The next time you see the Huskers on the football pitch, the deadline attached to the proceedings will be Dublin, Ireland.
A trip that was pushed back a year due to the COVID situation, Nebraska athletic director Trev Alberts said the Huskers were eager for the opportunity and also knew how important the business of making it a winning trip will be important for this program.
“We have a signed contract on this so we’re excited about this opportunity and it will be led by the people of Ireland. I have a son who is deployed in Germany at the moment who is in the US Army, we so are aware of all of this (is related to overseas travel at the moment) but I’m just thrilled, let me tell you this, Husker fans showed up in a strong way, and we can’t wait to play in this game,” Alberts said Saturday in the press box as the red-white scrum unfolded on the pitch.
“It’s a great opportunity. I got to play in Tokyo, Japan. It was weird. And I got to sit next to a guy from Kansas State, which I don’t didn’t really like it, but that’s because Bill Snyder insisted they sit on one side of the plane,” he joked. “I think it’s going to be wonderful for student-athletes.”
Alberts also knows how straddling this Aug. 27 game in Dublin between Nebraska and Northwestern is. He directly addresses this point in his response to the trip.
“The reality is, however, that where we are as a program and as an institution, I don’t know if you can think of a bigger game. And so you add it all up: in Ireland, in a unique environment with everything happening in the world, playing against a great team, Northwestern, with a great coach (in Pat Fitzgerald), a personal friend of mine, who will look for an opportunity to give an answer to the game of last year at Memorial Stadium… it’s going to be a very important game for our team with a bunch of new coaches and new players, so it’s going to be a big challenge.”
Nebraska’s only victory in Big Ten play last year was against Northwestern, a 56-7 victory. The Wildcats are also trying to bounce back from a 3-9 season.
Scott Frost said Saturday he would give his team a brief break after Saturday’s spring game, but there is more strength and conditioning work throughout the coming spring and summer.
“We’re going to push everything a bit,” Frost said. “The season is pushed. We’re going to push the summer conditioning a bit. We need more work on the X’s and O’s and on the pitch, especially in attack where there’s something new.”
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Alberts said there’s a concerted effort right now to get more former Huskers back on the schedule for various events. It’s something new that Nebraska assistant Mickey Joseph, the former NU quarterback, has also helped.
“He did a great job with that. Mickey has great relationships and an ability to say and do things other people can’t,” Alberts said. “That’s what I really love about him. Mickey is all in. He’s all in Nebraska. Just seeing him bounce back, you can tell he feels so lucky to be a Husker like me. and the others. He’s done an amazing job, I think of helping to bring that unity of purpose which I think will be essential for all of us going forward.”
On Saturday night, former Husker quarterback Steve Taylor also hosted an event for some former players at the Rococo Theater. Alberts said he was especially busy around the Nebraska football offices last weekend with the spring game.
“They keep popping up. Mickey brought a lot of guys back – Reggie Cooper and a whole bunch of guys. Mike Croel came by the other day. Keithen McCant showed up at my office. Dougie Glaser still has his team, Bill Bobbora, Jimmy Wanek, all those guys,” Alberts said. “So a nice cross section of a lot of generations that are here. That’s the fun thing about spring.
“We’ve lost too many – Dan Svehla and Travis Hill,” Alberts continued of some former players from his era who have passed away. “We are losing some of our guys so we need to do a better job of staying connected.”
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For a time, it appeared that Nebraska was close to signing a 12-year, $215 million deal with JMI for media rights to Husker Athletics.
Alberts didn’t go into detail about why it didn’t work out, but said careful scrutiny of the once-possible merger showed it wasn’t going to be in Nebraska’s best interest. . It’s something you better be sure of, he said, given that this is a 12-year relationship and not just a few years.
“We’ll see where this leads. We have a lot of interest (from others). We continue to engage in some of these conversations,” Alberts said. “We have a strong brand and we have a lot of people who are interested. JMI is a great company. (CEO) Erik Judson is a great person and he’s a friend. I’m committed to myself, to our staff, that we will not make decisions or do anything that we do not believe is in the best long-term interest of the University of Nebraska, even if it is not in my personal interest.
“So I got to the point where I asked our attorneys and our CFO, ‘Is this in Nebraska’s best interest? and the answer was, ‘No.’ So if that’s the case, we won’t make any deals. But I think there is an interest. By the way, we have a great internal team who have done a great job, so we will continue to evaluate that. As you can imagine, every bit of revenue we can get, and every wasteful expense we can eliminate, will be critically important to us as we move forward in this new world of institutional resource reallocation that go directly to the player.”
Alberts said Nebraska “needs to be entrepreneurial” as it moves forward in this climate. He added that one thing Nebraska won’t do is fall behind anyone when it comes to athlete support or NIL monetization.
“It’s just who we are and we’re going to do what it takes.”