Hello, darkness, my old friend…
Watching Minnesota effortlessly hang 54 points on Nebraska while having struggled to score 20 in their two games prior answered the few remaining questions regarding Mike Riley’s tenure in Lincoln.
Riley is a good man, a family-oriented fellow and the furthest thing from a loser. However, he’s been the opposite of a winner at Nebraska as far as his contract is concerned. When you roam Memorial Stadium’s sideline while wearing the head coach’s headset, that’s what matters in the end.
He and his squad had a chance to show something — anything — on Saturday. Some spark, some reason for fans to keep even a bit of hope going.
“Oh no! Noooo!”
That was the sound you could hear coming out of athletic director Bill Moos’ suite when Minnesota quarterback Demry Croft ran for another 64 yards, cutting through the Husker defense like so many combines have been doing across acres and acres of farmland back in the team’s home state.
Nobody expects Nebraska to defeat Penn State or Iowa, and why should they after the performance in Minneapolis?
The funeral dirge for the 2017 season has already begun as fans cry out for Riley’s immediate removal or resignation, whatever will get him out of Lincoln the fastest. The sentiment is clear: Close the casket, nail it shut and toss it in the ditch.
On to the next one.
The most important question, for now, is “Who is that ‘next one?'”
If you subscribe to the old theory of smoke meets flame, then Scott Frost appears signed, sealed and delivered if not having the ball hucked into his court, at the very least.
There are some fun names to toss around like Iowa State’s Matt Campbell who is sure doing a fine job with not much in Ames. Gary Patterson was curious about the gig before Bo Pelini was chosen and his results at TCU speak for themselves. Kicking the tires on that relationship would be worthwhile.
Some fans will tear their hair out if you mention former Oregon head coach Chip Kelly, the guy who taught the fan-favorite Frost everything he knows. Could you see Mike “The Mullet” Gundy in Nebraska scarlet? How about The Pirate from Moos’ old stomping grounds? If push comes to shove, loosening the purse strings and making guys like Dave Doeren or Justin Fuente offers that they theoretically couldn’t refuse wouldn’t be the worst of ideas.
However, it’s November in Nebraska and all signs point to Frost, as is the custom this time of year.
Should the Huskers get their homegrown talent secured, he must start recruiting immediately, beginning with the locker room. There is no time for him to entertain the option of being on UCF’s sideline for an AAC Championship Game appearance or a big-time bowl game. If Nebraska gets Frost, it’s time for him to pack up, leave the 60 percent-filled stands of Spectrum Stadium (on a good day) and make his case to those players and personnel who might stick by his side through the transition.
Regardless of who is selected to coach the Big Red in 2018, that’s goal No. 1.
It’s safe to say that Mike Riley’s status as Nebraska head coach will be removed by the end of the weekend following the Black Friday tilt against the Hawkeyes. Honestly, it wouldn’t be a shock to see him ousted within 12 hours of this writing.
For the sake of Nebraska football, Moos needs his man to be ready to move quickly. The program doesn’t have time to grieve, not now.
On to the next one.
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