But Nebraska's football team — initially shocked and heartbroken by the news Sunday that Bo Pelini had been fired — is doing its best to welcome Mike Riley with open arms.
Not an easy process.
Credit junior cornerback Daniel Davie for openly admitting that Friday.
"I think it'll be a little hard just because he didn't recruit any of us and guys aren't necessarily familiar with him," Davie said, "but (Thursday) night, guys warmed up to him. Because he seems genuine and he knows what he's talking about. When guys see that, they're going to have respect for you off the jump."
Why is it so difficult? (Well, aside from the fact that the players had a tremendously close bond with Pelini. They met with Pelini Tuesday night for one final time as a group.)
You're talking about a team of 150 guys, who have different personalities, different perspectives. Plus they're at different stages of their careers. Offensive tackle Givens Price said there are seniors who'll play one last game without the coach they came to play for, there are upperclassmen who're now realizing that they'll soon be learning a brand new system and then there are young guys who're wondering if this program (under new leadership) is still the right fit for them.
But with all that said, Price said he liked the how the team was "receptive" of Riley Thursday. Day by day, the players will move forward as a unit — rallying around Riley along the way, he said.
"I'm confident in his plan and what he's going to do for us," Price said.
Davie said that has to be the team's attitude now.
Said Davie: "We have to move past (Pelini's firing) because if we don't, we're not going to win. You have to be behind your coach to win games."
Guys like senior Josh Mitchell get that. He was one of the most outspoken players on Twitter this week, noticeably upset that Pelini lost his job. Mitchell issued an apology Friday.
Riley indicated that he won't be taking anything personally. He knows how difficult a transition can be. And he knows the healing process won't be instantaneous.
The NU players, one by one, came down to the front of the team meeting room, shook Riley's hand and introduce themselves Thursday night. That meant a lot to Riley.
His message to them: "I told them that I was proud to be here. That I know that they're facing a time of uncertainty, and that's not going to go away just because we're talking about it right now. It's going to take some time to get past all that. It all goes with knowledge and trust, as time goes on."
Price, Davie, freshman receiver De'Mornay Pierson-El, sophomore linebacker Michael Rose, freshman quarterback AJ Bush and redshirt freshman linebacker Marcus Newby were among the handful of players in attendance at Riley's press conference.
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