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Talent vs Culture


5 Year Member
So I have read numerous threads and posts about the culture being so poor when Frost arrived that it’s going to take time to reestablish it. Also I’ve read many threads and posts about the talent gap. Regardless of where you fall on the topic, I decided to take a look at recruiting rankings since services began. I just used Rivals for this, but I’m sure 247 and ESPN wouldn’t be drastically different.

Below, I have listed the season, season record, then that high school senior class and their recruiting ranking according to Rivals. I gave transition classes (a class after a coach is fired) to the incoming coach. Maybe I shouldn’t, but it’s on the incoming coach to piece a class together to finish up in my opinion. All firings happened before signing day so the coach had a little time to finish a class out. Also,doing it this way for every coach allows for least some consistency in discussion. I know the wins/losses that season aren’t attributed to the coach, simply talking recruiting.

2001- 11-2 c/o 2002 #39
2002- 7-7 c/o 2003 #41

2 year average #40 in nation

2003- 10-3 transition year to Callahan c/o 2004 #27
2004- 5-6 c/o 2005 #5
2005- 8-4 c/o 2006 #20
2006- 9-5 c/o 2007 #13

4 year average of #16

2007- 5-7 transition year to Pelini c/o 2008 #30
2008- 9-4 c/o 2009 #28
2009- 10-4 c/o 2010 #22
2010- 10-4 c/o 2011 #15
2011- 9-4 First B10 season c/o 2012 #25
2012- 10-4 c/o 2013 #17
2013- 9-4 c/o 2014 #32

7 year average of #24

2014- 9-4 transition year to Riley c/o 2015 #31
2015- 6-7 c/o 2016 #24
2016- 9-4 c/o 2017 #20

3 year average of #25

2017- 4-8 transition year to Frost c/o 2018 #21
2018- 4-8 c/o 2019 #15
2019- 5-7 c/o 2020 #17
2020- 1-3 c/o 2021 #18 currently

4 year average of #17

While I know recruiting rankings don’t guarantee success or failure on the field, it can give you a good idea of where your program is.

I started doing this to try to quantify the talent vs culture discussion. Many would agree that Bill Callahan was horrible for Husker culture. He took over a program that was struggling recruiting wise, implemented a brand new system, got rid of the wall on program, had questionable strength and conditioning techniques. But for all the culture is most important people, why was Pelini successful turning it around so quickly coming off of possibly the worst culture coach we’ve had? For all of Callahans faults, he recruited well. He didn’t leave a bare cupboard when Pelini took over which helped Pelini be successful.

Recruiting after the Callahan years wasn’t great. Very mediocre which led to mediocre results.

With the recent uptick in recruiting, we are finally seeing an influx of young talent. Frost’s first recruiting class also came with a lot of attrition. Is this product of implementing his culture? Once his culture is established, what will this look like with the uptick in recruiting? Why was Pelini able to establish culture so quickly while it has taken a bit longer with Frost? I believe Frost is going to get this done. Many signs are pointing up. But what is the value in culture vs value in talent? Can you win without one or the other?

The thing that makes me believe this will be a few more years is that I fully believe winning is a skill you must learn how to do. No one on this roster has experienced a winning collegiate season. The redshirt seniors this year went 9-4 their redshirt year. But they didn’t contribute any as they were redshirts. It’s coming. We just need to learn how to prepare to win. And when we do, with the talent coming in, look out!