Joel Mowbray

Because he didn’t run a “win at all costs” program, Frank Solich is no longer a head coach.  He was not ousted from an NFL or NBA team, but from a college football program.  University of Nebraska Athletic Director Steve Pederson explicitly stated that the reason he canned Solich is that the coach was not running a “win at all costs” program.

  The truly sad part of all this is that “win at all costs” has turned into a larger cultural trend.

  The irony in Solich’s situation is that Nebraska is not a losing team.  Far from it, in fact.  The Cornhuskers ended the regular season ranked 21st in the nation with a record of 9-3, and now are headed for a major bowl game.  Two years ago, Solich guided his squad to a berth in the National Championship bowl game. 

  Nebraska did hit a rough patch last season—going 7-7—but Solich made the changes asked of him, primarily a reshuffling of the coaching squad.  And this season, the Cornhuskers rebounded from mediocrity, yet Solich is gone anyway.

  The Cornhuskers had built a program of almost unparalleled greatness during the 25-year tenure of former coach Tom Osborne, who left for health reasons in 1997 and is now a U.S. Congressman.  So Pederson’s high expectations for his coach are understandable.

  But Solich had already proven his ability to lead a top-notch team.  During his first six seasons as Cornhuskers coach, he had lost a mere seven games total.  Yet it didn’t matter in the end.

  Don’t worry about Solich, though.  Published reports indicate he will receive a severance package of anywhere from $700,000 to $1.8 million. 

  People should worry, though, about what his firing says about the state of not just college football, but amateur athletics generally.  Nebraska’s athletic director, in announcing his decision, placed little emphasis on anything other than Solich’s inability to create a “win at all costs” program. 

  No discussion on coaches impacting the lives of young, impressionable athletes or preparing young men to become productive members of society.  Sadly, those issues are being pushed to the back burner in the increasingly big money world of college sports.

  Just look at Penn State.

Joel Mowbray

Joel Mowbray, who got his start with, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.

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