World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel sits down with first-year A.D. Shawn Eichorst to discuss his role at the helm of the Husker athletic department.
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Q: Any surprises so far, good or bad?
A: All positive surprises. What our staff has been able to do with the football and volleyball and basketball ticket sales is remarkable. Just really stepped up to the plate. Not surprised, but I am surprised. That's what I expected from the outside looking in, and we're seeing it happen.
Q: As a guy coming in from the outside, is the Nebraska football “brand” what it used to be?
A: I think we have as much presence nationally as anyone. I think that's firmly cemented. I don't think that's ever going away. We played for three conference championships in four years, last time I looked. A lot of people would like to be in that position. We all get the fact that there are high expectations here at Nebraska. But we're not far away.
Q: Get any advice from Tom Osborne that stands out?
A: Coach and I talk quite a bit. He's given me good advice. I think the strongest piece of advice he gave me is be yourself. Lead the way you know how, with respect and integrity, lead with values and be positive. I probably learned more from Coach by watching him, seeing how he conducts himself.
Q: How much do you know about Steve Pederson?
A: I don't know a ton about Steve. I got a chance to spend time with Steve and Tami when we let Pitt into the ACC. We had a good relationship.
Q: Do you know anything about his time here? Do you want to know?
A: Not really. I don't really look back. I just try to stay focused on my own business. There are two sides to every story.
Q: There's a perception already that you won't be a visible A.D. The format of your radio show was changed to include more athlete features and less of you. Is that part of that?
A: I'm doing a column on Huskers.com. What I hope to do with that is what I hope to do on the radio show: give some attention to people who don't normally get it, so our supporters get to know all the things we do. That's what this is all about. Heck, I could talk for an hour. I'd rather our people really get to sample what's happening. These are real people. I know I've got to be out there, and I'm comfortable with that.
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Q: Do you like how the Big Ten divisions were split?
A: Absolutely. Everything runs in cycles. A group, we're better when all of us are striving for championships, and as I sit around the table with my brethren, I see that. The divisions make sense, they make sense for the league, for Nebraska and for the fans. You can run any metrics or optics you want, but competitively they were pretty balanced over the last 20 years. At the end of the day, you've got to go win games.
Q: The student sections I've seen at various Big Ten football stadiums are large and have an impact. What can you do to grow the presence of students at Nebraska football games — and draw them to games in the future with so many distractions out there?
A: I haven't been here enough to know. But that would be a priority, absolutely. We have to strive in that direction. It's hard to manufacture some of that stuff. You just try to do the best you can. What I've seen so far with volleyball and basketball, our students are passionate. They're into it. You have to be progressive.
Q: This is an interesting time for men's basketball. Would you like to help transform that program during your tenure?
A: I think there is a hunger for quality basketball. In my short time here, when I talk to people, they talk about that. When I see the passion we have for other sports, and I see the new arena, I can envision a time when that is the toughest ticket in the state.
Q: You talk about the Nebraska Way. Can that survive in a world of social media and instant gratification, and more pressures and demands with bigger money and playoffs, etc.?
A: I think the Nebraska Way is tried and true. That doesn't mean you get complacent or try and stop time. If you're not living, you're dying. What we need to do is continue to be who we are but also be progressive. We're thinking about our facilities. I'm thinking about the connectivity of our facilities with smartphones and that sort of stuff. How we can improve the fan experience, especially when we know the technology in your hand is so good, and the TVs at home are exceptional. All of our games for the most part are on. To me, there's nothing like the true and genuine live event. We can continue the Nebraska Way and continue unrelenting pursuit of championships, but we're not going to change how we do that. We're not going to cut corners.
Q: Nebraska fans want to win the right way, but some people are getting impatient with Bo Pelini. Is doing it the right way and contending for titles enough, or do you want more?
A: As long as you're doing all those other things (right way) and competing at a high level, in a very visible and competitive business that we're in ... I don't think anyone wants to win more than Bo. And Bo will win some championships. He will win some championships.
— Tom Shatel