Two years in a row, everyone is wondering what recruits are thinking. Well, two years in a row that NU is trying to figure out what coaches will be where and what coaches will not be at all.
Yes, the position of head coach has already been decided, but it's the status of the assistants that comes into serious question. For you, the average fan, you might think that it starts with the head coach and to an extent it does, but if you are a recruit, chances are, you have talked to the head coach hardly, if at all, because the assistants have been recruiting you.
That's a trend, but not the only one as we talked to some committed and some that have yet to decide where they are going to go. You might understand though if some haven't thought too much about it, still reeling from the announcement in the first place. "I'm stunned just like everyone else." future Husker, Allan Evridge said. "I thought it was a joke for a second, but I looked over at ESPN and there it was flashing on the TV, so I was shocked and a little disappointed."
Evridge is actually one of those recruits that does have some familiarity with the head coach. Not only because he lives in Nebraska, but had talked to Frank Solich throughout the recruiting process. For him, well, it's not to say it's more personal, but he's certainly feeling a little put off by it all. With all that being said, Allan did say that he's not committed to de-commit or start looking elsewhere until he knows exactly what's going on. "Right now, my family and I want to give everything a little more time, get more of the facts and see what's really going on before we make any decisions." Allan said.
One of those answers of course revolves around whether Allan's role, the offense and everything he was told NU was going to do offensively when he arrived would still be the same or if there would be new assistants, a new philosophy, thus a new situation for him. "The big thing for me is I want to know if I fit in their new philosophy." Allan said of the possibility of Nebraska getting a new staff. "I want to know if they picture me in there and still want me or whether I have to start the whole recruiting process again."
Another future Husker, wide receiver, Nathan Swift concurred. "I just want to know how the offense is going to go." he said. "Nebraska is an amazing school and who the coaches are isn't the only decision I have, but Barney Cotton has recruited me, I know what he wants from me and it's just one of the things I have to think about. But, right now, I am just waiting to see what happens."
One player that Nebraska is hoping will be a future player for the Big Red is quarterback, Daryll Clark from Ohio. A signal-caller that fits the alleged future mold of Nebraska's field general, Clark stands around 6-3 and is definitely amongst the passer/runner group instead of the ones prone to run when they aren't sure what to do. Turner Gill has been recruiting him, so his status if of particular interest and after talking to Gill just a night ago, Clark doesn't have anymore answers now than he did. "It's like up in the air." Clark said of what Gill had told him of his current status as QB coach. "It's up to whatever coach they bring in on whether they keep him or not. He really couldn't give me an answer, because he didn't know."
Of NU's current head coach, interim choice, Bo Pelini, the Ohio connection isn't a big deal, but it's certainly not a bad one for this Buckeye state native. "I don't know a lot about him." Clark said of Pelini. "But, that would be cool having an Ohio guy calling the shots."
Perhaps because Clark has made no decisions as to where he's going to go yet, he has a easier view to what is going on in Lincoln than most and because of that, he does view the situation as serious, but is not even close to jumping to any conclusions as to what he's going to do regarding his interest in Nebraska. "I'm waiting for everything to settle down there." Daryll said. "After it's all done and they figure out who the staff is, I can see if I still fit what they want to do and I like the direction I think they are going."
"I'm still visiting there and that's not until January so hopefully things will be settled by then."
Nebraska would indeed be fortunate if all recruits or commits took such a stance in how they perceived the overall changes, but some, especially commits, they haven't begun to analyze what's going on or what might, because, well, they are still in disbelief. "It shocked me a bit." current commit, offensive lineman, Andrew Christensen said. "I thought that because they won the game, the coach would have more time."
Time that didn't occur and it's time that Andrew feels now is at a premium for the athletic dept. to make their choice for a coach and if necessary, assistants so that recruits and commits like Andrew can figure out for themselves just what will happen at NU. "I'd just like to know who the head coach is going to be and get everything figured out as soon as possible." And, as to his current stance on being a future Husker? "I don't really have any comment on that right now."
The uncertainty is understandable. The decision in it's timing caught even those who have covered Nebraska for years a little off guard. Mike Babcock has covered Nebraska football for 26 years. In that time, he's seen just about everything you can imagine. This event and it's abruptness was to even him a little bit of a blind-side. "I'm stunned." Babcock stated. "I would think hardly anyone anticipated this, particularly in the aftermath of what happened at Colorado."
The change was made, but while everyone is wondering what will happen and is conjecturing as to the future of the program, Babcock stated that in reality, the actual effect of recent events probably won't be known for quite some time. "To some extent, we probably won't know until after we get a little bit of perspective and that's the difficult thing, because of the moment and the shock of the situation." he said. "Nothing is as simple as it looks."
He's quite correct in the fact that unless you not only know everything that entails a decision like this and can see into some sort of crystal ball to view it's ultimate ramifications, the "true" analysis of what, when, where and why are all speculation in the end. It would seem for that any recruit, commit or even future recruits, nobody could be certain of really anything.
Well, not everyone.
RB/LB, Maurice McClellan committed to Nebraska way back in May. It was a commit that wasn't even realized until well over a month later. So much time and Maurice living in Connecticut, almost half a country away, irony probably fits best here and not even the current flux going on in Lincoln has swayed him in the least. "Oh, I am going to be a Husker." Maurice said. "I'm concerned about the changes like anyone else, but that doesn't change how I feel about the program. I plan on making my official visit and one day, stepping on the field for NU."
A situation like this won't inspire anyone that isn't a Husker to be a Husker right now. That's evident, but fortunately for Nebraska, at least some current commits haven't wavered from their pledge to play for Nebraska despite the swirling changes made and possibly those yet to occur.
And, I would harken back to last year, just a year removed from a time where we seemed to be in an eerily similar situation, not with one coach, but with almost all of the assistants. Irony again as those assistants come into the limelight even more because of the loss of Nebraska's head coach, but there's nothing ironic about this recruiting situation as opposed to any other.
The choices of the right coach or coaches is paramount, but in that must be mixed with a healthy does of expeditiousness. When it comes to keeping and courting recruits, "limbo" isn't a lure for any of the prep-elite.
That's where Nebraska is at right now and as long as that remains, Nebraska's recruiting will not go forward at all. What you worry about now isn't the lack of forward motion in courting the All-Everythings from the high school ranks, but you find yourself going speedily in reverse.
If that happens, Pederson can ship out his resume' while asking for those of the candidates for Solich's job, because Nebraska has recently fought the talent-war on the field and lost.
They can't afford to lose it again.
Steve Ryan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-730-5619