Tuesday, October 09, 2012

The Awkward Juxtapositioning of Eichorst and Pelini

This morning while driving into work, it suddenly occurred to me that today's formal introduction of new Nebraska athletic director Shawn Eichorst was going to be even more awkward than I thought it was going to be.  Then, when chancellor Harvey Perlman had to point out that "hey, Tom is here"...it went from awkward to downright uncomfortable.  And that has absolutely zero to do with Shawn Eichorst - but Eichorst is going to have to deal with the repercussions of it.

The timing of the introduction was bungled by the Chancellor's office, period.  The Big Ten conference has a football teleconference every Tuesday at 11 am, and even worse, Bo Pelini's time is always at 11:20 am.  So for a few brief minutes, Pelini and Eichorst were simultaneously answering questions in different locations.  Could Pelini's time have been rescheduled?  Possibly...but even if you reschedule the Pelini segment, you have media having to focus on two simultaneous events with effects on Nebraska football.  After all, Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald preceded Pelini on the call.  Don't blame Bo Pelini for not being there or for being on the teleconference; blame Harvey Perlman for creating the scheduling conflict in the first place.

Holding the introduction at the chancellor's office was awkward as well.  It's going to be tough enough for Eichorst to replace a legend and beloved figure like Tom Osborne, but to make the introduction away from Memorial Stadium sends an even awkward message.  Yes, I know that press conferences to announce that Tom Osborne was coming back and that Nebraska was joining the Big Ten were held there... but this one is different. Those conferences were all positive; this one has a different tone, and the tone was not helped by the logistics of the announcement.

Then when you take into account the undercurrent of disapproval with the selection process, it turns this into a huge lapse in judgement by the same man who extended Steve Pederson's contract two months before having to fire him.  And that taints Shawn Eichorst unfairly.

Eichorst doesn't need this baggage thrown on him by Nebraska's chancellor. Everybody at Wisconsin and South Carolina speak glowingly of the man; he should be judged by what he does, not by the mistakes of the man who hired hm.  But hopefully Eichorst recognizes that the most important man moving forward is not Shawn Eichorst.  It's not 70 year old Harvey Perlman, who likely won't be around by the time Eichorst's five year contract is up.  It's Tom Osborne.  Osborne won't do anything publicly to make Eichorst's job more difficult; that's never been his style.  But Osborne has the means to smooth over the transition that's been botched by Perlman to this point.

Eric Olson noted in Eichorst's press conference a reference to Wisconsin women's hockey coach Mark Johnson, and concludes that he'll look to add hockey as a B1G conference sport.
Maybe, but let's not forget that hockey is an expensive sport to run and runs the risk of siphoning support away from Husker basketball as well as UNO.  I'm still not convinced that the market is there for Husker hockey in Lincoln.  That's not to say that more hockey would be a bad thing...just that I believe that adding hockey in Lincoln doesn't increase the size of the revenue pie as much as fragments the existing revenue further.

1 comment:

Section 37 said...

How much of this press conference was a botch-up and how much of it was "message-sending" by Perlman?

Scheduling the presser at the same time as Bo's B1G tele-conference couldn't have been totally by accident. Was this Perlman deliberately stiff-arming Bo?

Was holding the presser at the Chancellor's Office Perlman's way of beating on his chest and saying "I'm the Chancellor, I'm in charge," even though Tom is still going to be the "face of the franchise" as long as he still walks with earthly feet?

As Yoda would say, "meditate on this, I will."