Tuesday night, Mad Chatter hosted the 2014 Husker coaching draft. The concept was simple. Nine GMs go through — fantasy-football style — picking the man most likely to replace Bo Pelini.
The goal was to pick the next Husker coach, not who you think SHOULD be the next Husker coach. There is a slight difference.
The draft was conducted electronically (mass text message) and took about four hours. It wasn’t easy, but nobody said Shawn Eichorst’s job was easy.
The nine GMs:
Ralph Brown, former Nebraska All-America cornerback
Matt Schick, studio host for ESPNU
Dave Tollefson, two-time Super Bowl champion with the New York Giants, Omaha resident
Kevin Sjuts, sports director at KOLN/KGIN-TV in Lincoln
Jack Mitchell, co-host of “Jack and Dave in the Morning” on 1400 AM KLIN Radio in Lincoln
Zach Potter, former Husker defensive end
Mike'l Severe, host of “The Bottom Line” on Omaha.com
Dirk Chatelain, creative director, executive producer and content manager for "Mad Chatter"
And finally, Tunnel Walk of Shame, the site famous for its Husker football game previews.
Without further ado, your 2014 Husker coaching draft (with short explanations offered by the GMs):
1 — Brown selects Kirby Smart, Alabama defensive coordinator. With a last name like that, how can you lose?
2 — Schick selects Scott Frost, Oregon offensive coordinator. He knows what a national championship team at Nebraska looks like. I’m also counting on him convincing Marcus Mariota to transfer, sit out a year and lead Nebraska to a title in 2016.
3 — Tollefson selects Jon Gruden, Monday Night Football. Any big-name head coaching job has to have Jon included. He’s also a pretty damn good coach.
4 — Sjuts selects Tom Herman, Ohio State offensive coordinator. Having dealt with OSU’s major injuries this year, he’ll be attracted to the Huskers’ trend of senior injuries.
5 — Mitchell selects Jim Tressel, Youngstown State president. Really wanted to trade down with the upside left on the board, but I’ll stick to my theory that if you’re taking a job you want to keep secret, you don’t tell your friend, the sports radio host, even if he is a former player.
6 — Potter selects David Shaw, Stanford head coach. Not the guy everyone expects from the Pac-12, but the guy with the Big Ten offense!
7 — Severe selects Gary Patterson, TCU head coach. He's ready to return to the Midwest and his roots.
8 — Chatelain selects Dan Mullen, Mississippi State head coach. After living in Starkville, Lincoln will feel like Vegas.
9 — Tunnel Walk of Shame selects Rich Rodriguez, Arizona head coach. We took Michigan’s title in ’97 and made it look pretty good in our trophy case. Might as well do the same with their old coach.
10 — Tunnel Walk of Shame selects Kyle Whittingham, Utah head coach. Because his name has “ham” in it.
11 — Chatelain selects Troy Calhoun, Air Force head coach. Because Shawn Eichorst’s favorite movie is Top Gun.
12 — Severe selects Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State head coach. He's a man and he and T Boone are on the outs.
13 — Potter selects Justin Fuente, Memphis head coach. Because deep down he always wanted to be a Husker instead of a Sooner.
14 — Mitchell selects Greg Schiano, former Rutgers coach. If the majority of the first round has taught me anything it’s that I must have a relatively pessimistic outlook on what’s likely. So I’ll keep that going with Schiano.
15 — Sjuts selects Paul Chryst, Pittsburgh head coach (and former Badgers offensive coordinator). Nebraska is the new Wisconsin.
16 — Tollefson selects Mel Tjeerdsma, former coach of Northwest Missouri State (Tollefson’s alma mater). Since Nebraska wants a championship coach and can’t get Nicky from Alabama, I choose Tjeerdsma, the next best thing. Championship pedigree at its best.
17 — Schick selects Jerry Kill, Minnesota head coach. If you can’t beat ‘em, hire ‘em. Since Gary Andersen is likely unavailable, I go Jerry Kill. Plus, when he’s on the hot seat, those who support him can be called “Killers.”
18 — Brown selects Craig Bohl, Wyoming head coach. Three straight national championships (built NDSU program on Osborne philosophy).
19 — Brown selects Pat Narduzzi, Michigan State defensive coordinator. I just like him.
20 — Schick selects Matt Wells, Utah State head coach. If you can’t beat ‘em, hire the guy who was under him (Andersen).
21 — Tollefson selects David Cutcliffe, Duke head coach. Not a guy doing more with less in the country. Time to join a real football school.
22 — Sjuts selects Turner Gill, Liberty head coach. His failures at KU weren’t a Turner Gill problem, they were a Kansas problem.
23 — Mitchell selects Mark Richt, Georgia head coach. It’s always a good idea to replace a coach with one of the few big names he recently outcoached on a national stage.
24 — Potter selects Al Golden, Miami head coach. We fired Bo because of his game-day attire so why not make it a formal occasion with a guy in a shirt and tie every Saturday?
25 — Severe selects Willie Fritz, Georgia Southern head coach. The kind of program builder that would go along with what Tim Miles is doing in basketball.
26 — Chatelain selects Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern head coach. Because he’s tired of seeing more red than purple in his home stadium. Actually, that wouldn't change, would it?
27 — Tunnel Walk of Shame selects Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech head coach. He will run the quadruple option offense, which is the triple option with the added element of Imani Cross literally eating defenders.
28 — Tunnel Walk of Shame selects Tom Osborne, college football playoff committee member. He will be accompanied by both Pelini brothers in kind of a Weekend at Bernie's situation.
29 — Chatelain selects Bret Bielema, Arkansas head coach. Because Woo Pig Sooie is as scary as Dana Altman told him it was.
30 — Severe selects Doc Holliday, Marshall head coach. Has a cool name and a cooler six-shooter.
31 — Potter selects Ed Orgeron, former Ole Miss head coach. The guy can recruit and we Nebraskans love us some recruiting!
32 — Mitchell selects Bronco Mendenhall, BYU head coach. Mainly for the scouting advantage against BYU next year.
33 — Sjuts selects Joe Moglia, Coastal Carolina head coach. Because he could single-handedly pay Bo’s buyout.
34 — Tollefson selects Tosh Lupoi, Alabama assistant. Was recruiter of the year at Cal, so you know he can recruit. Also a young guy that can lead UNL for 30 years. He’s also one of my best friends!
35 — Schick selects Steve Addazio, Boston College head coach. Part of a national championship staff under Urban Meyer. More importantly, the best sound bite nobody knows about. (Tim) Miles and Addazio would be the Laurel and Hardy of the Midwest.
36 — Brown selects Tim Murphy, Harvard head coach. Why wouldn’t you want a guy from Harvard on your team? Plus he’s the winningest coach in Harvard history. Probably could apply an algorithm to every aspect of the Nebraska job.
(OK, this is the start of the final round ... and the point at which the draft came off the rails).
37 — Brown selects Chuck Norris, action hero. Need I say more?
38 — Schick selects Lane Kiffin, Alabama offensive coordinator. Even Steve Pederson says this list is too long. Well, since I can’t remember the name of Yale’s head coach, Western Michigan’s P.J. Fleck is younger than me (34) and Art Briles is locked up through 2023, I’ll go Kiffin. You could do worse than the OC of the national champions.
39 — Tollefson selects Pat Behrns, former UNO coach. The University of Nebraska does the right thing and gives Pat a football team to coach.
40 — Sjuts selects Mack Brown, former Texas head coach. Ever heard that guy gush over Nebraska?
41 — Mitchell selects Dave Doeren, North Carolina State head coach. Holy crap I hope they don’t hire Dave Doeren.
42 — Potter selects Matt Turman, Omaha Skutt High School head coach. Turman gets his shot after winning championships at Skutt. Knows all about Husker tradition and before he graduated from UNL, I’m sure he said in his Terminator voice, “I’ll be back.”
43 — Severe selects Larry Coker, Texas-San Antonio head coach. No one does scoop and score like Larry.
44 — Chatelain selects Bob Davie, New Mexico head coach. Because his Lincoln cable bill is 11 years past due.
45 — Tunnel Walk of Shame selects Taylor Martinez. I want a return to glory. I want a vocal leader. A family man. YOLO.
Remember, the goal is to pick the next coach, not compile the best team. These were the final results (leaving out the final-round picks):
Ralph Brown: Kirby Smart, Craig Bohl, Pat Narduzzi, Tim Murphy
Matt Schick: Scott Frost, Jerry Kill, Matt Wells, Steve Addazio
Dave Tollefson: Jon Gruden, Mel Tjeersdma, David Cutcliffe, Tosh Lupoi
Kevin Sjuts: Tom Herman, Paul Chryst, Turner Gill, Joe Moglia
Jack Mitchell: Jim Tressel, Greg Schiano, Mark Richt, Bronco Mendenhall
Zach Potter: David Shaw, Justin Fuente, Al Golden, Ed Orgeron
Mike’l Severe: Gary Patterson, Mike Gundy, Willie Fritz, Doc Holliday
Dirk Chatelain: Dan Mullen, Troy Calhoun, Pat Fitzgerald, Bret Bielema
Tunnel Walk of Shame: Rich Rodriguez, Kyle Whittingham, Paul Johnson, Tom Osborne
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>> “Why is Bo Pelini out of a job and Kirk Ferentz isn't?” The Oklahoman’s Berry Tramel asks the question and comes up with a rather bizarre answer:
The Huskers still have a great fan base (so does Iowa, by the way) and a huge stadium and lots of money and great expectations. But Nebraska has lost its recruiting base, has lost its national cachet and has lost its status. Playing Nebraska once meant playing the Pittsburgh Steelers. Now it's playing the Cincinnati Bengals. Not a bad team. Capable of beating you. But nothing to be scared of.
If you know that's what you are, you're not firing a coach going 9-4 or 10-4 every season. If you still think you're the Tom Osborne Huskers, you go looking for the next Osborne.
Meanwhile, Iowa knows it's Iowa. The Hawkeyes make a major bowl about every 7-10 years. The 2009 Hawkeyes made the Orange Bowl. The 2002 Hawkeyes made the Orange Bowl. The 1990 Hawkeyes made the Rose Bowl. The 1985 Hawkeyes made the Rose Bowl. The 1981 Hawkeyes made the Rose Bowl.
Hawkeye Nation realizes that. Iowa doesn't think Ferentz ought to be 11-1 when he goes 8-4. Doesn't think Ferentz should coach the Hawkeyes past Wisconsin on a regular basis.
The truth is, Wisconsin is the best program in the Big Ten West. Iowa knows it. Nebraska doesn't. So Bo Pelini is out of a job and Kirk Ferentz isn't.
So, according to Tramel, Nebraska shouldn’t make a move because it should know its place in college football? I’m sorry, but I think a lot of the same could’ve been said about Oklahoma in 1997. Then OU hired Bob Stoops.
>> You want to know the biggest reason the Pac-12 has arguably been college football’s best conference the past two years? Coaches.
Since 2011, the league has brought in Mike Leach, Jim Mora, Todd Graham, Rich Rodriguez and Chris Petersen. The Big Ten brought in Urban Meyer and James Franklin, but after that it’s a bunch of small-conference guys. That’s not necessarily a bad thing — Gary Andersen and Jerry Kill can clearly coach.
But coaching hires do represent how committed a program is to winning. Adam Rittenberg of ESPN covers this ground, saying Michigan and Nebraska need to make a splash.
>> The story of UAB football is really sad, partly because we’ve seen it at UNO.
>> This piece by Dave Sheinin is crazy. An ex-college football player assumed a friend's identity and used it to score a scholarship.
>> Finally, back to Eichorst. At least three things signal to me that Nebraska’s A.D. already has his man — or is pretty darn close.
1 — No search firm. This is a big “tell” in my opinion. Search firms are a routine part of the process these days. If an A.D. doesn’t contract one, he must be pretty sure whom he wants.
2 — One of an agent’s favorite tricks is getting his client’s name in the paper every time there’s a coaching search. It often leads to a salary raise. Even if not, it lets a coach’s fan base know he’s desired. We’ve heard almost zero reports tying a coach to Nebraska. Nor have we heard of “Eichorst sightings” around the country.
3 — Eichorst made it clear Sunday that Nebraska wouldn’t be constrained by finances. In other words, there’s a boatload of cash in Lincoln for the right coach. That sounds like something you’d say if indeed you had a big-name coach coming to town.
4 — Eichorst has had more than 365 days to think about this. He was in the same position in November 2013, unsure if he’d fire Pelini, and likely had a very short list then.
Read the tea leaves with me, Husker fans. Am I missing something?
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