Husker fans surprised by firing of Eichorst

Shock seemed to be the biggest reaction Thursday afternoon as University of Nebraska-Lincoln students and Husker fans learned that athletic director Shawn Eichorst had been fired.

“I was surprised. I didn’t expect them to make a change this soon,” said Max Colligan, 20, a supply chain management major at UNL.

Rick Inbody says he’s been Husker fan for 62 years. Photo by Abby Stryker.

Rick Inbody, who works at Raising Cane’s downtown, also was taken aback by the news.

Even some of the professionals were caught off guard by the announcement.

“As much talk as there was from fans wanting this to happen, I think it’s still surprising, especially at this point in the academic year and football season,” said Cody Nagel, a writer at Hail Varsity Magazine “This could be a sign of things to come as far as (Husker head football coach Mike) Riley being fired, but because of his recent contract extension, that would be a very expensive decision. Keep in mind the university still owes Pelini over $3 million.”

Chase Gobel, 21, a mechanized systems management major at UNL, was interested enough to attend the press conference about Eichorst’s firing as athletic director.

“I guess there is going to be a lot of pressure on Mike to get some wins and if he is not producing those wins he’s probably going to be next,” Gobel said.

One person who wasn’t surprised was psychology major Taya Johnson, a lifelong fan from Lincoln. The reason: Larry the Cable Guy was “calling for it.”

Whether the firing was a positive move was a matter of debate among the fans and students interviewed Thursday.

“I think it’s good that he’s gone,” said Brandon Orloff, 19. “He’s a good guy but business is business, you know what I’m saying?” listen

Others weren’t so certain.

Camden Bilyeu said he isn’t sure if Eichorst’s firing is the answer to the team’s struggles.

“My gut reaction? listen I’m not super sure how to feel about it,” said Camden Bilyeu, 21, a senior chemistry and economics major at UNL. “There’s obviously been some issues with the football team but I also think he’s done some good things while he’s been here. Kind of a mixed feeling at this point.”

David Bartle, a 19-year-old sophomore from Moorhead, Minnesota, had a similar reaction.

“I think it’s unfortunate, but if this can help the Huskers it might be worth it,” he said.

Bartle noted that he is a casual fan and the news didn’t really affect him.

“I try not to let athletics ruin my day.”

What the move portends for Riley also is a matter of debate among fans and students.

Bilyeu thinks Riley should be worried unless the Huskers improve.

“I think if the Huskers finished below 500 or even around 500 it could potentially lead to a firing, but if they pull out 8-4 or 9-3 he’ll probably get another year.”

While Reid Matthias, a 22-year-old mechanical engineering student at UNL said he was “happy” Eichorst was fired, he thinks Riley should be given more time.

“I think (Mike) Riley has potential,” he said. “I’d give him another two or three years until people should start to think about firing him.”

Others were less optimistic about Riley’s future.

Alec Schafers said he thinks the firing of Bo Pelini was a mistake.

Riley will be the next to go, especially if the coach fails to clutch this weekend’s win against Rutgers University, said Alec Schafers, a sophomore UNL computer science major

“He’s going to be feeling the heat,” Schafers said.

Firing Shawn Eichorst was long overdue, he said.

“I’d say it’s about time. He did some good things but it didn’t reflect on the field.”

Eichorst’s greatest misstep during his five-year tenure was firing former head football coach Bo Pelini.

Several said Riley and Husker basketball head coach Tim Miles both are in jeopardy now.

“I think it puts Mike Riley in the hot seat,” Bilyeu said. “I don’t think he’ll be fired immediately upon a new athletic director arriving but I definitely think Mike Riley and Tim Miles could both potentially be fired depending on how their seasons go.”

Inbody agreed. listen

In the end, Orloff said, he thinks the firing benefits the basketball program.

“I think it has a bunch of positive sides following it,” he said. “I think the basketball program could be a whole lot better. Football, I guess football has its ups and downs. That’s what Nebraska’s known for, I feel like.”

For Kyle Tine, a 24-year-old accounting major from Huntington Beach, California, and a Husker fan for several years, the firing of Eichorst was more negative news in an already disappointing season.

“It’s kinda hard to judge the season especially when you’re getting a new defensive coordinator coming in, a new quarterback starting. So, you have high hopes, but then they get shot down when you lose to a team like Northern Illinois.”

University of Nebraska-Lincoln freshmen Kyle Price, Michael Evans and Adam Long heard about the breaking news through Twitter.

As the news spread across campus, Adam Long, Michael Evans and Kyle Price sat outside the Chi Omega house, keeping watch over football-themed lawn decorations celebrating the university’s homecoming week.

The three agreed that they thought the firing was a sound decision. Evans said it was the “right move.”

“I think if we keep playing poorly then Riley’s probably going to get fired at some point, too,” Long said.

One student who wasn’t caught up in the speculation was Sarah Donnelly, 21, an advertising and public relations major at UNL. She doesn’t think Eichorst’s firing will make any difference. listen

“That is something that really frustrates me about UNL is that the focus is athletics,” Donnelly said, “and I think that a lot of academics hurt because of that.”

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