Mike Riley took over a Nebraska team that, to an outsider, appeared to be in pretty good condition; the Huskers had won at least nine games the prior seven years. Its understandable that people unfamiliar with the Nebraska program might question the decision to make a change.
But a look under the hood reveals that things weren’t nearly as Scarlet as some people would have you believe. According to this article from Corn Nation Nebraska is starting 10 Walk Ons. That is not a misprint; 10. As in Big Ten. As in the most games the prior coach won in a season.
In comparison programs Nebraska is traditionally on par with have the following number of walk ons starting in the 2015 season:
- Alabama 1
- Oklahoma 0
- USC 0
- Ohio State 0
- Florida State 1
As someone who has followed Nebraska’s recruiting quite intently since 1992, I can tell you the prior staff’s recruiting, talent evaluation and player development was awful, one could even call it hellacious.
Yet still, even with an under talented team with no depth going through culture shock, Mike Riley has had his team ahead in all 6 of his first games with 16 seconds left. If it weren’t for a hail mary and brain fart by a QB recruited by the previous staff, Nebraska would be 4-2 and no one would be complaining.
If Mike Riley inherited the same roster the previous coach had, I guarantee Nebraska would be in the Big Ten Title Game this year. Ndamukong Suh and Prince Amukamara will make any college coach look good.
The good news is recruiting, talent evaluation and player development are among MIke Riley’s strengths. Patrick O’Brien will most likely be starting at QB in 2016 along with Jordan Stevenson at I back.
This is a huge upgrade. O’Brien has NFL skills and fits what Mike Riley wants to do on offense. Jordan Stevenson is Ameer Abdullah with elite speed. Unlike this year Linebacker should be stacked as well. And there are enough difference makers in the 2017 class with Nebraska leans to make even the most cynical Husker fan smile.
So cheer up Husker fans! Things aren’t nearly as bad as they seem. In fact, the future’s so bright, we better bust out some scarlet and cream shades.