The newly released Big Ten football schedules for 2022-25 came about after multiple discussions among league officials over the spring and summer, Nebraska director of athletics Bill Moos said Thursday.
Moos spoke to the media for about 15 minutes Thursday morning at the Hawks Championship Center as the Huskers wrapped up practice on the field below.
Moos touched on several topics, chief among them the new Big Ten schedules released Wednesday, and the transfer climate in college football in the wake of Tristan Gebbia leaving NU, reportedly for Oregon State.
When it came time to work on the schedules for the 2022-25 seasons, Moos said an effort was made to ensure the Big Ten has the best chance possible to get a team into the College Football Playoff at the end of the season.
When he and coach Scott Frost were breaking down the schedule, Moos said, they felt that the Big Ten's traditional powers were playing each other more than other league programs.
"And I respect that. And when I brought it to the attention of the commissioner and my colleagues at a meeting in Phoenix last spring, I said, 'I understand how that was designed to attract TV audiences, and also to address the strength of schedule piece of the playoff system,'" Moos explained. "But what ended up happening was, we were beating each other up and sliding out of potentially not getting in that final four."
After several discussions, a Big Ten official this summer literally drew schools out of a pair of boxes to match up crossover partners in the East and West Divisions during meetings in Chicago.
"I felt, and I think I convinced enough of my peers, that we needed to take another look at that and something that might be a little more fair and give us a chance to get somebody into that four-team slot," Moos said.
Nebraska, of course, drew Michigan as its crossover opponent. The Huskers will open the 2023 season (at Minnesota) and the 2025 season (at Illinois) with conference games.
"Our TV partners want us to spread the conference games out because they're the most attractive. And everybody's going to get a little taste of that in due time," Moos said. "I really think our program, by the time we get to that point, will be a veteran program that will be able to handle that. You've got to play somewhere."
On transfers, Moos said "we haven't seen the end of the transfer changes, I don't believe."
Moos said he supports the "consequences" of a player sitting out a year after a transfer, "otherwise it's going to be like free agency, and it's going to be like professional sports and you're going to see a different roster every year."
The lack of patience when it comes to immediate playing time, the pressures of competitive youth sports and the lure of professional sports all play a role in the number of transfers, Moos said.
"These are obstacles and challenges we have to face," Moos added.
3 reasons why the Huskers could turn things around quickly
Deep skill: For a seemingly major rebuilding project, the Huskers have a lot of talent to get the ball to. NU’s stable of backs and receivers fits well with the vaunted offense Scott Frost brings with him to his alma mater. There are question marks, sure, but the Huskers have the horses to scare people offensively from the start.
New blood: Frost and company have brought in 52 new players. In the secondary, seven players arrived between spring ball and fall camp alone. If nothing else, all the new faces bode well for the competition level and building culture early on in Frost’s tenure.
3 reasons why the Huskers could need more time
Young QBs: NU is going to be breaking in a new quarterback in 2018. That almost always comes with ups and downs. So, even though the Huskers have strong talent, there are going to be some bumps under center. Even in the event of a promising season, expect the young quarterbacks to develop on a multiyear track.
Depth questions: The Huskers are deep at receiver and have backfield options. They also have question marks in the secondary and at tackle. For instance, if Brenden Jaimes and Matt Farniok play 12 games apiece, the NU offensive line should be fine. An injury to either could have major ramifications. New cornerbacks Braxton Clark and Cam Taylor add intrigue, but the actual level of play is still TBD.
Not yet mint condition: Virtually everyone in the program sings the praises of strength coach Zach Duval and his staff. The coaching staff thinks the physical changes are evident. Players feel better seemingly to a man. But the reality is the full force of NU’s strength and conditioning is going to take longer than eight months to come to fruition.
3 things you’ll learn quickly about the offense
Slotting receivers: There are so many options beyond Stanley Morgan in the receiving corps. Who makes the regular rotation? How does Frost feed the backfield and also involve Tyjon Lindsey, Mike Williams, Jaron Woodyard and Miles Jones? Who gets the first shot at a regular role?
Backfield roles: A similar thought to the receiving group. How about the electric freshman Maurice Washington? Greg Bell was Nebraska’s best running back coming out of spring ball. Is he still? Is he still in the top two?
QB trust: In 2017, Central Florida was 50/50 run/pass with dynamic sophomore quarterback McKenzie Milton. But NU will be run-heavy if it has to be. How much will Frost open up the playbook early in the season? That will be the true test of how the Huskers feel about the quarterbacks.
3 things you’ll learn quickly about the defense
Rush crew: With several options on the defensive line and at outside linebacker, who will be on the field the first time Chinander dials up a blitz in a sure passing situation? Does he rely on two outside backers? Three? The mixing and matching will be fun to watch.
How much better? Much of the fall camp talk centered around increased competition in the secondary. The nonconference schedule doesn’t feature any top-flight passing offenses, but any change will likely still be apparent quickly. Another point of intrigue: Who nails down starting jobs at corner and at safety in the closing days of camp?
Turnover time: In 2017, UCF forced 32 turnovers in 13 games. The Huskers forced 12 in 12. Yikes. That led to the worst turnover margin in the Big Ten. Frost this month called turnovers “the most important stat in football.” Chinander hangs his hat on them. So, where are they going to come from?
6 newcomers who could make a fast impact
Adrian Martinez, QB, freshman: There are far more than six, considering NU has 52 new players. But Martinez, duh, has to be on the list.
Mike Williams, WR, junior: The juco transfer is considered pound for pound the strongest player on the team and should be heavily involved in the passing game.
Maurice Washington, RB, freshman: He started making eye-popping plays as soon as he got to fall camp. Will he keep it up?
Tre Neal, DB, senior: The graduate transfer from Central Florida will be a key figure in NU’s secondary and brings scheme expertise to the defense.
Cam Taylor, DB, freshman: Taylor impressed from the beginning of fall camp and coaches say he plays nothing like a converted high school quarterback.
Caleb Tannor, OLB, freshman: Outside linebackers coach Jovan Dewitt said Tannor could be an early impact player “a lot of places in the country.” Role TBD, but expect Tannor to rush plenty of passers.