May 10, 2016
Randy York N-Sider
Official Blog of the Huskers
Should anyone wonder what Nebraska’s top priority is, Tuesday’s kickoff luncheon in Lincoln left no doubt. The overall theme in a tour featuring head football coach Mike Riley and director of athletics Shawn Eichorst introduces a slogan the Huskers have been building since late last year.
Eichorst described the Huskers’ broad-based strengths in a competitive collegiate world and lifted the curtain to unveil what differentiates Nebraska in a constantly escalating business. Eichorst wants Big Red fans to understand a new slogan that leverages the department’s top priority – There’s No Student-Athlete Experience Like Nebraska.
Lincoln’s downtown Rotary Club launched the tour that ends Friday in Omaha with five other destinations in between – York, Columbus, Kearney, Lexington and North Platte.
Eichorst elevated four crucial cornerstones that built a foundation for the Huskers to separate themselves from Big Ten and NCAA rivals while providing the best student-athlete experience possible anywhere.
Nebraska’s Rock-Solid Foundation Features Four Critical Cornerstones
The Huskers’ rock-solid foundation features:
1) All of Nebraska’s nearly 600 scholarship student-athletes across all 24 sports having their scholarships calculated based on the maximum full cost of attendance.
2) Nebraska becoming the nation’s first institution to provide every student-athlete with an Apple MacBook Air laptop computer to enhance learning opportunities.
3) Nebraska creating the first-known Post-Eligibility Opportunity (PEO) program, giving every Husker letterwinner who graduates – and has exhausted his or her eligibility – a three-year window to take advantage of a $7,500 stipend to secure an internship, study abroad or attend graduate school.
4) Nebraska Athletics reviewing and increasing its resources while enhancing and improving its support in all academic and performance-related areas.
What does all of that mean?
It means that Nebraska has strategically aligned itself with “the resources and the support necessary for us to put our young people in position to succeed in our mission to be successful in academics, in athletics and in life,” Eichorst said, “and we’re going to continue with great integrity and do it the right way.”
Academics, Life Skills, Medicine, Training, Strength, Nutrition, NAPL
The resources and forms of support are broad-based and include at least seven nationally prominent staple programs – academic services, life skills, sports medicine, athletic training, strength and conditioning, nutrition and the Nebraska Athletics Performance Laboratory (NAPL).
This week’s trip to seven Nebraska cities and towns is a celebration of the Huskers’ passion and heartfelt appreciation for a fan base expected to record its 350th consecutive sellout inside Memorial Stadium this season when Maryland visits Lincoln.
This past year, Eichorst said Nebraska recorded its highest rate for graduating student-athletes (86 percent) and has a goal to reach a 90 percent graduation success rate by 2018. “Our average GPA for 600 student-athletes is 3.18,” Eichorst said with pride while pointing out that “the Big Ten Conference is the best and the most broad-based academic and athletic conference in America.”
Against that strong backdrop, “what we’re doing at Nebraska is not being done anywhere else in college athletics,” Eichorst said.
Riley’s Priority: We Want to Do a Great Job of Recruiting at Home First
Riley and his staff continue to try and uncover the best recruits from the home state of Nebraska. “We look at our state and we’re getting to know the coaches better and the players better,” he said. “We want to do a great job recruiting at home first.”
Nebraska’s second-year head coach also referenced analytics and a study about the successes in the history of Nebraska football. One important fact tracked the Huskers’ ability to recruit what Riley calls a 500-mile drivable radius that includes Denver, Minneapolis, Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City and “almost to Dallas.” He also pointed out that last year’s Nebraska recruiting class included state players of the year in Colorado, South Dakota and Minnesota.
Riley said Nebraska people are an important part of the recruiting process “and I’m not just saying that,” he emphasized. “This is a comfortable place that has the values that’s just great to be around.”
As his almost 19-minute speech was about to end, Riley said he would take one last question, and a man asked Nebraska’s head coach if there’s “one thing” that he still needs to make Nebraska football successful.
“If we could get flights out of Lincoln that go straight down to Texas, that would help us greatly,” Riley quipped, triggering the day’s biggest roar of laughter. “That would be good for recruiting. I’ll just have to go with that. That’s a good project for somebody.”
How the Why of Nebraska Football is More Important Than the What
Nebraska Regent Tim Clare introduced Eichorst and drew precipitous laughter in his short introduction. Clare’s story focused on the why of Nebraska football being more important than the what. “We all know Nebraska’s facilities are second to none,” Clare said. “What makes Nebraska unique though is the why, not the what.
“It’s the people,” Clare said. “Watching the video of the first game last year, I went to my seat and the couple that had sat in those seats literally for 25 years weren’t both there. There was only one person at the game. I asked the lady ‘where’s your husband?’ ‘He died,’ she said. ‘I’m sorry to hear about that,’ I said. ‘Could you have invited a friend to sit in that empty seat?’ I asked. ‘No’, she said, ‘they’re all at the funeral.’”
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