Opening statement:

“Okay. Last time I was in this room I was answering questions about whether I was a John Deere guy or not. Seems like about five years ago. Good afternoon everyone. At 9:00 this morning I met with Mike Riley and notified him at that time that I was going to relieve him of his duties as head coach of Nebraska football. We talked for about 15-20 minutes. It was no surprise to me that he took that very, very well. Incredibly wonderful human being and a very, very good football coach. At 9:30 I had a chance to sit down with the assistant coaches and talk to them about the fact that Mike had been terminated. Told them that all obligations obviously to them were going to be kept and had members of my staff in the room to address questions. At 10:00 I met with the Husker football players, not all of them are in town as you might guess, but I think roughly maybe 60-70 percent of them, and had a similar discussion with them at which time I told them that linebacker coach Trent Bray was going to be the interim head coach and that he would be in charge until a permanent head coach is hired and which I do not have a time schedule for that. So as I mentioned several times to many of you, I had five weeks to observe and assess the Nebraska football program.

"From the very beginning I wanted to weigh all of my options, and one of those was retention. But as you know so well during that period of time we went 1-4 had three blowout losses, and I just didn’t feel that the program was progressing like I’d hoped it would. I appreciate the confidence and faith that Chancellor Green and President Bounds have put into me and starting early today we’re in full-fledged search for a new coach for the Nebraska football program. I did feel, because I know this will come up, that our fan base, our storied fan base, is fractured and fragile. That’s very concerning to me. These fans have been through a lot over the last 20 years. They and certainly the university and all involved, in my opinion, deserve to be in a position to be back competing for championships in the Big Ten Conference and nationally. So that’s going to be the intent. I told the players today nobody wants to go 4-8. I want to get this program to where we’re disappointed if we go 8-4, and that can happen again. Everything is set here, and I have observed and assessed that. This table is set as well as any place in the United States in regards to resources, facilities, infrastructure and fan support. It’s all right here. It’s a very appealing position in a very prestigious conference with wonderful leadership, and I’m not including myself, I’m primarily talking about President Bounds and Chancellor Green. I feel privileged to be in that leadership group and I’m going to find a real good fit for our next football coach. So with that, I think I’ll start taking questions, and fire away.”

What he’s looking for in the next football coach:

"We talk about fit. This is a unique place at Nebraska, and the right fit first of all has to have somebody with tremendous morals, a good teacher, a good mentor, someone who is competitive, and preferably has head coaching experience in major college football. I think those are the kind of people that we can attract and certainly that’s what we’re going to target.

"Major college football is basically FBS, I could have been more specific and said Power Five, but ideally someone who’s coached in the FBS as a head coach.”

Whether he’s been in contact with anyone representing Scott Frost:

”I have had third-party people involved with the several agents representing representative search firms. That’s no secret. I said in my opening remarks that I was assessing things and checking all my options, and that’s the best way to do that is to have somebody else doing all that legwork on some of these people that I feel could be a good fit.”

How many candidates he’s identified:

“I’d say six. I had six originally, you heard about the list in the top drawer, I expanded that to six this time. All I thought, and think they’re very good options.

Financial restrictions:

“It’s not an unlimited budget. I try to be sensible when we’re doing this but at the same time we have to compete in the market, and we’re willing to do that. Those are usually pretty big dollars.”

What he thinks is the perception of the Nebraska job:

“For all the reasons I just described it’s a good job. I’m going to get more specific now. We have a support staff of over 350 full-time employees. We have as fine of facilities, and I’ll just zero in on football, as there is in the country. And I’ve seen about all of them. We’ve got a unique fan base that has, as you all know, filled Memorial Stadium since 1962. We’re the only show in the state. There’s so many things that are appealing to Nebraska, what we need to do is get the brand back out there, as I talked about in my press conference, and dust it off and get it back to being a source of pride. And that’s a matter of making good decisions, and this is certainly a big decision that I have every reason to believe will be a good one.”

When he knew for sure it was time to move on from the current staff:

“I didn’t feel good after the Minnesota game. But that was kind of in conjunction with other things that I like to look at in regards to how the players themselves are progressing. Again, Mike Riley and his people do a marvelous job, it just got started going the wrong way and when that happens you have to fight factors like morale problems, injuries, some of these things that you’ve noticed as you’ve covered the games, and even culture. And those are all fixable but you add them all up and it usually does not show well on the scoreboard. I’m not pointing fingers at anybody, it just got out of hand it seemed to me. In the Minnesota game on the road, an opponent that realistically we, I thought should have had a very good chance of defeating and we didn’t play our best game.”

Naming Trent Bray interim head coach:

“In just four-and-a-half to five weeks of being here, I didn’t really get to know many of the coaches. I just let them coach, and they were doing a very good job of recruiting and trying to hang on to recruits. But I’ve known Trent Bray for a long, long time. He is the son of Craig Bray, who was the defensive coordinator at Arizona State for Dennis Erickson, who my son played for, and Trent was one of his coaches. I knew him, respected him, and to me, that was someone that I knew I could trust and had the respect of the players.”

If he has offered the head coach position to anyone and been turned down:

“No.”

The timetable for filling the head coach position:

“Well, there’s coaches that are interested in the job. I have not offered it to anybody and they said no, as was the question (before]. The sooner the better, and that’s why you’ve got to be actively working things prior to today to gauge the interest. We’ve got an early signing period on the 20th through the 22nd of December. That’s something new this year, and it would be nice, obviously, to have someone in place with a staff quite a ways prior to that in a perfect world. We’ve still got seasons going, there’s games today, there’s conference championship games, and then we go into the bowl season, too, and so there’s lots of college football still to be played. But having said that, this is the time of year where these types of decisions and moves are made. So, a lot of dominoes start to roll right now and there will be more coaches become available, and have just in the last two to three days.”

If he thinks the early signing period has changed the perspective of potential candidates for the head coach position:

“I want to touch on that because the early signing period is a factor, but not to the degree that we should make a bad decision just so we make sure we sign one or two players early. I will say this, if we bump against that early signing period and we’re not there yet, the sky isn’t falling. It’s more important that this is a hire that provides stability and a true identity to our football program, and so, even though I do feel (hiring a coach in time to recruit before Signing Day] is important, it’s not a priority in the grand scheme of things here.”

If Trent Bray or any current coaches are going on the road to recruit this week:

“No.”

Will he talk to any recruits himself?

“That has not been my practice, unless they’ve come to campus, but within the rules, I’ll do whatever we need to do, and sometimes just to calm prospects and their parents down. I’ve just done that on occasion, not a lot, but the competitiveness in college football in recruiting is every bit as competitive as on the field itself, so, believe me, when this press release went out, there are other schools going to our committed players or prospects right now and telling them all kinds of things that probably aren’t true, and so, any way I can assist in that regard, I will be available.”

How quickly he can expect a new coach to turn around the Nebraska football program:

“I would have to get their assessment of our roster, as it sits now. What style of play. Many times, I’ll use Mike Leach, my coach at Washington State, if he were to leave and someone came in that wanted to run the veer option, it’s probably going to take four years, because the players (to run that system] aren’t there. So, that is one of the factors I like to look at in regards to the fit part, and I believe, and again, because as I mentioned earlier, the table is set, the usual rule of thumb is year three. The places I’ve been before, we had to build and create everything that we already have here, so even three was a little bit early. It was four and sometimes five. But at Nebraska, depending on what the offense is, the defensive scheme, two and probably more realistically three (years].

On Scott Frost:

“Well Scott Frost, and I’ve said this to the media is a very good football coach. He’s in the heat of trying to win a conference championship. He’s obviously a Nebraskan and he’s getting a lot of attention from several other schools. Scott is someone I am considering, but I’m being very sensitive to that fact that he’s still coaching a team and he’s having a heck of a run. I saw the very end of his game last night in my suite here and that kickoff return – that was pretty special, but I’ve never said I was going after Scott Frost. A lot of other people have. I’ll let you read my email sometime – that I should be going after Scott Frost. You know what? That’s a tribute to Nebraskans. He’s one of ours, played for us and has gone on and paid his dues. He’s got a good job that I believe he really likes. He’s got a lot of interest.”

Is Scott Frost his priority?

“I don’t have a priority right now.”

The assistants being let go:

“It is because they are tied (to Mike Riley’s contract] and all the contractual stuff. They all received letters. These are tough things to do. You can’t be in the business as long as I have, and many of them without having gone through it at least once or twice and in rare cases and unfortunate cases more than that. I hire head coaches and head coaches hire their assistants and I would give the new coach every bit of flexibility to create his staff however he wants. I think we’ve got some talented coaches here and I think we’ve got coaches that think very highly of Nebraska and feel we can recruit here. Having said that, I haven’t really gotten to know any of them except for Trent (Bray] very, very well at this point.”

The current staff:

“We’re good to keep one or two in regards to recruiting. Trent (Bray] needs to focus on the current players academic situation, going to class, workouts, strength and conditioning, and of course behavioral things too. When you have this kind of transition where no one is manning the ship, things can go a little bit sideways. We will keep one or two operations people that will be primarily focused on the recruiting aspect. Making sure that those who are committed continue to have conversation so that we hang onto them until the new coaching staff can get here.”

The search for a new coach:

“I’ve got a pretty good network out there. I have drawn on acquaintances and very good friends who happen to work for search firms. I haven’t signed a contract with anybody, but certainly draw from their expertise. They can get through to agents. In today’s world almost all of these head coaches have agents, and they want the agents to be the ones talking to the headhunters. There’s rarely any face-to-face conversation.”

The style of football needed:

“A winning style. People say he can’t throw the ball in the Big Ten, but I don’t agree with that. I for one like a balanced attack, but I’m not the coach. I think you do need to run the ball. More importantly, I think you need to stop the run. They’re both important. I do feel in recent years and to some degree dating back earlier than Nebraska, a dual-threat quarterback is needed that can stretch the defense. If you have a good one, it’s nearly impossible to stop. Then you throw a little option in with that, a couple big tight ends and gifted receivers. Let’s get the Blackshirts back to being the Blackshirts. Nebraska has been known for defense, and we need to get the defense back. I know this is an old cliché that offenses fill the stadium and defenses win championships. You might be fortunate enough to have both, and Nebraska has had both many times. Five of them are right down by the elevator downstairs. I force myself to go by those everyday when I come to work. That has proved to work in Nebraska, primarily in Big 12 days. It’s hard to defend and that’s probably my favorite offense. When I was in Oregon, for the 12 years that Mike Buloti and I were together, we were the most successful football program in the Pac-10. He came to me one day right about the time I was leaving and said, ‘Bill I think we are getting stale on offense and predictable. I want to try a little something to put more flair in this.' And that’s when he hired Chip Kelly as his offensive coordinator, and the rest is history there. They’re going to have to deal with that with UCLA now.”

On Chip Kelly:

“I had people talk to Chip. He’s a good football coach and he needs to be coaching. He’s been out of it for a year and it looks like he’s choking to death with that tie on ESPN. I’m sure he wants to get back to the visor and short sleeve windbreaker.”

Turning the program around:

“I think two or three years depending on what style. Winning nine games is no small feat. We have a lot of nine plus win teams that I walk by on the suite levels. Those are great football teams. But there wasn’t the parody in college football that you see today. I’m not saying that those still wouldn’t have won nine or 10 games, but there aren’t any real gimmies anymore. You’ve got to utilize what you have and the traditions and all those things. I think they’re still important. But you have to appeal to today’s young person and coaching staffs have to adapt. I think we’ve done a real good job here. I’m talking about social media and all those things. So the Big Ten is the Big Ten and there are fourteen tough programs. There are fourteen good ones that can compete. Sometimes it’s cyclical, but you look at the ones who are traditionally on the top. You’ve heard them: Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, and Nebraska needs to be in that same conversation. All I’m saying is that they’ve been able to sustain it. They’re taken some dips. No one had a bigger challenge than Penn State in the past few years and I tip my hat to them. They got back there, Michigan’s getting back to it, Ohio State keeps pounding, and Nebraska needs to get back to being Nebraska. What’s wrong with that? I’m not going to judge anyone because I was doing other things way back when, but I have an old saying, ‘If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.’ The we went into damage control for a little bit and we’re going to climb out of that. We want Nebraska to get back to being Nebraska, and when it is, we will catch right back on. May I take another moment to really salute this incredible fan base. I got all five of my kids here yesterday, and two of my boys who are major college football players. I had them down on the field and they’ve got their cell phone videos going the whole time saying ‘Wow’ and ‘Would you look at that!’ And these are guys that are playing the game. I hope that this is never taken for granted. And for any young man to run out of that tunnel and out into nearly 90,000 red clad fans, that’s a thrill of a lifetime. That needs to be coveted and that needs to mean something again. And we will get there.”

The second half of the Iowa game:

“I had two Runzas. They’re pretty good. I’ve had a lot of pleasant surprises after getting to Nebraska, but that’s a pretty good one. I think yesterday was and illustration of how the season has gone. We were holding on and then a series of mistakes turned momentum to the opponent and we never got it back. It’s hard to watch for the seniors because that’s their last taste in their mouth. They’ve worked hard and this is the place they chose and it didn’t work out their senior year for them.”

Listening to fans:

“I listen to the fans. These are passionate fans. For the most part, they are very polite and have suggestions. But if I’m not hearing from the fans, then that’s a true sign that apathy has bared its ugly head. And it has a little bit. You can tell by the empty seats in the third quarter. I saw that on television before I came out for the third quarter. As I toured the state, how many times I’ve heard, ‘We’ve had season tickets for four generations,’ and ‘We drive four hours there and back to games’ time after time. You don’t hear that everywhere. I know the Midwest is different, and I’m thrilled to be here, but since 1962, to have filled the stadium, that is special. For fans to be patient as they have and I know they are discouraged, I take it seriously that I care about them and the product that they see and pay for on the field. I never want to see that stadium empty in the third quarter again.”

Potential coaches:

“Kevin Sumlin and James Franklin were both graduate assistants at Washington State for Mike Price. They are both very good football coaches. Did Kevin (Sumlin] get let go? No, he may win eight games. And that SEC, they eat their young. I’ve said worse. You just look at the record of the coach at an adequate time, there’s no patience. It’s a great conference but you win eight games in that conference, and I think Kevin (Sumlin] is a real good coach and an excellent recruiter. I don’t know Bret Bielema real well. Dan Mullin is a good coach. I served on a NCAA work force with him and was very impressed. Chris Peterson I’ve known since he was out of diapers. He was our receiver’s coach at Oregon before he went to Boise State. I think he’s very happy where he’s at. Our Cougars are going to give him a whipping today, but he’s very happy where he’s at. Billy is in a contract as the assistant coach that is tied to the head coach. There’s a lot of those support people that aren’t tied directly to the head coach, but would be subject to being terminated if

Program concerns:

“I notice little things. Observing and assessing isn’t what we are doing on 3rd-and-3 inside the 20, but about what’s going on day-to-day and all of that. There are a lot of good things, but there were some disturbing things in regards to the morale and discipline. Discipline isn’t just getting to practice on time; it’s how you wear your uniform. Are you consistent with your teammates or are you drawing on yourself. And those little things add up to big things. Mike Riley has always been a disciplined coach, but when things start to go, the popcorn is stale, the parking is terrible, I can’t get to my seats, and the hotdogs are cold as I learned on my very first night on the radio. It’s amazing how that all goes away when you’re winning nine or ten or eleven games. But that’s the nature of the beast.”

The little things:

“I’m a stickler about having clean locker rooms and charter airplanes. I think we have really good young men, but some of those things get out of hand when you’re starting to snowball the other way. The Nebraska uniform should be worn with tremendous pride. To me, that’s like wearing a Yankee uniform, Green Bay Packers, or Boston Celtics uniform. One way or the other, whether I made this move today or not, these things were going to be taken care of from my chair if nobody else’s. I’m a stickler on the little things that can make a difference.”

Closing statement:

“This will be the last that I’ll be available to you. I’ll be very busy. This is an amazing media core, which is why I wanted to answer as many questions as I could today. The next time I’ll be available is when I introduce our next coach. Secondly, when I met with Mike (Riley] today, we had a really good talk. I said ‘The media is going to be assemble, and if you want to take advantage of them being here and come talk to them after I’m finished, I’m fine with that.’ So Mike is going to come in and answer questions for probably about 10 minutes or so. I’m going to do a radio thing and I’ll be done. But Mike will come in. Otherwise all these one-on-ones can wear you out. I hope you appreciate that while you’re here and can tie it into your story however you’d like.”

2
1
1
0
2

Load comments