Nebraska Football: Matt Campbell special teams comments cause stir


Nebraska football fans know a thing or two about special teams units that are firmly on the struggle bus. It’s not a stretch to say that special teams struggles the last few years directly contributed to the firing of Scott Frost. That’s why some comments made by Iowa State head coach, and alleged Husker head coach target Matt Campbell about special teams has some NU fans more than a little bothered.

However, as it turns out, while the comments are a little worrisome on their face, it appears as though they are blowing a bit out of proportion. There’s also some misleading stats being circulated that need a closer look to really understand them.

First the comments in question, which really are not great. Speaking about the unit Campbell said this recently: “Special teams is one of those things where you want all your coaches involved… That’s a lot to put on one person and we’ve had a lot of success doing it how we do in the past.”

Considering that Iowa State’s special teams units haven’t ranked better than 90th in ESPN’s College Football Power Index since 2017, “having success in the past” means the distant past. As it happens, one of the only squads in the country that has been consistently worse than the Cyclones in the past few years is the Nebraska football team.

The college football Reddit Twitter account posted some damning stats in response to Campbell’s dismissal of needing a full time coach for the special teams group. There’s little doubt things have gone down hill.

Here’s the thing though, while Campbell’s comments do sound a lot like Scott Frost’s when his kickers were missing chipshot field goals and his kick coverage guys were seemingly constantly allowing big returns, there’s at least reason to believe in Iowa State’s instance, it’s not entirely the lack of a dedicated coordinator that’s the problem.

The biggest indicator of that is Brian Gasser. Gasser was the receivers coach/special teams coordinator in 2016 when Iowa State was 8th in the country according to and 7th according to the football power index.

He had that same position when the group dropped to 62nd and 58th, respectively. He was also still there when they were 66th and 106th in 2018. These days he’s not with the program.

The point here is that while the special teams unit has been trending down, it was trending down when there was a coach whose state duty it was to work with that group. While Matt Campbell’s comments about the coordinator position also caused me a bit of concern, the stats being thrown in his face mislead on the subject.

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Having said that, for Nebraska football fans who have seen a dedicated coordinator take the Huskers from 128th to 44th in the country, poopooing that part of the team could be a deal breaker.