Dear Mike Riley
Congrats on the much-improved season. Going into it expectations were all over the map. I was optimistic given some stellar seniors on the squad (Armstrong/Westerkamp/Gerry). 9-4 isn’t terrible. Seeing my team ranked in the top 25 and then the top 10, well, it felt good. You also handled the loss of Sam Foltz with grace, understanding and class. Again, many thanks.
As I sat in Buffalo Wild Wings watching the National Championship game between Alabama and Clemson I could not help but feel Nebraska is light years behind the wildly successful teams that frequent college football today. Nebraska may as well be in a galaxy far, far away. The fans are going to find blame everywhere – it’s your fault, you’re too soft, it’s recruiting to the state of Nebraska, it’s the players fault, it’s the system. What do I think? I think it’s a mix of every single one of those, adding up to a murky combination that isn’t entirely appealing. However, I ate my wings, drank my Coors Light and shrugged.
The fire in me for this program has struggled to find kindling in recent years. I want to be a fanatic again. I know that times have changed and that the program of 20 years ago is long gone. But every time this team loses in embarrassing fashion I find it throwing me back under that cold shower. Great teams don’t lose by 59 points. Did I say great? Because what I meant was relevant/contender/legitimate/Top 10/proven/consistent – and most importantly, EXCITING.
Nebraska gave me some hope, dashed it on cue and yet here I am still hanging on. I like to think the Huskers success contributed to an overall amazing college football season – it did, I am sure of it. For that you deserve even more thanks. Please don’t think I am not grateful or oblivious to what goes on. This job is hard and success in college football doesn’t happen overnight…but here we are, 20 years without much to show for the time, effort, money and endless hours of analyzing. Nebraska has become somewhat of a joke – no longer relevant and a fan base living in the past. The football program, the state, the fans, the players (especially the players) need further success. It’s on you to deliver.
I wish you the best in 2017-2018. You can bet I will be watching.
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