As ridiculous as it sounds, each day coach Frank Solich waits to decide on his new offensive coordinator, he's a day closer to signing away a potentially solid class of recruits. With the late-season disappointments of Jammal Lord and the questionable status of Curt Dukes' health, the need for a QB became urgent, but evidently not enough to push Solich into a quicker ending to this drama.
How has that effected recruiting? Well, just ask Walter Washington, a JUCO QB that was the one realistic chance NU had at getting a QB that could come in right away and at least push for a chance at the top spot. He's now going to Temple because, "we weren't comfortable with how Nebraska is offensively." Not comfortable and why should he be? After all, he doesn't even know what kind of offense it's going to be. With this ever-expanding elapse in time in choosing a new offensive coordinator, questions about whether NU is going to be the same old NU are not only there, but logical.
And still, nobody seems to be in that big of a hurry.
The advocates of the process will say that Solich is taking his time, evaluating all candidates and like choosing Pelini, making sure that it's right, because there's no taking it back. And what of a couple recruits here and there? You get one great coach and you've trumped the loss of a couple of prep stars over time.
The thing is, with each recruit that looks the other way or is looking with curious eyes because of NU's lack of urgency, the pressure mounts on coach Solich to not only get someone, but someone that can be considered worth a Washington, a Jackson and whoever else decides to go someplace else, because Nebraska didn't want to give them any answers.
The initial belief here was that coach Turner Gill was the odds-on favorite for the job. He knows the system, has been part of the system for years and if anyone had the "in" to the position, it was him. After all, if NU was to maintain the "look" they have if not the duplication down to the motions and sets of what they have, Gill would be the man for the job.
As names like Gundy, Cotton and now, Peterson have all come to the head as candidates being interviewed for the job, it's looking more and more like Turner Gill is either going to be out of the mix entirely or will have to share the offensive coordinator position with someone from the outside.
A question though. If you were that guy coming in from the outside and you knew that you would have to share your duties as an O.C. with a guy that had been with the program for years and played there and was essentially a legend, would you want to go to NU? You would have to look at yourself as either someone brought in to groom and tutor Gill into understanding other aspects of the power running game coupled with a more balanced attack, so that he can eventually become head coach at NU or you would have to have faith that your opinion was going to be taken with and sometimes, over someone that was already entrenched.
I'm not buying it.
This whole process smells far more than that of the choosing of a defensive coordinator. Rumors abound that it's not just Solich but Milt Tenopir that could be helping to hold up this final decision. That Solich has no more control now than he ever did, because the tails that wagged the dog in the first place are still there, still wagging, still keeping progress at bay.
Whatever it is, there is a dangerous trade-off that is going on as recruits are looking and wondering just what in the heck is going on.
Tommy Zbikowski, one of the most recruited athletes in the country is looking and has openly said that he's waiting to see what NU is going to do on offense. But, how long will even he wait?
A young man who can play both DB and QB, but has an obvious love of the signal-calling position, how long will even he wait for coach Solich to make a decision?
Nebraska is what it is and though people say it doesn't attract the best of the best, it attracts some of those, but a whole lot more of kids that simply want to be Huskers. So unique they are in how they have done things and so incredible the success they have had doing it, those kids that flock to NU do so because of their way of doing things.
Since the Colorado game of last year though, that way of doing things has gotten NU to the point of near collapse, losing almost every major positive streak they have and having a non-winning season for the first time since before Bob Devaney held the reins at NU.
So, changes had to be made. So, you fire some here, hire some there, move some here, move some there and wham, bam, there ya go, back to the formula for success. It's never that easy of course as the success depends on those people running the show and those kids on the field doing the running for them.
Not to quote an old Husker adversary, but Barry Switzer said that it's not the alignment or the alignors, but it's the alignees. That would indicate that players ultimately make the difference and it's those players, especially on the offensive side that are simply waiting for an answer.
We just went through this though, didn't we? Yes and no. Yes in that it's the choosing of someone extremely important to the future success of NU, but no in that, that process didn't take NU into the beginning of the last month before "signing day". As cutting things close go, Solich is dancing on the razor's edge.
There are simply too many questions that come from this kind of hesitancy. What is he waiting for and is it all him? How much control does he have, who else is involved and if there is someone else, should they be? Where's Turner Gill in all this and will Nebraska lose him to and also, will NU change their way of doing things and how much?
If you were an offensive recruit, wouldn't you ask these questions? Wouldn't you want to know? Walter Washington wanted to know and now, he's a future Owl.
It's obvious that I would sit here and ask the questions, because that's what I do. I write about things, speculate about things and wonder what's the reason for this or that. But, when a recruit openly wonders and bases his decision on the feedback he's getting from NU and their plans and he then subsequently receives none, well, that's a problem.
It's like playing the trading game, only coach Solich is playing with players, because the decision on who his offensive coordinator is ultimately his. Out of his candidates, it's his choice to decide who will be the next O.C. and who won't. Those players though, it's not his choice, it's theirs and all they want is someone to tell them just what in the heck is going on.
How many players is one good offensive coordinator worth?
We're about to find out.
Steve Ryan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-730-5619