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Mailbag: Should 2022 Nebraska Football Be Viewed as a Team or Program?

June 08, 2022

The mailbag has arrived, and it gets kicked off with an interesting question: Is 2022 Nebraska football a team or program?

We dive into our thoughts on that question, as well as others that touch on Nebraska’s media rights deal, the college world series and even season four of Stranger Things.

Let’s get to it.

Is 2022 Nebraska football a program or team? My opinion is that it’s a team, built to win now. NU would probably like to have a program, but does it have enough in place or will it have to build a team each offseason? (@Sal_Vasta3) 

Drake Keeler: It’d be hard to call Nebraska anything but a team for 2022, in the context of this question. That’s understandably the purpose — win enough this year to keep this thing going under Scott Frost. If Nebraska does well in the fall, that could provide the base for the Huskers being closer to that program archetype. But right now, as you said, they’re looking at right now.  

Mike Babcock: As I see it, building a program would include an emphasis on recruiting high school players more so than depending on transfers in hopes of immediate success, the case now. And maybe transfers are the future of Nebraska’s “program” since it’s fallen off the national grid. In any case, the Huskers are developing a team, of necessity. There’s no looking past 2022. 

Jacob Padilla: It’s definitely a team needing to win now. Many of the players Scott Frost and his staff brought in from the transfer portal this offseason will have a chance to factor heavily into the two-deep this season. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean this is the new game plan moving forward. Every staff in the country will look to take advantage of the transfer portal to plug some holes, but because of recruiting and development misses, there were more holes than usual this offseason for Nebraska. Frost is probably hoping that this transfer class can buy him another year and buy the promising young players in the program time to develop so that Nebraska can move closer to program status. 

Steve Marik: To me, it’s clearly a team right now. There are examples of programs in the Big Ten West. Iowa is one. Wisconsin is another. I don’t think PJ Fleck has Minnesota there yet, but I think the Gophers are on their way. Frost needs wins badly and brought in hired guns to help get them. Might work, might not. Fortunately for him and the team, it’s a manageable schedule until the final three games against Michigan and those two aforementioned programs, Wisconsin and Iowa. And even then, those three are winnable contests. 

Brandon Vogel: I won’t be the dissenting voice here. In fact, my column in the Yearbook is on this topic, but I like how you broke it down—team versus program. It’s a team with a very specific mission—buy some time so Nebraska can get back to program building. 

What’s up with the media rights deal to outsource the media stuff? Any new information? (@JacobKrueger5) 

Mike: Someone else can probably answer this better. I’m pretty sure at this point, though, taking the media rights in-house hasn’t been as financially successful as expected. As a result, I’m guessing in the not-to-distant future, Nebraska will return to a media partner, possibly even back to Learfield. 

Greg Smith: I haven’t heard much on this front since the deal fell through. I still expect them to go back to having a media partner as soon as a good deal can be found.  

What would your “Running Up That Hill” (favorite) song be? (SPOILER – as part of the Stranger Things S4, E4) (@marcus_scheer) 

Drake: I’ve been listening to “Running Up That Hill” a lot because of the recent season, so that’s probably not too far off anymore from being my pick. But as of now, I’d pick Stevie Wonder’s “Saturn.”  

Steve: Haven’t watched it yet, but I know the context, so I’ll take a stab at it. “Stone” by Whiskey Myers. Does it fit? I don’t know. But that one’s been on my mind for a while now.

Brandon: I was delighted to hear that song pop up in the first episode, and little did I know the role it would play in episodes to come. While I don’t know that I’d call this song my favorite, if I needed something to [redacted redacted redacted] the way “Running Up That Hill” did in Stranger Things, I’m probably going with Suicide’s “Dream Baby Dream.” No, the Springsteen version will not do.  

Mario Buford seems to have done well at the first Friday Night Lights camp last weekend. Marques Buford Jr. is likely getting playing time on defense this season as a second-year player. Which Buford brother do you think has the highest ceiling in football? 

Greg: This is a tough one. Based on recruiting rankings and offers out of high school, Mario would be the pick. We do have the benefit of seeing the early development of Marques playing out at Nebraska. My official pick will be Marques, but I can see this going either way

Any teams that you’d like to see make it to the College World Series? 

Mike: Oregon State, Stanford, East Carolina (aka not-Texas), Southern Mississippi, grudgingly Notre Dame . . . you can see a pattern here, probably. 

Steve: Sounds like Mike isn’t a fan of the SEC. Must not mean more to him. All jokes aside, I won’t lie—I had fun watching Oklahoma State. What a cast of characters, especially that bleach-blonde slugger Roc Riggio. But the Cowboys lost, so that’d be a bad answer. Instead, I want to see Tennessee in Omaha. Seems like a safe bet because, well, it’s like one of the best college baseball teams ever, I think. The Vols are making college baseball cool. People are talking about them, and that badly needs to happen with the sport. Tennessee and its in-your-face brand of baseball might help convince more young athletes to play and be good at it. At least that’s my read. 

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