Nebraska Cornhuskers Football: Is Nebraska An Elite Football Program?


Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, I asked five writers from around the country what their general perception of Nebraska football was. The answers were consistent, Nebraska is rich in tradition.

In part two of our seven part series I asked the question, Is Nebraska an elite football program? Here are the responses.

Joe Micik from had a pretty accurate response.

"Yes, in the sense that it’s one of the “haves” as opposed to “have nots” and I tend to think of it as one of the bigger names.  Under Pelini, it seems like Nebraska is getting back to good things.  I think what I just described is “consistently very good” and not “elite”"

Again, with Joe coming from an ACC background, he sees Nebraska as consistently very good, not elite. Many in Husker Nation believe that Nebraska has been stuck in neutral.

Chris Flannigan of has a much different take on Nebraska being elite.

"No.  Nebraska had a world class strength program and more scholarships were allowed in the mid 1990’s . Not to mention they were one of the few programs on TV. Once TV contracts, strength program advances and scholarship limits came into play, the playing field became level."

When it comes to the scholarship limits argument, I agree with Chris. The TV aspect is a little off base. Nebraska was on TV most when they were the dominant team in college football, just as Alabama, LSU, and many other SEC schools get prime time network broadcasts now. The strength and conditioning issue is valid. Nebraska actually opened their doors to other programs which did lead to the replication of how the Huskers worked out and prepared for the season. staff writer Steve Pesek brings up the theme that keeps creeping up in conversation. History.

"Historically, yes. At the teams present state, they are above average to great and a perennial Top 25 and a January bowl team. A decade removed from their last Rose Bowl, the team has faltered in the current setup of the BCS. The team is still putting out elite professional football talent and is a force yearly to put up double-digit wins."

While it is another favorable response from someone who covers a team in The Big Ten, it again points to Nebraska’s relevance in recent years as being a bit removed. Pointing out The Nebraska Cornhuskers struggles in the BCS Era is another sign that The Huskers are not quite back to elite status. editor Cam Newton thinks Nebraska is an elite program, but again his opinion is based on the history of Husker football.

"Yes, I see them as one of the greatest programs of all time.  While they’ve certainly not been in the national spotlight the past few years, they have a very rich history.  They’ve got the 4th-most all-time wins, 5 national titles, 3 Heisman winners, and 43 conference titles.  And who can forget the legendary Tom Osborne?"

Another reference to how rich of a tradition Nebraska has with national titles, conference championships, and Heisman winners. Again, there is nothing that currently points to elite status for The Huskers.

Our final response comes from editor Mitch Harper.

"Absolutely. Not many programs around the country have a history like Nebraska. Tommy Frazier, Tom Osborne, The Blackshirts, Mike Rozier, playing in The Orange Bowl in prime time. That is the type of stuff that makes college football great, and Nebraska is a key part of the pageantry that makes this sport what it is."

Looking at all five responses, history and tradition are the common themes in all of the answers. Nebraska is seen as a traditional power, but does that really equate to being an elite program today?

They do all seem to believe that Nebraska is in a good place, consistently winning and headed in the right direction. This opinion is solid, since the team has been on par since Bill Callahan was sent packing.

Tomorrow we ask the writers why Nebraska seems to have a problem landing more top tier recruits.