This has been a pretty terrible season for Nebraska football, but last Saturday was a highlight. Aided by a controversial call, the Cornhuskers upset Michigan State, helping to keep hopes for a bowl alive and finally securing late-game karma after losing this season in the most heartbreaking ways possible.
But do you know what happened before that? Nebraska lost to Purdue. And when a program as proud as Nebraska loses to a team that's only won five other times since 2012, fans are going to get upset.
So upset, that many sent emails to Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman. We filed an Open Records request for all emails sent to Dr. Perlman the weekend after the Purdue loss, and boy howdy, did we get a response.
Nebraska sent 30 pages of emails, and since the document is a treasure trove of fury, we've included the entire thing for you to read. Below are some excerpts.
Subject: "Please fire [athletic director Shawn] Eichorst and [head coach Mike] Riley"
They are ruining NU football. This is ridiculous. Losing to a terrible Purdue team. Lets cut our losses and hire a real athletic director and coach.
This one was short and sweet, unlike many of the others.
A restaurant kingpin thinks Nebraska is now Kansas and Oregon State
What does the "N" mean for the football nation in 2015? Joke, embarrassing, etc. We are the new Purdue of the Big Ten, we are the new Kansas of the Big 12, We are the Kentucky of the SEC, We are the Oregon State of the PAC (How Ironic), etc. We just got embarrassed by the worst team in college football, but at least we did it with "class".
I know you're problem thinking that I'm just a bandwagon fan that can't support change and/or adversity. But that's the farthest from the truth, I know what it means to be in a dog fight and have all odds against me and overcome. I grew up in a trailer park on welfare in Lincoln, NE and now own 8 national chain restaurants in three state and employ over 450 employees. I know what it's like to have my revenues of all my NE stores cut in half each Saturday they continue to lose. I know other business owners in NE that go through the same pain on Saturday, personally and financially.
I've had a chance to read angry emails from lots of different fanbases, and it is interesting to me that so many veer from a complaint about football and into personal biography, as if the reader should change his or her mind about football opinions because the author owns a few car dealerships.
Maybe Nebraska fans aren't always the nicest in college football
You are a scumbag. You destroyed the Husker football program. Look at the state of Miami football and Nebraska and tell me they're not both laughing stocks. Eichorst is a clown, just like you. You sit on your fat butt watching this unfold knowing you are retiring soon. I hope you can leave a better legacy than the one you are leaving. Make a statement and fire Eichorst and Riley. You don't deserve to breathe the same air as Tom. You are a joke and I hope your retirement is spent drooling alone in a nursing home.
A very Nebraska fan would like Trev Alberts involved
I've followed Nebraska football since the days of Bobby Reynolds (All America halfback) growing up as a boy in Beatrice. I left Beatrice after high school to serve my country in the US Navy. Upon my return to Nebraska I've witnessed the many good years under coach Bob Devaney and coach Tom Osborne; along with coach Frank Solich who was needlessly fired by by the incompetent AD Steve Pederson.
You evidently didn't even consider an excellent person such as AD Trev Alberts at UNO, for the position in Lincoln. We have no one with Nebraska ties anymore who understands the culture of the state, the fanbase, etc.
An email written in size 22 font that opens with a lengthy biographical summary, followed by a plea to hire the Mark May before Mark May, whose biggest accomplishment as an athletic director seems to be cutting football entirely? That seems worse than losing to Purdue.
IOWA FAN DUNKS OUT OF NOWHERE
Dr.Husker AD "I don't want to be Iowa". And that's A-OK. Your choice. It's a free society and were not communist. But know Big Red Shawn the clock is clicking. The Grand Poo-Bah Harvey is about to hit the road making speeches to pad his retirement and sit on countless boards moving his abacas back and forth keeping track of money. And it's fair to say ole Harvey is your last sanctuary for you to take refuge in Lincoln. Shawn I realize when you fired Bo you said with all confidence you could muster "we don't want to be Iowa."
Well unlike the extreme right wing conservative state of Nebraska, eastern Iowa is a bastion of loving liberals. Iowa City pretty much takes everybody in. We are a welcoming city. We take your poor, your downtrodden, your unwanted. We also bring in many brilliant students from all over the world who go out and make a difference in the lives of millions. So once Grand Poo-Bah leaves in June we'll take you in. Because Shawn "I don't know to be Iowa" Eichorst will have a few "big time" opportunities to submit his resume to. Your semi-mentor and pal the ego maniac Barry Alvarez no doubt is watching from afar. Don't assume he'll have his hand out. But I just bet gentlemen Gary Barta could find a position within his department. We are loving and forgiving people in Iowa City. Oh sure some of us (me included) were getting real nervous with the direction of our football program. But silly us. The Captain is having the last laugh on us. And you!!!!!!
This person sent this email to everybody from the athletic director to the coach to local radio to student media. This might be the best email I have ever read. Does it make sense? Not completely. But after Nebraska's remarks about Iowa when it made the decision to fire Bo Pelini, the idea of Iowa fans appearing in Nebraska's inbox is funny.
Plan to hire AD (if not Barry Alvarez) with best leverage to hire Chip Kelly from NFL back to college football at Nebraska before one of ten other nationally prominent programs do. Kelly is the only coach with the pedigree to compete with Meyer, Harbaugh and Dantonio. If we are not in it to win it, why risk all the national records so many have sacrifice to build? If you want to be the best you have to think like the best--then better. Hire Scott Frost as offensive coordinator w Kelly as head coach and you would leave the program with a succession plan.
I would love a 30 for 30 about a football season in which Chip Kelly worked for Barry Alvarez.
Dr. Perlman responded to a few of these, in a measured way.
This was his most interesting response, to a fan upset Riley and Eichorst were not getting fired.
Shawn has my full support. I don't know if this set of coaches is the right one or not but I know very well that one season's results with the mess they inherited is not a fair evaluation of the future. You are, of course, free to disagree.
That seems pretty reasonable take given the data we have, even if it wouldn't placate a lot of fans.
Here's another response from Perlman to a different email.
I appreciate your passion for Nebraska football and your disappointment with the last few years. But honestly, I think your analysis is just not accurate. First and most importantly, no president or chancellor of a university is going to "watch his football coaches" as they recruit. We have a university to run, and while football may be the most visible element it isn't the only one. I don't micromanage my hires and I trust the Athletic Director and the Football Coach to make the right decisions.
That said, I do know a little about recruiting. Nebraska looks for kids that are not only good football players but also have the right character and the right academic credentials. Whether we do or do not recruit some highly regarded recruit, even if they indicate an interest, is a complex question involving a lot of things besides just how many stars they supposedly have.
On a couple of other matters, I'd like to know your list of "other quality coaches" that match Mike Riley that were (1) available (2) might have had an interest in coming here. If you read the national sports press everyone believes our hiring of Mike was a real coup. That he is one of the best and more underrated coaches in the country.
And I just don't understand how you can conclude that Shawn Eichorst doesn't have an interest in our football program. Even assuming that he is just waiting to get back to Wisconsin (which I don't think is true), do you really think he would improve his chances of doing so if he didn't improve our football program? Do you come to this conclusion because he is not from Nebraska? You might remember that "True Nebraskans" were responsible for the last fifteen years of our football program: Frank Solich, Steve Pedersen (AD), Tom Osborne (AD).
I wouldn't say that the national sports press believed Riley was a major coup or even that underrated, but the rest of that seems fine to me.
These are only a few excerpts. Some of our other favorites are on pages 18, 19 and 24, but feel free to share yours in the comments.