Shatel: An ex-Husker may be wise, but the next athletic director must be people person, too

Dave Rimington is the name we keep hearing for the interim A.D. gig. Mr. Outland Trophy is an intriguing name as a full-time A.D., but even if he just wants to hang around as an associate athletic director, sign him up. What a wealth of Husker football and business knowledge he would be able to share.

If Trev Alberts would bring back the ’90s, wouldn’t Dave Rimington bring the ’80s?

You would take the ’80s. Four Big Eight crowns and an Orange, Sugar or Fiesta Bowl every year from 1981-89. No national titles, but Nebraska came as close as you can come in 1982 and 1983.

Just don’t bring back the ’80s hair.

I’m on record that NU should look far and wide for an athletic director and if the answer is here at home, that works. It’s an interesting debate — the Nebraska guy or not — but there are clearly positives about the former Husker angle.

I’ve talked to several Nebraska athletic staff members, former players, coaches, boosters. They all say there is a Nebraska way of doing things, handling issues, talking to folks, treating people, etc. Many say NU has lost that touch. They want to get back to that.

That doesn’t mean a non-Husker can’t bring that. But it’s a Midwestern way of doing things, a Heartland way.

We know what that is, even if it’s hard to explain. It’s like Nebraskans raising their index finger from the wheel to wave at each other as they pass on a lonely western Nebraska highway.

If you live here, you get it.

I think that would be a major benefit to the next A.D., and it leads me to another reason to consider hiring local.

Whoever it is, that person needs to communicate well with Nebraskans. The next A.D. needs to be a bit of a salesman, selling a vision but also a consistent way of doing things, treating people.

There should also be a message there are going to be victories and titles, but there are also going to be 8-4 and 9-3 seasons, years you fall short. In this league, in this era, it will happen. You have to be happy with who you are.

Define happy. Here you go: The level of winning in the ’90s, or ’80s, is going to be next to impossible to duplicate. But the fundamental blocks of those eras — a team that works hard and plays with passion and smart, innovative coaching — are very much attainable. And what the new boss must bring back to the table.

A Nebraska team that competes for titles annually, brings home the ribbon once in awhile and looks good and has fun doing it — that’s how you define happy.

That Penn State-Iowa scrum the other night: How could you not be proud to have had a team in that one?

Changing A.D.s and football coaches so often isn’t good. There has to be time for growth, but that comes with belief and trust. I think having a Nebraska guy in the big chair — and one who communicates well — might be the best way to set that culture, get that growth.

Wow. That was almost cosmic.

» I found somebody who agreed with me: three-time national champion volleyball coach John Cook.

“It needs to be somebody that really understands Nebraska because Nebraska is a very unique place,” Cook said. “It’s quirky and people care.

“People always asked me why I wanted to be here. My answer has always been if I’m going to work this hard, I want to be where people care and they live and die with our team.

“There’s not a day where somebody is not making a comment about a match or a player or a situation. That’s what makes the place really special.

“We need somebody that understands how all that works. People want to relate. There are some days I don’t want to talk to people, but that is the job.”

» Cook said he has not been approached about the A.D. job and has no interest. He said he would be intrigued about being an assistant A.D. as a “coach” or liaison for all the coaches.

“This has to be a great hire,” Cook said. “Somebody who can lead the entire department. I’ve had four A.D.s and they’ve all been different.

“What I’d like is someone who can relate to us. In today’s world in administration, nobody’s been in coaching. So they don’t really understand what the hell is going on and what coaches need.”

» Rimington is the name we keep hearing for the interim A.D. gig. Mr. Outland Trophy is an intriguing name as a full-time A.D., but even if he just wants to hang around as an associate athletic director, sign him up. What a wealth of Husker football and business knowledge he would be able to share.

As long as I’m in charge here, I’m bringing back Paul Meyers as another associate A.D./lieutenant.

» Tanner Lee is the very definition of the saying, “Quarterbacks get too much credit and too much blame.”

Lee got too much credit before he’d even played. That wasn’t his fault. He never claimed to be an NFL prospect or Big Ten West savior.

Likewise, No. 13 is getting too much blame now. Yes, there have been interceptions. Yes, three have accounted for opponents’ touchdowns. But the two Husker losses were certainly a team-wide function.

I don’t believe Lee should be benched. But could Mike Riley put Patrick O’Brien in for a couple of series, if nothing else to give Lee a view from the bench? And maybe to send a message?

Taylor Martinez and Tommy Armstrong kept coming back out despite mistakes and turnovers, so I get where Husker fans are fatigued from that drill. There wasn’t QB depth then. There is now.

That said, Lee was so far ahead of the competition that he earned the starting job last spring. Riley is going to play the guy he trusts the most. Especially in his third season and suddenly without the guy who hired him.

» There’s no easy answer at quarterback now. But here’s a suggestion: Take the weight off Lee’s back. The leading men of this show, the playmakers, are the running backs. Play to your strength.

» Former Oregon coach Mark Helfrich will be in the FS1 booth for the Illinois game on Friday night. Two weeks ago, Les Miles was in the FS1 TV booth for the Nebraska-Northern Illinois game. Last year, Helfrich was coaching the Ducks against the Huskers. Life, and college football, come at you fast.

» Creighton and UNO men’s soccer played last year at Morrison Stadium. But tonight the Jays, the big soccer dog in town, travel to Caniglia Field and it’s a big event for soccer in Omaha.

Now that the Mavs are D-I, when these two meet in any sport — and one sport in particular we’d like to see — everybody wins and nobody loses. It shines a light on your sport in a town that is attracted to shiny lights and big events. It grows the sport.

» Interesting to hear Creighton coach Elmar Bolowich say that the future of the series might depend on how tonight’s game is played. Apparently the match last year was so intense that there were some “shenanigans’’ according to Bolowich. He wants sportsmanship.

» I’m all for sportsmanship, but sometimes shenanigans are the very reason to keep playing a series. At least from the fan’s view.

» Also, I didn’t know Grant Gibbs was playing soccer now. I’m kidding, Double-G. I say that with a wink.

» This is a little ironic: Four days after the big event at Caniglia Field, there will be a UNO Maverick Football Reunion on Saturday (2-6 p.m.) at Pheasant Haven (9191 N. 225th Street). There will be hot dogs, hayrack rides, beverages for all ages and a bunch of Maverick greats, gone but never forgotten.

Tickets are $25 a couple and $15 single (kids free). For information call Ron Meister at 402-740-9323.

» I hope ESPN doesn’t make a habit of doing “GameDay” in New York City. Pretty soon, Jim Delany will move the Big Ten championship game there.

» Husker fans could use a laugh or two these days. They’ll be available at the roast for Charlie McBride on Oct. 5 at “A View On State,” 13467 State St. in Omaha.

Former Huskers Jason Peter, Mike Knox, Marc Munford, Tony Veland, Chris and Chad Kelsay and others will be on hand to roast their former defensive coordinator. Tickets for the event (7 p.m., hors d’oeuvres and cash bar) are $50 each and $1,500 for a table of 10. Tickets can be purchased on the “Roast of Charlie McBride” Facebook page, or payments can be sent to St. Bernard Catholic Church, 3601 N. 65th St., Omaha, 68104, attn: Rose Flores.

» One more and I’m outta here: This week’s quote comes from former St. Louis Cardinals reliever Al Hrabosky, aka “The Mad Hungarian”:

“When I’m on the road, my greatest ambition is to get a standing boo.”

Should Nebraska backup quarterback Patrick O'Brien be given playing time?

Nebraska starting quarterback Tanner Lee has struggled at times this season. Do you think backup Patrick O'Brien should be given some playing time for the Huskers?

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