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Steven M. Sipple: McCaffrey's decision sparks serious discussions; and Georgia eyed Fisher
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HUSKER FOOTBALL

Steven M. Sipple: McCaffrey's decision sparks serious discussions; and Georgia eyed Fisher

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Things I know, and things I think I know (emergency midweek edition): 

Well, it seems a lot of people think Nebraska football is in a state of emergency in the wake of another losing season followed by a rash of players jumping into the transfer portal.

If nothing else, it makes for a spirited point-counterpoint discussion.

Sage Rosenfels, a former Iowa State and NFL quarterback, sparked conversation with a Tuesday tweet:

"Nebraska football reminds me of the time that Army used to have a highly regarded nationally ranked football program. Btw, two of these players are sons of former NFL players. Their dads know a bad culture when they see one." 

Luke McCaffrey and Kade Warner, who entered the portal Tuesday, are sons of NFL legends. Perhaps Rosenfels heard directly from Ed McCaffrey and Kurt Warner that the culture in Nebraska's football program is indeed "bad." You hope Rosenfels didn't simply see the news of the portal entries and jump to conclusions. You can get away with wild speculation easily in this day and age, but it doesn't make it right.  

On the other hand, Scott Frost perhaps should be somewhat concerned about at least one statistic that applies to this discussion. Of the 25 scholarship players who have left his program since Dec. 1, 2019, 17 were from the offensive side. The offense is Frost's baby. He spends the majority of his time dealing with that side of the ball. 

The most significant hits in terms of talent were Wan'Dale Robinson, JD Spielman, Noah Vedral and McCaffrey. Marcus Fleming flashed potential as a receiver. Maurice Washington also showed potential (read: perimeter speed) before he was dismissed from the team. Katerian Legrone and Andre Hunt also were dismissed.

Warner's decision to enter the portal raised eyebrows not because he was a main contributor at receiver, but because he was a team captain. 

Interior offensive lineman Boe Wilson started 24 games in his career but fell to the second string early in the 2020 season as a senior and transferred to Western Kentucky for one last go of it. 

The others on the list either didn't make much of an impact or weren't around long enough to do so: John Raridon, Jaron Woodyard, Jaylin Bradley, Darien Chase, Jaevon McQuitty, Matthew Anderson and Will Farniok. 

I've said it before: I try to consider each case on its own and carefully avoid sweeping generalizations. It seems dangerous to try to accurately assess almost any program's culture unless you're around it at least semi-regularly. 

It should be noted that Frost feels the culture in his program is better than it's been at any point since his arrival at NU in late 2017. He's adamant about it. 

On the other hand, you can't ignore that the vast majority of players who have left the program recently are on the offensive side of the ball. 

Frost, during an appearance last week on the "Sports Nightly" radio program, said programs all over the country have to get used to the volume of players transferring.

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"Honestly, that’s kind of the world we’re living in now," he said. "Particularly this year when kids are expecting to become immediately eligible with the one-time transfer exception. That’s just what we’re going to have to deal with.

"Each one of those is different circumstances and different reasons, and we're certainly not alone. There's teams in our league that had really good years and lost nine or 10 guys. Guys all over the country are jumping in the portal. Some of them probably for good reasons and some of them are not. I think a lot of times when you decide to transfer, you think the grass is greener somewhere else and it doesn't turn out to be."

Husker QB Luke McCaffrey transferring after pushing for starting job in 2020

One final point: Nebraska has had seven players enter the transfer portal since the season ended Dec. 18 — the same number as Northwestern, the Big Ten West Division champion. The Wildcats' top two running backs from this past season both entered last month. In addition, receiver Kyric McGowan entered as a graduate transfer after playing four seasons in Evanston, including three as a starter.

Is there a crisis in Pat Fitzgerald's program? Northwestern won the West in 2020, but is it headed for a fall?

Bottom line, Nebraska needs to start winning on Saturdays. That would quell much of the hand-wringing (and hysteria). Much of it; not all of it. Ask Hall-of-Famer Tom Osborne about that. 

Meanwhile, I'll try to hold off on snap judgments. 

* Jahmile Addae, defensive backs coach at West Virginia the past two seasons, has taken over the same role at the University of Georgia. That may not mean a lot to Nebraska fans unless they know Husker secondary coach Travis Fisher was squarely on Bulldog head coach Kirby Smart's radar. 

The longer Fisher is at Nebraska, the better for Frost and his program. A native of Tallahassee, Florida, Fisher has helped develop Cam Taylor-Britt into one of the Big Ten's best corners. Fisher started at corner in the NFL for seven seasons. Taylor-Britt's decision to stay around for another season was a wise move.

Same goes for safeties Deontai Williams and Marquel Dismuke.

All three could wind up in the NFL, their chances enhanced by Fisher's coaching. 

*  From 1977 to 2008, Tennessee football had two head coaches. Now it has its fifth — Josh Huepel from Central Florida — in the past 12 years.

Sound familiar, Nebraska fans?

The parallels between Tennessee and Nebraska's downturns are an interesting study. And here's another: New Vols athletic director Danny White hired both Heupel and Frost while at UCF.

Heupel will encounter a fan base with lofty expectations even though the program has been trapped in an awful cycle for years. He was an underwhelming hire. But at this point, top-shelf coaches aren't exactly crawling to Knoxville.

There's probably a lesson in there somewhere.

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

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