As the time grows in Nebraska's "between coaches" phase, it's evident that it's not just the fans of Nebraska that are worried about the team or even the team itself worried about it's future. Rather, it's the possible future of the UNL football team that seems hanging on the finest of threads.
Recruits from around the country have yet to make their decision on where they will attend college. Some of these standouts have Nebraska squarely in their sites. The tradition, the wins, the titles and the atmosphere have all lent to NU's popularity, at least initially. They are a big name and kids are attracted to big names.
But, what if there's no coach?
If you are a defensive back that is being courted by some of the biggest of the big around the country, you are probably in a position to say that you want to go someplace that actually has a coach at the position you are being recruited to play. That's not asking much, is it?
For Nebraska, this time where they have at least figuratively changed so much in such a small amount of time, their futures literally hang in the balance. Recruits want to know what's going on.
At first when the changes were handed down, recruits shrugged, dismissing it as either inconsequential because those coaches might not have been known to them in the first place to actual agreement, stating that if Nebraska saw the need to make these kinds of changes, it must be for the greater good in the end.
That was then. This is now..........Recruits want answers.
Down in Dodge City, there are a trio of players looking at NU, one in particular looking at the situation very closely as to who they get in and when. "I am looking at it real hard." Dodge City cornerback Donald Defrand said. "Who they get in there, that's going to mean a lot."
When they get them in there might mean also a lot as well.
Every single day that Nebraska waits to make their announcements on who, what, why and all of that, it's another day for recruits to take a second, third and fourth look at them, their situation and at times, second guess what they want to do.
Donald Defrand coming from his visit to NU was the closest thing to a lock you can get without actually committing. He said he was going to commit, wanted to commit, but didn't for the fact that he agreed with his mother that he would evaluate everything before making that decision. The longer the time spans, the more time there is for that effect to wear off and not knowing who your coach is at your position just makes this situation that much worse.
Kyle Caldwell is one of the best rush ends in the country. He's got it all and darn near everyone wants him. He's going to Nebraska for an official in a little over a week. What are the coaches going to say? Is this "limbo" mode they are in going to be over by then or will it be, "Oh, we're getting a coach.....don't you worry"?
If there is one school that can't afford another bad recruiting class, it's NU. A team entrenched in the history of this game at this level, playing above most of the rest for much of the post WWII era. Titles, national and conference. Streaks that set NCAA marks and winning like few teams could ever, have ever or will ever hope to do.
There's also those fans that have filled their stadium since 1962 and they will probably follow NU as Nebraska tries to rebuild, but if you want to just forget that, get back to winning now, recruiting is always where it starts.
As the old saying goes, "The time is now".
Coach Frank Solich is under an immense amount of pressure right now. He's had to fire three coaches, one that was with the University for 30 years. He took it upon himself to delegate his play-calling duties to a party to be named later. He has had to get ready for a bowl with a defensive staff of two and the rest, just trying to make up the difference. Plus, he's had to worry about recruiting.
Yeah, it's the other coaches that are on the road, trying to calm the fears of each prep star, looking at NU with increasingly wavering confidence. They are trying to assure them that though there isn't an established unit on one side or a coordinator on the other side, that won't last for long.
It had better not.
This week is crucial for a lot of reasons. It's the week before one of the largest classes of recruits visiting will be in the capital city. It's just over a week before the JUCO signing day. It's a week where some recruits that have already visited Nebraska want to know why NU hasn't done something to at least curtail these fears they have.
This week would probably be a good time to announce someone for the DC job at least. That was the priority. That was the one everyone pointed to as saying it's need was more than any other. Nebraska needs to do something and now.
Forget the bowl game. Yeah, that's what I said. Forget it. Play it for whatever reason you need to play it, but this is not the most important "game" NU has on the table. It's the recruiting game that matters.
This program doesn't exist based on what happens in the Independence Bowl. It doesn't matter if they win by fifty or lose by fifty in the end. What matters is the future of NU well and beyond not even twenty days away. It's about next year, the next two years and beyond.
It's about the future.
Recruits are that future and NU's continued delay in announcing who will be the DC, thus they being able to figure out who's going to be the other position coaches, well, if you are a recruit and you play defense, you simply have to wonder.
You know Nebraska will get someone good and you know that they will in turn get capable coaches as well. But, you are 18 and change your mind with the wind. You want to know that your future school, this elite institute of higher learning and athletics can at least tell you who your coach will be and when.
That's not much to ask, but it's something they do indeed ask. The question now is, when will NU have the answer.
As their clock ticks, the recruiting clock ticks and with each pass of the hand, a recruit stands on the edge, teetering between this school and another. Coach Solich didn't ask for the situation he is in now, but he is in it knee deep with waders, but there's more at stake here than one game. It's about every game after that.
No coach, no recruit. It could be that simple. Nebraska just better hope they are willing to wait.
Steve Ryan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-730-5619