Trev Alberts was a young college athlete at the time, so he didn't give it any thought.
There were probably more pressing things on the mind of an 18-year-old kid. Where am I on the depth chart? What's my earliest class this semester? Two protein shakes or one?
"I had no idea as a student-athlete just how hard so many people were working behind the scenes to help (me) be successful until I became the athletic director at UNO, which has motivated me even more," Alberts said moments after he was introduced as Nebraska's next AD on Wednesday.
Alberts learned a lot during his 12-year tenure leading the Mavericks' athletic department, behind the scenes and at the forefront. Couple that with what the former Butkus Award winner experienced as an athlete in the early 1990s, and it's easy to see why Alberts wants to magnify the student-athlete experience.
John Christensen, the man who took a chance on Alberts and hired him at UNO in 2009, saw it firsthand on the Omaha campus.
"One of the things I even had students say to me, 'Gosh, he’s done great things for athletics here and so on and helped to build things, but cares about not only the student-athletes, but all of the students,'" Christensen told the Journal Star. "And he cares about the things this campus does to help people in the community and bring them forward to go to college."
Alberts excelled as a student and athlete at Nebraska. He was a first-team All-America linebacker and the 1993 Big Eight defensive player of the year.
In the classroom, he was a three-time academic All-Big Eight honoree and earned postgraduate scholarships from the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame.
Alberts will have plenty on his plate when he officially begins as the Huskers' AD on Monday. He'll sit down with other leaders at NU and assess financial and performance goals.
But above all, in Alberts' eyes, is the student-athlete experience.
"Within the next two or three years, I've got to earn the trust of our student-athletes," Alberts said. "That's really important. I always remind myself and everybody on the staff that nobody here would have a job if it wasn't for the student-athletes."
In 2012, Alberts helped direct the addition of the Hamilton Academic Excellence Room inside the Sapp Fieldhouse, providing all Omaha student-athletes with a dedicated facility to receive academic support.
"He embodies the creative, entrepreneurial and independent thinking that is the very core of being a UNO Maverick," UNO Chancellor Joanne Li said.
Athletic administration was nowhere near Alberts' radar when he put professional football behind him in 1996. The next best thing was TV. Alberts was hired by CNN to serve as a college football contributor before he signed with ESPN and later CBS.
Being gone five nights a week and traveling to three different cities in three days took its toll on Alberts, who at the time was raising young children with his wife Angela.
"It's pretty tough when your third grade daughter says, 'Why isn't dad ever coming to our games?'" Alberts said.
Alberts' career path took a sharp turn in 2009 when UNO went looking for an athletic director. According to a New York Times article, Alberts applied for the job on a whim after reading a newspaper article about it.
Christensen, UNO's chancellor at the time, wanted to hire a leader to boost staff morale and spark community interest in Mavericks athletics. Alberts' lack of athletic administrator skills didn't deter Christensen.
"He was just impressive," Christensen said. "He cared and was just open about the fact that he loved athletics, he cared about athletics. ... But one of the great things was hearing Trev talk about caring for all students, faculty and staff and try to help people advance their futures going forward."
Alberts learned on the fly, including what it took to take care of the athletes. He was a fixture at numerous home games and events. Even the Pacific Street campus expansion project at UNO, which had little to do with athletics, included involvement and interest from Alberts.
"He cared about all of the community service we were doing at UNO," Christensen said.
At Nebraska, Alberts played with tenacity, energy and toughness. He had the "it" factor. He raves about his time as a college athlete at Nebraska. Now he wants to make sure future Huskers have the same experience.
"At the end, we're going to have a little bit of fun," Alberts said. "(At) the end of the day we're in athletics, right? We got to have some fun."
Reach Clark Grell at 402-473-2639 or email@example.com. On Twitter at @LJSSportsGrell.
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