Skip to main content
You are the owner of this article.
You have permission to edit this article.
Edit
Steven M. Sipple: NU ultimately keeps its word to play OU, but suffers black eye in process
0 Comments
editor's pick topical alert top story
HUSKER FOOTBALL

Steven M. Sipple: NU ultimately keeps its word to play OU, but suffers black eye in process

  • Updated
  • 0
Nebraska vs. Iowa, 11.27

Nebraska coach Scott Frost talks with his players during a first-half timeout against Iowa last November at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa.

Husker Extra Podcast: Unpacking a disconcerting Friday in the Husker football universe

They absolutely can't wait for Sept. 18 in Norman, Oklahoma.

About a dozen former Nebraska players gathered Wednesday morning in the Haymarket district to help present former Husker coach Tom Osborne with a career achievement award. It was a pleasant scene. In small talk before the presentation, a few of the former players remarked to me how much they looked forward to celebrating a renewal of the Nebraska-Oklahoma football series come September. 

Parties already are planned for the night before the game. Old rivals who became friends will catch up and reminisce. Fans will do the same. It'll be a wonderful weekend.

Thank heavens it's still happening. It wasn't a given. 

What a disconcerting Friday for Nebraska's program and its fans.

You perhaps saw the report from the website Stadium on Friday morning. If you're a Nebraska fan, you probably didn't know what to think about the notion of Nebraska trying to back out of playing at Oklahoma and instead playing an extra home game in Lincoln on the same day. 

Say it ain't so. Truth is, the report was valid. This is a terrible look for Nebraska, an "L" in mid-March. 

Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione released a statement saying, in part, that the Sooners "fully intend and expect to play the game as it is scheduled." 

Member benefits

  • • Texts from top columnists
  • • The most breaking news
  • • Husker History photo galleries
  • • Cutting-edge commentary

Nebraska later followed with its own statement, from AD Bill Moos, saying it's also looking forward to playing the game. But Moos acknowledged "our administration did explore the possibility of adding an eighth home game this fall. That option would have helped us mitigate cost-cutting measures and provide a much-needed boost to our local economy."

To be fair, Nebraska is in the unenviable position of having only one home game, Sept. 11 against Buffalo, before the first weekend of October. That isn't good for anybody. It certainly isn't good for the Huskers' recruiting situation. NU hasn't had recruits on campus in more than year. Home games obviously are a vital part of trying to land prospects, and NU's rivals will have as many as three home games before October.

I also understand the part of Moos' statement about mitigating cost-cutting measures. After all, the pandemic has been a $40-some million hit to the Athletic Department. 

So, I understand the rationale behind "exploring the possibility of adding an eighth home game." Even so, the thought of dropping Oklahoma from the schedule was a flat-out bad idea. Oklahoma certainly didn't like the idea and basically boxed in Nebraska with Castiglione's statement. The Sooners made the Huskers keep their word. 

But let's say Stadium hadn't gotten wind of Nebraska's intentions. How far down the road would this have gotten? I'm told NU officials were caught off-guard by the report. I'm sure there's a level of embarrassment on the part of some of those officials. This would have been NU putting OU in the awkward position of trying to find an opponent to play Sept. 18 in Norman. But that's not the worst of it. Not even close.

This is an incredible story, and damaging to Nebraska's reputation. It's damaging to the Husker fan base's sense of pride.

You know it's an incredible story when the original headline reads like fiction: "Report: Nebraska may try to back out of playing at Oklahoma this fall." 

Seriously? I mean, this is a Nebraska team with nine returning starters on defense and (likely) a fourth-year starter at quarterback. If coach Scott Frost signed off on canceling the Oklahoma game — and he, of course, has a large say on scheduling matters — what does it say about his confidence in his defensive staff, not to mention his players?

How often does a team return nine starters on defense? Answer: not very.

Players come to Nebraska to perform in these types of games. Moos came to NU because he loves these type of games. This situation had to be difficult for him to rationalize in his mind. 

A top Husker pass-rush recruit for 2022 talks relationship with NU, upcoming visit plans

The whole matter, as reported by Stadium, is a black eye for Nebraska. According to Stadium, NU contacted MAC schools and Old Dominion as possible opponents for Sept. 18 in Lincoln. Wonderful. Just wonderful. 

If Frost signed off on this, it would have the feeling of him trying to make it to a fifth year as Nebraska's coach. This reminds me of 2007, when Nebraska fell 49-31 to top-ranked USC in mid-September and never fully recovered physically, emotionally or mentally. The Huskers ended the season 5-7, and fourth-year coach Bill Callahan was fired at season's end. 

Is Frost concerned about a similar occurrence? As it stands, Nebraska is set to open the season Aug. 28 at Illinois and after a bye week come home to play what could be a difficult game against Buffalo, then play back-to-back weekends at Oklahoma and Michigan State.  

Steven M. Sipple: Osborne doesn't expect a 'thank you,' but former players make it a point

Remember the motto Frost has for his program: "Desire to excel, no fear of failure." 

Nebraska should stick to that. Frost should stick to it even if it means (perhaps) getting rolled in Norman. He should stick to it in the name of the pride he once helped inject into the program as a tough-as-nails quarterback. He should stick to it in the name of a man (Osborne) he admires and calls one of his foremost mentors.

Go back to Wednesday in the Haymarket. Osborne was asked about Nebraska and Oklahoma renewing the rivalry. He thought back to the call he received in 2012 from Castiglione. 

"When I was athletic director, Joe Castiglione called from Oklahoma and said we ought to get together again," Osborne said. "I've recently thought a little bit about whether it was wise or not." 

Osborne chuckled.

"You know, circumstances change," he said. "Scott's had to do a lot of rebuilding. We'll see how it goes. But I think we'll have a better team. This is just me speaking from the 50th row. I don't have a lot of inside knowledge, but I think there'll be a lot of things that will be improved. I'm looking forward to the season."

I'm looking forward to Sept. 18 in Norman. Game on. Even if it means Nebraska showing up with a black eye suffered in March.

GREAT MOMENTS IN HUSKER FOOTBALL HISTORY

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

0 Comments
1
3
1
4
3

Be the first to know

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics

News Alerts

Breaking News

Husker News