Interesting times for Husker Nation



It’s been an exciting couple weeks for Husker football fans. Maybe exciting isn’t quite the word I’m searching for. Maybe “interesting” is more appropriate.
Interesting, because hardly anyone around the News-Register office, myself included, first recognized the name “Mike Riley” when the hire was announced.
Interesting, as in how short a process it truly was to get a new coach on board.
And interesting, as in how Nebraska’s proud football program has turned to what is undoubtedly the Pac-12’s yearly doormat for help.
We all know Oregon’s Ducks and we follow Scott Frost from afar, but tell me, when’s the last time you sat down and watched an Oregon State football game? And how much did you initially know about Riley before doing a little research?
Shawn Eichorst undoubtedly had done his homework prior to letting Bo go and Riley was at the top. Good for him.
But will he be a good fit for Nebraska, coming in cold having never even been on Nebraska’s campus before? Will he embrace our culture, embrace our traditions and embrace Husker Nation?
Can he do all this at 61 years of age?
We now live in an era where everything is immediate, from emails to tweets to cell phones, but this one is going to take a while to figure out.
Finding talent on the recruiting trail and then developing that talent in Lincoln is the key, as Bo found out.
And the challenges just keep growing. Wisconsin, despite losing another head coach, isn’t going anywhere, and overtaking Ohio State out of the east is an entirely different story.
But hey, why not. Things don’t stay the same for long in college football. Players come and go and schools rise and fall.
And yes, the million dollar question is, can Riley can get this program headed in the right direction (which many believe is already the case) and eventually back in the championship race?
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I can’t help but get excited about Nebraska’s matchup with USC in the Holiday Bowl even though Southern Cal will have a huge home field advantage with L.A. just a couple hours away.
I just think a win over the Trojans, if the Huskers could pull it off, might jumpstart this team into the 2015 season.
A win would be huge because USC ended their regular season by running Notre Dame out of the Coliseum, and huge because their roster is full of future NFL talent.
Despite just recently coming off probation for four years (losing 30 scholarships as well as a two-year postseason ban) stemming all the way back to the Reggie Bush scandal, that football program is poised to make a big comeback.
California is stocked full of high school football talent, and plenty of players still view USC as one of the top dogs nationally.
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In looking back over the series with USC, I was reminded that I got to attend the very first meeting between the two schools in Lincoln, on Sept. 20, 1969.
The game featured Larry Frost, Scott’s dad, at running back. Quarterback Jerry Tagge, then a sophomore, would come in to relieve Van Brownson in the third quarter, leading the Huskers to a couple scores to rally back from a 28-7 deficit, but USC would pull out the 31-21 win with another sophomore quarterback, Jimmy Jones.
I don’t remember much about the game. I do remember USC’s cool uniforms, though. And I do remember being disappointed that the Huskers lost.
That Nebraska team would rebound  and wound up losing just once more, to Missouri, defeating Georgia 45-6 in the Sun Bowl.
Tagge along with running back Jeff Kinney would then lead Nebraska to back-to-back national titles the following two seasons.
Yep, interesting stuff.
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