With Trev Alberts gone, Nebraska's hopes turn to Matt Rhule – who holds all the cards

LINCOLN — Matt Rhule just became the leader of Nebraska's athletic department. Husker Nation turns its hopeful eyes to him.

We'll have weeks — months — to plot how the NU series, in mid-March, dropped a new episode just as your favorite artist announces a secretly recorded album. You've heard the rumblings of new music, and here it is. This is the case with the Husker series.

There are new wrinkles to explore with Alberts gone, but old undercurrents remain. Leaders don't seem satisfied for long with Nebraska athletics, and that uneasy feeling is leading to change.

Start there as you start unpacking the seismic news of Alberts leaving Nebraska for Texas A&M — roughly the eighth-best football job in the SEC.

This may be part of the reason Alberts left as well. The Aggies, for all their money, don't have the biggest footprint in their state. Nebraska does, and sometimes the head that wears the crown is troubled.

People read too…

Alberts did just that – he wore the crown. A&M is a job. NU had an invitation. A consumable one at that.

Since his hiring in the summer of 2021 — the day Scott Frost became de facto president, much to Scott Frost's quick chagrin — Alberts has been the chief engineer of Nebraska athletics, with a vision to match his beloved swagger and a mind trained to look around the corner. . The chat with Trev included a line or two about the past, a glimpse into the future, and a lament about all the things that need to be addressed in the present. He inherited an athletic department where his predecessor was effectively paid until he retired. In response, few worked harder or paid more.

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Alberts also enjoyed — a little — saying tough things about the department and the football program. He specifically took aim at Memorial Stadium, a beautiful stadium that is old and a bit too big and, in 10 years, about to be half-empty if the team and fan experience don't change.

“We are lagging behind in some key areas because we have not had the courage to address some of these very sensitive and difficult topics,” Alberts said on September 30, 2021. He deliberately embarked on a multi-year plan to rework the old plan. Warship. He sent out thousands of surveys — and published the results. NU toured the country looking for ideas. He came up with a vision for a $450 million overhaul of the facility.

Besides the big multimedia rights deal and Nebraska Volleyball Day — a resounding financial and cultural success, and a real moment for the state — Alberts had been looking to transform Memorial Stadium for years.

He leaves while the project is still in its early stages. With question marks over its financing, especially whether the state will provide any money for the project, this helps convince major donors that their contributions will not go to waste.

The University of Kansas — which had no football experience — won a $50 million government grant from the state to repair its stadium. Last year, Creighton University made a bid to receive state funds to help build new baseball and softball fields. Ultimately, the Nebraska Legislature granted C$30 million in state cash reserve funds for various construction plans that could include the fields.

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But there has been no strong push yet for public funding for Memorial Stadium. Backers have requested funds for the construction of the new football building — which remains unnamed and not quite finished — and for named student-athletes, payments for student-athletes may be exhausting from reaching their pockets.

Kuwait University can do that. NU hasn't done that yet. The school has not settled on a permanent president for the system either. A&M has one of those.

So Nebraska without a birth certificate. The job will attract qualified applicants who may not try as hard as Alberts did or don't see all the land mines that Alberts can. The job has consumed him, and NU, in the middle of America far from the Texas oil barons, seems to be fighting hard in the Big Ten, where Michigan/Ohio State volleyball gets big airtime on Fox, but Nebraska, somehow, doesn't.

That's where Rolle comes in – just 15 months into his journey.

It's the face now. On X, he posted a two-minute video Wednesday night of Husker football highlights set to Paul Harvey's famous “So God Made a Farmer” speech.

“8/31/2024,” Rule wrote above the video. Opening day of the Nebraska football season.

Even if volleyball coach John Cook succeeded Alberts as AD, why would the legendary coach want to do that at this moment in college sports? -Football is king in Nebraska, and now Rollie has the crown.

Rhule was actually determined, much more than Frost ever was, to be a leader in this project. He likes to be a man of the people, and the Big Ten is his league. If he imagines he'll ask Alberts and President Ted Carter to call him, the relationship has changed, so, having lost NU, having lost two of the three, Rhule waits, and will do just about anything to accommodate the man who took a chance on the Huskers. .

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The Big Ten are certainly watching and wondering. But in Nebraska, getting along at this moment shouldn't be a challenge. All participants — trustees, administrators, legislators, and supporters — must be prepared to line up wherever Roll wants.

And Rhule may not be vulnerable to withdrawing from NU before the job is done.

Because his boss just did it.

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