GRAND ISLAND, Neb.—Husker men’s basketball coach Fred Hoiberg, football defensive backs coach Travis Fisher and senior deputy athletic director John Johnson were in Grand Island to speak directly with Nebraska fans. They were there as part of the Huskers’ Big Red Blitz tour.
Hail Varsity will have more to follow later from conversations with the coaches, but here are some of the highlights of what they discussed.
>> The first announcement of the day came from emcee Kent Pavelka. He announced that the Huskers will be at 100% capacity for all sporting events starting this fall. That move was met with some applause in the room.
>> The under construction Go Big Project is the largest project of any kind in school history. The program has raised $85 million of the $100 million goal so far. There is high confidence in raising the remaining amount. The designs of that project are being kept very secret. The school has its own servers with the design company. That helps keep a tight lid on everything according to Johnson.
>> Name, image and likeness is going to be a game-changer in college athletics. Everyone on the panel agreed that it will be very beneficial for Nebraska’s student-athletes. Not just from a financial standpoint. There will be an educational component that goes along with it. Johnson did note that while NIL is a step he loves the college model that is unique in America.
>> Hoiberg believes that his team finally has continuity for the first time in his tenure. Being able to hit the ground running will be a huge benefit to his program. His team didn’t get much practice time due to the pandemic last year. Hoiberg also noted the improved shooting on the team thanks to the newcomers for the program. Hoiberg spoke about the difficulties of building in the Big Ten conference.
“We feel it’s the best league in the country,” Hoiberg said. “When we came into it I talked to John Beilein the former coach at Michigan. He said when he got into the league it was 10 teams and six were going through rebuilds. You got in and there are 14 teams and you are the only one going through a rebuild.
“So, we came in during a very tough time in the conference. But we feel like we added the right pieces to fit exactly how we want to play.”
>> Culture is an important word for Nebraska football. Fisher was pleased to report that the coaching staff is not having to lead and police those culture issue anymore. It can be an abstract concept to wrap your head around so Fisher gave an example of this in his room.
“Guys have their cellphones in their pockets or in the bookbag. A couple years ago I told the guys I have no problem with cell phones. But if mom is texting you good morning, you won’t answer it in the meeting but youll hit the button to turn it off. In that little time it took you to bend down and look at that phone I was saying something that could help us win a football game. And you missed it.
“You don’t have to turn your phones in when you come in here but if you guys like what I’m saying pay attention. The guys took off with that. Now when I walk in the room one of those guys just says ‘cell phones’ and there are cell phones flying across the floor. That’s every day. That’s what I’m talking about with the culture. The culture in the room is set where I don’t have to do that. The players are policing each other. Now the young ones when they come in the room they just jump right in. Because the old ones established that right away.”
>> Hoiberg said the Huskers are working on an exhibition game against a high-major opponent. Proceeds from ticket sales are going to charity. More information on that event will be coming in the future. That’s in addition to the annual closed-door scrimmage. Plus, an exhibition against an in-state school. Last year the program only got two exhibitions but will be able to have a third event that he is excited about.
Greg is the Recruiting Analyst for Hail Varsity and has covered Husker athletics since 2013. He has always had a passion for sports while growing up in the Chicago area. As he got older and had to hang up his cleats and sneakers, he realized his passion for sports went beyond just watching and attending games. He has covered many events from the Rose Bowl to championship boxing matches. If he’s not talking sports, he’s hovering over his grill. He is married to an amazing woman, Kim, and they have a dog that barks when Greg yells at the TV during games.