All year round, former Husker and NFL veteran Adam Carriker is taking the pulse of Husker Nation. In the "Carriker Chronicles" video series, he breaks down the latest NU news, upcoming opponents, player updates and recruiting information, and he offers his insight into the X's and O's and more.
On Wednesday's episode, Adam Carriker talks to Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos about expectations for Nebraska football and basketball, the new athletic facilities and more.
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Here's a transcript of today's show:
Adam Carriker: Welcome to the Carriker Chronicles, the People’s Show, where we’re checking the pulse of Husker Nation. Brought to you by Nebraska Spine Hospital. Today, I am joined by Nebraska Athletic Director, Mr. Bill Moos. How are you doing today?
Bill Moos: I’m doing great, Adam, thanks!
Adam Carriker: Yeah, I want to thank you for joining me, and I want to dive right in here. Obviously, we’re going to talk a lot of football today, so what are your thoughts on year 2 under Scott Frost and his program, two-thirds of the way through the year?
Bill Moos: Yeah, well I have been through this a couple of times. What I’m watching closely, is the program developing, is the program growing? We have a ways to go. And as you well know, good, solid programs produce winning teams. We’ve had some struggles, we had struggles last year. And we may continue to have struggles. But if the program is growing, all the building blocks are going into place- there’s a bunch of them that are starting to be placed in this foundation, then the end result once we get out two or three years, is hopefully a program that is reminiscent of the ones you participated in where year in and year out we can be considered contenders in a very tough Big Ten conference.
Adam Carriker: What are those building blocks you’re specifically looking for that you’ve seen so far?
Bill Moos: Well, a lot of it is in the performance areas- strength and conditioning. I think we’re back in a really good place. Nutrition with Dave Ellis, who we hired a year ago, is really doing a great job of fueling our young people, and all of our sports, not just football. If you go into our medical area, our training room, the NAPL- our performance lab is really being utilized a lot more. And then you segue into the overall attitude and morale of the teams. Any time you have a coaching change, there will be questions, there will be those who perhaps become locker room lawyers, and say I didn’t sign up to play in this type of offense or defense… usually you can clean that up in a year or two but sometimes it takes a little longer. Ideally, I start to see the program ascend when the locker room is full of players that the head coach sat in their parent’s living room. We’re not there yet, we have a lot of great young players that Scott recruited, and we have some that we inherited who are really playing well and playing hard.
That’s another piece. The facilities piece of it is important too. We announced three or four weeks ago that we have a huge project underway that is really going to put us out in front in regards to what young prospects are looking for today, in order to improve their game and move toward their career and aspirations to play at the next level.
Adam Carriker: So I made some notes on that. The Go Big Athletic Facility Project, the new athletic facility housing the Nebraska Football Program ($155M) will provide Nebraska Athletics with a facility that will be the largest of its kind in the country; it will be 350,000 square feet; it will be to the East and North of Memorial Stadium. I know you’re breaking ground on that here in the near future, so what prompted this? Obviously the idea is to get bigger and better for the future? Obviously I’m excited, just curious on what your overall thoughts and excitement is.
Bill Moos: Well, as I think you’re aware, I’m tuned into major college football. This being my fourth Division 1 program, I’ve seen what facilities can do in regards to attracting talent. What we have currently is more than sufficient, it isn’t that old. But it is lacking in some areas. One of those is overall size. Scott Frost is moving the program back to a lot like when you were playing, to 160-170 players, emphasizing the walk-on program like Tom Osborne back in the days. In square footage, that’s going to be an extra 65 players than we’ve had in the past. So you’re going to have to have a bigger locker room, a larger weight room, meeting rooms are going to have to be larger, the training room, the training table- right down the line. So the number of people that are going to occupy the building is going to increase significantly.
And then, you factor in- when I tell people this it’s a little frightening and it ages me- but I played this great game fifty years ago at this level and the guys playing the position I played are now three to four inches taller and one hundred pounds heavier than I was, it makes you wonder how much bigger they are going to be in twenty to thirty years. So everything in this building is going to be larger- I’m talking about the hallways, the doorways, the seats in the team room for the big guys… all of those things we are lacking right now. You know, Adam, this is a tough conference. We need to get the top talent from the state of Nebraska. I’m talking about scholarship players and walk on players that will evolve, and help us and assist us as they start to develop through these many programs that we offer to get them bigger, stronger, and better fueled. But we also need to be in those same high schools as Texas, USC, Florida, and conference foes, Penn State, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Wisconsin, and attract those players that we expect to put more banners up in Memorial Stadium and get us back to where we were at one time. It’s a tough go, there’s a lot more parity now than there was before. A lot more balance in regard to revenue streams and TV, attendance, and a lot of other things. So we have our work cut out for us and it’s not going to be an overnight deal.
Adam Carriker: Absolutely. Now, obviously some improvements need to be made on both sides of the ball. Which side, offense or defense, excites you the most going forward, and which side do you think needs to improve the most going forward?
Bill Moos: Well from my observation, there are some real high points on both sides. Certainly our quarterback position. Somewhat our running backs and receivers, though we don’t quite have the depth. We need to grow our offensive line. You and I know that when you have an offensive line that is three deep at each position, it not only gives you the luxury that if someone is hurt and out for a few weeks it’s next guy up and he’s just as good, but if he goes down too, the next guy might be a little younger and have less experience, but he’s going to have that pedigree to play that position. That way we’re not moving a right tackle to left guard when you get into an injury situation like we have now. The other thing that’s great about having that depth on offense and defense, is nobody takes a day off of practice. When you have that competition, if you’re not putting out at practice, you’re going to get replaced. That’s something that really, really benefits in regard to everybody bringing their “A” game at practice.
On defense, I wish we were getting a little bit better pass rush. Our linebackers are solid and I think we have some really good, young guys in the secondary. But it’s all got to come together for the Blackshirts, and they have to play like Blackshirts. You know what that’s all about. It’s a badge of honor, the fraternity of Blackshirts, the history is well documented. That’s something where you don’t let your brethren down whether it’s the guys that played last year, or the guys who played in the 70s, 80s, or 90s. It’s something that really has to be taken seriously. That culture needs to be polished, and it needs to mean something to these guys. I honestly believe that the leadership of Scott and his staff, half of whom played at Nebraska and understand that, these younger guys are catching on and beginning to understand. I think we have a couple years before that locker room is full of Scott’s guys and we can get the depth in all of those positions on both sides of the ball.
Adam Carriker: You’ve been in Nebraska almost two years, now. Give me some things that have stuck out to you about Nebraska, and do you have a behind the scenes story since you’ve been here that people might find interesting?
Bill Moos: Well, first of all, this is a unique and special place. This entire state rallies around Husker Football. It is shown by our sellout streak. Thousands of people drive 5, 6, 7 hours from Scottsbluff, Alliance, or North Platte and have been doing it for decades, and their vacation budget is seven weekends in Lincoln. The number of people who have told me they have the same tickets their grandfather had… that doesn’t happen everywhere- I have to say it. I’ve been around a long time. It doesn’t happen anywhere else. The fan base, the passion is exceptional. I have a lot of stories I could tell. The first 20 months on the job, and I’ve been here now a little over two years, I hired nine head coaches. That has to be some kind of record! They’re all good and they complement the ones that I inherited. But also in that 20 months, I did 289 public appearances, all across the state. I enjoyed every one of them, it’s what I like to do. I’ve found that the people from Nebraska want to get to know you and get a feel for you. You can go to all these places I’m naming, and Valentine and Beatrice and Falls City, and they’ll turn out by the hundreds because they’re so excited and passionate about the program. I think that they really have a feeling and trust, Adam, that this thing is going to get back close to, if not exactly where it was before, and I just hope they’ll be patient.
Adam Carriker: Yeah, I think a lot of people are- I think the patience is returning. I think there was an initial expectation, but now I think the patience is returning because there’s an understanding.
Bill Moos: I have a story that is a consistent theme, since you asked… anywhere else, if you were a walk-on player, you never advertised that. That gave the impression to whomever you were talking to that you weren’t very good. You weren’t good enough to be recruited and offered a scholarship. Again, here at Nebraska, it’s a badge of honor. I can’t tell you how many guys still come up to me and say, Bill, I’m so-and-so and I was a walk-on in 84. My junior year, I got a scholarship and started those two years, played in two Orange Bowls, and three years with the Dallas Cowboys. That’s a common theme and we celebrate those guys. The one thing we’re going to do in this new building, is let the public see these great accomplishments. Right now, you gotta go in the hallways and only the players and recruits are in there. I want the biggest showcase in the world to show those Heisman Trophies, and those Outland Trophies. And the many, maybe the most, College Football Hall of Fame plaques. All of the All-Americans, and the stories of the Blackshirts and the Pipeline. The story of the Walk-ons. It is unique and special to the University of Nebraska, and it fills my heart with pride that I’m a part of it everywhere I go, when I get these stories.
Adam Carriker: Absolutely, that’s exciting! The walk-on program is something that is very cool. Outside the locker room, there is a list of all the walk-ons that went on to be All-Americans and go on to play in the NFL. It’s a very cool thing. I’d be remised if I didn’t ask at least one question about another sport. I’m gonna go to Basketball. Talk to me about heading into this first season under Fred Hoiberg as the new basketball coach. It’s 12 guys versus 180 guys on the football team, so talk to me about some of the expectations you have for the basketball team and how quickly they can get things going there, versus football.
Bill Moos: First of all, not unlike football, I got the pick of the litter with coaches that were available. Fred Hoiberg, proven head coach at Iowa State. Of course, played and coached and was a front office exec in the NBA. The frosting on that cake, is he was born in Lincoln, Nebraska. His parents are graduates. His grandfather was the head basketball coach here in the 50s and 60s. I mean, what better person could you get than Fred? This is where he wants to be. I talked about those nine coaches I hired. This is a destination. They don’t come to Nebraska to go to Texas. They don’t come to Nebraska to go to UCLA. They come to Nebraska because this is a destination. That’s why we’re going to have long term tenures for these guys. Fred has the recipe. He has the formula. He’s doing it exactly the way he did at Iowa State. We have 12 new faces, most of them are transfers that are quality, highly regarded players. They are going to have to learn to play with each other. They’re going to have to figure things out. I think our trip to Italy really helped us to get to where we’re ready to get going and play some games. Our fans are going to see an up tempo, fun style of Basketball. They’re going to see good defense, with Doc Sadler back here. What a great hire that was. It doesn’t have to take as much time in basketball, Adam, because the numbers are smaller. I’ve seen where you get a top notch point guard, and you’re lucky enough to get a big power forward and fill in the rest of the positions and let them grow through the recruiting process, you can be in the mix in two to three years. I think we are in position to do that.
Adam Carriker: That’ll be exciting and fun to watch. I know Hoiberg’s brand of basketball is fun to watch, if nothing else, and I know he’ll be successful because they’re going to score some points and play fast. I love that style of basketball. I want to thank you for joining me, and I want to thank you for your time today.
Bill Moos: Adam, it’s been too long. You snag me anytime you want to, I’d love to come on.
Adam Carriker: I appreciate that very much, and until next time, Husker Nation, Go Big Red, and always remember…
Bill Moos: Throw the bones!
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