perhaps even a sport — for Title IX balance. Men’s and women’s participants generally need to be proportional to the percentage of men and women in the larger student body.
» Davison said he became a believer in morning practices once he visited Frost at Oregon, where Frost coached for seven seasons, and discussed the potential of switching to morning with former coach Bo Pelini.
» In a separate interview with The World-Herald, Moos said that, contrary to some message board speculation, Nebraska has no immediate plans for an overhaul of its weight room or any other football facilities. Moos said he wanted more of Frost’s input on facility issues, but Nebraska generally has good facilities.
But Washington State’s football building, Moos said, is nicer.
“It’s a standalone building,” Moos said. Nebraska’s football facilities are split between the Tom and Nancy Osborne Complex in North Stadium — which football shares with NU’s athletic administration — and the Hawks Championship Center, which NU shares with several smaller programs, including women’s soccer. The two are attached by a skywalk.
Moos said he thinks Washington State’s Cougar Football Complex, built in 2014, is the nicest and most functional building in college football, taking pieces from various schools. Moos said Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, Louisville and Alabama, among others, have some of the nicer football facilities nationally, but Nebraska is in the mix.