What is Nebraska Cornhuskers Football in 2022?

Since the firing of Scott Frost, there has been a lot of talk about what Nebraska is and isn’t as a program.
 
Let’s get this out of the way. Nebraska is no longer Nebraska. Not in the way they were under Tom Osborne (1973-97) or Bob Devaney (1962-72) before him. Nor are they likely to achieve those heights consistently again.
 
If you care even just an inkling about college football, I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.
 
But what should Nebraska Cornhuskers football be? That question is up for much debate when the answer is relatively simple.
 
With their resources, Nebraska should be the top program in the Big Ten West, the fourth-best in the Big Ten, and a perennial top-20 power. This is not debatable.
 
But what about the lack of recruiting potential everyone is telling you about?
 
While they no longer have the recruiting power of their legendary teams, that sentiment ignores that talent acquisition hasn’t been Nebraska’s problem.

Nebraska’s Recruiting per 247Sports Composite

  • 2016 – No. 26 Nationally | No. 5 Big Ten | No. 1 B1G West
  • 2017 – No. 23 Nationally | No. 5 Big Ten | No. 1 B1G West
  • 2018 – No. 23 Nationally | No. 4 Big Ten | No. 1 B1G West
  • 2019 – No. 17 Nationally | No. 4 Big Ten | No. 1 B1G West
  • 2020 – No. 20 Nationally | No. 4 Big Ten | No. 1 B1G West
  • 2021 – No. 20 Nationally | No. 5 Big Ten | No. 2 B1G West
During those six years from 2016 to 2021, Nebraska has not finished ranked once, the highest they’ve reached in the AP Poll at any point of a season under Frost is No. 24, and they haven’t made a bowl since 2017.
 
So, as anyone can see, their recruiting far exceeds the output. It’s the thing the Huskers do well.

Nebraska’s Big Ten Comps

Iowa has finished ranked four-straight seasons and been bowl eligible every year since 2013. Minnesota has been bowl eligible every year but one since 2012 and finished No. 10 in 2019. Northwestern has made a bowl in five of seven seasons with three ranked finishes since 2017.
 
Do you know what they all have in common? None of these B1G West schools have better recruiting classes than the Huskers.
 
How about the Wisconsin Badgers, considered the premier program in the B1G West by most?
 
Since 2015 (eight recruiting classes), they’ve ranked higher than Nebraska once. Going back even further, the Cornhuskers have never finished worse than No. 35 nationally in recruiting since 2010. The narrative that you can’t recruit to Lincoln is entirely false.

Nebraska’s Advantages

Sure, they don’t have the advantages they had in the 1970s and 80s, but with the changing landscape of college football, the new world order plays into Nebraska’s strength. To some extent, the pendulum is swinging back in their favor–not all the way back, but at least in the right direction.
 
The Huskers have a tremendous fan base. Memorial Stadium rocks like few do.
 
Once upon a time, they had unrealistic expectations, but that’s not what I saw last Saturday. Those fans couldn’t have been more excited when they scored a touchdown to tie the game at 35-35 late in the third quarter against Georgia Southern. Georgia Southern!
 
Does that sound like a fan base that’s expecting top-10 finishes on the regular?
 
They also have a ton of money, so with NIL and the transfer portal, the program has avenues available to them today that weren’t on the table for most of the past 20 years. The resources are there to bring in elite coaches and top talent.
 
Why would a coach who is having more success elsewhere leave for Lincoln?
 
Money (salary). The ability to invest in getting players (more money). The Big Ten and all the stability it offers (future money).
 
Those are just three reasons and all most coaches not at a blue blood program need.