If a new regulation proposed by Board of Regents members Tim Clare of Lincoln and Regent Rob Schafer of Beatrice is adopted at the next meeting, the Nebraska football program might be in significant trouble in the not-too-distant future.
This new rule, which will be discussed on May 31, shuffles the balance of power in the athletic department. Without granting specific jobs to one person or taking them away from another, the rule change would give the university president and the Board of Regents more say over Nebraska football and everything else under the Athletic Director’s purview.
The key here is to look at this potential change not for what it would do this year or next year, but what it has the potential to do 5 or 10 or 20 years down the road. In that regard, this is quite a bit like looking at a piece of legislation. People need to understand that it’s not just about who is in the position now who they may trust. It’s about the people they don’t know and have no idea whether they can trust.
Today, this change will give President Ted Carter a bit more say over the Nebraska football program if he wants it. Quite a few people are already dismissing the change as being anything all that momentous because they know and trust Carter.
But he’s not going to be here forever. In the grand scheme of things his tenure could be relatively short. He is also someone that the Regents seem to trust. They’ll allow him to call the shots, I would think.
But make no mistake, the Board of Regents aren’t always going to listen to what the president and the athletic director have to say about Nebraska football. And just like Carter, people might think they know and like the current Regents. But they aren’t going to be there forever either. Not even close.
Nebraska football Regents are political animals
What makes this potential move particularly galling is where it might lead in short order. The Board of Regents are made up of people who have political aspirations. They run for Board of Regents and they usually run for something else.
Nebrasaka’s current governor was a member of the BOR just before his successful campaign for higher office. His replacement, who he appointed, is the former Speaker of the Legislature. Who was also in that job literally right before he joined the BOR.
Considering the current climate, it’s a safe bet that should this rule change go through; politics will come into play when it comes to overseeing Nebraska football more, not less often. And this isn’t a left vs. right issue. I don’t want a liberal member of the BOR to decide to hire a coach only because he supports green energy in the indoor practice facility. I also don’t want a coach hired because he is vehemently opposed to vaccines.
Most Nebraska football fans will tell you they want politics kept out of their sports. This potential power grab is going to insert politics into the athletic department directly. Even if that’s not the stated goal, it’s going to happen.
Even if you think you like the kind of politics that are going to get inserted into the Nebraska football program, you should know it can change in one election. The real question here is, with this rule getting a hearing in just eight days, is this going to turn into a political nightmare much quicker than people even realize?