The CEO of Nebraska Football Is Ready to Unleash A New Big Red

Coach Riley has friends in the media. What a difference a year makes.


The Winnipeg Free Press called Riley “coaching royalty,” in a recent feature. Also, Portland Tribune columnist Kerry Eggers was invited to travel to Lincoln and sit in on a football staff meeting on Monday, Aug. 10, during the Cornhuskers’ training camp.

Riley, his nine full-time assistant coaches, football operations director Dan Van De Riet, director of player personnel Ryan Gunderson, and director of football/recruiting operations Andy Vaughn take seats at the long table. Riley, like a corporate CEO, sits at one end, Van De Riet at the other. Perhaps 20 graduate assistants/managers and support staffers sit behind them around the room.

A CEO who is a calm, cool and collected leader of men. For the past decade, Nebraska teams lacked all composure when it was needed most. Now, we have a CEO of football, and I fully expect it to show on the field this Saturday and every Saturday for years to come.

Defensive backs coach Brian Stewart, who has worked in college and the NFL, said, “Riley is a level five management type from the book Good to Great. “He has a certain command presence when he talks,” Stewart said. “You know he’s in charge — but you also know he cares about you personally.”

Nebraska’s starting QB, Tommy Armstrong, is one important player on board with the new program. According to the Chicago Tribune, Armstrong said:

He treats us like we’re grown men. That’s what we respect about him the most. It’s on the players. We have to decide if we’re going to be good or great or average. He’s there to lead us, but we have to do it on our own.

A coach who teaches you to take personal responsibility for your actions. Are you kidding me…what year is this?

Go Big Red.

Illegal gambling in college football still a huge problem

College football is no stranger to investigations into illegal betting. While few of the cases threaten the veracity of most football matches, game fixing can be very problematic especially to a fledgling football player’s career.

College footballers are very vulnerable to illegal betting as many fixers are experts on identifying pressure points. A little bit of a nudge using money, a favor, or a threat can undeniably manipulate a student’s performance.



Justin Wolfers, a professor of business from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, studied over 44,000 NCAA division games and point spreads from 1989 to 2005. In his study’s conclusion, he asserted that about 500 games have been involved in gambling-related fraud and at least 6% of favored teams were willing to have their performance manipulated.

“It’s very difficult to say how common it is because you don’t know how many people are doing it and not getting caught,” said the director of the University of Nevada’s Center for Gaming Research.

An NCAA survey in 2008 revealed that 30% in about 20,000 college athletes have admitted to betting at least once on college sports, which is a direct violation of NCAA rules. College athletes cannot in any way bet via land-based and online sports books. Betfair, one of the biggest book keepers in the UK, reminds their patrons of its Terms and Conditions page that “Participation in the games (must be) personal and not professional.” Thus, betting should not be intertwined with one’s career.

Further studies revealed that about 1% of the surveyed Division 1 football players in 2012 admitted that they’ve accepted money and/or favors as compensation for performing poorly. About 6% of male athletes have been classified by the NCAA as regular bettors, and the bulk of their gambling money has been obtained through illegal activities. Some athletes also confessed that they knew teammates who accepted bribes but were too afraid to tell the authorities. Data collected by Havoc Scope details that about $60 – $70 billion per year is obtained from illegal betting on college football.

The problem with fixing games is that some players get abused. Because they’ve accepted bribes, these players can be threatened with blackmails at any time even if they don’t want to participate in fixing games anymore. The NCAA, according to experts, must show a stronger hand against illegal betting and game fixers in order to make college games cleaner and safer for the athletes.

Shawn Eichorst: From Farm To The Negotiating Table

Shawn Eichorst impressed the media with his handling of events this week. He also impressed fans. Not all fans, but this fan, for one.

This is no insignificant thing, impressing the media. Eichorst also declared, “I like you guys,” speaking directly to members of media in attendance at Friday’s presser. He added that he listens to all constituents, including the media.

Eichorst_ No beer during Husker hoops; football program ‘stable’ under Pelini - Omaha.com_ Big Red Today - Husker Football News, Schedules And Videos

Following a bitter mistrust between factions in the Nebraska media and “Pelinihan,” Eichorst’s commons sense and Riley’s nice guy approach are welcome upgrades in Lincoln.

Tom Shatel of The Omaha World Herald is perhaps the top dog on the Huskers football beat. Shatel asked,
“Who knew this was the Chuck Norris of athletic directors?”

Chop, chop, chop!

Shatel also noted Eichorst’s confidence in Riley, and how he has no worry about Riley’s record translating to NU:

I have zero concern about that. It’s not always about the outcome. It’s about people. We have an elite football coach who now has an incredible history behind him, incredible resources, a passionate fan base. I know there is uncertainty in our fan base, but we have a good football coach, and I think folks should be ready and excited to unite and take this program to where it should be. We’re going to have success. I know that and you can hear it in Mike’s voice. He is a football coach …

I heard Eric Crouch describe Nebraska as an “island” on The Big Ten Network the other day. It is an apt description. What we now know about one of the island’s leaders is how he thinks and how he works. Eichorst is an old school values guy, like Tom Osborne. That mindset has been sorely absent from Memorial Stadium for 11 years.

By the way, Eichorst grew up on a farm outside of Madison, WI. He played defensive end at Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he was captain of the team and an all-conference performer. These two facts are key to seeing why’s he’s a great fit at Nebraska. He’s also a lawyer who knows a thing or two about holding his cards. And what a hand he played this week. Hat’s off to the A.D.

Go Big Red.

“A New Era of Nebraska Football” Is Now Underway

Nebraska Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst introduced the biggest coach he’s ever hired this morning. I like what Eichorst had to say. He said we’re going to win championships the right way, “with class, sportsmanship and integrity.”

He added, “We will win with young men and women who want to earn their degrees and who will represent us the Nebraska way.” It’s a condemnation of what went before and also a strong statement about what it means to be a Husker today.

Coach Riley mentioned that the Nebraska job was the right opportunity at the right time. I can’t help but note that it’s also quite likely Riley’s dream job, and one it took him four decades to land.

While Riley didn’t take the job for money, he did get a $1.2 million raise to $2.7 million per year, according to The Omaha World Herald. An extra $100K a month is one heck of a bonus, especially in a market where it is hard to find a home priced over $1 million.

Riley is a young 61. He drives a Prius…when he drives. He prefers to ride his bike to work. He’s an energetic, but low key guy who happens to be an elite football coach. In Lincoln, he can be both of these things, which is one more indication that this is a genius hire by Eichorst.

Oregonians and Nebraskans share many commonalities. Both reside in agricultural states where “salt of the Earth” residents are the norm. I am sure the Riley family will miss living in the cozy hamlet of Corvallis. But, I also believe Mike and Dee Riley will soon learn to love Lincoln, and that Husker Nation will learn to love them back.

Huskers Now Living The Life of Riley

Former Oregon State head coach, Mike Riley, 61, has been hired by Nebraska Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst to lead the Huskers back to gridiron glory.

Coach Mike Riley

Riley is a native of Wallace, Idaho, and the son of a football coach. He played QB at Corvallis High School in Oregon, before moving to defensive back under Paul “Bear” Bryant at Alabama.

Riley is 93-80 as a college coach, which may fail to excite over-eager Nebraska fans. But that negative point of view is shortsighted and foolhardy. The naysayers are failing to see Riley’s work at Oregon State as a masterpiece.

I live in Oregon. Allow me to explain. Corvallis, Oregon is a small town. One of only two small towns in the Pac 12 conference. Perhaps, more importantly Corvallis is not Eugene, which is another way of saying Oregon State is not flashy and not the place five star recruits are hoping to land.

Coach Riley does a lot with a little, and now that he’s at the helm of a storied program with unlimited resources, he’s in a position to do amazing things.

I am thrilled with this hire. After more than a decade of football fiascos, Nebraska badly needs a professional, a proven leader and a man of character. Coach Riley is this man.

Go Big Red.

HuskerZone is no more

Hey folks. As I previously mentioned, I was attempting to sell the website and related accounts.

I had a sale lined up, but it fell through at the last minute. As of now, is no more and don’t see myself adding much content to the site in future other than the updates to the football schedule. I am still open to selling the site, or managing the site if someone wanted to try their hand and writing content. See the previous link on sales details or contact me to write.

However, I will still be active on Twitter so follow me at @HuskerZone, is For Sale

Hey friends, just a quick note that is for sale. If you’ve ever considered becoming a sports blogger, purchasing can give you a shortcut to relatively stable web traffic and a decent social media profile (Twitter & Facebook) and a little bit of ad revenue.

Sale would include the domain name, Twitter account, Facebook Page, a free-tier Google Apps account (Google no longer offers a free tier, this is grandfathered in), all content and hosting until such time as the new owner can move it to his/her own server or August 31st 2014 (whichever comes first).

The site has over 600 pages of content, averages about 1000 pageviews/day during football season (in conjunction with new content being created), around 300/day during the rest of the season (also in conjunction with new content). The Twitter account has 3600+ followers (all organically grown) and over 1800 Facebook fans.

Ad revenue opportunities exist. The site has made anywhere from $500/year to over $5000/year depending on how active and motivated one is to selling ads and seeking revenue opportunities.

Reason for sale: Mostly due to time commitments. I run a small advertising agency, own a web hosting & security company and recently acquired another company. Combine that with 2 kids in sports, a wife, a dog, and a golf league…and there isn’t a whole lot of free time at the moment.

Asking price: $3,000 or best offer. If no sale takes place. The site will cease to exist on August 31, 2014.

Interested parties can email me at

Stewart Mandel Lambastes Pelini (again)

Sports Illustrated’s Stewart Mandel once again went on his critique of Huskers coach Bo Pelini in today’s mailbag column on (you might have to manually jump to the second page). One of his readers sent in a question about the statistical importance of Bo Pelini’s career, mainly the one about him being one of an elite handful of coaches who won nine games in his first five season.

“I’m baffled as to how Pelini remains in charge in Lincoln, mostly because I can’t believe how far Nebraska’s standards have fallen. This is a program that once considered national titles and top-10 rankings as its birthrights. Now, the Cornhuskers are just tickled to beat an 8-4 SEC foe in the Gator Bowl.”
Sports Illustrated’s Stewart Mandel.

It seems like much of the vocal heat from the public has died down, but I wonder if the continued criticism from the national press will fan the flames once again in this football blackhole of few headlines.

Fixing Nebrasketball

A few short nights ago Nebraska looked like they may be ready to turn the corner and realize some basketball success after knocking off #17 Ohio State. But then, the last decade of Husker woes reared its ugly head as they lose a 4-point lead in the final two minutes as Penn State goes on a 11-3 run to walk away with the win 58-54.

Coach Miles is in his second year of coaching the Huskers, obviously a young team, but sitting one loss worse than they at this point last year and 11th in the Big 12. They are playing in a glamorous new arena, and have the commitment from the administration to support the basketball team.

I freely admit, I sit on the basketball sidelines. When I was a student, I was in attendance for most home games. After graduation (and moving to Omaha), I still managed to get down at least a half a dozen times a year for games. But in the last five or six years, I’m lucky to get down more than once a year. It isn’t that I’m a fair weather fan, I’m simply not much of a basketball fan in general. I do have tickets to 4 upcoming home games. I have watched more games on TV this year, and I have tickets to 4 upcoming home games. I’ve also been playing in a fantasy basketball league on FanDuel. So I am making a better effort to get back in to the game.

So what does it take to win in Lincoln? I know this season had higher expectations, and every now and then, they seem to be on the verge of turning the corner. Only to implode, and typically in the second half of games. To my self-described amateur eye, this is what I see that is missing.

First off, a lack of fundamentals. I see a lot of raw talent and steps to harness that with the fundamentals, but as soon as they face a bit of adversity, they seem to lose their confidence and fall back to the raw talent and sloppy play. A lot of guys trying to be the play-maker.

A big guy. Nebraska crashes the boards as good as anyone in the league, but they don’t have dominant in-the-paint player. Sure they could do without – as they have been – but they to improve the shot-making from the outside.

They need some speed on offense. The Huskers are a strong defensive team that plays at a slow tempo. I think this breaks their rhythm on offense. The strong, slow defensive ball game works as long as the opponents are making mistakes. But as soon as they break through and hit a string of shots, the Huskers are trying to shift tempos and play catch-up. I think they put too much pressure on themselves.

Like I said, I’m a casual fan. What do you think it will take to win in Lincoln?

Shawn Eichorst & Bo Pelini’s Statements

In case you were hiding under a rock on Saturday, which I know a few of you were…here are the statements from Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst and Football Coach Bo Pelini.

Here is Shawn Eichorst’s statement released Saturday morning:

“My approach has always been to not comment publicly about our coaches until their full seasons are complete, as I strongly believe it is unfair and counter to best practices. However, given the volume of unfounded speculation and conjecture about our head football coach, I want to reaffirm what I have said many times since I have arrived at the University of Nebraska — that I positively respect, appreciate and support our football student-athletes, coaches and staff, as we do everyone in the Husker family. We very much look forward to our upcoming bowl game and Coach Pelini continuing to lead our program in the future.”

Here was Pelini’s statement released Saturday evening:

“I want to thank our administration and Shawn Eichorst in particular, for his continued and full support that he has given me and our football program since his arrival on campus. I am honored to represent this university and its great fans and I’m proud to lead this program into the future.

I apologize for reacting emotionally yesterday and for showing frustration both with the game officials and the media. I fully understand and respect their difficult jobs, and I regret any and all actions or words which may have shed a negative light on our program and university. Accountability is a core belief throughout our program, and as the head coach, I must set and maintain a high standard.

Our football staff is hitting recruiting full throttle and looking forward to the upcoming bowl game. We are committed to working with Shawn and our entire department staff to continue to build this program and bring championships back to Nebraska.”

What are your thoughts?

Husker Fans