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October 8, 2012Timing is everything.
When Shawn Eichorst is introduced as Nebraska's new Athletic Director on Tuesday you get the picture there's not going to be too much of a honey moon period.
With his $973,000 salary, Nebraskans are going to want answers. They're going to want to know what his vision and goals are for the future of the Husker athletic department, particularly football.
Eichorst is in a tough spot immediately because his hiring never got the blessing of Tom Osborne or head football coach Bo Pelini.
Something to watch closely is how Eichorst is around Pelini when the two meet for the first time on Tuesday.
Will Pelini be at the press conference? Will he make a statement or talk about Eichort's hiring publicly.
These are interesting times at Nebraska for Eichorst to walk into. Pelini has no doubt done a lot of good here in his five years at NU.
He's brought consistent 9 to 10 win stability, but the thing that's going to be hard to look past are the Huskers recent string of losses. In their last 11 games Nebraska is 6-5, with three of those wins coming against non-BCS or FCS opponents.
When NU gets beat, they just don't lose by a last second field goal. The losses are painful. 63 points given up at Ohio State, 653 yards given up in a loss at UCLA, crazy Hail Mary passes for touchdowns and blocked extra points against South Carolina. I can go on and on.
Ever since Nebraska's 2009 season, the losses for the Big Red have been tough pills to swallow. For the record I think Nebraska can still win at least five of their final six games and have a good chance to get to Indianapolis.
It's a fine line. One week the Huskers are back and the next people are questioning the overall direction of the program. What will the new sheriff in town think of the overall direction of the program under Pelini? Only time will tell.
A four year break from the Buckeyes
This past Saturday's Nebraska-Ohio State game will be the last time these two teams will play each other in the regular season until 2017.
It's too bad it has to be this way. I thought Bob Hunter of the Columbus Dispatch said it best about the two teams not meeting in the regular season for the next four years.
"Having Nebraska in the Big Ten but off the schedule doesn't help unless the Buckeyes meet and beat the Huskers in the conference title game," Hunter wrote. "It's one of the unfortunate aspects of the conference division alignment. The Buckeyes' strength of schedule will suffer with an emasculated Penn State as one of its Leaders Division rivals and Nebraska going off the schedule for four years.
"This isn't good for a Big Ten that has had football credibility problems lately.
"It definitely isn't good for the Buckeyes."
Closed for business
With the off week, don't expect much interview access from the team until the Monday press conference of Northwestern week.
After Saturday's 63-38 loss at Ohio State Pelini even ended his press conference by saying "see you guys in a couple of weeks."
Maybe some time away from the program will be good for everyone. What more can we ask the players and coaches about their loss at Ohio State?
Besides figuring out what's wrong and trying to fix it, the Husker coaching staff will go out on the road and do some recruiting this week. Landing at least one or two quality junior college defensive linemen remains a must for the Big Red going forward.
Around the state
***2014 Millard West wide receiver Skyler Monaghan set a Class A record on Thursday against Creighton Prep by hauling in six catches for 282 yards and two touchdowns. The previous record was 274 yards. Earlier last month the talented junior wide receiver took an unofficial visit to Auburn.
***2015 Omaha North running back Calvin Strong absolutely went off on Friday night in the Vikings win over Papillion La Vista. The sophomore sensation ran for a career-high 298 yards on 23 carries, to go along with two touchdowns. Scary to think how much better this kid can get over the next two seasons.
***Have heard some good things about Grand Island Northwest linebacker Connor Eberhardt. I have not been able to see him play, but GI Northwest routed Aurora 54-0 at their place on Friday night.
***Wahoo running back Tyler Kavan rushed for five touchdowns on Friday in a 41-0 win over crosstown rival Wahoo Neumann.
Three and out
***Earlier last week running back Rex Burkhead tried to shed his knee brace and not wear it during practice. Thankfully NU's training staff made him put it back on, because who knows how much worse his injury could've been if he wasn't wearing his protective brace. We'll get a better idea on Burkhead's outlook Tuesday when we talk to Pelini on the Big Ten Coaches teleconference.
***Really enjoyed my time in Columbus. The stadium and city were first class. Definitely a trip I would recommend to Husker fans in the future when the Buckeyes come back on the schedule in 2017-18.
***As I forecast the schedule going forward, I think Michigan is Nebraska's toughest remaining game, followed by Michigan State, at Northwestern and then Penn State. You have to think the Huskers fare a pretty good in their match-ups with Iowa and Minnesota.
Northwestern and Michigan worry me the most right now because of their dual-threat quarterbacks and offensive systems. PSU and MSU are good match-ups for Nebraska's defense. I'll go with a 9-3 finish for the Big Red, which could get them to Indianapolis still depending on how the tiebreakers fall.
Sean Callahan can be reached at email@example.com and he can be heard each day at 6:50 am and 4:50 pm on Big Red Radio 1110 KFAB in Omaha during the football season. He can also be seen on KETV Channel 7 TV in Omaha during the fall and each week he appears on NET's Big Red Wrap Tuesday's at 7 pm.