Big Ten Media Days: Rhule says he wants Huskers to be ‘feared again’

Published: Jul. 27, 2023 at 12:23 PM CDT
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INDIANAPOLIS (WOWT) - Thursday was Nebraska’s turn to take the stage at Big Ten Media Days, where Head Coach Matt Rhule made his debut for the conference.

It’s been a big week for the Huskers ahead of fall camp, which starts on Monday. Rhule didn’t spend much time making remarks at the podium Thursday before he jumped right into questions about what’s ahead for Huskers this season — and beyond.

He said he wants to rebuild Nebraska’s football program and bring it back to the “glory days.”

“I think there’s something bigger, though, for us at Nebraska,” he said. “There was a time when Nebraska football was feared. And we certainly want to get back to that. ... But we’re not at that point yet. We’re at a point right now where I believe that we have to take back the respect of what it means to play Nebraska and be Nebraska. I want people to respect when see that white helmet with that red ‘N’ on it.”

Rhule talked Thursday about how he and his family ended up in Nebraska and the warm welcome he’s received since joining the conference.

“We wanted to be in the Big Ten,” he said, noting that he and his family sat down and watched videos of historical Husker football games to get a feeling for past rivalries.

Rhule also talked about how much he’s appreciated the time Husker coaching legend Tom Osborne has taken with him.

Big Ten media also heard from Tony Petitti, the new Big Ten Conference Commissioner, who said Thursday that the transfer portal is becoming one of the biggest changes on the college athletics landscape — in addition to NIL.

“And we as a conference not only support but celebrate a student athlete’s ability to generate unlimited benefits from true NIL,” he said in Indianapolis on Thursday. “However, it is important to say that much of what is happening now under the guise of NIL is not true NIL, but rather a move to a pay-for-play system that is driving recruitment and the transfer portal. This system operates away from and without institutional control. Nor is it required to comply with Title IX.”

Recruitment and the transfer portal have of course been key to what’s ahead for Nebraska. Asked about his goals for his first season with the Huskers, Rhule said the team was of course going to play to win — but that success wouldn’t be entirely measured by Ws.

He said he’s focused on rejuvenating Nebraska recruiting tools like camps to cultivate in-state talent.

Offensive Lineman Ethan Piper, originally from Norfolk, is one such recruit. He was one of the Husker players representing Nebraska at Big Ten Media Days.

“Growing up a Nebraska fan my entire life is surreal to me,” he told 6 News.

He said he didn’t really want to discuss last year but that he feels a lot of support and a strong sense of belief in the team and the coaches for the season ahead.

“I’m excited about this offensive line — probably this is the most excited I’ve been at Nebraska for this offensive line just for the fact that ... we have a ton of experience, this offensive line,” Piper said. “We’ve been through a lot together, and this is the one year I think we can put it all together.”

He said the team is excited to kick off the season against Minnesota on Aug. 31 followed by Colorado on Sept. 9.

Blackshirt Linebacker Luke Reimer told 6 News that he’s been getting a lot of questions about how he’s adjusting to the 3-3-5 defense.

“It’s way different than what we’ve been used to but it opens up a whole lot of possibilities,” he said. “We’re trying to get them, get the offense off-schedule. It’s a fun defensive play; it really is.”

Reimer said the wide-open defense lets the team “go make plays wherever they’re at... it’s fun.”

He said Rhule has pushed him to be a better leader, as a fifth year, to the newer players and transfers fit into the program and like where they’ve landed.

Reimer, who called himself “the old guy” on the team, said he hopes to become a leading tackler for the program that helps flips the script for Nebraska.

Quarterback Jeff Sims played three seasons at Georgia Tech before transferring to Nebraska.

The expected starting signal-caller for the Huskers took to the podium Thursday as well.

“I know being the quarterback at Nebraska, I’m representing the whole state,” Sims said. “That’s something that I don’t take with a grain of salt. I think it’s a real honor and I’m really blessed to be in this position. I’m just ready to take it head-on and give everything I have to the state of Nebraska.”

Sims threw for 1,115 yards and five touchdowns in seven starts for the Yellow Jackets in 2022 before going down with an injury.

Sports Reporter Grace Boyles contributed to this report.

Iowa ‘not running from last year’

Day One of Big Ten football media days included discussions about hazing, NIL, the transfer portal, and whether or not Iowa’s offense was going to show up this season.

(Source: MGN)