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October 9, 2012
Eichorst faces unique challenges
Somebody once told me you never want to be the person that replaces "the guy."
Maybe the biggest challenge newly named Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst faces is replacing legendary Nebraska icon Tom Osborne.
Another challenge for Eichorst is just earning and gaining the trust of those around him.
"Talk is cheap and action stands for something," Eichorst said. "At Nebraska they're about action. They're serious about success and so am I.
"I think just getting to know the state (will be my biggest challenge). I've only been to Omaha a couple of times with South Carolina in 2004 and Wisconsin in 2008 when we beat Kansas State in Omaha. I've only been in Lincoln twice, and this is the second time. Just getting around the state and immersing myself in the University and the people and really understand why this place has been so successful. This place is not broken. This is a great place and I just hope to make it better."
Osborne was present at Eichorst's press conference on Tuesday and wanted to make it clear that the only reason he wasn't at last week's announcement with Chancellor Harvey Perlman was he wasn't invited to be there.
Osborne said Eichorst has his full support going forward and he wanted to set the record straight that he's not upset about the hire.
So what advice would Osborne give to Nebraska's newest AD?
"It's not my job to advise him, it's my job to let him know we have certain projects underway that he needs to know what they are and what stage of development they are in," Osborne said. "He needs to know the people. It was very kind of him in his comments, but he's going to have to be his own person and he will be.
"My job at this point is to make a successful handoff and we will get that done. It will work very smoothly. The main concern I have is that the athletic department does well going forward. I see nothing out there that gives me any alarm right now, so it should work well."
Maybe the most interesting dynamic of this entire Eichorst hiring will be his relationship going forward with head football coach Bo Pelini.
Pelini was not present at Tuesday's news conference, nor did he attend last night's reception with Eichorst and the rest of the Husker coaches. Pelini addressed the hiring of Eichorst during Tuesday's Big Ten coaches teleconference, which fell during the exact same time as Eichorst's introductory press conference.
"I've heard nothing but great things about Shawn and I look forward to working with him," Pelini said. "His reputation is impeccable."
Eichorst said he's been able to watch very little of Nebraska's football team this year, but he understands the importance of developing a strong relationship with Pelini, along with everybody else in the Athletic Department.
"I think whether it's the head football coach, the person that works in catering or marketing or ticketing or academic support, compliance -- we all need to have good relationships and work close together," Eichorst said. "With Bo (Pelini), folks that I know and respect as I said earlier respect him. I'm looking forward to spending a lot of time with him and understanding where he's coming from and more importantly how I can be supportive of him moving forward."
Eichorst said he also understands the importance of the football program and what it means to the entire state of Nebraska.
"(Football) is a big deal. It's the engine that drives this deal," Eichorst said. "We all know that. There are no secrets there. We will do everything we possibly can to position our program and our young people in a way that they can be successful.
"I'm about football. I talked about that in my opening comments and it's shaped the person that I am."
Sean Callahan can be reached at email@example.com and he can be heard each day at 6:50 am and 4:50 pm on Big Red Radio 1110 KFAB in Omaha during the football season. He can also be seen on KETV Channel 7 TV in Omaha during the fall and each week he appears on NET's Big Red Wrap Tuesday's at 7 pm.