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Hail Varsity Mailbag
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Mailbag: Nebraska’s Next Offensive Coordinator and Nebraska Basketball Talk

November 17, 2021

It’s already been a busy week in Husker athletics, and we haven’t even gotten to the football game with Wisconsin yet.

This week’s mailbag includes questions on Nebraska’s next offensive coordinator—whomever it may be—as well as Nebrasketball and Badger talk.

Who would your dream hire be for OC? Could be anyone from college or pro. (@TwinTwisterDad) 

Brandon Vogel: Can you pull Chris Petersen, 57, out of semi-retirement with the offer of a job where he doesn’t have to deal with the headaches of being a head coach and instead gets to focus solely on the football? That would be near the top of the list for me. I don’t think the missing ingredient for Nebraska’s offense is really Xs-and-Os, more of an execution issue. In that case, getting a former head coach with his track record, someone who has dealt with every all of the detail-driven stuff at the highest level, offers a great deal of upside. 

Greg Smith: It’s going to be tough to beat Brandon’s answer here so I’ll go with someone who has a head coaching job currently. Well, for the time being. Dan Mullen would be a great hire. Think of all the storylines based on how linked Scott Frost and Mullen were before the 2018 season. He’s obviously done great work in the past with offenses and might be on the market soon. Why not? 

Steve Marik: Dream hire for OC, huh? This is a great question, and Brandon and Greg both have awesome picks. My unrealistic dream hire would be Ole Miss head Lane Kiffin. Baylor’s Jeff Grimes would be cool, but he just got to Waco and is in his first year with the Bears. Now, a lot of Husker fans might not like it, but I think Tom Herman should get a look. He’s got experience calling plays in the Big Ten with Ohio State, and probably wants to get back to coaching in college as he’s currently an analyst with the Chicago Bears. 

Does Scott Frost wait until the end of the season to name his OC, or should we expect it sooner? Seems like with the timing of the firings that the announcement would come sooner. (@Jeremy_J_KCSR) 

Mike Babcock: I would think the naming would come at some point after the Iowa game, though much is happening behind the scenes. Frost said he owed it to the players to focus on the last two games and get the job done for them. He’s already fired assistants before the season is over. That can’t be in the players’ best interest. If he’s busy with so many responsibilities, as he said, he’s got even more on which to focus now with players as his concern. So at least give that impression. There are others on staff, including Trev Alberts, who can make contact with possible hires on his behalf and get the discussion going so as soon as the season is over, he can turn his focus to that. 

Drake Keeler: Yeah, it’ll probably come after the season. The timing of the firings did make it feel like the hirings could maybe have come sooner, but I think they’ll just see what happens closing the season with the interims. I’m sure that a couple of the interim offensive assistants have a decent chance to earn that position full-time over the final two games. 

Greg: It’ll be after the season but I’d expect an offensive coordinator announcement very soon after the Iowa game. Despite Frost not wanting to wear too many hats he will have to figure out how to essentially hire an OC while coaching this team. The recruiting timeline basically demands that.  

Steve: My guess is we’ll get an announcement shortly after the Iowa game. Mike, Drake and Greg laid out some great points. 

Erin Sorensen: My only question with the timeline is what the new offensive coordinator is doing right now. Where are they coaching? What does the postseason look like for them? Does it matter? I agree with what everyone above said, but I do wonder if the future OC’s current role doesn’t affect the timeline slightly. 

We’ve seen flashes of great basketball and flashes of unwatchable basketball by the men’s team in the early start of the season. What is the ceiling for this team? (@Corn_Huskers) 

Jacob Padilla: I think the ceiling for the team is still about where I thought it was heading into the season, which is near the middle of the pack in the Big Ten. I haven’t seen enough games to definitively say this year’s team can’t get there, but I do feel it is less likely to reach that ceiling now than I did three games ago. Fred Hoiberg has a lot of things to figure out, and losing Trey McGowens for at least six weeks certainly isn’t going to help. 

Drake: I wouldn’t be surprised if those flashes of great and terrible basketball continue throughout the season. The ceiling for this team is probably about where Jacob is putting it, and it doesn’t seem like there’s much of a possibility it will go higher than that. It’s still early of course, but there’s a decent chance it’ll be another very frustrating season. 

Out of the positions groups on offense (quarterback, running back, receiver, tight end and offensive line), which one needs the most improvement at Nebraska? (@Steve_Marik) 

Steve: I’ll go with the offensive line. If you can get consistent play from that group, you’d be able to run the ball more consistently, too. That’s a quarterback’s best friend, a healthy run game. It helps the down-field passing game as well. 

Greg: I will also go with the offensive line. Everything would just work so much better if Nebraska has just an average offensive line. That’s a path to getting that one extra score needed to win these close games.  

Jacob: Offensive line is definitely the answer here. Even if they improve at quarterback I’m not sure how much it would matter if whoever is back there is facing pressure on more than half of his drop-backs. I think the running backs would look a lot better with better blocking, and I think the receivers they have would get more targets if the quarterback had time to scan the field without running for his life.

Is there any chance Nebraska gets out of Wisconsin with a win? (@Steve_Marik) 

Steve: In the press conferences earlier this week, I got the sense that the players really want to play Wisconsin. All of them mentioned the game being a rivalry, which I like. I know the offense will be without four assistant coaches (the analysts will be stepping into coaching roles) and the defense without JoJo Domann, but I saw a quiet confidence with the guys. I think the game will be closer than one would think.   

Brandon: The moneyline (NU +290) is saying there’s about a 25% chance Nebraska wins. Two weeks ago, I would’ve thought the Huskers had a better shot than that, and I think under different circumstances Nebraska does have a better shot than that. But I have little idea how to handicap the coaching changes, and even less of an idea of how Nebraska will respond to everything from the past two weeks. If it doesn’t look like 80% of the offensive staff is now gone and Nebraska avoids turnovers (Wisconsin has had three or more takeaways in each of their past four games), I like Nebraska’s chances defensively to hang in. Let’s call it a 33% chance with those parameters. Either way, I definitely don’t think there’s no chance. 

Mike: Nebraska doesn’t win at Wisconsin . . . but it does beat Iowa. 

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