Nebraska whacked its athletic director Shawn Eichorst yesterday. Tough news for him and his family, but seemingly the best news ever from almost every other member of the Nebraska family. I’m never looking to take food off someone’s plate or dance on their grave, but the next person who says they’re sad about Eichorst going will be the first, starting with former players like Tommy Armstrong Jr.
The former quarterback tweeted: Bet my dog coach Bo laughing right now!!!! Eichorst of course fired Bo Pelini after Coach Bo won at least 9 games every season he was in Lincoln. I don’t know if Bo is laughing. In fact, yes I do. I know he is. All the way to freaking bank, as he’s Nebraska is still paying him to coach someplace else.
And then Armstrong went on to explain his thoughts on Eichorst even further: I’ll say what most of us previous players wanted to say. From Day 1 he didn’t give us a good first impression def during that first meeting. When he fired Bo, as a athlete you would want your boss to tell you before walking into a empty building with no clue of what happened.
From Armstrong’s version, it doesn’t sound like that was particularly well handled. And former Huskers cornerback Josh Mitchell’s version is even worse: That man showed up to our team meeting room with armed security to tell us he fired our coach but you want me to have respect for him? CRAZY.
And it wasn’t just athletes and former athletes who didn’t care for Eichorst. Words that keep coming up in descriptions of him are “awkward,” “Silent Shawn,” and numerous variations on a square-peg in a round hole. Or the fact that he didn’t connect with fans. Or his own coaches. The list goes on and it’s not flattering.
But the biggest thing is that he didn’t seem to get Nebraska. And that’s crucial. To be the AD at Nebraska, you have to get Nebraska. Nebraska is different and it’s proud of being different. Husker fans are different and they’re proud of being different. And they should be. This is amazing fan base. And a program with an incredible tradition: but it’s different. And you have to understand it. And them. And he clearly didn’t.
The most glaring example was him trying to nuke the Black Friday game and then attempting to double back right after he did it. Further evidence, the guy had no idea where he lived or where he worked. Eichorst indicated that the team would end the tradition of playing on Black Friday, a game which put them in the national spotlight…. don’t want that!! Instead, let’s play on the Saturday after thanksgiving, where people will completely miss or just forget about us following games like Ohio State-Michigan. Again. It showed a total lack of connection to the fan base and the traditions of the school. And Nebraska is proud of its traditions. And should be.
And one side note…no, Husker fans don’t follow the Huskers because as one of you clones tweeted… “the alternative is sitting on a porch spitting dip into a bucket while rocking overalls.”
First of all, they follow the Huskers because they love the Huskers. And secondly, you can love the Huskers and still spit dip into a bucket while rocking overalls. Those aren’t mutually exclusive.
But you don’t get canned just because you’re awkward and silent, or because you butcher a scheduling tradition. You get canned if you’re awkward and silent and the football team isn’t winning. And they aren’t right now. You get canned if Northern Illinois comes into your house and beats you. That’s a firable offense. Someone was getting broken off for that. And while Eichorst did make it to Thursday following that loss, there was no way he was going to survive it. End of the day, personality and fit aside, they didn’t get done on the field, and while the move is stunning, it’s not surprising.
If the Huskers were going to the college football playoff every year, nobody would care how silent or square he was. Which means that yesterday wasn’t just a bad day for Shawn Eichorst, it was a tough day for Mike Riley as well, even though Eichorst announced an extension for Riley just last week. Because now there’s even more pressure on him to turn things around. It’s never good when the guy who hires you gets fired, because frequently, that means you’re next. As good a guy as Mike Riley is, and he might be the best guy ever, if he doesn’t go on a run this season, he probably won’t survive it, as the new A.D. obviously is going to want his own coach.
So yeah, personality-wise and culture-wise, it wasn’t a good fit, but this isn’t just about personality. It’s about results. And the results weren’t there, which is why Eichorst isn’t there either. He didn’t get it done. And they wanted to make sure he wasn’t around to hire Mike Riley’s replacement. And other than Riley, the next person to express any sadness whatsoever that Eichorst is gone, will be the first.