Let's face it: the Nebraska football program isn't elite. Sometimes it doesn't even feel like it's close.
Sure they have beaten Oklahoma and taken Texas to the wire more than once, but the Cornhuskers are really only an afterthought on the national scene.
That being said, head coach Bo Pelini and his young staff are assembling quite the recruiting class for 2013.
Recruiting sites have the Cornhuskers moving up nationally based on how much talent is in the class. Rivals.com has Nebraska 25th in the nation while Scout.com pegs them 24th. That's good enough for fourth in the Big Ten, behind Michigan (No. 1), Ohio State (Nos. 7, 10) and Penn State (Nos. 15, 13).
Why do recruits pick Nebraska, though? The Cornhuskers haven't won a national championship since 1997 and haven't played for it since backing into a beat-down by Miami after the 2001 season. They haven't won a conference crown since 1999 and have only played in a league championship game three times since beating Texas for the '99 crown: 2006, 2009, and 2010.
With all that in mind, I sat down with myself and pretended to be a five-star recruit pondering offers from various programs. Since I'm 5'9" with little to no athletic ability, pretending was very easy for me. I'm a solid dual threat quarterback from the South and took my team to back-to-back state titles. I am, of course, the reigning homecoming king that is dating the hot cheerleader. I also have a 3.7 GPA and am looking to attend a school with high academic standards. What a dream to have, right?
I picked the top programs in the country right now and put them on my list.
The ten programs to make the cut: Alabama, Oklahoma, Oregon, USC, Texas, Ohio State, LSU, Florida State, Notre Dame and Michigan. I then threw Nebraska in there.
They do, after all, recruit and need dual threat quarterbacks.
Out of all those schools, why would I choose Nebraska? After all, almost every school that gave me an offer—besides the Huskers—has either played for a national championship or has more prestige at the moment.
1. Stadium and Facilities
There is almost no team in the nation that can compete with the facilities the Cornhuskers have.
Memorial Stadium may be old, but it has been renovated inside and outside more often than Pamela Anderson has. The weight room is just enormous, and it has more tools to help you get bigger, badder and more awesome than ever. A tour of the innards of the stadium takes fans and recruits next to a medical area hospitals would love to have. The nutrition center has flat screen televisions, as well as a quiet place for studying or relaxing with fellow players.
Cook Pavilion, which is connected to Memorial Stadium by a skywalk, has an indoor practice field that is the exact same size and material as the stadium. That material, by the way, is called FieldTurf, and Nebraska was the first college to install it. There is a natural-grass practice field next to Cook Pavilion which gives the Huskers a chance to practice on grass if their upcoming opponent plays on grass.
The stadium seats just under 85,000 now and will be over 90,000 when their renovation is complete prior to the 2013 season.
2. Fan Support
Let's be honest. Few teams, if any, have as rabid a fan base as Nebraska.
The legions of "Big Red Backers" have sold out Memorial Stadium for every game since 1962. It's the 50th year this year.
How many of you are old enough to remember when that streak started?
Fans travel in droves to away games and will fondly remind you of the "more red than green" invasion of South Bend, Indiana in 2000, when 30,000 Huskers fans were able to score tickets to Nebraska's overtime victory over Notre Dame.
Not to mention, they are also just about the nicest fans around.
A sign that reads "Through These Gates Pass The Greatest Fans In College Football" rests above every entrance to the stadium, and Huskers fans are known for standing and clapping for opposing teams, whether they leave the field winners or losers. Even after Texas came into Nebraska and broke the Huskers' 47-game winning streak in 1998, fans stood, applauded and even chanted, "Heisman Trophy," as Ricky Williams left the field.
3. Bo Pelini
When it comes to defensive gurus, there are almost none better than this fiery Nebraska coach.
As much as Pelini has been attacked by pundits for his actions on the field, his players stand behind him as a unit. He took over a program left in shambles after Bill Callahan was fired and turned it into a contender almost instantly. He coached players like Ndamukong Suh, Prince Amukamara, Roy Helu, Niles Paul and Alex Henery. Those listed are all either starters or have had significant playing time in the NFL.
While defensive coordinator at Oklahoma and LSU, the Sooners and Tigers had the best defenses in the country. He has a national championship ring from the Tigers in 2007.
While in Nebraska, his teams have been consistently competitive on the field as well as positive in the classroom.
Well, if I'm going to college and an am actually a student athlete, my academics should matter. After all, as the commercial says, "And just about all of us are going pro in something other than sports." A visit to Nebraska's official website tells recruits that Nebraska has more Academic All-Americans in all sports than any other college in the country.
How many do they have? 299. That's a big number. The Nebraska football team leads the nation (all teams, all sports, all divisions) with 102 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans, while the Nebraska volleyball team leads all women's teams all-time across all sports with 36. The Nebraska softball team is second among all women's programs with 29. That shows that the university is committed to more than just winning on the field. They truly want their students to excel after they graduate.
I'm not going to play football for just any program anywhere. I want my team to have a ton of tradition. Nebraska has plenty.
They have the highest winning percentage and have won the most games of any college football program since 1960. They own NCAA records for most consecutive nine-win seasons (33) and most consecutive bowl game appearances (35).
They have five national titles, 43 conference championships (more than any other school in the country), three Heisman Trophy winners, trophies like the Rimington Trophy and Return Specialist Trophy named after former Cornhusker players, and a slew of other awards and accomplishments. Names like Tommie Frazier, Ahman Green, Eric Crouch, Mike Rozier, Johnny Rodgers and many others wore the scarlet and cream of the Cornhuskers. They went to Nebraska to play for the Cornhuskers and continue the tradition.
There are many reasons to choose a college, but I found these to be the top reasons. Ultimately, if I had to choose, it would be difficult.
Alabama is an outstanding program with an amazing coaching staff, loads of great athletes and a great fan base. They also play in a great conference.
Texas sits as king in a state where football is revered as much as breath. They have their pick of the crop, and the Longhorns have tons of money to spend.
Notre Dame has great tradition.
Oregon has a flashy offense and loud stadium.
Oklahoma has an amazing coaching staff and is the team to beat in the Big 12.
When it comes down to it, though, Nebraska has all the qualities that should attract high-profile recruits. What they lack in mountains and beaches, they make up in fan support, facilities, and tradition.