July 14, 2024

Rhule was surprised by AD Alberts’ decision to transfer to A&M. But coach says he’s all in, and sees a bright future at Nebraska.
LINCOLN, Nebraska (AP) Coach Matt Rhule spent the first 10 minutes of his pre-spring football practice news conference Monday giving a pep talk to Nebraska fans who were still reeling from athletic director Trev Alberts’ surprise departure last week.

Rhule has only been at the school for 16 months, during which time university president Ted Carter left for the same position at Ohio State and Alberts went to Texas A&M to become athletic director.

Rhule is entering the second year of an eight-year, $74 million contract after finishing 5-7 in his first season. He expressed surprise and disappointment that the two men who brought him to Nebraska had left so soon.

However, Rhule delivered an upbeat monologue that included references to Hall of Fame football coaches Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne, as well as names of top players on the men’s and women’s basketball teams headed to the NCAA Tournament.

“I’m here, and I’m all in, and Julie’s all in,” Rhule said, referring to his spouse. “I loved Ted Carter and Trev, so I came. But I came to the University of Nebraska because I liked the people there, and we’re not leaving unless you kick us out.

Nebraska will hire its fourth athletic director since 2013, and the search is being led by interim president Chris Kabourek, while executive associate AD for academics Dennis Leblanc leads the department in an interim capacity.

Alberts, an All-America football player for the Cornhuskers in the early 1990s and athletic director for less than three years, has not provided specific reasons for his departure. When he resigned, the non-disparagement clause in the contract went into effect. In a statement last week, Gov. Jim Pillen criticized university regents for moving too slowly in their search for a new president. Alberts had previously expressed frustration that the process was not moving faster.

Rhule stated that Alberts was “forthright” during their phone call last week, and that his reasons are “his story to tell.”

“I have no complaints about how he handled it, especially with me,” Rhule said.

The Cornhuskers have been off the national football radar since their heyday in the 1990s, which has had an impact on the psyche of a state where the program receives year-round attention. Rhule said fans should remember Nebraska’s strong reputation in college athletics.

He noted that the athletic department is financially self-sufficient and has been a trailblazer in academic support, strength training, nutrition, and, more recently, the name, image, and likeness space.

“We have to be open about our desire to be the best,” Rhule said. “We can’t worry about optics. We can’t worry about what others say. Investing is the key to success in college athletics today. I can’t think of a state that understands that better than this one — whether it’s the amazing financial institutions, the people of Omaha, Warren Buffett, or Berkshire Hathaway. All of our state’s agriculture relies on seeding and watering to produce a harvest.

“Whether it’s salaries, facilities, upgrades, or whatever… We need to get back to the days when people from all over the country would come to the University of Nebraska to see how things were done.”

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