What The Firing of Nebraska Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst Means
Nebraska has parted ways with athletic director Shawn Eichorst after five years. What does it all mean?
Nebraska parted ways with Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst today effective immediately. Hired in 2012, the university will have to buy out approximately $1.7 Million for the remaining portion of his contract.
In a press conference today, Chancellor Ronnie Green sited play in the competitive environments as the reason for the move stating, “We’re not satisfied with the results.”
If you believe the spin of the moment, it is apparently not just about football. Green insisted that he was “talking about competitiveness in all sports.”
Nebraska is first and foremost a football school. It brings in the majority of the revenue for all other sports, and there is a proud, proud history as one of the top programs in the country.
That has unfortunately not been the case for years now, and it has continued on the field under Eichorst’s watch — most painfully so last Saturday in a loss at home to MAC opponent Northern Illinois.
Do any of us really believe this would be the news of the day in college football had Nebraska found a way to close the deal last weekend?
What this is, is a statement that the program is tired of not living up to the expectations of history. Frankly, the program hasn’t been the same since Tom Osborne road off into the sunset despite going through four head men in that time frame.
This is yet another effort to spark a renaissance in the program that has been spinning its wheels more often than not, without a true identity.
And now, Mike Riley has to be wondering when the next shoe will drop. The Nebraska administration will now be in the hunt for a new athletic director, one that will have no ties to Riley. One that will want to put his or her stamp on the program.
Sure, whomever backs the U-haul up to the athletic offices in Lincoln will say all the right things regarding patience, and an assessment period, etc., but there’s already a slow burn history there that won’t end well unless this Nebraska team makes a turn on a dime and starts win in a big way … yesterday.
Riley has an NFL pedigree and was able to do some overachieving things at Oregon State, but that has yet to translate over to Big Red where simply making a bowl game is not nearly enough. And now heads have begun to roll, with Eichorst being the first.
But should this be happening?
There are some built in disadvantages in Lincoln, not the least of which is the footprint the program sits in. It has increasingly been a hard sell to get four and five star kids to come to a state lacking a substantial recruiting base. One that’s not glamorous, or that has an it factor.
And as the program has slid further and further into mediocrity, the kids coming out of school now, know little about the history and pedigree of national championships, Heisman winners and all the mystique that goes along with Nebraska football.
It’ll be interesting to see where the search lands, but whichever way it goes, the athletic director will have a tall, tall order trying to restore what’s been lost in Lincoln.
Sooner or later though, a move was bound to happen. It almost had to happen, it just didn’t feel like now was that moment.
Sadly, it would appear that it’s only a matter of time before Mike Riley is not a part of that equation either — barring a miraculous turn-around.
Phil Harrison is the lead Big Ten writer for College Football News. Get his opinion and analysis all year long. Follow him on Twitter @PhilHarrisonCFB