Nebraska football won’t be going bowling this season, though the reasoning this year is vastly different from recent years.
The team came to a collective decision this weekend following Friday night’s 28-21 win over Rutgers. Husker head coach Scott Frost said after the game he’d allow the players to decide if they wanted to continue playing so close to the holidays or call it a year. Nebraska announced Sunday morning the team had decided it needed a chance to recharge.
“Our players made great sacrifices this fall to allow us to play eight games and practice without disruption throughout the season,” Frost said in a statement. “As their head coach, I am proud of how they continued to fight and finished the season with a win on Friday.
“This year has been a long grind and it is time for our guys to have a break, and the opportunity to spend Christmas and the holiday season with their family and friends. We will turn our focus to the 2021 season, and we look forward to our players returning to campus for the spring semester in January.”
Nebraska returned its athletes to campus on June 1 for voluntary workouts. Some were in Lincoln as early as April of this year. After Friday’s game, quarterback Adrian Martinez said he hasn’t spent meaningful time with his family since March.
“If I had known the season was going to get delayed I don’t think I would have brought them back as early,” Frost said Friday night. “It’s been a long haul. I think it’d be great for us if we had an opportunity to go play another game. (I) don’t know if we have that opportunity yet, but I’m going to let the guys decide if they have gas left in the tank or not. We’ll make that decision.”
Nebraska had options. Traditional Big Ten tie-ins like the Duke’s Mayo Bowl (Dec. 30 in Charlotte, North Carolina) and the Music City Bowl (Dec. 30 in Nashville) were on the table. Nebraska was also linked to the Birmingham Bowl (Jan. 1 in Birmingham, Alabama). As schools around the country decide they won’t be participating in the postseason, bowls are scrambling.
Nebraska now becomes the fifth Big Ten program to opt out of a bowl game, joining Penn State, Minnesota, Michigan State, and Rutgers.
“The young men in our football program have shown great discipline this year adhering to necessary safety measures and protocols,” said NU Athletic Director Bill Moos. “I commend them for how they handled the challenges they faced in this unprecedented season.
“I also can’t thank our coaching staff and support staff enough for the leadership, organization and professionalism they have displayed. It has been a true team effort to make this season possible. It has been a grueling 10 months for all involved, but because of the efforts of our football student-athletes, coaches and staff, we were one of only a few Big Ten teams that avoided a pause in team activities during the 2020 season.”
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.