With Nebraska seeing losses on the football field come faster than they ever have before, athletics director Shawn Eichorst put out a statement Monday thanking fans for their support and assuring them that the wins will come.
It was Eichorst who fired perennial nine-game winner Bo Pelini after last season, saying at the time that while the Huskers were winning games, they weren’t winning the right games, the big games.
There likely won’t be any big games to play in this season, as Eichorst’s pick to replace Pelini, Mike Riley, has already lost six games this season and would need to win out to simply reach bowl eligibility.
The Huskers lost six games before November for the first time in program history with Saturday’s 55-45 defeat at Purdue.
[MORE BIG TEN: Purdue scores 55 points to send Huskers to their sixth loss]
It all led Eichorst to pen the following letter to Nebraska fans.
Dear Husker Family,
I want to express my sincere appreciation to every Husker fan who has come to Memorial Stadium this season to cheer on the Big Red, who has traveled hundreds or thousands of miles to proudly wear the red and white in visiting stadiums and who has passionately supported our student-athletes, our head coach, our assistant coaches and staff. Your support and patience as Mike Riley rebuilds our storied program one brick at a time mean the world to our young men, our staff and our university.
While many are understandably disappointed in the current record of the football team and the heartbreakingly close losses we have suffered, I am confident the future is bright because I see it in the eyes of our players, coaches and staff, and I am impressed by what I know is going on behind the scenes. Our coaches are developing our student-athletes and, though the consistent victories are not there yet, I am confident they will come. I have witnessed how our young men battle every day in practice and fight to the finish on game days in the face of great adversity. Football can be a humbling game of inches and seconds, and our players have laid everything on the line while making no excuses. The prospective student-athletes looking to make Nebraska home possess athletic talent, academic potential and high character making for a bright future. Coach Riley has a vision and a plan and is committed to providing the Husker faithful with a sustained winner which will compete annually for championships.
As I have said many times, it is an honor and privilege to represent Nebraska, and I am humbled and care deeply about the men and women I have a chance to work with every day here. The incredible amount of hours they put in and the sacrifices they all make to represent Nebraska are truly remarkable. In two decades as a student-athlete and athletics administrator, I have had the opportunity to learn and work alongside some incredible people at five different institutions. What the best administrators and coaches have in common is a consistent commitment to teaching young minds to do things the right way and to instill a values system that emphasizes hard work, discipline, loyalty, teamwork, compassion and excellence. Those principles coupled with a positive attitude generally result in championships.
Your continued support is what makes Nebraska special and together, we will do great things. Thank you again for your incredible passion and support. We look forward to another home sellout and an electric environment on Saturday as we come together to cheer on our team against Michigan State.
Have a great week and Go Big Red!
[SHOP BIG TEN: Get your Huskers gear right here]
The cause for panic in Lincoln might not be quite as bad as things seem. Five of the Huskers’ six losses have come by three points or fewer, some in excruciatingly tough circumstances. Even Saturday, Nebraska fought back, scoring 29 points in the fourth quarter to turn a 42-19 deficit into a 55-45 final score.
Still, a coaching change that looked somewhat unnecessary at the time it was made looks even more unnecessary now, as Riley has already failed to reach Pelini’s annual mark — he won at least nine games and lost exactly four games in each of his seven seasons — by a wide margin.