Preface: As I was writing this article, it was announced that Shawn Eichorst had been fired by the University of Nebraska. Coincidently, this post was an argument for why he should be removed from his position. I evaluated the football program as you would a publicly traded company in order to gain a different perspective. I published the article as is.
Many a Husker fan have debated whether or not somebody from a program with less resources inherently becomes more successful at Nebraska. It’s a tale as old as 2015.
And admittedly, this is an easy theory to buy into…
Look at the argument like this… picture a business with a proven recipe for success. Most of the time, the one thing holding it back is the lack of capital to expand. This presents a great opportunity for investors to buy into said company with the hopes of scaling production and returning greater profits.
In the case of this article, profits are not measured by revenues from the undying loyalty of Husker fans, rather profits will be measured as wins over losses.
This is tale of Nebraska Inc.
In 2014, Nebraska extended a tremendous increase in capital to Mike Riley & Co. The new agreement would see Riley’s staff take over the football department at Nebraska after former Chief of Football Operations, Bo Pelini was asked to step down by Senior Administrator Shawn Eichorst.
This was a big step for Eichorst, as he finalized his decision without any consultation from the Board of Regents. A very questionable move. None the less, Eichorst made his mark and declared he would conduct an extensive search for the next CFO. Four days later, it was announced that Mike Riley & Co. would merge with Nebraska Football.
The new relationship between Mike Riley and Nebraska raised many questions across the nation, as Riley’s portfolio was less than stellar. However, his relationships with other leaders throughout the industry and his character was sufficient enough for company to get behind him.
Fast forward three years. It is now the first quarter of 2017 and the investors have yet to see any tangible results.
What went wrong?
A major misstep in Nebraska’s merger with Riley was that although he offered vast improvement in many sectors, Riley lacked one crucial thing mentioned earlier. A proven recipe for success. Yes, like many eager investors, Eichorst bought into an idea rather than a demonstrated history of tangible results.
Where there were subtle rumblings before from shareholders, has now turned into a full blown foreshock. Rightfully so, Nebraska is currently in the red in when it comes to the win/loss sector and early quarter projections are echoing a continued downward trend. 2017 appears to be another year where actual winnings fail to come close to projected winnings.
Some of this can be attributed to certain metrics being skewed. Take for instance, the recruiting sector. Nebraska has yielded favorable production in this area, yet has failed to find a way to incorporate that success on the field. This can lead to falsified early reports and shareholder disappointment.
Another factor is the market, and more exclusively the Big Ten. Many in the industry are very bullish on the Big Ten. The conference has increased it’s presence greatly over the last five years, yet Nebraska fails to follow the competitions trend and the company remains stagnant while others thrive. This is no doubt concerning for shareholders and may be an strong indication to sell.
The last reason for the missed projections can be chalked up to underperformance. Nebraska has failed to compete with the other competition in the market. Other programs are working more efficiently and growing while Nebraska’s production is declining. Even companies with far less resources are gaining ground on the once thriving company.
The most recent meeting with Northern Illinois left investors questioning the direction of the company. To mitigate investor’s doubts, Shawn Eichorst fielded questions immediately after the game. This is very odd move for Eichorst, as he vowed never to speak about the company mid quarter. However, this public relations move fell on deaf ears as the damage was far to great to sway investors doubts.
Although Nebraska has the infrastructure to weather a few down years, it is clear they are running out of time. Investor confidence is shrinking by the day and something must be done to regain the trust of the Husker faithful. The cup has runneth over and the only way for Nebraska to right the ship is to make some major changes at top level positions.
There is at least one reason to remain optimistic about the future of the company. Harvey Perlman stepped down earlier this year. It is no secret, Perlman has been at the forefront of the mismanagement at Nebraska Inc. With Perlman out of the mix, there is an opportunity for new President, Hank Bounds to turn the program around with his future decisions. Starting with appointing a new Athletic Director.