Things I know, and things I think I know:

There's value in knowing how the boss thinks and operates.

With that in mind, it's interesting to hear Nebraska athletic director Shawn Eichorst discuss cross-pollination among his staff members.

To wit: Former NFL general manager Billy Devaney's off-season hire by NU football coach Mike Riley was hailed as a cutting-edge move to enhance the school's premier program, particularly in the areas of recruiting, player evaluation and player development. However, according to Eichorst, Devaney also has been helping other Husker athletic programs.

"Billy has this unique perspective, with all the skills and abilities that anybody in America would want in a football program," Eichorst told me last week. "But he's available to basketball, baseball, volleyball ... We're seeing him meeting with those operations people just to provide perspective on how they might think of their programs in a more holistic way -- whether that's how performance gets introduced into a program, or maybe how evaluation is accomplished.

"Billy's been involved in evaluating young people for his entire life on a very big stage. He's got a system and a way of doing that. Wouldn't you want that shared with everyone in the department?"

In addition to being a former NFL general manager, the 61-year-old Devaney was a scout and player personnel director in the league. He worked for five different franchises. Went to three Super Bowls. He understands the importance of everyone pulling in the same direction.

In this case, cross-pollination makes sense as long as everyone understands which program pays the bills.

And as long as veteran coaches maintain an open mind and are willing to listen and trade ideas.

The fact Eichorst encourages Devaney, as executive director of player personnel, to lend his expertise to sports other than football may speak to the athletic director's apparent belief in a holistic approach throughout his department. It's a window into his evolving management style.

It's also an example of Eichorst's fundamental belief in fostering big-picture perspectives -- which can be a challenge in a coach's day-to-day grind on the job.

Enter Chris Brasfield, Husker associate athletic director for student-athlete recruitment. He essentially oversees the school's entire recruiting and student-athlete experience. Eichorst created the position.

"Part of his responsibility is not only to make sure we're recruiting the right way and playing to our strengths, but also making sure our students are having a good experience," Eichorst said. "He's taking more of a 30,000-foot view of what we're doing. He's analyzing how we're doing things and how we can get better."

Brasfield in March 2015 joined the Nebraska football staff as director of high school relations. A year later, he transitioned into his new role.

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He has a relatively diverse background in football. He played running back for Oregon State and coached the position at the school from 2011-14 after working as an assistant at Midwestern State, Southwest Texas State and TCU. He also has coached in high schools and was an area scout for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2001 and 2002.

"When you have 24 programs (as is the case at Nebraska), and you have a lot of really innovative and progressive coaches who have a lot of good ideas, you want to share those ideas across an entire platform, right?" Eichorst said. "What I really envisioned in Chris' role was an opportunity to share best practices."

Eichorst endures his share of criticism -- much of it fair -- especially as it relates to the football program's recent struggles. But know this: He seems willing to do all he can, within reason, to ensure his coaches can attract elite student-athletes to campus. And he seems just as passionate about ensuring those student-athletes get the most out of their experience at Nebraska.

"When we make a commitment to a young person, it's a robust commitment," he said. "You have to make sure you're getting that right. All of it."

In other words, the boss' heart is in the right place.

* Riley has developed a reasonable approach to summer camp season, specifically by not overdoing it on satellite camps.

Nebraska's "Friday Night Lights" camp last week at Memorial Stadium -- the first of three such sessions -- was upbeat, organized and well-attended. I especially like that Riley is mindful of being around his current players -- you know, the ones who already have paid their dues, so to speak.

Jim Harbaugh, on the other hand, has a wild approach to satellite camps that's akin to a teen who has temporary access to his dad's automobile and is determined to drive it as far and as fast as he can, while he can, before someone stops him.

"Mike's as competitive as Jim is," Eichorst said. "They just handle it in different ways."

* You don't mess with the King's jewels. Ask Draymond Green.

The petulant Green took a swipe at LeBron James' groin Friday and got suspended for Monday night's Game 5 of the NBA Finals. Green draws praise as a team leader, yet he constantly loses his poise. He's put his team's title run in jeopardy. That's not leadership.

* Hate has become far too prevalent in our society, and far too accepted. Terrorists' hate is insanity. Their disregard for human life is abhorrent, no matter their beliefs.

RIP, victims in Orlando.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7440 or ssipple@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraSip.


Husker columnist

Steven, a lifelong Nebraskan, newspaper enthusiast and UNL grad, joined the Journal Star in 1990 and has covered NU football since 1995.

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