Best Statement Ever – Nebraska AD

As you remember, the University of Nebraska was recently forced to hire a new basketball coach when Barry Collier chose to return to his alma mater as Athletics Director. Steve Pederson, Nebraska AD, issued a statement that can be found at this link in its entirety at the beginning of the process that we think was one of the most thorough and awesome statements that could ever issued. (Related Link)

Pederson’s comments, strategy/plan for hiring a coach, and manner in which they chose to deal with the media were the 100% ANTITHESIS of the manner in which Lee Fowler directed “his” search (he definitely made no bones about his desire to make it his own) earlier in the year in Raleigh. A job for which he was so prepared that he lost 22 pounds in the course of the month as an indication of how he deals with pressure and the requirements of his position.

History serves to indicate that the strategic direction and granual execution of a Nebraska search and an NC State search would be very different since the leaders of Nebraska’s Athletics Department had previously hired two men’s basketball coaches who last year had their teams ranked in the top 10 in the country and one who played for the national championship…and Lee Fowler had hired Randy Weil who was fired from Middle Tennessee State after only six years.

SFN doesn’t need to provide an ounce of commentary in this entry about the Nebraska statement that follows. We can’t think of a more perfect execution across all fronts – strategy, media relations, commitment for the right reasons – than what you will read. We have tried to bold some of his key comments; we hope that this practive doesn’t diminish some of his other comments or encourage you not to invest the extra 120 seconds in reading his whole statement.

The following is from Steve Pederson (and we have removed just a few paragraphs for brevity). Read. Enjoy. Covet.

“As you are all aware, Barry has decided to take a position at his alma mater. We wish him the very best in this new career.

Marc and I have just finished meeting with all of the current players and the assistant coaches. They are all terrific people, and they are our first priority.

We have been in contact with the players and the assistants consistently throughout the past five days to keep them informed on what we knew. We appreciate their patience during an unusual time. We will continue to keep them informed as we move forward.

The University of Nebraska basketball job can and will be a great basketball position in college athletics. I believe that, Marc Boehm believes that, our staff believes that, and now we must find a coach who also believes that.

The Big 12 Conference is one of the very best basketball conferences in the country and success in this conference will lead to success nationally. As an administration, we believe that Nebraska can be a consistent NCAA team and play with the top teams in this conference on a consistent basis. It is going to take a lot of work and a leader that has a focused belief that Nebraska can be great.

We do not accept the public perception in some circles that our lack of success over the years in basketball is indicative of what Nebraska is capable of achieving. This is a great university with great athletic history and success, and we believe that Nebraska can be as great as we all desire. There are several examples of crucial points in Nebraska athletics history where our programs have made decisive moves to become great. It has taken a coach who believed that special things can happen.

In 1962, Bob Devaney came to Nebraska with a focused vision of what he wanted Nebraska football to become. Few believed that Nebraska could achieve national championships in football. What was important was that Coach Devaney believed he could win championships. And then he simply went out and did it. Then, Coach Devaney had the courage to hire a successor that he believed could take the program to greater heights. That was his ultimate confidence, vision, and belief for success at Nebraska and it flowed to other sports as well.

Terry Pettit came to Nebraska with a goal of building a volleyball program that was the envy of the country. We watched Terry move with a single minded focus on building a great program. Volleyball success in Nebraska is not logical, but don’t tell Terry Pettit or John Cook that.

Gary Pepin came to Nebraska with the goal of establishing Nebraska track and field among the elite in the country. Track and field in the north is an illogical success story. Sixty-three conference championships and three national championships later; aren’t we all glad that Gary has stayed focused on the goals of making Nebraska great.

Nebraska baseball had firmly entrenched itself in the lower tier of the conference. Despite some great individual players, there was little hope and little interest in the program. That was until a guy named Dave Van Horn arrived in Lincoln and dreamed that Nebraska could win the Big 12 and play in the College World Series. Three College World Series appearances later, aren’t we glad that Dave and Mike Anderson dreamed big and believed.

Why do we say all this? Because Nebraska basketball is in exactly the same position. We will find a leader who will believe that there are no obstacles to our success. Will this success happen over night? No it will not. Will it happen? absolutely!

What makes Nebraska special is that if you give someone an opportunity to dream of achieving great things and you support their goals with your head and your heart, great things will surely happen. We want a coach who will come to Nebraska with the dreams and aspirations that previous coaches have had for their sports. What they need from all of us who love Nebraska is passionate support for their high goals. They will have that support.

A coach has three main responsibilities. First to recruit. Second to coach. Third to run their program. A successful coach needs to be able to do all three. We also expect our coaches to run their programs with the highest degree of integrity and to see that their student-athletes graduate from the University of Nebraska. Those ingredients combined, will pack the Bob Devaney Sports Center and create excitement for Nebraska basketball throughout our great state.

Let us outline the process we will go through to select a new men’s basketball coach. We have already begun the process of identifying the very best candidates for the University of Nebraska. We will use every possible resource available to find the right person. We will most likely enlist the help of a firm that specializes in athletic related searches to help with the process. I will lead the search, assisted by Marc Boehm, and we will keep Chancellor Perlman fully informed on the progress of the search. Ultimately, Chancellor Perlman will interview the finalists and we will make our recommendation to him for our next coach.

We will be talking with basketball people both on the college and professional levels. We will speak with former players, media members, and experts in basketball to get as much information as possible about potential candidates. We will do much of this work prior to ever contacting a coach about the position.

There are 334 Division I basketball playing schools and we want to be very thorough. The use of a search firm’s help will not be to select the coach, but to help us screen candidates, run background checks, academic checks, and sort through the contenders from the pretenders.

The cases of agents using job openings to further promote their clients’
standing on their own campus is becoming more commonplace. We will be aggressive dealing with anyone who pretends to use this opening for leverage for their clients. While our plan is to be as open as possible about the search and to keep our media and fans updated as much as is possible, we will not be able to attract top candidates if we do not respect their confidentiality. We hope you can understand that and together we can make this transition great for the new coach.

We would also note that talking with a coach does not mean that we are offering them a job. We plan to do a lot of talking with people to determine the right fit. It may be that after discussions we will decide it is not the right fit, or that after talking, the coach will determine that it is not the right fit.

This is an exciting time and one that Marc and I have been through successfully before. We have both hired men’s basketball coaches who last year had their teams ranked in the top 10 in the country, one playing for the national championship. Neither of those were hurry-up hires; they were focused, detailed searches that led to the right person. This process will take as long as needed to find the right person.

The timing of this opening is unusual. We hope top candidates will be available to move. If the timing becomes a road block, we will look at possible interim solutions. However, that is not our first priority.

We believe that Nebraska is one of the great coaching jobs in the country. You will remember when we hired Marc Boehm to come to Nebraska that it was another show of support to emphasize basketball in Nebraska. It is one thing to say you want to be successful; it is another to make the commitment to achieve at the highest levels. This is the next great step for Nebraska athletics and we are excited to move forward.”

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General NC State Administration Quotes of Note

19 Responses to Best Statement Ever – Nebraska AD

  1. sholtzma 08/19/2006 at 11:24 AM #

    Wow. That’s all I can say. Wow. What a statement. If only we could….

    Nah, I’m not even going to say it.

  2. PAPacker 08/19/2006 at 11:25 AM #

    AMEN. How inspiring it is to read how a coaching search can be carried out excellently, instead of in a clownish manner. This statement begs for local media and/or the NC State upper administration to look back at the handling of recent searches by its AD and consider whether NC State’s national reputation is being tarnished by the administrative weakness at the top of its athletic program. Chip, Caulton, Tom, DG, thoughts?

    Athletics have traditionally played a significant role in NC State’s identity. A lot of money is being spent on facilities these days. Does State have the appropriate personnel (above the coaching level) in place to take full advantage? Administrators?

  3. Mr O 08/19/2006 at 11:29 AM #

    So what is the deal with Fowler? Is he in trouble at all? I can’t see him being hired away from us.

  4. harrisek 08/19/2006 at 11:51 AM #

    I am impressed. The passion for Nebraska athletics was oozing from every word. This man is a true believer. Cornhusker fans, HANG ON TO THIS GUY!

  5. old13 08/19/2006 at 12:04 PM #

    “I can’t see him being hired away from us.”

    Unfortunately true. Who’d want that idiot! Maybe a petition to Oblinger would do the job. FOULUP MUST GO!

  6. cfpack03 08/19/2006 at 12:06 PM #

    wow, that truely was the best statement ever.

  7. Cardiac95 08/19/2006 at 12:09 PM #

    Unfortunately, NC State’s administration does not have the desire or the fortitude to strive for a top notch athletics program. We may build some pretty buildings & we may attempt to hire some big name coaches on occasion. But we lack the cojones to make the tough calls that success sometimes requires. As a result, success or failure for all our programs lies entirely at the feet of the coach. If they are willing to accept “good enough”, our administration is more than willing to allow it.

    Sad remnants of the Valvano scandal I suppose.

  8. RAWFS 08/19/2006 at 3:03 PM #

    Cardiac, you are right.

    The Yes-Man Oblinger has achieved his dream job and we are stuck with him and Lee precisely as long as they wish to stay.

    The Good Ole Boys that have kept NCSU mired in mediocrity relative to its potential give lip service to excellence and do nothing to make it so.

    They ran off Mary Anne Fox with their asinine censure and other tactics and now they took back over where they left off. NC State will suffer for it.

  9. BJD95 08/19/2006 at 8:20 PM #

    Wow. Just wow.

  10. redfred2 08/19/2006 at 9:58 PM #

    That’s a totally different way to look at the world around you. I think it’s called positive.

    I don’t know about the likelihood, but I’d love to see Whittenburg get a shot at a coaching position like that.

  11. vtpackfan 08/20/2006 at 7:35 AM #

    Thats is some serious sh#t he laid down there. It could easily be copywrited and published for circulation to end up on AD’s desk nationwide. Tracing back through history without hesitation, as if to say “you in this complacent and uninspired generation need to know this about us”. I’m glad we have Sid now, some one who understands the things that are inspirational to the Wolfpack faithful that isn’t afraid to trumpet it.
    Is it the recipe for future success, no just a time honored ingredient. Pederson paints it in black and white. “A coach has three main responsibilities. First to recruit. Second to coach. Third to run their program. A successful coach needs to be able to do all three.” Finding the coach who tie all this together with the same spirit and passion that the school and its supportors pride themselves in, what else can you really wish for?

  12. choppack1 08/20/2006 at 7:46 AM #

    For the record, they hired Doc Sadler – who coached UTEP the last 2 years. It looks like a solid hire.

    Also, as an FYI, the true diamond in this athletic department may be Marc Boehm.

    Did Pederson have anything to do w/ the Callahan hiring?

  13. metrowolf 08/20/2006 at 9:00 AM #

    Until Nebraska puts their words into practice, what do we really have here? A better PR writer than the one employed at State. If I were in that position at Nebraska, I would take a look at coaching changes in the last 2-3 years for object lessons in what to do or not do. Certainly the significant public commentary about NC State’s search this season would be at the top of the list for a number of reasons.

    There is nothing prescient in this statement. It’s boilerplate. The real difference will be seen in execution. There again, Nebraska will use NC State as a model. State was played by a number of coaches looking to improve their existing positions. I would expect Nebraska to learn from that. State was savaged in the press by reporters, we all know who they are, who
    1) Don’t know a damn thing about State
    2) Didn’t bother to learn
    3) Have a different set of expectations for State than certain other ACC schools
    I would expect Nebraska to learn from that.

    In short, this is not rocket science. It’s being observant. Let’s see how it works in execution.

  14. choppack1 08/20/2006 at 9:19 AM #

    I doubt – Nebraska fans even care about this hire. I’m sure that the 100 or so Husker b’ball first fans do.

  15. redfred2 08/21/2006 at 12:10 PM #


    NCSU is blessed with a fan base that just keeps coming back for more no matter what. If the Nebraska fans ever get a taste of anything we have known in our basketball history they’ll probably be just as loyal and refuse to settle for less, ever again.

    Not unlike the ever decreasing numbers of Wolfpack basketball fans who still feel that way.

  16. vtpackfan 08/21/2006 at 8:00 PM #

    ^quality not quantity redfred. Fowler couldn’t hold this guys jock strap.


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