If Mike Riley wasn’t feeling the pressure to win before, he certainly is now.
Thursday afternoon, Nebraska announced that Shawn Eichorst, the man responsible for firing Bo Pelini as head football coach and hiring Riley as his replacement, has been ousted from his position as athletic director at the university. The move is effective immediately.
Eichorst was hired by NU in October of 2012, and still has $1.7 million remaining on a contract that runs through June of 2019. The university will be responsible for paying Eichorst that entire amount.
“Shawn has led Nebraska Athletics in many positive ways, but those efforts have not translated into on-field performance,” chancellor Ronnie Green said in a statement. “Our fans and our student-athletes deserve leadership that drives the highest levels of competitiveness, as well as excellence across all facets of Husker Athletics.”
The fact that the chancellor mentioned lack of on-field performance should be especially worrisome for Riley.
The Cornhuskers won at least nine games in each of the seven seasons under Pelini. His last two seasons, they finished a combined 18-7. In Riley’s two-plus seasons, they’ve gone 16-13, including a 1-2 stumble out of the gate this year.
The move to fire Eichorst comes less than a week after Nebraska lost 21-17 to Northern Illinois at Memorial Stadium.
That loss marked NU’s first defeat at home to a Group of Five team since falling to Southern Miss in 2004. That was the first year of the Bill Callahan reign in Lincoln, a season that would finish with a 5-6 record; that was the program’s worst since going 3-6-1 in 1961.
The NIU loss was also the first time, ever, that the Cornhuskers have lost to a team from the MAC, either at home, on the road or on a neutral field.