Husker Buzz: Rileys staff embracing fan base
When Shawn Eichorst announced on Nov. 30 he was firing Bo Pelini one of the things I wrote that day was the next head coach at Nebraska needs to be somebody that feeds the monster in Husker nation instead of fighting it.
A coach that makes the fan base feel like it's their team. Through 18 days at Nebraska Mike Riley and his staff have done their best to do that. Even though Riley and his staff aren't coaching the team yet on the field, they have given Husker nation an inside look behind the scenes of what to expect in the years to come.
Led by the efforts of Director of Player Personnel Ryan Gunderson and NU Director of Digital Communications Kelly Mosier we've gotten a good snap shot of how Riley and his staff operate.
We've seen everything from Riley taking a late night recruiting phone call in the atrium at the Embassy Suites Hotel in downtown Lincoln to offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh eating a plate full of catfish at Buzzard Billy's in the Haymarket.
Mosier and his team at Huskers.com also put a great "behind the scenes" photo feature of Riley's first two weeks in Lincoln.
Simple things like this are exactly how you keep a fan base starving for information at bay.
Their efforts have not gone unnoticed either. Since starting at NU Riley has seen his Twitter account go from 25,000 followers to now 78,600. Gunderson went from 2,500 followers to nearly 9,000 in that same period.
Now does any of this actually equate to more wins on the field? No. But what it does do is create a positive vibe.
It gives the fan base more ownership as to what's actually going on. Former head coach Bo Pelini tried to do a few different things through social media, but that really wasn't who he was. It was almost forcing him to be a person he didn't want to be.
When I look at Riley and his staff early on you can tell they genuinely appreciate what they have to work with at NU. They're coming from a place that arguably had the worst facilities in the Pac-12 to a school that has some of the best in the nation.
Watching 2016 LBs with @Coach_Bray, had to wear my #Blackshirts hat! #GBR pic.twitter.com/fBa0vk8mSf- Ryan Gunderson (@TheGundy) December 18, 2014
I also like the fact that when they lost the commitment of four-star running back Kendall Bussey on Friday they immediately reacted by placing scholarship offers to three different four-star running backs.
This sends a message to the fan base that they are going for the best out there and not just trying to fill a spot. That's the mentality it takes to win here.
Big Ten Bowl breakdown: By the numbers
Overall Nebraska will get $2.2 million in travel budget money from the Big Ten to cover the cost of their bowl trip to San Diego. That number is up from the $1.825 million they got in 2013 for the Gator Bowl. The Big Ten always allots more for the west coast bowl trips because of added charter costs.
Still, NU should be able to make it work since they'll be staying just five nights in San Diego compared to the 7 and 8 day bowl trips they've been accustomed to the last three years in Florida. The ticket allotment sizes for the Big Ten are also smaller across the board, but so are the payouts. Very few teams ever sold their full allotments, so that number was adjusted over the off-season as were the payouts.
Here's a full breakdown of the Big Ten bowl numbers provided to HOL from the league office.
2014 Big Ten bowl payouts
Sugar (Playoff): $6 million
Cotton Bowl (Access): $4 million
Citrus Bowl: $4.1 million
Outback Bowl: $3.2 million
Holiday Bowl: $2.8 million
Taxslayer Bowl: $2.5 million
Foster Farms Bowl: $2 million
Pinstripe Bowl: $2 million
Quick Lane Bowl: $1.2 million
Heart of Dallas Bowl: $867,000
Bowl expenses covered by the Big Ten Conference
National Semifinalist (Ohio State in Sugar Bowl): $2.2 million
Non-Playoff Bowl (Michigan State in Cotton Bowl): $2.2 million
National Championship (if Ohio State advances): $2.2 million
Citrus Bowl (Minnesota) - $2 million
Outback Bowl (Wisconsin) - $2 million
Holiday Bowl (Nebraska) - $2.2 million
TaxSlayer Bowl (Iowa) - $2 million
Pinstripe Bowl (Penn State) - $2 million
Foster Farms Bowl (Maryland) - $2 million
Quick Lane Bowl (Rutgers) - $1.2 million
Heart of Dallas Bowl (Illinois) - $1.2 million
Bowl ticket allotments for each Big Ten team
National Semifinalist (Ohio State in Sugar Bowl): 13,000 tickets
Non-Playoff Bowl (Michigan State in Cotton Bowl): 13,000 tickets
National Championship (if Ohio State advances): 20,000 tickets
Citrus Bowl (Minnesota) - 9,000 tickets
Outback Bowl (Wisconsin) - 8,500 tickets
Holiday Bowl (Nebraska) - 6,000 tickets
TaxSlayer Bowl (Iowa) - 8,000 tickets
Pinstripe Bowl (Penn State) - 7,500 tickets
Foster Farms Bowl (Maryland) - 7,500 tickets
Quick Lane Bowl (Rutgers) - No ticket commitment
Heart of Dallas Bowl (Illinois) - 6,000 tickets
Three and out
***The black market for Holiday Bowl tickets is still holding pretty strong. According to Rivals.com's ticket partner SeatGeek.com, there are very few tickets for the Holiday Bowl listed under $100. I believe a lot of that has to do with there are still plenty of face value seats available on TicketMaster.com.
***I know there's a little bowl fatigue with Nebraska making their third trip to San Diego since 2009, but I talked to a few of the seniors that were on the 2010 team and they are absolutely thrilled to be going back to San Diego. Mike Moudy told me it was his favorite trip over his five year career.
***This has definitely been a "December to remember" and there's still nine days left. Merry Christmas to all and thanks for making HuskerOnline.com the best online community of Nebraska fans on the internet.
Sean Callahan can be reached at email@example.com and he can be heard each day at 6:50 am and 5:05 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.