Nebraska’s 54-7 win over Maryland gave the Huskers a week to be thankful. Iowa looms, of course, so Nebraska also had to stay focused. That meant player availability—as well as time with coordinators and assistants—was limited.
Prior to the matchup with Maryland, the Huskers sat at 4-6. A fifth win would give Nebraska the chance it wanted (and needed) to get bowl eligible with a win over Iowa on Black Friday. A loss, well . . . We just won’t focus on what that would have done for morale.
Yet, Nebraska coaches and players remained grateful through the turbulance. It wasn’t easy—they’ll tell you as much—and it can be humbling. It can also remind the individuals of those that matter most in their lives.
“I'm thankful for the people that are there through the tough times, not when I'm just up and doing good and they see me on TV doing well and things,” sophomore Cam Taylor-Britt told Hail Varsity last week. “[They’re] there when not expected, like my coaches. Sometimes they call and say stuff even when we're not expecting anything, they check on us.
“I'm thankful for my family, my girlfriend. She was taking care of me, while I was sick and things like that. She didn't have to do that. Family-wise as well, they travel big when they come to games, so that's what I'm very thankful for.”
That family environment is important to Coach Scott Frost and his staff. It’s something they’ve mentioned over and over again since arriving at Nebraska in December 2017. It’s something they talked about when they were at Central Florida.
It helps that the staff is close, especially when times get tough and the record doesn’t reflect what they had hoped from a season.
“Obviously, the season hasn't gone the way we wanted it to go, but we all know,” tight ends coach Sean Beckton said. “We have our times and then where we delve in and start reflecting watching film. We're very close to really, really winning some games. If one player or two plays here go the other way, our record is different. We’ve got to continue to stay together as a staff.
“Family is also always important.”
Beckton said it helps that the coaches’ wives and families are always around. There’s a bible study on Thursdays for those interested. Frost encourages coaches to bring their families to the stadium, and it’s common to find offensive line coach Greg Austin’s daughters and defensive line coach Tony Tuioti’s kids running around. Running backs coach Ryan Held’s son Jacob has handled interviews with his dad.
Even Beckton’s son, Sean Beckton Jr., is a performance intern for Nebraska. Beckton cherishes that extra time he has with his son, who came with the family to Lincoln from Orlando despite being lifelong Floridians.
Family is important to Taylor-Britt, too. He hails from Montgomery, Alabama, so his family isn’t around as much as he wishes they could be. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t found a way to keep himself grounded and connected.
“You know, I talk to my mom every day,” Taylor-Britt said. “I have to talk to her. She really keeps me sane, I can say, without going crazy. I just have to call her and talk to her because that's my ‘A1,’ day one, what we call each other. We've been through some tough times together and I feel like once I hear her voice and things, I could be just angry as ever at the world, but once I just hear her voice and she gets to talk, it's like everything's all cool and calm.”
Family and team are the two things Tuioti impresses most on his players. His message is simple: “Have the attitude of gratitude.” It’s the first thing he puts on the board before meetings because he wants his players to truly reflect on what matters most.
“No matter what happens in life, there’s always good and bad that happens,” Tuioti said. “If we’re grateful for everything, the good and the bad, we’re able to learn from those and be able to grow from it. I tell the guys the most important thing to me is, number one, I’m grateful to have my family in my life and, number two, I have them in my life at this point. Just knowing that and wanting to be around them, we’ve got so many days right now that are guaranteed to us as a team and if we take care of business and do the right things, we can extend it, possibly.”
And that’s what this week has given Nebraska. A week to be a little more thankful. A week to earn bowl eligibility. A week to appreciate what can be, even if it doesn’t go as planned.
Tuioti is just grateful for the opportunity to be at Nebraska. He appreciates the fans, the community and the people he’s around every day. Those things keep him going, even when everything else gets tough.
“Right now we’re not where we want to be at with our record, but I’m very thankful for the fans for coming out and showing love and support to the players,” Tuioti said. “So every week, I come out and say to myself, ‘Man, I’m just grateful to have these fans out here that are cheering and supporting.’ And they’ve been cheering and supporting for a long time.
“I know it’s been cloudy and rainy for many years, but I would say after the rain comes rainbows, so we’re working towards that. Coach Frost is the leader of that and he’s going to steer us in the right way and I know before it’s all over, we’ll definitely be seeing rainbows.”
Erin is the Deputy Editor and Digital Marketing Strategist for Hail Varsity. She has covered Nebraska athletics since 2012, which has included stops at Bleacher Report, Cox Media Group’s Land of 10, and even Hail Varsity (previously from 2012-2017). She has also been featured on the Big Ten Network, NET’s Big Red Wrap-Up, and a varsity of radio shows nationwide. When not covering the Huskers, Erin is probably at Chipotle.