Former Nebraska legend Frank Solich is coming back to Memorial Stadium.
Nebraska Athletic Director Trev Alberts announced on Wednesday’s episode of Sports Nightly the university will honor Solich and his family during the annual Red-White Game on April 22. Alberts teased another special announcement for the Spring Game concerning Solich. Solich, who retired before the 2021 season, will return to Lincoln after two frayed decades to a surely welcoming fan base.
“I’d just like to encourage Husker fans to help us make it really special,” Alberts said during his monthly radio appearance. “We’ve been working on this one a while. I think it’s time and I’m really looking forward to Husker Nation honoring Frank and thanking him for everything he’s done as a player, a coach, and honor him for what he did after he left here.”
Solich was the running backs coach when Alberts played linebacker for the Huskers. He led Nebraska to a 58-19 overall record during his time in Lincoln. He was infamously fired at the conclusion of the 2003 season after the Huskers beat Colorado, 31-22, to improve to 9-3. That came a year after a disappointing 7-7 season. Solich went on to coach at Ohio. The Bobcats went 115-82 in his time there. School officials there renamed the turf inside Peden Stadium as Frank Solich Field before the 2022 season.
Alberts explained Solich’s relationship with Nebraska softened over time, but he still had reservations about a ceremony. Alberts eventually told him the ceremony would be for the fans, which gave Solich pause. About 52,000 tickets have been sold to the Red-White game with three weeks until kickoff.
Alberts used to watch Nebraska from afar while he worked at Omaha. He saw the dysfunction among the fan base during coaching turnovers and administrative moves. He sees Solich’s return as a move towards unity.
“We had all this fragmentation,” Alberts said. “If there’s anything Coach Osborne was so good at communicating, at least to me, was the power of unity. And unity of purpose.”
>> The Go Big Project is still on schedule and within the planned budget range. Alberts said football-specific operations are taking precedent to ensure they’re done before fall camp. That’s to cut down any move or disruption during the season. Training table and academic support facilities will then move to the new facility from their respective homes in Memorial Stadium months later.
>> As a member of the NCAA Football Oversight Committee, Alberts was included in meetings about minor rule changes to college football. He recapped the proposed changes: no untimed downs to end first or third quarters, no clock stoppages on first downs unless inside 2 minutes of either half and no consecutive timeouts. Those changes were proposed to shorten game times. Alberts said time for games started “to creep” and the committee wanted to mitigate that while also decreasing plays. The committee will vote on those issues on April 20.
>> Big Ten athletic directors have not reached a consensus on a future football scheduling module. Alberts said they’ll continue to work through that issue as the conference expands to 14 teams with the inclusion of USC and UCLA in 2024. Right now, there are three basic proposals up for debate. Individual school representatives have their own ideals and opinions while the conference’s goal is united. “As we move to a 12-team playoff, what conferences are going to try to do, what we should all be doing, is how many teams we can get into the College Football Playoff,” Alberts said.
>> Alberts said Nebraska and the NCAA is improving Name, Image and Likeness opportunities for international athletes. High profile basketball standouts Keisei Tominaga and Jaz Shelley would benefit from those changes. Athletes on the school’s tennis, track, soccer, gymnastics teams and more also include international athletes.
>> Alberts was pleased with the progress the Nebraska men’s basketball team made under fourth-year head coach Fred Hoiberg last season. While he hoped they finished stronger and made the NIT, the athletic director was encouraged by their resiliency. Nebraska’s women’s basketball team also made Alberts proud. He liked their resilience through an injury-marred season that ended in the WNIT.
>> Still on the subject of winter sports recaps, Alberts glowed about the Nebraska wrestling and indoor track and field teams. Both finished highly with All-Americans and garnered Alberts’ full support.
>> Without a signed contract for a musical act for Volleyball Day In Nebraska, Alberts couldn’t share information about that. He also did not have an answer for parking or tailgate possibilities. He admitted parking will be an issue, as the event falls on a Wednesday and classes for the 2023 fall semester will have started.