Nebraska Football: Is Oklahoma about to walk in the Huskers shoes?

Oklahoma football coach Brent Venables talks during a press conference in Norman, Okla., Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023.
Oklahoma football coach Brent Venables talks during a press conference in Norman, Okla., Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023. /

Nebraska football fans might have a fan base they can commiserate with in the Oklahoma Sooners when OU joins the SEC next year.

Joining a new conference is always an exciting time. Nebraska football fans know this from experience when the program joined the Big 10 all those years ago. Despite being associated with the Big 8 and Big 12 basically since the Huskers’ existence, there was plenty of excitement and optimism about getting to play teams like Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and Wisconsin on the regular.

Oklahoma fans are feeling that same sense of optimism and excitement as their jump to the SEC is almost complete. They’ll get to play Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Tennessee on the reg. That’s a good thing right? Not according to Colin Cowherd, who believes that in the near future, Sooner fans will be walking in the same shoes Nebraska football fans are desperately trying to leave on the side of the road with the Matt Rhule hire.

The host made his case on an episode of The Herd with Colin Cowherd last week. He drew parallels between the Nebraksa football program and the Oklahoma Sooners program and laid out why he thinks OU might be in trouble.

There were three factors:

  • In-state recruiting isn’t as easy for Nebraska football and the Huskers need to pull most of their talent from around the country. He pointed out
  • Joined the wrong conference. The Huskers left the Big 12 and left the state of Texas in the rearview mirror. They couldn’t pull kids from Texas as easily because NU wasn’t playing Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M, or … Oklahoma anymore. So it wasn’t as easy for Texas parents to watch their kids play.
  • Couldn’t get the coach right. Since joining the Big 10, NU has gone through Bo Pelini, Mike Riley and Scott Frost. The program is on its fourth coach in the 12 years since making the leap.

Nebraska football and OU have something in common

Once Cowherd brought forth the factors that make him think there are similarities, he brought his point home.

"“Keep your eye on Oklahoma, is Oklahoma going to be the second program in our adult lives that disappears.”"

While I’m not a Cowherd fan, his case is quite compelling.

  • “The state no longer produces big numbers of players.” Cowherd pointed out that in OU’s last recruiting class, only thee players were in-state.
  • “Secondly, they joined a tougher conference. Like Nebraska, this is going to be harder.” He then pointed out that most of the southern kids OU will now need to recruit grew up rooting for SEC schools.
  • “In an offensive era, they hired a defensive coach and he was completely, utterly over his skis.”

Easily the most compelling case for comparisons between Nebraska football and its old rival is the hiring of Brent Venables. While Oklahoma was able to thump the Cornhuskers good last year, the Sooners under Venables struggled by their standards.

It’s an argument that fans of that venerable program must remember. Perhaps Nebraska football should have taught them something. Both fan bases might agree in 2024 that the Big 12 wasn’t that bad after all.