Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Mickey Joseph Still Enjoying Interim Role, Lists Roster Management as Key for Future Improvement

November 15, 2022

Don’t worry about Mickey Joseph.

Referring to himself in the third person, that was the interim head coach’s message at Tuesday’s press conference about his time leading the team so far.

After Scott Frost’s firing, Joseph has coached the team in seven games over the last two months. He started off 2-1, but the Huskers have now lost four straight games, eliminating the team from bowl contention with a 3-7 overall record.

His time as interim coach has been viewed as a nine-game audition for the full-time role while Nebraska looks at other candidates in its national search. His 2-5 record so far may impact his chances, but he’s not worried about that.

“I don’t think it’s been difficult. I’ve been having fun getting it done,” Joseph said. “I’m coming in every day to get a job done. We haven’t gotten the results that we wanted, but it’s a great feeling being around these kids and being around these coaches. They’re top notch people. Not one person in this building has given up. Everybody comes in and fight. Y’all see them, They’re fighting until the end. You could be in a situation right now where they could’ve gave up six weeks ago. But they didn’t. I’m having fun, I’m good. Don’t worry about Mickey. Mickey is going to be OK.”

He said he hasn’t yet been approached by the program to talk about his role beyond this season, although he’s prepared for any possibility. For the moment, he’s focused on the two rivalry games the team has coming up.

However, with another losing season for Nebraska ensured, he fielded a number of questions related to what the team needs to do to turn things around. As was the case after Saturday’s loss, most of his answers centered on recruitment.

That doesn’t just mean bringing in highly-regarded talents, either, but bringing in the right players. Joseph praised Alante Brown for his grit and willingness to put his body on the line when he was hit in mid-air during a hurdle attempt. That’s the mentality Joseph wants, and while Brown was once rated as a four-star prospect, the rating isn’t always the best indicator.

“You got to find it. You gotta find them when you’re recruiting them,” Joseph said. “I know somebody said that I offered a quarterback with no stars or some FCS offers. If I would’ve listened to that person about Justin Jefferson, I wouldn’t have ever got Justin Jefferson. He was the 2100th player ranked in the country when he came out. So we going to go by evaluation. When we evaluating the kid, we’re looking for that grit. We looking for that finish on every play. So you got to look at him before you bring him here.”

Joseph said that the Huskers are going to continue to recruit in the places they already have been — he named a number of states in the south, along with places like New Jersey, Kansas City, St. Louis and of course, Nebraska. As the Big Ten expands in a few years with additions of USC and UCLA, California’s presence in the conference will too.

The head coach said the staff will have to go out to California to recruit, but they’ll still be intentional about who they’re recruiting.

“Kids from the west coast, they tend to stay close to home, because one thing Lincoln’s not going to be is California. Never,” he said. “We said the same thing when I was at LSU. We didn’t go out there a lot, because California kids, they kind of want that place to be Cali and it’s not. So we’re going to continue to go where we’ve been going … We’re going to go out there, but we aren’t going to go out there and just say ‘Okay, we’re satisfied.’ We’re going out there to get a draft pick.”

Recruitment and “roster management” in particular was one of the keys Joseph listed to whoever the full-time head coach is turning the program around. He emphasized depth in the Big Ten, saying the physicality of the conference means players are going to get injured. That’s an issue the Huskers have had experience with this season, especially at quarterback as of late.

But for all the praise Joseph has received as a recruiter, he doesn’t want to frame it as an easy task. While there is talent in Nebraska, he said many of the best players reside in states like Texas, Louisiana and Georgia. A head coach for the Huskers will have to work to convince those players to play in Lincoln.

“You have to work here,” Joseph said. “Whoever takes this job, they better be ready to work.”

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