Just a few years ago, Nebraska ditched out on the Big 12 in favor of the Big Ten and it’s newly formed network. In making the jump, the Huskers immediately expected to compete against Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin and Penn State for conference supremacy on an annual basis. However, instead of climbing to the top of the dogpile, an awful defense has forced the proud program into the middle of the pack.
Specific, on-field results aren’t entirely an indicator of whether a program itself has moved away from its identity as a national brand. Take Notre Dame, for example. Several down years prior to Brian Kelly taking over as coach, the Irish still drew strong national television ratings and recruits from all over. The same goes for Michigan before Brady Hoke and even USC today.
However, Cornhuskers coach Bo Pelini has recently alienated both the program’s all-time best player, as well as the entire Big Red fan base. It has been nearly two decades since the team’s spectacular back-to-back national title runs in 1994 and 1995.
The population has shifted away from the state. Recruits are looking to play in far warmer weather climates than Lincoln can provide. It is more difficult than ever to go into SEC and Big 12 country and pluck talented high schoolers that would have tripped over themselves 20 years ago to play for Tom Osborne.
ESPN’s SportsNation asked people to vote on whether the team’s current outlook still means the brand remains at a nationally renowned level. Now we want to know what you think.
Do you agree with SportsNation’s results?