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Nebraska Football 2019: Can an Athletic Director turn the tide?

Illinois v Nebraska Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

“And that SEC... they eat their young”

In a brief aside, while riffing about what he looks for in a coach, fairly new Nebraska Athletic Director, Bill Moos, broke the tension of a press conference announcing the firing of Mike Riley. The comment really wasn’t meant as a dig at the coaches in the SEC, but rather the conference’s penchant for rabid fandom and quick triggers on firing their new coaches. Still, the shit-eating grin Moos had at that moment showed that he was in control. The next hire would be on him, and while he wasn’t 100% sure he had Scott Frost in the bag, it was pretty evident to him that he was getting closer.

Almost a year and a half after the firing of Shawn Eichorst - he of pencil pushing platitudes - Bill Moos has put his stamp on Nebraska. His expectations for the University of Nebraska athletic department were pretty straight forward - win. Across his major sports, he took time to praise the Volleyball team for showing the rest of the teams what winning was really about, “You look up at all the banners and the All-Americans and everything, and I told them right there, from my very first day on the job, that you are my poster child for all of Nebraska athletics. You’ve earned it, you’ve achieved it and you’ve sustained it.”

While it’s easy to say that to a National Championship caliber team, it was equally impressive to watch the finesse of a good AD. Frost has repeatedly praised the relationship he has built with Bill Moos as a foundational reason for the Nebraska job being the right role at the right time. But it’s not just him. Moos made hires in Men’s Golf, Men’s Tennis, Women’s Gymnastics, and most recently Men’s Basketball - with the last being another splash hire in Fred Hoiberg. Each of these coaches that are hired talk about the way Moos leads and how important he is to the success of where they believe they can take Nebraska athletics.

The question in all of this, however, is fairly simple: Can an Athletic Director turn the tide of a football team?

The answer is probably much more complicated than one would think. An AD is responsible for drumming up support - politically and financially - to make each of his or her coaches feel comfortable and prepared to win. It’s also to manage a massive budget, and in the case of Nebraska, we’re looking at something north of $140 Million with zero subsidies by the University itself. The AD helps put together priority projects and direction for where and when buildings are erected and opened. Do any of those things win a football game on their own? Probably not.

But, as I said, it’s a little more nuanced than that. Bill Moos also talked Scott Frost and Fred Hoiberg into his vision. That’s not nothing, and the checkbook is open for the right assistants to come support each guy. Moos does not seem the type to meddle too much, but you can tell he wants to do the right thing for Nebraska, and that gives me hope that he’s going to keep getting things right more often than wrong. Hopefully that’s the spark Nebraska needs to get to the next level. Only time will tell.


Can an AD really make that big of a difference in on-field performance?

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  • 72%
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  • 5%
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    I still don’t care about Nebraska, Jesse.
    (31 votes)
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