The proof is in the pudding!

It's no secret where a lack of talent will get you. For Nebraska the lack of talent ruined an incredible streak of 9-win seasons, consecutive winning seasons, a national home game winning streak to Texas in 1998, the first loss to Missouri at Columbia since 1978 and the first loss to Kansas State at home since 1968-- just to name a few. But what is really to blame?

It's hard to put a handle on just one reason why the mighty Cornhuskers have fallen like they have. However, I have a theory and it could basically feed every other possible reason why the wheels fell off the program that was Nebraska.

As a recruiting junkie I have to take a look as to what talent Nebraska was re-loading with every year to keep these important streaks alive and more importantly to follow up 3 national championships in five years. When you do that you focus on where the majority of talent is grown even though talent isn't exclusive to just those areas. For just about everyone's money, great football talent lies in excess in some very important states.

Four states produce the most talented high school players who eventually play in the pros: California, Texas, Florida, and Georgia. These four states combined to produce nearly 40% of the entire NFL current players (minus international players) this past year.

When you look back at how Nebraska has fared in recruiting these four states for the past six years it is eye-opening. Over the past six years the number of recruits that Nebraska has pulled out of these states totals 30. That is an average of 5 per year which is a lot more than some schools could ever bring in. But a national powerhouse needs to be able to pull these players out of anywhere at anytime. If you include the number five state for high school talent that ends up in the pros, Ohio, you can add zero to that total of 30.

Fewer than 25% of the past six recruiting classes have come from those four states that produce 40% of all the football players in the NFL today.

You can also see as a direct result the steady decline in the amount of draft picks that NFL teams select from Nebraska annually. Over the past 14 years, Nebraska averages nearly six picks in the annual NFL draft. Then for the past two years the Huskers have only had four selected each year. What is even more staggering to look at is the number, or lack thereof, of first round draft picks lately.

Since 1998, Nebraska hasn't had a first round draft pick (in 1998 they had two). From 1990 to 1998 there was one first round draft pick to every seven picks from Nebraska. When you factor in the years from 1999 to 2003 it becomes to one for every 10 picks.

The relationship that is shared by recruiting talent from areas that produce NFL players-to producing NFL talent-to success on the field-can be called circumstantial by some. I am not saying that Nebraska hasn't had talented people in their past classes that did not come from the areas mentioned. What I am really talking about is a lack of hitting the areas that are traditionally going to produce more NFL talent.

Given the new recruiting staff, I mean, coaching staff I think that someone finally realized the problem. If you look long and hard at each current coach who has previous collegiate coaching experience, you will see a great recruiter. Bill Callahan himself is one of Tom Lemming's top recruiters for the past 20 years. There are two honorable mentions that made Lemming's list that are also on the current staff, Cosgrove and Gill.

This current staff has the recruiting prowess to be able to duke it out with the best of them. The opportunities are there for extremely talented high school seniors to play early in a new offense too. The new emphasis now has to be placed on generating NFL talent again and especially at the specialty positions.

When the 1997 season ended a chapter was closed and another began. The emphasis was lost at bringing in players that were future NFL players. In 2003 with the hiring of Bill Callahan and his staff a lot of people questioned the personnel decisions made by Callahan and Steve Pederson. By the look of it to me it seems that there is again an emphasis being placed on bringing in players that will be future NFL players.

Bryan Munson can be contacted at

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